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Pemberton wedding industry seeing surge in business

Thousands of people across the country who put their weddings on hold during the pandemic are finally getting married, leading to a surge in business for venues, vendors and planners across the Pemberton Valley.

With the COVID-19 pandemic moving to an endemic stage, venues across the region have reopened over the past several months. Thousands of people across the country and world who had to put their weddings on hold during the pandemic are finally getting married, leading to a surge in business for the Pemberton and Sea to Sky wedding industry. 

“Everyone in the industry is pretty inundated. It’s a massive year, and the reason for that is because people are feeling more comfortable with having celebrations, and we’re getting lots of new bookings and a lot of last-minute bookings,” said Blue Violet Events owner Cailey Wilkes.  

“We also have this backlog of basically two to three years worth of weddings that still hadn’t happened in the last couple of years. So it is insanely busy for all of the vendors and the venues.” 

The backlog has resulted in pent-up demand for weddings surging in the Pemberton Valley, with the celebrations happening even on atypical days of the week.  

“This year, everyone has weddings every day of the week because venues only have certain availability for new bookings,” said Wilkes. 

The uptick isn’t just a trend in the Pemberton Valley. Across British Columbia, the industry has seen a surge in business. 

According to Hellosafe.ca, in the first half of 2022, weddings in B.C. were up 44.5 per cent compared the same period in 2021. This works out to 9,864 weddings, compared to 6,973 in 2021.

Wedding celebrations in B.C. have even surpassed COVID-19 levels, as the industry grew 2.9 per cent in 2022 compared to 2019. The industry generated $145 million more revenue in the first half of this year than the entirety of 2021. Under current projections, the industry is forecast to bring in almost $1.45 billion in revenue by year’s end. 

While the boost in business is exceptional, the industry has also been dealing with record-high labour shortages and inflation rates at their highest level in 40 years. 

“Weddings are definitely feeling the impact of inflation. So what you could get with their current budget, you no longer can, or you have to increase your budget to have the same vision, so everything’s going up in price,” said Wilkes. 

“So you have to change your expectation of what a wedding costs; an average wedding used to cost $30,000 to $40,000; now that’s like $50,000 to $60,000 if you’re looking at a 100-person wedding and want a good variety of vendors.”

The rising cost for venues has led to more people choosing farms and barns in the Pemberton Valley due to the lower upfront cost.

“Farms and barns and the standalone venues where you bring everything in yourself have become really popular again. Probably just because the initial cost looks much lower,” said Wilkes.“Big hotels, big companies, museums and large venues have had to increase their rates because of staffing shortages and food and beverage price hikes.”  

Wilkes cautioned that while that option might be cheaper upfront compared to other venues, people tend to forget about the cost of bringing in outside vendors, which can drive up the cost substantially. 

Ultimately, it depends on the specific wants of the soon-to-be wed. 

“Typically, for a farm wedding that doesn’t have a lot of infrastructures built in, couples will need to consider that. Usually, I find it’s not way more than going with an established venue like a hotel or a resort. It’s comparable, but a lot of it comes down to the couple’s wants and needs,” said Carlee Cindric, owner of Pemberton-based wedding planners, Pocketful Productions.

“If they’re looking for a basic wedding, with some simple decor and florals, it’s quite manageable to keep that potentially even under the cost of a hotel,” said Cindric 

“A lot of it comes down to group size. If you’re doing a 60-person wedding versus a 150-person wedding at a farm, that’s going to make your costs go up or down.”

The pandemic has led to another wedding trend. Now that restrictions have lifted, weddings have of course grown in size from the period when capacity restrictions were still in place, but it remains rare to see the kinds of larger, 100-plus-person weddings that were common before COVID-19. 

“I’m finding that most of the weddings we are working on this year are under 100 people. I think I only have one, maybe two that are above 100 this year, which in the past we would see more, 100 and up. So we’re not at that micro-wedding level. We’re not at that 10-person wedding or that 30-person wedding. It’s hovering around that 80-person mark,” Cindric said. 

If you’re planning your own wedding, it’s best to start organizing sooner than later, Wilkes advised. The surge in demand has led to venues and vendors needing to be booked well in advance. 

“If clients or couples have a photographer or a planner they love, they should reach out to those people quickly before they book up,” she added. 



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