Colorado wedding planners say lifting the pandemic restrictions will likely lead to an increase in the number of weddings this season. (Photograph Ali and Garrett)

When it comes to weddings, several planners and industry experts expect this year to be the storm after the calm of 2020.

Weddings that were postponed last year due to restrictions to slow the spread of the coronavirus have been postponed this year. Couples who have opted for “micro-weddings,” small gatherings with close family and friends, are having larger follow-up ceremonies or receptions this year and next.

The easing and lifting of restrictions has prompted people to outdo themselves this year and bring back dancing. Governor Jared Polis on Friday ended the state mask’s tenure in most public places, while suggesting that unvaccinated people still wear them.

“I think Colorado is really going to explode this summer with events,” said Katherine Frost, who recently launched a high-tech wedding planning platform. “I think it will be a great summer.”

This follows with projections from The Knot, a tech company that provides wedding products and services. A recent report from the company said about 40% of couples who planned to get married in 2020 performed the ceremony and reception, while nearly half postponed their reception. About 15% postponed the whole affair, with most deciding to wait until this year.

“Business is picking up on all levels for everyone,” Frost said. “In fact, I’ve heard from a lot of event planners, and we’ve also seen it on our platform, say that they can’t keep up with the influx of submissions that they have to send. But it also leads to a shortage of rooms. “

The Colorado events industry, hit by the pandemic, is trying to regain its footing. Frost, who launched his company ORO in November after years in the events business, said planners are taking on extra duties because they have had to let employees go or people have left for other jobs. when business took a nosedive.

A 2020 wedding at Vail was scaled back due to the pandemic, but added acrobats and other unique touches. (Tamara Gruner)

A survey by the Colorado Events Alliance, formed by people from the industry when the pandemic began, has shown planners, caterers, florists, venues and more have seen their business fall by an average of 85% due to COVID -19, said Brynn Swanson, an alliance. board member and owner of First Look Events.

“In a typical year, we usually have around 40 weddings. Last year, during COVID, we did three. We have been severely crushed. The industry as a whole was crushed during the pandemic, ”Swanson said.

The Alliance of Events raised funds and distributed over $ 35,000 to the company’s frontline workers. Swanson said the organization is advocating for the industry with government officials and recently received a $ 150,000 grant from the city of Denver for workers who live in the city.

There were 1.26 million weddings nationwide last year, up from 2.12 million in 2019, according to The Wedding Report, a research firm. The forecast for this year is 1.9 million, based on surveys and market data.

The industry generates roughly $ 1 billion in revenue per year in Colorado, which is a top destination for weddings, Swanson said. She expects most of the 30 weddings her clients have postponed for this year to continue.

The Knot is seeing an increase of around 25% in marriages in 2021, editor-in-chief Esther Lee said in an email. About 47% of all weddings are expected to take place from July to October. Lee said she recommends couples move on to planning.

Toronto writer Karen Cleveland said while business is starting to rebound, she believes many of the changes in marriages caused by the pandemic will stick around.

“I think there is going to be a fork in the road. For those who can afford it and for whom a great marriage feels important, you are going to see it, ”Cleveland said. “I think for the rest of us mere mortals, the idea of ​​breaking the bank for a wedding seems a little out of touch now.

Cleveland, co-author of the new publication “The New Wedding Book: A Guide to Ditching All the Rules,” believes small weddings and including guests through Zoom will continue for reasons of cost and convenience.

Alison Collier and Justin Tafoya, both from Denver, have taken a different path than they expected after getting engaged last July. They began to consider possible wedding dates for 2021 but were not sure when.

“When we were going to sign the contracts, it was a bit up to (coronavirus cases). It was early fall just before the holidays, ”said Collier, a nurse practitioner. “We were sort of panicked because the vaccine hadn’t come out yet.”

Wedding venues, including Cucina at the Lodge at Vail (pictured), and hotels in Colorado have lost business due to coronavirus restrictions. (Photo by Katie & Alexander, provided by The Perfect Moment)

They posted a bond for their wedding, scheduled for September 3, 2022, in Steamboat Springs. But they didn’t wait to get married. Like other couples, they decided to run away rather than wait for the pandemic to end. The official gathering was scheduled when they thought it would be easier for people to travel and mingle.

In April, Tafoya and Collier exchanged vows in front of a handful of people in Big Sur, California. Tayfoya’s brother who officiated had to do so virtually because he had contracted COVID the day before the wedding.

Tafoya, a photographer, said the couple did not want to delay their formalization. “We are 35 years old and we are kind of the last of our friends to get married, which doesn’t really matter to us,” he said, adding that there were more practical considerations. .

“We just thought that if we bought a house before the wedding it would be easier to get married,” Collier said.

Delayed marriages and the number of marriages on the increase weigh on a business that does not have a normal workforce.

“On average, more than 2 million people get involved each year. Now we have an influx of 4 million people who may not have gotten married during the pandemic, but are now trying to plan their wedding this year or next, ”Frost said. “So you’ve got this huge influx to the events world, which sounds amazing, but it’s also very stressful if you can’t have the staff for it.

Stephen Tanner, owner of Elevated Catering, said after a difficult year in which he laid off 35 part-time workers and all but one, his boss, he was ready to rehire. However, he fears that the COVID-19 variants could cause problems if more people do not get vaccinated. And he thinks people are slow to plan events to see what’s going on.

“Business is starting to come back, but it’s taking time,” Tanner said. “Most major functions are scheduled for fall, September or later.”

The warning about COVID-19 has by no means gone away. Jennifer Pletcher, owner of Gemini Event Planning and Design in Vail, said many couples and places are asking guests to take quick COVID-19 tests to make sure everyone stays safe. Weddings reserve larger dance floors to give people more space.

And over the past year, couples who have decided to tie the knot have found creative ways to compensate for downsized ceremonies and receptions, Pletcher said. One of her weddings last year reduced the number of people to just 30, but added acrobats, other entertainment, and unique “exaggerated floral” touches that might not have been possible with a. bigger marriage, Pletcher said.

Still, people are ready to resume some semblance of pre-pandemic normalcy, Pletcher said. After Polis lifted the statewide mask warrant, she quickly informed her clients.

“I have texted it to every bride I have for this summer and everyone is like, ‘This is great news.’ It’s encouraging, to go in the right direction that we were hoping for.

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