Many much delayed weddings are slated to go ahead this summer in central Alberta. (Black Press file photo)

Many much delayed weddings are slated to go ahead this summer in central Alberta. (Black Press file photo)

Summer of 2022 could mean recovery for central Alberta’s bridal industry

Many much-delayed events will finally be able to happen, say organizers

Weddings are back on track for some Central Albertans who waited to get hitched during two years of “new normal.”

A “wedding wave and “bridal tidal wave” are terms Darcie Coulter, of Red Deer’s Engaged by Darcie, has heard bandied about for the summer of 2022. But she’s noticed more of a moderate recovery of the industry.

“We are seeing bookings from people who are trying to recover from postponements,” said Coulter, who believes many clients are still working with smaller guest lists and being somewhat cautious of what the future might bring.

But with most pandemic restrictions now lifted, Red Deer-area wedding planners are anticipating — with fingers crossed — a plentiful slate of marriage ceremonies and receptions this spring, summer and fall.

Lori Angebrandt, of Angebrandt Event Planning and Design from Sylvan Lake, said her business is back to near pre-COVID levels after several years of cancellations and postponements.

Although fewer destination weddings are happening because of ongoing wariness about the state of the virus, “I’m pretty much fully booked for the year” when it comes to holding events in central Alberta and elsewhere in Canada, said Angebrandt.

She’s especially looking forward to staging some parties that were initially planned for 2020 and were delayed. “We have an event that’s going ahead next week that was started in 2019, so it will be nice to get it done,” said Angebrandt.

She noted her client’s relatives from the U.S. had been previously unable, or hesitant, to fly in because of fear of catching the virus in flight and/or dealing with a slew of pandemic border-crossing rules.

Guest lists are now smaller, with the average wedding reception for 130 people or less, rather than the 250 that was common before the pandemic, added Angebrandt. Many weddings are even happening with 20 to 60 guests, with the couple focusing on providing a higher-end experience for a smaller number of people.

Angebrandt doesn’t believe this is solely related to past COVID protocols, but has more to do with economic decisions. Younger couples may have had a tougher time entering the job market, or are trying to start-up their own businesses from home “so their wages are more precious.”

She hasn’t yet noticed a big run on reception spaces, but still believes it’s best to start booking a year in advance. Hotel banquet halls are reopening as are special wedding venues across the region, including Canyon Ski Resort, as well as community halls for thriftier budgets.

Angebrandt hasn’t seen a big jump in rental rates, but believes food costs will be noticeably higher because of inflation and ongoing supply shortages.

Makalya Price, who with Jenna Price runs Red Deer’s Promise by Price, has also noticed smaller guest lists these days, but believes wedding bookings will pick up now that restrictions have lifted.

Some of their clients went ahead with summer weddings in 2021 when restrictions temporarily eased, but they still had to have their indoor photos taken with masks on, said Makayla. Looking toward this summer, she feels wedding bookings are“pretty constant” and believes they will grow as more people get engaged in the post-pandemic world.

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