With the end of the COVID-19 pandemic just in sight, wedding vendors and planners alike are seeing a surge of couples jumping at the chance to finally walk down the aisle. This comes after more than a year of social distancing, mask mandates, and limits on group sizes.
It’s almost a no-brainer that the COVID-19 pandemic would shut down weddings as we traditionally think of them. We can’t social distance large groups of people. We can’t hug friends, family. We can’t groove to the electric slide after a couple of drinks… You get it. It’s inherently a social event meant for human interaction.
But, New Mexico has just reached its goals of vaccinating 60% of the state’s population. The thought is, in a couple of weeks, everything will fully open up– just like the times before this virus consumed our lives.
Now that some type of normalcy of daily life is just within arm’s reach, couples are antsy to put a ring on it.
“I think there were a ton of engagements that took place during quarantine. So, if the couple felt like they could weather the storm of a pandemic, they could probably weather the storm of marriage.”
That’s Shauna Pointer. She’s the owner of the New Mexico Wedding Collective. The goal of the collective is to connect soon-to-be weds with wedding vendors all over the state. And she said this wedding season is going to be HUGE because of both rescheduled and newly planned weddings.
“More than anything, people are just ready. They’re ready to make decisions for their life. Whether it’s the love of their life, careers… Everybody hit that block this last year. People are just ready to make those commitments now.”
She pointed out that around four-thousand weddings were either cancelled or postponed during New Mexico’s wedding season last year. Which, if we can remember, was during the peak of COVID-19 virus infections. But, Pointer said some couples made it work.
“Couples started to get a little creative. So, still being able to host weddings in some capacity. Just modifying their guest lists, having masks being worn. Just got really creative with how they hosted [weddings] at restaurants, churches, or backyard weddings.”
It’s not just this year, either. Next year is starting to book up. Fast. And Pointer said wedding vendors can’t keep up with the demand because COVID hit the industry hard.
“It’s just staffing,” Pointer said. “There’s so much, because of unemployment. It’s this aftermath of bartenders, valet drivers, banquet staff, and sales people. That’s been the hardest thing. There’s been so much turnover because they furloughed and laid off and some of these venues needed to be shut down. And, it’s not even venues. It’s deejays. It’s floral designers. It’s all of these things that are very dependent on the ‘gig’ economy or mass gatherings.”
Kayleigh Maes is one of the many vendors that got hit during last year’s wedding season. She’s a wedding photographer based out of Albuquerque. She said she created a whole new business called Light House Weddings in anticipation of the post-pandemic wedding influx.
“We had just started, and within our first few weeks we had 10 inquiries for weddings, which was really big because for a wedding business just starting out that’s ideal to get one client at first,” Maes said. “But, to have 10 inquiries was crazy. From there, consistently we’ve seen so many inquiries come in for 2021, 2022 weddings and beyond.”
That’s not all.
“The majority of our bookings this year have been: ‘Hey, can you book this in 3 months?’ Which is so new. Normally, they are like: ‘Oh, my wedding is next year or my wedding is at least 6 months away.’ But, to have it 2-3 months away… It’s a little overwhelming, because it’s less prep time for us. I’m sure it’s overwhelming for the bride and groom because it’s less time to get all their vendors in place because who knows if they can even get them because of how booked everybody is.”
It also just happens that Maes is preparing to walk down the aisle herself in July. So, she’s ultimately decided to wait a couple of years for a traditional wedding with large swaths of friends and family and settle for a small, intimate elopement.
“We were just thinking there’s going to be so many weddings that are going to be happening,” Maes said. “We don’t know if we are going to get the venue we want or whatever. Plus, we weren’t really into the big wedding idea anyway. We were like: ‘This is a good reason for us to go to Silverton, Colorado and elope.”
Maes did say she got lucky and knew some vendors that could squeeze her elopement in their schedules. But, that’s not the same for everybody. Here’s Shauna Pointer from the New Mexico Wedding Collective again with some advice for couples in the same predicament.
“I would say to not feel so limited with options, budget, all that kind of stuff. Consider maybe a Sunday wedding, a Friday evening. Specifically, date choice is probably the most important,” Pointer said.
“Everybody is trying to recoup from such a crazy COVID year in the wedding community. Over the years, that I’ve found, there tends to be a lot of burn out when it comes to working in the wedding community. It’s a lot of late-night Saturdays. It’s a lot of customer service. It can accrue a lot of burnout. But, because there is this lag of business, they are so excited to be back to work. They're hitting it full steam because they are excited.”
Pointer also said to book weddings as soon as possible.