Ontario’s wedding industry is overrun, but is a full recovery within reach?

Couples are finally making their way through the Ontario marriage path after years of pandemic-related restrictions derailed many wedding plans.

For members of the industry, the 2022 wedding season is like nothing they’ve ever experienced. But some wonder what their business will look like after the chaos is gone.

“I’ve been a wedding planner for about 15 years now. This is by far the busiest wedding season I’ve ever seen in my career. It’s insane,” said Shalini Misir, owner of Maid for the Bride and Swag Events in Thunder Bay. , Ont.

Some industry experts say this season has seen a “wedding explosion”, with suppliers falling behind due to pandemic postponement.

“We have about, well, three years of weddings that we do in one year,” Misir said. “It’s all piled up this year and it’s just a non-stop, non-stop wedding season. And we’re here for it and we’re excited about it.

“But it’s crazy.”

Some members of the industry are calling this season a “wedding wave” as suppliers clear a backlog of weddings related to the pandemic. (Mary Maria Photography)

According to Ontario’s Data Catalog, an average of about 61,000 marriages were registered per year from 2015 to 2019. But in 2020, when the pandemic started, that dropped to just over 40,000.

In 2021, the number of registered marriages rose to about 50,000.

Weddings are big business, worth more than $2 billion in Ontario alone, according to consumer information website HelloSafe. The Wedding Planners Institute of Canada, meanwhile, estimates that the Canadian wedding industry is worth $5 billion a year.

A recent HelloSafe article suggests Ontario’s wedding industry lost $780 million in 2020 due to lockdowns and other restrictions. It estimates that 2022 could be a record year overall, with some 70,000 weddings taking place in the province.

Companies are dealing with staff shortages, supply shortages

While members of the industry are excited to get back to work this summer, the marriage boom has faced challenges.

One of the major problems for Misir is a general staff shortage that she has faced at other companies.

“I had to let go of all my planners and coordinators because we didn’t have weddings for two years. So then we had to re-hire and retrain for one of the busiest wedding seasons. It’s been really tough.”

Many vendors work two to four weddings a week, which Misir finds untenable.

“It’s causing a bit of a burnout, I think, across the board. I know the majority of us salespeople usually take a weekend off in the summer to be human. That hasn’t happened,” she said.

“That was the hardest part because I think as wedding sellers, we all give it, we give every wedding our heart and soul.”

Ontario's wedding industry is overrun, but is a full recovery within reach?
Shalini Misir, chief planner at Maid for the Bride in Thunder Bay, Ontario, says this is the busiest in her 15 years as a wedding planner. (Submitted by Shalini Misir)

For Natalia Fernandez, a florist and designer in Thunder Bay, staff shortages and other flower-specific issues in the industry have kept the realities of a pandemic recovery out of reach this season.

“We buy flowers from all over the world. The flower supply is affected worldwide. So not only with COVID, but also with many of the political problems that are occurring in some countries, for example in South America.

“We are now seeing prices from a wholesale level that are unprecedented in the 10 years I’ve been in this industry. I’ve never seen prices like this.”

‘There is no profit margin’

Fernandez said political unrest in countries like Ecuador has created a major problem in the flower industry’s supply chain, forcing her to crack the numbers.

“If you look at the number of weddings I do, it’s like I’m incredibly busy, just like all of us. But if you look at it from a business perspective… just the sheer cost of everything, the profit margin is not there And so, yeah, it’s been a struggle,” she added.

Ontario's wedding industry is overrun, but is a full recovery within reach?
Some experts in the wedding industry think the boom will subside next year, even with many vendors booking as early as 2024. (Mary Maria Photography)

Industry experts believe the current marriage boom will ease next year, even with many vendors booking as early as 2024.

Misir said she hopes the industry will stabilize and grow even after such difficult economic times.

“We’ve seen some of our favorite people lose their businesses or have to close. And now we’re trying to make up for it. We don’t have as many suppliers as we did two years ago and we don’t have as many startups because people are afraid to get into the industry.” steps if it is not so supported.”

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