Wedding industry calls on province for parity as other sectors reopen
With gyms and fitness studios open again under current COVID-19 restrictions in B.C., those in the wedding and events industry say they are being left behind.
The industry is calling on the province for clarity, as to when it will be their turn to open up.
Annise Lorel and Nick Hepner got engaged in 2019. “We were planning and hoping for a 2020 wedding,” said Lorel.
The pandemic postponed that. They pushed it to 2021, again delayed for another year. Now the couple is looking to tie the knot this summer.
“Oh, it’s happening in 2022,” said Hepner. “I’m not planning another wedding.”
“Come March 2020, we understood why events were one of the first to get shut down,” said Sara Stevenson, general manager and lead planner at The Good Party in Langford, B.C. “Looking forward, we knew we were going to be one of the last to reopen.”
Stevenson says the events industry has been largely overlooked by the province since the beginning of the pandemic. What she is calling for, is parity with other industries.
“Right now, it’s the fact that we’re watching every other industry get their safe reopening plans, have a seat at that table and have the guidance to operate safely in current conditions,” said Stevenson. “We aren’t being afforded that same opportunity.”
It’s estimated that the wedding industry in B.C. generates $1.2 billion per year and because of the nature of the industry, shutdowns effect operators six to twelve months beyond the shutdown period.
Dr. Bonnie Henry, B.C.’s provincial health officer says wedding ceremonies can still happen, it’s the receptions that have been called off.
“It’s the celebrations and the parties afterwards and we know that invariably those are the settings that we’re seeing transmission,” said Henry.
The industry says many couples are not willing to wed unless they can have the reception, even if it is a scaled-back version.
“As far as weddings and events go, we have seen it drop down to one-tenth of what it once was,” said Rob Jennings, president of Jennings Florist in Oak Bay.
He says the wedding side of his business has dried up. He says his business will survive but he knows of many others that have not.
“It’s a lot of people that have been affected,” said Jennings. ”A lot of small businesses have decided, 'we’re just going to step away from the industry… we’re not going to continue to ride the rollercoaster.'"
Wedding planners say receptions can be held with proper safety precautions in place and they want to work with the province to develop proper protocols.
For Lorel and Hepner, they say they’re going to get married this summer, reception or not.
“One way or another, this is going to go down this year,” said Hepner.
“We’ll make it work within the restrictions,” said Lorel.
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