Thompson-Okanagan couples opting to elope now, party post pandemic | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Thompson-Okanagan couples opting to elope now, party post pandemic

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March 21, 2021 - 8:00 AM

With so much uncertainty around gatherings, more couples are opting to elope in 2021 and save the party plans for later.

“The couple will grab their parents and a couple of close friends and do an elopement and then plan their receptions for 2022. So it’s double the party and that way it does create a very intimate ceremony and the pressure’s off for the actual marriage,” said Tammi Foster, wedding planner in Penticton with Vines and Vows Events.

“For our company alone, we might have had one elopement per season and now we’re looking at about 50% (of weddings) are elopements or elopement inquiries.”

Provincial health orders are still restricting events and gatherings, limiting them to a maximum of 10 people in outdoor spaces.

READ MORE: RSVP 'maybe'? Coronavirus puts the wedding industry on edge

This summer is also expected to be busy for the wedding industry, nonetheless, as couples who postponed their 2020 plan to tie the knot are hoping to hold ceremonies.

Some couples have been postponing their spring weddings to late September and early fall, hoping they can expand their guest list if restrictions ease. Others who are dead-set on having a large party are holding their weddings in 2022 and those who are realistic about the pandemic are cutting their guest lists, she said.

To compensate for the uncertainty, wedding planners are asking couples to provide lists for 10, 25, 50 and 100 people, so they’re prepared for all of the obstacles. The planners are also tightening their timeframe for planning the wedding, shrinking a normally year-to-18-month long process to just one month.

“As soon as Bonnie says ‘go’ we’re going to get hit hard,” Foster said.

READ MORE: Bridal designer Andrea Pitter on celebrating Black women

“If I say ‘OK, do you want chicken or beef?’ I need an answer in five minutes, not what can sometimes take weeks to hear a reply. So decisions have to be made very quickly, but it’s definitely doable,” Foster said. “It really simplifies things as there’s not a lot of time for decision or changing your minds.”

There hasn’t been a huge increase in bookings, but they’ve been so busy re-booking and postponing weddings “that it seems to be an over full-time job," she said.

First Comes Love Gowns and Events, a bridal and prom boutique in Kamloops, has seen soon-to-be brides preparing for the moment they can gather in larger crowds.

Business at the boutique is still slower than before COVID-19, as they can’t manage multiple appointments and walk-ins the same way, said Jenelle Bertolotti, bridal and prom consultant, adding brides seem to be either planning for weddings in 2022 or this summer, there’s not really an in-between.

“A lot of people don’t even have their dates set right now, they just want to get all the details that they can so whenever the opportunity arises, they’re ready to go,” she said.

Most people start shopping for dresses in fall and winter but more are shopping in the off-season as they've realized this is what it takes to get married, she said.

READ MORE: How a West Kelowna woman saved thousands on wedding costs

In Lake Country at My Garden Wedding, a wedding venue, owner Ian Donn said plans have been all over the place since the start of the new year but they’re about 33% busier than last year and wedding season hasn't even begun yet.

The last month has been rearranging dates and pushing dates forward a bit and a few people decided to cancel, he said. In the last week and a half, he’s started to see optimism among clients with COVID-19 vaccination rollouts so they’re starting to book the venue more.

The outdoor venue has covered areas for small intimate elopement-style weddings and a full elopement package that includes a photographer, so it saves couples money to book and do a small wedding, Donn said.

With residents also postponing events until 2022, “it’s going to be really hard to get a venue at the peak time,” he said.

The wedding industry lost a lot of its turnover during the year 2020 in comparison with 2019, as weddings couldn't be organized with government restrictions implemented during the pandemic, according to the latest survey from Hellosafe.ca, an insurance comparison platform.

B.C. wedding industry revenues saw a 23% fall in one year from 2019 to 2020. Things are looking better for 2021 with vaccination rollout, however, Hello Safe reported a 63% drop in Kelowna weddings in January and February of 2020, compared to the same months in 2021. Overall in B.C. the company reported a 33% decline in weddings from the first two months of 2020 compared to 2021.

Vernon saw an increase in weddings in 2020 and 2021, from 16 to 18 in January and February of each year. Kamloops, Kelowna and Penticton saw less than half the number of weddings, from 103 in 2020 to 43 this year in January and February.

- This story was updated April 8, 2021 at 1:35 p.m. to include a link to Hellosafe.ca's website and to update the story to reflect the company's current name.


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