Edmonton wedding industry booming as couples play pandemic catch-up

With public health restrictions gone and summer just around the corner, people in the wedding industry say they’re seeing a matrimonial boom.

Venues are booking up as couples finally take the leap on a ceremony after long COVID-induced delays. For Tina Bartel Nickel, that rush meant adjusting her own wedding plans last month.

She tied the knot with her partner in March after seven years together. The ceremony was an intimate affair: 20 people gathered in the Peace River, Alta. living room of the groom’s parents.

Bartel Nickel had hoped for a large follow-up reception this summer in Edmonton, but finding a venue at an affordable rate was an obstacle.

“I think if you really want to have that big party, you might end up compromising a little bit more,” Bartel Nickel said.

“Everybody is booked right full so it might end up being 2023. But there’s nothing wrong with having a small, intimate celebration.”

According to Service Alberta, there were 2,885 marriage licenses issued in 2022 so far — about 400 more than the previous year. There were 2,065 marriages that have taken place this year so far compared to 1,939 in the same time frame last year.

That’s still below pre-pandemic levels: between Jan. 1, 2019 and Apr. 8, 2019 there were 3,043 licenses issued and 2,324 marriages took place.

Event planner Jennifer Bergman said it’s the busiest season she’s seen in the last few years as postponed weddings from previous pandemic years meet up with this season’s latest.

“We’re having people who were maybe holding off on having an event or a wedding, who are now seeing things open up and they’re deciding you know what, let’s go for it,” Bergman said.

She said last-minute weddings smaller in scope are trending. That size of ceremony — around 50 people — allows couples to choose more expensive cuisine or even take destination weddings a bit closer to home, like to the mountains or the west coast, she said.

Bergman said 2023 may prove to be even busier yet as she’s had three times more bookings than by this point in previous years.

“People are planning faster and earlier,” she said.

Pushing into fall

Dave Shannon, a professional DJ for more than 25 years, said the last two years have been difficult for vendors but things are picking up again.

“The demand is as it was before the pandemic and possibly a little bit stronger,” he said. This year has even had some unusual activity, he said, including a very busy September.

“I think that couples have tried to secure different vendors and venues and photographers and DJs and caterers in the summer, and they’re pushing it now a little bit further.”

Shannon does temper that some vendors may be busier than others and for couples not to get discouraged.

“You can always come up with a solution — just keep digging in and be resourceful.”

Wedding ring demand

Mohamed Tarrabin is the marketing manager for Prestige Jewellers, which has locations in Fort McMurray and Edmonton. He said demand for wedding bands has been difficult to keep up with.

Prior to COVID, the company would see four to 10 special orders every two weeks. Now it’s four to 10 special orders every single day in both locations.

Tarrabin said couples are also splashing out for more expensive diamonds. While one carat has long been the standard, he said, it’s now more common to see two.

“I think this has to do with everyone staying home,” he said. “They have extra money and they just want to spend it on something that will benefit them.”

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