Florida wedding industry gathers momentum after COVID defers ‘I do’

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When the coronavirus pandemic struck, the wedding bells were largely silent and engaged couples found themselves sending out date rollover cards.

More than a year later, with the availability of the COVID-19 vaccine and the lifting of restrictions on gatherings, event planners and others working in the wedding industry are hearing those bells again.

“Now that the vaccinations are taking place, we have been very busy with weddings as people are remarrying and people are more comfortable traveling now,” said Leah Torres, of Zahn’s Flowers and More, based in Daytona Beach. “We have definitely seen a rise.”

Last year, limits were placed on gatherings, while businesses deemed non-essential, such as beauty salons, were closed.

As a result, the wedding services industry in 2020 saw its revenue drop by around 34%, according to IBIS World, which publishes reports based on market research.

Although life is slowly returning to normal, some couples are still mindful of safety and spending.

“Much of the younger generation is still very cautious,” said Joe Hearn, an event planner with more than 20 years of experience.

Hearn, who has her own events business and is a partner of District Bridal, a bridal gown store that will open in downtown DeLand at the end of the month, said couples who want to stay cautious have requested that masks and hand sanitizer be available during their big day.

The trend for budget-conscious weddings

There are also concerns that the cases may increase again due to the COVID-19 variants.

“People, I think, have been a little more budget conscious, not knowing what to expect,” Hearn said.

Although the dates are re-recorded, Hearn said he saw a change in who was favored.

“They’re really drawn to more places that are all inclusive,” Hearn said.

Instead of providing a full bar, couples choose to stick with beer and wine, and sometimes a signature drink as well.

“Barbecuing has become very popular because it is profitable,” Hearn said.

Alton Hicks, chef and co-owner of Deltona-based Canvas Creations Catering, said he has noticed that customers would rather have their guests served at their tables than crowding around a buffet to fill their own plates. .

Sweets are also changing.

Monica Lawson, co-owner of DeLand’s Kneading Sweets Bakery, said cupcakes have grown in popularity because they are easier to serve and allow couples to offer more options to their guests.

Naked cakes, which are layered cakes with little to no frosting on the sides, are also frequently requested, especially by couples opting for a rustic theme.

The aforementioned styling is not difficult to achieve in Volusia County given the availability of barn-style venues, such as The Grand Ol ‘Barn in New Smyrna Beach.

This is where Dottie and Prince Joseph said “yes” on April 25, a date they chose as a nod to the movie “Miss Congeniality.”

The couple, who live in DeLand, quickly started planning after getting engaged almost a year ago.

Dottie, 34, said she couldn’t help but wonder during this time if the companies would shut down again and, if they did, would the couple lose their deposits.

While a few people decided they weren’t ready to attend a larger-than-average rally just yet, Dottie said the event otherwise went pretty well.

“It was the most perfect day ever,” said Dottie.

The ceremony took place outside and the reception took place inside the 12,000 square foot barn.

“There was plenty of room for people to spread out,” said the newlywed.

While many couples who intended to tie the knot last year have postponed their wedding plans, others have moved forward, but on a much smaller scale.

Lydia Diaz and her then-fiancé Diego Diaz were already having favors with their wedding date on March 28, 2020, when the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on March 15 advised against gatherings of 50 or more people during at minus the next eight weeks. The CDC also recommended canceling gatherings of more than 10 people for organizations that serve high-risk populations, which include the elderly and people, of any age, with serious underlying illness.

As they had already obtained a marriage license, the couple officially got married on April 11, 2020, in an outdoor ceremony with only their parents present. On October 3, they held another outdoor ceremony with about a quarter of the number of guests they had originally planned.

“We don’t know what day to celebrate,” Diaz said with a laugh.

Although the ceremony last April was not what she had imagined, the 28-year-old said she was still special.

“It was just a fun, intimate experience that I didn’t think I wanted,” Diaz said. “It was definitely something I will never forget.”



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