OREGON, USA — Local wedding vendors are working on overdrive during peak wedding season across the Pacific Northwest — and with the pandemic still making its presence known, they say that unique challenges have evolved in 2022.
Elisabeth Kramer is a wedding coordinator in Portland. She has several clients who hired her all the way back in 2019 and 2020 who are now able to have the in-person wedding they want in 2022.
Despite vaccines and a much better community understanding of COVID, multiple parts of Oregon and Washington are under "high risk" for the BA.5 variant. That means the pandemic is still part of the modern wedding equation.
Kramer compiled perspectives from vendors around the Pacific Northwest and published them in Portland Monthly this week.
"If you had a plan B, there was also a plan C," said Jaime Ta, another Portland wedding coordinator and cofounder of Vendors of Color. "I had a couple test positive within five days of their wedding."
Ta explained that situations like these show the need for flexible expectations when working to reschedule and pivot.
Both Ta and Kramer emphasized transparency if people test positive for COVID.
"Make sure you tell anyone who was in person at your wedding," Kramer said.
She said that includes both guests and vendors.
"We're the people who go to weddings every weekend, we really need to know too," Kramer said.
Vendors said both inflation and labor shortages have contributed to higher wedding costs this year. Demand for wedding services is also higher than ever.
Before the pandemic, the industry saw about 2.1 to 2.25 million weddings nationally per year. That changed in 2020 when only about 1.3 million got married. Now, rescheduled weddings and new engagements have contributed to nearly 2.5 million weddings expected in 2022.
With all of those dynamics, Ta said couples can save money by adjusting expectations.
"Be flexible with what your original vision might be," she said.
Ta encouraged people to trust wedding vendors and coordinators to find options they may not have thought of on their own. She also said people should consider less popular times to get married.
"Maybe not a Saturday or peak season in the summer," Ta explained.
Although many couples are grateful to be celebrating their big day after many months or even years of waiting, vendors have seen some tensions rise against service industry workers.
"I say every wedding I'm doing now is about 10% harder, and that's because people are exhausted," Kramer said. "But also a lot of people aren't used to folks in the service industry saying, 'Hey, I'm a person too, and I need to be able to talk about this stuff and be paid equitably,' so it's an evolving landscape for sure."
Cherise Klosner is a wedding officiant with Another One Ties The Knot in Washington. She also contributed perspective to Kramer's article.
"As long as you're treating those [vendors] well and you feel this good energy between you, everybody's going to be so much happier," Klosner told KGW in a follow-up interview. "It will come to fruition a lot better when you're on the same page."
"Even though we're being paid to do something and offer a service, it doesn't mean that there isn't a genuine living breathing human behind that," Ta added. "They also deserve to be treated with kindness."
"Give patience, give grace, and we can make it through it," Kramer said. "We've come this far right?"