Northern Michigan wedding venues are preparing for an unusual 2021 season of backlog, increased costs, set prices, and ongoing safety commitments.
In 2012, Cheri Scheer and husband Scott acquired a 13 acre farm in East Jordan. Since then, the property’s 4,400-square-foot barn has been renovated for weddings and other special occasions and has been named the Jordan Valley Barn.
Jordan Valley Barn didn’t have to cancel any of their 2020 weddings, some pushed forward later in the season and others made adjustments that weren’t part of the original vision. However, there have been a significant number of non-wedding weekends this summer at Stafford’s Perry Hotel, a popular downtown Petoskey venue.
“We’ve grown to an average of 50 weddings a year,” said Angela Whitener, Stafford’s sales director. “In 2020, we ended the year with a total of 13 weddings – and I think we were lucky in some ways to pull that off.”
Looking ahead to the coming season, both venues are reporting that they have booked quickly for 2021 and couples are calling for as early as 2022, but all package prices are stagnating.
“For the sake of the many people who were so disappointed last year, I kept my prices the same for 2021,” said Cheri Scheer. “We haven’t changed them for 2022 yet, we will eventually, but for now they are all still getting the same price as 2022.”
Stafford repeated a similar message.
“Our labor costs have increased significantly, but we try very hard to keep our prices the same. However, there will be some market volatility through 2021, ”Whitener said.
Some changes being made by venues in the area include installing disinfection stations, new procedures for delivering food to guests, delivering masks to staff and guests, and handling significant disruptions in the supply chain for normal event materials.
In addition to protocol changes, trends in pandemic weddings have also increased costs.
“We had to make sure we upgraded our outdoor WiFi so people could enlarge their ceremony for guests remotely,” said Whitner.
Although weddings may look different for now, representatives say the protocols are working and compliance with regulations keeps the weddings going.
“We followed up with all of our people and we haven’t had a single case of COVID, none of our employees or anyone from our weddings,” said Scheer.
“In the future, we plan to operate by all guidelines. We can do this because we have followed everything according to the book,” said Whitener.
As more and more couples plan weddings, Scheer is reminding couples that the ceremony is special because of its representation, not its appearance.
“Remember, the wedding itself is not about the ceremony. It’s the bridal couple and their love and getting together, ”said Scheer.