A couple opted for a winter wedding at Manning Park, the last wedding the park’s resort hosted before they shut their doors due to COVID-19. The MacLeans Co photo

A couple opted for a winter wedding at Manning Park, the last wedding the park’s resort hosted before they shut their doors due to COVID-19. The MacLeans Co photo

‘Love is not cancelled’: B.C. wedding businesses prep for meagre summer season

Small, intimate ceremonies dominate this summer, with industry looking at a monster year in 2021

Love is not cancelled, as the saying has been going in the B.C. wedding industry, yet those in the business are seeing a vast swathe of empty slots in their calendars this summer.

Normally the wedding industry would already be entering peak season. Yet since the coronavirus pandemic prompted a shutdown across the B.C. economy, the wedding industry and the people who rely on it have been on a whirlwind since day one. Vendors and venues are still trying to figure out how best to get people married during COVID-19 restrictions on large gatherings and public health recommendations.

It began with mass cancellations, said Carli Spielman who owns and runs the Hope based flower business Wild Rabbit Flowers. Summer weddings are her bread and butter, with 80 to 90 per cent of her bookings taking place late May through October.

A lot of this early phase was about counselling couples through the panic, stress and uncertainty Spielman said. For those who rebooked, they essentially had to re-plan their weddings, to ensure other vendors and venues were available next year.

Karlene Burch agrees that while she wasn’t trained to be a therapist, in her role as sales and event manager at The Falls Golf Club in Bridal Falls her spring was filled with counselling couples on how and whether to proceed.

As people in the industry were counselling couples, they were also reaching out to each other online as they faced the shock of their industry grinding to a halt.

“The calendar was literally emptying, I was crossing off dates throughout my whole summer. Then that realization that I was losing literally my entire year’s income…I was shocked,” Spielman said. “There was a lot of grief, because it’s not only job loss, it’s our small business, it’s our creative passion…A large part of my identity is Wild Rabbit Flowers.”

‘Screw COVID’: pandemic weddings a go

The refrain ‘love is not cancelled’ began circulating online, Spielman said, and while many have decided to hold off until next year there are those going ahead.

At The Falls, there were 41 weddings booked for 2020. There are now around 20 going ahead, smaller weddings than planned, which means they are looking at a quarter of their expected revenue Burch said.

Manning Park Resort had at least a wedding per weekend booked throughout the summer into September. Marketing manager Robyn Barker said nearly all couples have been choosing to postpone.

Spielman is doing the flowers for six weddings, less than 10 per cent of the number of weddings she usually does in a season.

How weddings are looking this year are still dependent on what stage of B.C.’s restart plan the wedding happens in, and whether the 50 person gathering limit changes anytime soon. Vendors and venues are figuring out how to go ahead, Spielman said, and it’s been a massive learning curve to be ‘knowledgeable, forward thinking and proactive’ with adhering to changing guidelines and keeping staff and guests safe.

Burch said The Falls have planned for weddings to be a maximum of 45 guests, leaving room for 5 staff and vendors. Some traditional elements including ceremonies, photos and possibly a cake cutting will take place. The reception will look more like a fine dining experience, rather than the standard wedding buffet, and the raucous dancing and partying will not be happening as weddings will end at 8 p.m. Better perhaps for the bar bill but very different from your average wedding.

“(There is) some loss of tradition,” Burch said, so she is counselling couples to embrace the new normal and be flexible. “Sometimes you have to break out of the norm, and something becomes really beautiful,” she added.

While some tradition will be lost, COVID-19 times weddings will be nothing short of memorable. Some couples are experimenting with new ways of reaching their loved ones who can’t travel to attend their wedding, for example by streaming their weddings on Facebook or inviting loved ones to join their ceremony via videoconferencing app Zoom.

Some have chosen only to wed this year, that is have their ceremony, and defer the reception for their one-year anniversary next year. Some are calling this their ‘screw COVID party,’ Burch said, which could include wearing their wedding clothing again and celebrating.

Manning is also still having weddings, yet they must be under the 50 people limit, with dinner as a plated service and receptions not as cozy as they would be under normal times. “It would actually be a great time to elope, because we would have way more availability in the summer than we normally would,” Barker said.

Spielman is still growing her wedding flowers in her Hope garden and is open to bookings. She’s been getting some inquiries from couples with plans for small, intimate gatherings or elopement. A trend she thinks will stick around in the industry.

“I think the smaller gatherings and intimate weddings, they’re here for a while,” she said.

For those who have had to slim down their guest lists this year, Spielman said she has seen couples make the most of their wedding budget to make their day special. Everything from videographers, to gorgeous photos, more interesting decor, a lot more flowers and even heli rides are being invested in.

Next year is set to be a monster year for weddings, all three agree.

The Falls could see up to 50 or 60 weddings, Burch said, as both this years COVID cancellations and next year’s planned weddings will all be jostling for space.

Barker said mid-week weddings are being talked about in the industry, and might be something couples should think about for 2021. And at Manning, weddings are big business but they aren’t always summer-focused as couples also head to Manning to have the winter wonderland style wedding in the mountains.

Spielman is also seeing the ‘coveted wedding season Saturdays’ filling up fast, yet couples are being flexible with it. “Folks are choosing like, ‘Well, who cares? Let’s get married on Thursday. What’s the big deal’?” she said. “People still want to get married, they have their love, they want to do it.”

Proving that love, in fact, has not been cancelled.

CoronavirusHopeWeddings

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

 

Taylor and Adam had their summer wedding in Manning Park. The Manning Park Resort has seen nearly all of its summer 2020 weddings postponed or cancelled. Justine Russo photo

Taylor and Adam had their summer wedding in Manning Park. The Manning Park Resort has seen nearly all of its summer 2020 weddings postponed or cancelled. Justine Russo photo

A couple at their ceremony at The Falls Golf Course in Bridal Falls. The golf course has seen about half its 2020 summer weddings cancelled or postponed, indicative of the effect the COVID-19 pandemic is having across the wedding industry. Leanne Sims Photography

A couple at their ceremony at The Falls Golf Course in Bridal Falls. The golf course has seen about half its 2020 summer weddings cancelled or postponed, indicative of the effect the COVID-19 pandemic is having across the wedding industry. Leanne Sims Photography

The grounds at The Falls Golf Course, reading for wedding guests to arrive. This year, plated service, early closing times and more intimate weddings will replace some traditional wedding customs. Leanne Sims Photography

The grounds at The Falls Golf Course, reading for wedding guests to arrive. This year, plated service, early closing times and more intimate weddings will replace some traditional wedding customs. Leanne Sims Photography

Carli Spielman runs Wild Rabbit Flowers, an event floral studio specializing in weddings, from her home studio and garden in Hope. Grief and shock were how she described the first few weeks of the pandemic and its effect on the wedding industry. Submitted/Wild Rabbit Flowers photo

Carli Spielman runs Wild Rabbit Flowers, an event floral studio specializing in weddings, from her home studio and garden in Hope. Grief and shock were how she described the first few weeks of the pandemic and its effect on the wedding industry. Submitted/Wild Rabbit Flowers photo

Just Posted

Summerland Middle School
COVID exposure at Summerland Middle School

The person who tested positive was at school Jan. 11

Justin Kripps of Summerland and his team have competed in Olympic action and World Cup competitions in bobsleigh. (Jason Ransom-Canadian Olympic Comittee).
QUIZ: Are you ready for some winter sports?

It’s cold outside, but there are plenty of recreation opportunities in the winter months

A map released by the BCCDC on Jan. 15 shows the number of new COVID-19 cases reported for each local health area between Jan. 3 and 9. (BCCDC Image)
Salmon Arm and Vernon see increase in new COVID cases, curve flattening elsewhere

The rate of new cases is levelling off in Kelowna, Penticton and Revelstoke.

The Premier Hotel on Summerland’s Main Street and the taxi were owned by Bill and Lydia Johnston. Today, the building is Sass Fashions in Summerland. H.S. Kenyon, who moved the building to Summerland from Midway, continued with building construction. His family now operates Greyback Construction. (Photo courtesy of the Summerland Museum)
Two former Summerland hotel buildings have been moved over the years

Transport of buildings is part of community’s history

Keith the curious kitten is seen on Nov. 4, 2020 at the Chilliwack SPCA. Friday, Jan. 22, 2021 is Answer Your Cat’s Questions Day. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress file)
Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of Jan. 17 to 23

Answer Your Cat’s Questions Day, Pie Day and International Sweatpants Day are all coming up this week

Dastkar, a new furniture store in Vernon, features handmade, unique furniture carved from wood and inlaid with brass in the Chiniot style. The business located on 43rd Avenue was started in December 2020 but is currently unstaffed due to COVID-19 staffing shortages. (Brendan Shykora - Morning Star)
PHOTOS: Vernon’s hidden handmade furniture store

Owners of Shahi Pakwan Indian restaurant opened the South Asian furniture store in December 2020

A health-care worker prepares a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at a UHN COVID-19 vaccine clinic in Toronto on Thursday, January 7, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
COVID-19: Provinces work on revised plans as Pfizer-BioNTech shipments to slow down

Anita Anand said she understands and shares Canadians’ concerns about the drug company’s decision

Tourists take photographs outside the British Columbia Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Friday August 26, 2011. A coalition of British Columbia tourism industry groups is urging the provincial government to not pursue plans to ban domestic travel to fight the spread of COVID-19. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. travel ban will harm struggling tourism sector, says industry coalition

B.C. government would have to show evidence a travel ban is necessary

(Phil McLachlan - Capital News)
‘Targeted’ shooting in Coquitlam leaves woman in hospital

The woman suffered non-life threatening injuries in what police believe to be a targeted shooting Saturday morning

The organizer of a Kelowna protest against COVID-19 restrictions was fined by the RCMP for the third time Saturday, Jan. 16, 2021. (File photo)
COVID-19: Organizer of Kelowna anti-restriction protest ticketed for third time

The individual’s latest ticket for $2,300 was handed out by RCMP at an anti-lockdown rally Saturday

Mount Boucherie Secondary School is one of three Kelowna schools with confirmed cases of COVID-19, according to an update from the school district Saturday, Jan. 16, 2021. (File photo)
COVID-19 confirmed at 3 Kelowna schools

Interior Health has confirmed exposures at Mount Boucherie, Springvalley and South Rutland schools

Half of the most expensive homes are on 2080 Mackenzie Crt, which is across the street from Revelstoke Mountain Resort. (Liam Harrap/Revelstoke Review)
The 10 most valuable homes in Revelstoke for 2020

Combined, the properties are worth more than $35M

Lake Country native Evan-Riley Brown is in the cast for the new film Journey To Royal: A WW II Rescue Mission to be released on video on demand and streaming services on Feb. 2. (Contributed)
Okanagan actor lands role in WW II movie

Evan-Riley Brown, from Lake Country, cast in production labelled as hybrid of a feature film and documentary called Journey To Royal: a WW II Rescue Mission.

Most Read