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'Jam-packed': Loosened restrictions prompt wedding industry boom in Edmonton
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With a restriction-free summer on the horizon, wedding planners and vendors are starting to feel the pressure of what looks to be a busy season.

After two years of dealing with ever-changing public health measures, the wedding industry is finally seeing signs the rollercoaster ride may be coming to an end.

Sandra Cassios, owner and lead planner for Sandra Bettina Wedding and Events, said that nearly all events were postponed or cancelled at the start of the pandemic. As COVID-19 progressed, brides and grooms to be tried to slot their special days within restriction-free windows.

"The constant opening and closing, opening and closing, and opening," she told CTV News Edmonton. "It was just a lot.

"You couldn't catch up with how quickly the government was saying yay, nay, yay, nay."

Cassios said planners are struggling to catch up not only to a wedding backlog but also to new recently engaged couples trying to get married while large gatherings are permitted.

"That's where the challenge comes," she added.

Kelsey Wangler, event manager at the Enjoy Centre in St. Albert, said the event space for large gatherings is already booked solid for 2022, with only some limited availability at smaller spaces left.

"This year is jam-packed with people being really excited to finally be getting to celebrate and celebrate with their friends and family in a way that they really imagined for all this time," Wangler said.

"2022 is wild," she added. "I think if we could have Monday (and) Tuesday weddings, we would because there is so much demand."

Unfortunately, roadblocks are still materializing for planners, this time in the form of supply chain issues.

"A lot of rental companies are coming to us saying we don't have those chairs anymore, they've been damaged or we've had a flood, or we don't have those linen, or we've overbooked by accident," Cassios said.

"Because there is such a backlog, us wedding planners we're all competing for the same cool new chair," she added. "We all want that cool chair, but there's only so many in the city."

While many couples are planning large gatherings, some still want to proceed with smaller and more intimate ceremonies, Wangler said.

"I think the mentality and sentiment for a lot of people are that now that we can have bigger weddings, they want bigger weddings," she said. "On the other hand of things, I think what COVID did do for a lot of people is really force them to rethink what a wedding looks like."

Sandra Holmes, operations manager, says business is looking up at the Foundry Room, with wedding bookings reaching back to pre-pandemic levels and other corporate events restarting.

"The last two years have been kind of like a waiting game," Holmes said. "It really hasn't been until a couple of months that it's been full steam ahead.

"People are ready to celebrate and get back their past two years," Holmes added. "It's very exciting. We are ready." 

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