After two years of strict limitations on marriage celebrations, B.C.'s wedding industry has returned, surpassing pre-COVID levels.
A new survey by HelloSafe finds that the industry has already generated $145 million in revenue in the first half of 2022. The website, which has been comparing insurance and financial products since 2021, is projecting that the industry will see $1.5 billion in revenue this year.
From January to June 2022, HelloSafe reports that 9,864 marriages were celebrated due to being postponed or cancelled in the last two years. This is a 2.9 per cent increase compared to the first half of marriages celebrated in 2019.
For one wedding planner in Vancouver, it's been "heaven and hell."
Nicky Lau, owner and principal event planner of One & Only Events, says it's been heaven because "we can actually have weddings nowadays."
"It's amazing right now. It's non-stop: weddings every weekend, even weekdays too. So the demand for weddings is definitely increasing. It could be from the build-up... from the last two, three years," says Lau.
"Next year is actually really steady like this year. I feel like the whole wedding industry is actually increasing when it comes to sales and the quantities and all that, so people maybe want to celebrate more nowadays."
The main challenge for Lau's clients has been the ongoing complications of air travel: flight delays and cancellations.
"Vancouver people's family is from all over the world. We noticed there are cancellations like last minute because people will just say, 'I cannot make it there.' And the flights aren't flying there. And so we still have challenges lingering from COVID."
For last-minute cancellations, even though couples still have to pay for services like catering, Lau says there are solutions to compensate for guests who ended up not making it to the ceremony.
"I would say at least five to 10 per cent of people are not showing up to the wedding. They are unfortunately not able to get that money back. So we normally find a couple of solutions: certain venues let them take it [the food] to go. We usually pack it up for them. ... Or, if some venues don't allow that, we normally make sure those meals are served during the dinner so at least someone else can have more food."
Lau isn't alone in being flexible when providing wedding celebration services with COVID-19 still causing obstacles.
Cristie Rosling of Umbrella Events in Vancouver says that the first full wedding season "post-pandemic" has brought unanticipated obstacles for the team.
"Dealing with COVID is still an ongoing issue. We've unfortunately encountered situations where our clients have gotten COVID days before their wedding. Last-minute pivoting in planning is all part of the job, but it's so sad to have worked with our clients to plan their dream wedding, and they can't even attend it."
That being said, Rosling says none of her clients have cancelled; instead, she says they shifted to an outdoor wedding and hosted a reception for their guests, despite not being able to be there themselves.
Like Lau, Rosling says their backlog from the previous years is nearly cleared.
And while wedding planners must continue to work around an ongoing pandemic, Rosling says some weddings have been cancelled for non-COVID-related reasons.
"Some couples cancelled their wedding entirely or changed their wedding plans so that they were no longer getting married in Vancouver. Some also, sadly, broke up. Typically, we don't anticipate working with clients for three-plus years on their weddings. It's a bit sadder than usual when we are finally able to have their wedding, and then have to part ways," she says.
Although Lau hopes another lockdown won't happen, he says that One & Only Events has a company-specific policy for future unknowns.
"We actually honour the deposit and they can use that credit as a future booking if they want to reschedule and postpone the wedding with us. Or they can give it to someone else, and they can use that credit. So it's not stuck with them. So at least they know that money doesn't just go missing."