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No more waiting at the altar: B.C. wedding boom looms

Industry revenue up in B.C. but still down $96 million compared with pre-pandemic levels

Wedding planner Stephanie Reitsma, bottom right, says her team is now at capacity for 2022 after nuptials dropped the previous two years amid pandemic-induced restriction.

Wedding planner Stephanie Reitsma spent much of 2020 and 2021 prepping nuptials that were always at the mercy of fluctuating pandemic restrictions.

“We were troubleshooting for two years and executing to the best of our ability [in] accordance to the public health orders,” said the owner and principal planner of Vancouver-based Sweetheart Events.

Reitsma added that her business had to be ready to shift clients’ wedding plans based on the latest orders from B.C. provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry.

“As planners, we could not plan, and that’s what we’re good at.”

Business remained consistent in the pandemic, but instead of the usual 50 or so weddings Reitsma’s team would plan each year, they found themselves helping with 30 to 35 smaller, more intimate weddings.

Now with restrictions lifting, millions of COVID-19 vaccinations administered and case counts falling after the Omicron wave, “we’ve had to close our books for 2022 because my entire team is at capacity,” she told BIV.

And some clients who tied the knot in smaller, more intimate ceremonies are now planning to follow up with “grander celebrations” this year to include all their loved ones, Reitsma said.

Despite business picking up, B.C.’s wedding industry has considerable ground to make up this year, according to HelloSafe (Safe Inc.) data.

The insurance price comparison website found that B.C. wedding industry revenue reached $607.3 million in 2021 – up 12 per cent from the $554 million generated during the first year of the pandemic.

But going into 2022, a $96 million gap persists compared with where revenue was prior to the pandemic when it hit $703 million.

HelloSafe forecasts 2022 will be the first year of full recovery for B.C.’s wedding industry, noting that 2,922 weddings have taken place in the province through the first three months of the year. That’s a 10 per cent gain over the same period one year ago (2,629 weddings) and nearly on par with 2019 (3,017 weddings).

The HelloSafe report said that if this trend continues throughout the rest of the year, revenue could again reach $700 million, or “back to pre-COVID levels.”

Kelowna is leading the way with weddings increasing by 28.2 per cent in 2022’s first quarter, followed by Langley (up 22.2 per cent) and Victoria (up 15.8 per cent) compared with a year earlier. 

Vancouver has so far experienced a boost of 10.9 per cent with 634 celebrations so far this year.

“A lot of people think about their wedding day, they dream about this … with having so many of their close friends and family together, and this pandemic definitely stole a part of that journey and process away from couples,” Reitsma said.

“It’s going to be an emotional year for sure.”

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