With restrictions easing, the wedding industry is hoping for a busy summer

In accordance with the indoor event restrictions, a wedding was held at the Silverthorne Pavilion in October 2020.
Photo by Wild Iris Media

When the COVID-19 shutdown hit last March, weddings were postponed, canceled or downsized significantly. But vaccination efforts coupled with falling case numbers are making the larger wedding-related gatherings more of a summer option, and wedding venues, planners, and caterers are finally starting to book.

According to Silverthorne Arts and Culture Manager Sydney Schwab, the Silverthorne Pavilion is almost fully booked with weekend wedding dates this summer. Schwab said many of the weddings have been postponed from last summer as the pavilion has had to postpone or cancel more than 100 so far due to the pandemic. Other bookings came from couples moving their venue from a smaller location to the pavilion to increase their wedding capacity.

Schwab said the pavilion usually hosts weddings in winter and early spring, but the trend changed this year when the first wedding was booked in late April. While some weddings have been booked for March and early April, they have already been canceled as couples turn to more modest accommodations. Other couples hope they can take more people on a summer booking than current restrictions allow.

A couple will get married in June 2020 at the Silverthorne Pavilion
Photo by Nicole Dawn Photography

“They are all aware of the public health regulations at the moment, so I don’t see any of them cancel unless we don’t reach a higher number of guests,” Schwab said of couples planning their weddings in the pavilion. “They know where we are right now and they keep checking whether we have reached the next level or not.”

The orange level pavilion can accommodate 50 guests at a time under current public health restrictions. If the county’s COVID-19 clock face changes, events can use the state’s social distancing room calculator to determine how many people can attend. Under the yellow level the pavilion could accommodate 80 people. At Level Blue, the pavilion can hold 175 people, which Schwab says is almost the same number of people the pavilion would see for a pre-pandemic wedding. Schwab said the city also hopes Summit County will consider expanding its 5-star corporate certification program to include indoor events in late spring or early summer to increase the capacity of the Silverthorne Pavilion.

Schwab noted that over the past week some couples canceled their summer bookings at the pavilion due to uncertainty over COVID-19 restrictions. She said many of these couples plan on hosting smaller and more informal backyard-style weddings with close family members.

A couple is married in Silverthorne in January 2020.
Photo by Tripp Fay Photography

Elizabeth “Ebs” Long, owner of Distinctive Mountain Events, said her company has also received bookings for new and postponed weddings that have been postponed for this summer.

“The people I work with, who I’ve worked with for a very long time,” Long said. “When I got hired, they even saw June 2021 as normal, even in March when this all started. I think now it’s just a kind of wait and see. “

Long said she thinks couples who have had to postpone their wedding and are now scheduled for this summer will likely keep their new wedding date even if they have to make some changes to their original plan.

“The people who book for 2021 knew this could become a reality,” Long said. “It wasn’t that (COVID-19 restrictions) suddenly came out of nowhere like in 2020.”

However, Long believes that if couples are unable to celebrate the wedding they are hoping for, some weddings may still be postponed. She noted that couples from other states planning their Summit County weddings are often surprised by tighter restrictions, but are more optimistic that restrictions will ease.

Long pointed out that not only has the capacity of weddings changed, so has the planning for a loop. Lange said plans often changed for weddings held under pandemic restrictions – sometimes up to the day before the wedding – which is rare in their industry under normal circumstances. She noted that everyone in the wedding business is eager to work, and as weddings progress in 2021, the pent-up energy could make for one of their best years in the business.

Andre Hampton, owner of Black Diamond Gourmet Catering, stated that since weddings typically represent about 85% of his business, he had to change his business model to cater to smaller, private establishments until larger events could take place again. Hampton said the events he has catered for over the past few months have been run with plates instead of buffets he used to serve. However, he said his call volume had doubled or possibly tripled in the past three weeks as inquiries about weddings and other major events came in this summer.

“I hope for the best,” said Hampton. “I really expect some of these bigger events to happen … maybe not so much in early spring, but I would like to see numbers in the range of 100 in mid to late summer. That’s what I project for. “

While Hampton is optimistic about getting the business going, he found that his catering business is facing the same staffing problems that are occurring across the county’s service industry. He said the suspension of international work visas had further reduced his staff pool.

“Personnel is always a problem in a normal year,” said Hampton. “We had to downsize, and now that we’re rebuilding we’re dealing with staffing issues again.”