'Busiest wedding season since the '80s': B.C. industry booming due to pent-up pandemic demand

Wedding season is back and with the backlog of postponed weddings due to the pandemic, B.C. operators say it's busier than it's been in decades.

While it's a welcome change, some businesses find it hard to keep up with the demand.

"This is the busiest wedding year since, I think, the '80s because of all the COVID backup — you had all those girls waiting. And as soon as they lifted, everybody was like, 'Okay,go!'” said Erin Cockerill, a senior stylist with Vancouver’s Bisou Bridal.

The boutique has had to extend its hours to accommodate all its new brides.

Cockerill said the number of clients has nearly doubled since last year, and the store hired three more seamstresses to keep up.

"The numbers are definitely jumping which is very exciting. I don't foresee it slowing down any time before 2024,” she said.

Allan Burnett, the owner of The Chapels, said while he’s excited about the industry’s robust recovery, he’s overwhelmed by the pent-up demand.

He said he's short-staffed after letting some employees go early in the pandemic.

“I haven’t rehired anyone yet, and that’s probably what’s making it so challenging because we need help right now,” he said.

His phone line is busy with people calling in, even booking their special event on weekdays.

"We've got weddings on now Friday, Saturday, Sunday, Monday this coming weekend. So, that gives you a pretty good idea that it's often busy right now,” Burnett said.

Carissa Quan, the catering and events coordinator for the Brock House Restaurant, has also seen a surge in business.

"We have noticed that we have a lot of backlog from 2020, moving into 2022,” she said.

"There's only a certain number of Saturdays and Sundays that we have so we do open up for Mondays and Fridays, but we do see back-to-back [bookings], especially in the high season — that's July and August. We see a lot of weddings that happen between Monday to Friday,” she added.

With dates quickly getting booked up, couples are urged to plan as early as possible.

"I can tell you that in the 20-plus years that I've been in the wedding industry, I've never seen the number of weddings for next year this early in this number,” said Burnett.

All the operators agree that it's unlikely the demand will ease any time soon, predicting an equally busy – if not busier—season in 2023.