After losing business during pandemic, Calgary wedding vendors brace for busiest season in decades

Olivia MacDonald and her fiancé Mike Stilling had planned for a longer engagement after their sunset proposal in 2019. But neither of them expected it to go even longer than they would have liked.

Olivia and Mike’s proposal. Courtesy: Olivia MacDonald

“We had it planned for August 2021, but then we had to move it to May 2022,” MacDonald said.

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The COVID-19 pandemic forced them to postpone and move the wedding date.

READ MORE: Alberta weddings and events hit by latest COVID-19 restrictions

“It’s stressful planning a wedding with weather and wondering if everyone can come, and when the pandemic hit, it’s the uncertainty of what are restrictions going to be? Are we going to be masking?” MacDonald said.

“When we postponed, we were worried if the vendors we handpicked are going to be able to move to a new date and honour our deposits and everything. Fortunately they’ve all been amazing.”

Janelle Gerestein owns a Calgary business called Flowers by Janie. She said the pandemic made the past couple of years very tense.

Janelle Gerestein. Jill Croteau/Global News

“Extremely stressful,” Gerestein said.

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“To survive, we started doing weekly flower deliveries for the first few months and then we did Easter and Mother’s Day flowers. I do a couple of workshops a year, so we switched it to Zoom.”

But now, the postponements and contracts from the pandemic years need to be honoured. Between those and new bookings, she said she regretfully has not been able to say yes to every inquiry.

“We’ve had to say no to a lot people,” Gerestein said. “It’s not possible to take on all inquiries. We are booked until October.

“I didn’t want to stress out myself or my team. I’m not trying to recover all in one year, that would just be insane.”

But wedding planner Julianne Young said she has increased her staff to keep up with demand in hopes of rebounding her lost business.

“It was the scariest two years of my life,” she said. “Suddenly the things we loved doing were not allowed — literally illegal.

“It was a massive game of Tetris to figure out all the weddings and moving to the new dates, you had to align the whole team, so it was a lot logistically.

“2020 was a disaster and we have to claw our way out, and 2022 is the answer.”

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Young said she knew that as soon as restrictions were lifted “the floodgates would open.”

“That’s what we did during the downtime is prepare for this moment,” she said.

That moment is one that countless couples have been dreaming of. MacDonald said she is counting down the days until she can walk down the aisle and make it official.

“Mike and I have known each other so long,” she said. “It’s time.

“We are ready and excited and the day can’t come soon enough.”

© 2022 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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