As a lengthy winter reluctantly releases its grip and summer looms, wedding planners in Cochrane are busy preparing for the season.
People who make their living planning weddings are forecasting a hectic season as pent-up demand means things should get back to normal.
After working in the business for a few years, Cailin Billings took the leap into starting her own business in 2020, just before the COVID-19 pandemic hit, which prompted many couples into postponing their nuptials.
Now, her company Cailin Billings Events is almost booked up for the summer.
She said couples can do it all themselves, but should be aware of the time commitment, and anticipate surprises.
Things like whether or not to have a cash bar may present a conundrum.
“That’s a huge ‘no-no’ in the etiquette world, however many people do it and that’s fine, but you wouldn’t have guests to your home and have them pay for a glass of wine with dinner, so you shouldn’t on your wedding day.”
Other things that may surprise people include making sure there’s power for the DJ, how much to tip vendors, how to set up a gift registry, who gets invitations (everyone over 16 years of age), etc.
The average wedding takes between 100 and 400 hours to plan, according to Billings.
Having a planner can save time, stress, and money, she said.
Some couples are opting to have their officiant (the person leading the ceremony) be a family member or friend. Anyone can pre-qualify online. Billings called it a bit of a trend.
And ceremonies don’t have to be completely serious, apparently.
Billings said at one wedding, when the groom was asked if he takes his soon-to-be bride as his “lawful wedded wife” he turned to huddle with the groomsmen as if discussing his future before turning back to say “I do.”
She currently does local weddings only, but may add destination plans to her suite of services.
Chelsea Landaverde at Something Azul does destination weddings exclusively. She said there are many reasons it works for a lot of couples.
“It’s a lot less expensive. A lot of people have family spread out all over, so it’s just fun to go for an entire week, and celebrate the union of the couple,” she said.
Landaverde said some groups go back to the sunny destinations to re-create how much fun they had the first time.
She said destination weddings are less stressful.
At big local weddings, Landaverde said, couples can end up “running from table to table trying to say ‘hi’ to everybody and squishing it all into a few hours, whereas at a destination wedding, you get seven days to interact, and then more time to celebrate the union.”
Landaverde said an average destination wedding comes in around $10,000, not including airfare, compared to the Canadian average cost of a local wedding at around $30,000.