The upcoming wedding season is looking busier than ever, with fewer COVID-19 restrictions, couples are rescheduling their weddings that were canceled in 2020 and many are opting for smaller weddings over big events.
Packed schedules and higher costs have couples booking vendors two years ahead of time. RosePhoto owner Alicia Willett from Charlevoix, said she has one to two weddings every weekend from May through October and already has weddings scheduled in 2023.
“I think a lot of weddings got postponed with COVID and so a lot of people put them off,” Willett said. “And now it’s, in my opinion, changed the wedding timeline. Before, people used to book just a year in advance and it was enough, whereas now, with so many vendors backed up because of COVID, people are booking two years in advance just to get the vendors that they want. And so I feel like it’s going to take several years to go back to the old pattern where, if you got engaged during that winter, you could book a wedding for that following summer. Whereas now to do that, you just almost have no choice in the vendors because it’s just so backed up.”
As a result of booked vendors and continued worry over COVID-19 variants, a popular wedding option has been micro-weddings and elopements.
Lavender Hill Farm, a popular event venue near Boyne City that sometimes hosts weddings, has added packages that cater to couples looking for a smaller ceremony. Packages include elopement, the lavender mini-mony and the lavender little wedding. These span from 10 to 50 guests with the ability to accommodate up to 75 for an additional fee, two to six hour venue rentals, and one to three hours of photography.
Lavender Hill Farm event planner Trisha Lockman said these small, intimate ceremonies have become more popular over the last couple of years. With the smaller, shorter weddings in addition to larger ones, Lavender Hill is hosting more weddings than it ever has in the past.
“We weren’t really sure when we started if this was going to take off and it was going to be something that was going to happen. And it did,” Lockman said. “Even though things are getting back to normal, people are still looking for intimate-type weddings. Whether it’s 10 people for just an elopement or 75 for a little wedding, people are really liking that and they’re liking the fact that it takes a lot of stress off of them.”
Willett also began offering a micro-wedding package for weddings that last 4 hours or less, with the ability to add on hours if needed.
“The smaller weddings totally happened in 2020 after the pandemic and I think they’re going to hang on for a little while because I feel like people notice how special smaller weddings are and the intimate weddings,” she said. “When you only have the people there that you truly love the most and are there for you. I think it’s really caught on and going to become a trend that people just have smaller weddings.”
According to Jim Plouffe, managing partner of Elope Up North, small weddings are nothing new. Elope Up North saw an increase in demand for small weddings due to COVID-19, but since has not seen more demand compared to 2019. Plouffe said there has been a demand for smaller weddings for years, not only are they less stressful and less expensive , but more personal.
“Our whole angle is to give somebody a wedding like a movie star would have by the side of the lake. Without all that drama without all that stress and make it a very memorable package that is about the bride and groom, not about the event,” Plouffe said. “A wedding is a very personal thing, that is really about the two of them. It’s not about the party. So we’re trying to make it very memorable for them, very unique to them and in a gorgeous setting.”
Elope Up North is located on an 18-acre property on the shore of Lake Michigan, four miles from the Mackinac Bridge. With the small wedding size, couples can book in May and get married in the summer, saving time, money and stress that comes with planning a big wedding.
“We’ve known for a long time that those are the unique weddings that are about the couple and about their experience and about their relationship,” Plouffe said “And then the big weddings are about the party and about the expense. So for years we haven’t felt like they were as sincere as smaller weddings.”