(Above) Photo credit: Kevin Cascagnette
Mach speed pretty well describes how fast my 2019 calendar filled. And, as an Officiant that truly loves my work, I was thrilled that by the end of that year my 2020 calendar was virtually booked to capacity for weddings. It would be my busiest and most successful year yet and I was ready for every minute of it. Love was in the air!
Then, as we know all too well, in the blink of an eye, it all came to a screeching halt. Absolutely everything, life as we knew it, completely changed. Initially, I believe there was a “This too shall pass….in a few weeks” type of thinking, but it didn’t exactly go that route.
I remember the day someone said to me “It must really suck to be in the wedding business right now.”
It’s true that for many businesses and services in the wedding industry, it is as though they’ve been hit by a sledgehammer, without question. Right now the industry is looking like a whisper of its former self. It is very reminiscent of the entertainment industry in Toronto during the SARs outbreak and subsequent slow recovery in the years that followed.
As in any crisis, there are some that thrive, those with the ability to adjust on the fly and pivot their businesses around to work within the parameters of a pandemic.
For me, as an Officiant, I learned that despite being knee deep in a public health crisis, couples more than ever wanted to get married. In fact, the demand seemed to rise which, when we stop to think about it, makes sense. When things get dark, we dig down for love, hope and resilience.
With Justices of the Peace, Churches and Town Clerks shutting down in person ceremonial services, that left a lot of work out there for the Officiants.
Interestingly enough, of all the bookings I had in 2020 approximately 70% of those couples decided to go with whatever the regulations would allow them. Either way, come hell or high water, they were going to get married, because it was their plan. They would have a party at another time. And that was that.
What I wasn’t prepared for was the surprising demand for small ceremonies tapping into the Bay area for hosting “le petit wedding” – at cottages, on islands, decks, boats, beaches, rolling hills, farms and those pretty little orchards that run alongside of Collingwood.
In April my phone began ringing with couples looking to draw on the whole Bay area for outdoor weddings. The backdrop of the Bay is an absolute canvas of beauty for any ceremony. Ironically, 2020 ended up being my busiest year ever. 2021 is not looking all that much different. With couples, I encouraged them to embrace the “bigness of the smallness” of their weddings.
The tone of ceremonies, throughout this pandemic has changed the dynamic of the words that we are using. Ceremonies have become far more bespoke and quiet, focusing on resilience and strength. How one officiates a ceremony with a large presence is often very different from how I would officiate a wedding with just a few people around us.
The evocative and rich conversations between myself and a couple, as I joined them into marriage, became simply enchanting. More than ever I am constantly being taken aback at the how resolute we are in our spirit when the matters of true love are at hand.
Smaller weddings also allow for a different kind of creativity. The details can be so much easier to manage. There are so many wonderful local small vendors from florists to private chefs to photographers to cake-makers all across the Bay area, who can make sure that your wedding, even “le petit wedding”, can have all of the magic of the moment.
As we roll into the spring of 2021 and cross our fingers for those jabs in the arms, it will be interesting to see what unfolds for this year and next for the wedding industry.