Weddings in Prince Rupert were down 23.9 per cent according to the BC Vital Statistics Agency website with 39 weddings happening in 2020 during the pandemic, down from 46 in pre-virus 2019. No weddings have occurred in the city during the first quarter of 2021.
The British Columbia wedding industry is another victim of COVID-19 fallout with a $158.6 million loss resulting in a 22.55 per cent revenue decrease province-wide Hellosafe.ca stated in a report issued on April 6.
The affianced, event planners, vendors, suppliers and venues are all participants in the industry that have been affected, Leanne Enns owner of Ocean Pearl Promotions and Event Planning in Prince Rupert said. All have lost financially through COVID-19 postponements, cancellations, restrictions on numbers, and public health rules.
Restrictions to stop the pandemic and the virus have also stopped events and weddings leaving many with lost deposits and unused items already paid for.
Enns who has run her sole-proprietorship event planning business since 2012 has taken a huge hit during COVID-19. Her business in March 2019 came to an abrupt halt, she said. Even though she had a few events booked for 2020 none came to fruition. It is only through creative thought and diversification that the business has been able to survive the pandemic.
While she had some weddings booked they have been indefinitely postponed and one was moved to this month, however, she is not executing on-site organization due to COVID regulations.
“I’ve assisted the bride and groom as far as I can go. They will do it alone based on the current COVID rules. With only 10 people allowed inside a church, you want that 10 people to be the most important.”
“Because everything is ever-evolving and ever-changing, it makes it really difficult to try and plan something like an event that keeps everybody safe and enjoyable at the same time.”
Enns said, as the numbers for events kept being reduced throughout the pandemic it affected the costs associated with weddings and events.
“As the numbers of people allowed at an event kept shrinking, it didn’t change the dollar. It actually made the dollar and costs associated even higher,” Enns said.
For example, a wedding buffet prepared for 150 guests will be done for a set price per plate, but fewer guests mean higher costs, the event logistics coordinator said.
“The chefs in the venue still have to put out the same amount of work. So, that cost transfers over to the couple. Then it doesn’t become cost-effective to stay inside their budget,”.
Prince Rupert couple Loni Martin and Alvin Tait have postponed their wedding twice since the start of COVID-19. Martin estimates that they have spent $3,000 to $4,000 so far on the event that they have been planning since May 2019.
When the pandemic shut life down along the North Coast they decided in April last year to postpone the Aug. 2020 wedding to 2021. With the venue and photographer already booked, deposits paid, a custom-made wedding gown partially finished and more than 250 guests on the invite list, the couple is having to postpone again, Martin said.
“It’s very sad. This is a huge life event. It’s the biggest thing you will ever do,” Martin said. With such a large family she wants to celebrate the special day with them many of whom have to travel from outside the region.
“There is a lot of sadness that we have to postpone, but we didn’t think it would go on for so long,” she said.
COVID-19 has left the couple considering having a much scaled-back ceremony with just immediate family, so they can leave the big celebration until a time when everyone can travel and be safe, but having to cut everyone out of the ceremony will be extremely difficult, she said.
“It will offer another day that we can look forward to,” Martin said of the time when she, her fiance and their family can get together to celebrate the union.
K-J Millar | Journalist
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