Business booming for P.E.I. wedding vendors — and it’s not all a COVID backlog – CBC.ca

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Some who work in P.E.I.’s wedding industry say business is booming — and they don’t see the demand slowing down any time soon.

Vendors across the province say 2023 was one of their busiest years yet, and it’s no longer just a post-pandemic backlog driving the bookings.

Tracy Cash, who owns Once Upon a Wedding in Summerside, said the last two years have been busy and staff are already getting ready for next year’s wedding season.

“I think it’s just going to continue because the Island population is growing and we’ve always been a destination location for weddings.” 

Tracy Cash, owner of Once Upon a Wedding in Summerside, reaches for one of the store’s many wedding dresses. (Brittany Spencer/CBC)

Cash says that means clients need to start planning sooner because every vendor — from DJs to makeup artists to florists — is booked solid during the season.

“On the Island, we only have so many vendors to go around, so you definitely see people having to plan well in advance to get those vendors that they’re wanting,” she said.

“Hair and makeup artists are really hard to come by. Officiants, DJs, that type of thing … we’re even noticing the seamstresses are becoming harder and harder to come by, so it’s not necessarily, ‘How long does the dress take to come in?’ It’s ‘How long is it going to take my seamstress now to do the alterations on the dress?’ or even to get in to have that done.”

Wedding season getting longer 

Catherine Simmons, the general manager at Kensington-based Caseley’s Tent and Party Rentals, is also seeing an increase in demand — enough to convince the company to expand.

A woman with glasses and short grey hair stands near a van with signage saying Caseley's Tent and Party Rentals.
Catherine Simmons, the general manager at Caseley’s Tent and Party Rentals in central P.E.I., says they’re running at full capacity. (Brittany Spencer/CBC)

“Our weddings start near the latter part of May and we run right through ’til mid-October,” she said.

“I think you’re seeing that spread because of the demand on the weekends … So when you see that the venues or even ourselves are doing, like, a Thursday wedding, you know that for photographers, caterers and so on, the demand is there.”

Simmons said Caseley’s is already taking bookings as far out as 2025 — a welcome change for an industry that was anticipating a record-breaking year before the COVID-19 pandemic shut down business back in the spring of 2020.

“We expected [2020] to be one of the biggest summers or seasons that we would have in the company’s history, so definitely the growth is there again and we’re seeing it continue into the 2024-25 season,” she said. 

‘We’re running at full capacity’

Simmons says some of that business is thanks to a carryover from the pandemic, when weddings were either delayed or cancelled, but the bulk of their business this year was new weddings.

A wedding dress, a black tuxedo, and another wedding dress displayed on manikins in a shop window
Formal wear on display at Once Upon a Wedding. (Brittany Spencer/CBC)

She said a lot of people from other provinces and the U.S. are now making P.E.I. a destination for their weddings. 

“There’s a lot of weddings coming from out West, from Alberta, and we’re seeing a lot of traffic increase from the U.S. as well,” she said.

“We find we’re running at full capacity. It’s almost like someone turns a tap on and it just starts to flow, so we just keep rolling.

“So the tents go up, the tents go down.”

So what does this all mean for couples planning a wedding in the coming years? Vendors advise booking at least 18 months in advance.

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