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Without Further Ado, Couples Are Finally Saying Their ‘I Do’s’ And Vendors Are Rushing To Keep Up

Utah Wedding Season 2021 Tracy Aviary IM.jpg
Ivana Martinez
Newlyweds Gabriele Phelps (left) and Charly Phelps (right) kiss at the Tracy Aviary and Botanical Garden in Salt Lake City after their wedding ceremony on July 2.

There are flutes of champagne everywhere: on the nightstands, dressers, side tables and in the bathroom as the bridal party gets ready. They're in the maid of honor’s home.

Bride Charly Snyder sits in a makeup chair while her soon-to-be wife Gabriele Phelps sits on the floor a couple of feet away sipping a glass of bubbly.

“It kind of doesn’t feel like it’s going to happen,” Snyder said as her makeup artist applied blush to her cheeks.

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Ivana Martinez
From left, Ryland Sloat, Amber O'Dwyer and and Elle Osborne, right, help Gabriele Phelps get ready for her wedding.

When Snyder proposed to Phelps in Paris, France three years ago, they’d planned on having a long engagement. They did, then the couple began finalizing their wedding plans just as the pandemic hit.

Their engagement became even longer when they had to reschedule.

“I kept joking and saying there was going to be a wildfire this time,” Phelps said.

“Something crazy like there was an earthquake here,” Snyder said. “Now we’re — what — four hours out, obviously it’s going to happen. I’m speaking that into existence.”

Phelps said she'd hoped they would be able to still have their wedding this year but was unsure if it would happen.

“Back in January through March, I was really panicking,” Phelps said, “thinking we were going to have to move it again because the vaccine wasn't really rolled out to the public at that point.”

Now, with COVID-19 restrictions lifted and more than 45% of Utahns vaccinated, their wedding is a reality.

More than 100 people joined the brides as they walked down the aisle and said their vows at Tracy Aviary and Botanical Garden in Salt Lake City on July 2.

It’s one of the many weddings Utah has seen this season.

According to a report by the Salt Lake Tribune, a good portion of marriage licenses were still being sold in Salt Lake County during 2020, but there was a significant drop compared to 2019.

While weddings were still happening, more couples opted for elopements, held virtual ceremonies, or rescheduled their special day. As a result — wedding businesses were hit hard.

From Famine To Feast — Wedding Industry Vendors Scramble To Keep Up

Maxine Turner, owner of Cuisine Unlimited in Salt Lake City was one of those businesses. Turner told KUER in December that she had furloughed her staff of 50 as she waited for Congress to pass another COVID-19 relief bill. In May, her catering company began to slowly come back.

Now, with more Utah couples saying ‘I do’ and hosting bigger weddings, she’s trying to keep up with the demand.

“It has gone crazy,” Turner said. “We have been booked solid with wedding after wedding [and] destination weddings. And we could not be more thrilled. I think it does a lot for the morale of our employees to be busy and to see that there is a breath of life coming back into our industry.”

She said an average size event ranges from 150 people and her largest event so far has been 300. According to the Wedding Report, a research company that collects statistics on the industry, the average cost of a wedding in Utah is just under $20,000 and in 2020 Utah saw nearly 19,000 weddings.

Turner said she had been able to bring back 35 of her employees by the start of the summer.

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Ivana Martinez
Chad Grose organizes wedding dresses at Sweetheart Bridal in Provo, UT on July 23.

Chad Grose, co-owner of Sweetheart Bridal and DC Tuxedos in Provo, said his business is also bouncing back. Last summer at the peak of wedding season he said it would be hours before anyone came in.

“Now, I have people coming to my doors at ten o'clock in the morning when I open at 11:00 a.m.,” Grose said. “I just have a constant flow of people coming in, needing to get sized, needing to pick everything, needing to do something for the event.”

He said every year his company sets a goal to sell a certain amount of dresses by the end of the year, and so far, they’re on track to beat their 2019 record. Grose’s goal this year is to sell over 600 hundred dresses and he said they are over halfway there.

Grose said since COVID-19 restrictions were lifted in April, he’s been working with a lot of couples who eloped last year and are now hosting ceremonies and receptions.

“It’s more than double or triple what I was doing before,” he said. “We’ve kind of rebounded. All these people just want to have these big parties and celebrations and have all these people there.”

As for Charly and Gabriele Phelps, they are saving up for their honeymoon next year — hoping to head to Thailand.

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