Marriage affairs are slowly returning to normal
After a pandemic 2020 year of cancellations and a 2021 year filled with weddings that were due to take place the previous year, life is slowly returning to normal for the businesses serving the bride and groom on their big day.
“People who weren’t able to hold their weddings in 2020 were postponed, some of them were canceled and others held on until we were able to hold outdoor events towards the end of fall,” Rose Grech, owner of Kehoe Farm Events told Clinton. “COVID has pushed everyone’s weddings into the future. People who wanted to get married in 2022 are getting married in 2023. It’s really all turned upside down.
The farm has a barn that can accommodate 100 people, an “enchanted” apple orchard with 10,000 lights strung among the trees that can accommodate 200 people, and a 40-by-60-foot tent that can accommodate 190 people.
“We have a gazebo. We have a corn nativity scene that people marry in front of the entrance. One of our grooms built a barn beam arch and donated it to us, and a lot of people got married under it. … We don’t make them use one place. We have 20 acres. They are only limited by their imagination,” Grech said.
Last year was the worst year. Grech took this case as a retirement project. She helped another venue last year for a wedding and hosted the biggest wedding event on the farm to date with 350 people. She said she would never do that again.
“We only take a certain number of events each year. Last year really exhausted us. In 2021, we played catch-up with a lot of weddings. We’re just a family place and we were really working on our buns,” Grech said. “…It was so packed. Every weekend.
“It was supposed to be our retirement project that we were going to do, hold the ground, meet new people and just have fun and last year was a lot of work. It was hard to find people to work for us We had to raise all wages like we did again this year just to have workers come in to party.
David Perry, the owner of Perry’s Tuxedos in Adrian, said things have dropped significantly since the pandemic began. He used to keep hours at the store six days a week, but once the pandemic started, he only went on appointments from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.
The number of rented tuxedos is also down.
“Since COVID isn’t where it was, but people aren’t spending money the way they used to either because wedding parties are smaller than they used to be. I installed one today with a tuxedo where it’s usually six to 12 tuxedos. There are a lot of three-tuxedo weddings,” Perry said. “Just before COVID it was 6 to 12. Everyone needs to spend less money. Everything costs more, so you have to cut back in some places.
Cori Chrestensen is one of the founding members of 3 Dudes & Dinner at Tecumseh and fulfills many roles for the company including marketing and sales, customer relations, administrative management and operational oversight.
The full-service catering company at 414 N. Evans St. purchased the adjoining lot at 416 N. Evans St. in December and began upgrading the lot in the spring to make it an outdoor event space for weddings and more holidays. It has a fire pit, lawn and patio that can accommodate 100 to 150 people, Chrestensen said.
Last year was a catch-up year for the restaurant industry. The company seeks to expand the outdoor space and reserve it as often as possible.
“From COVID to last year 2021, we were doing weddings that were already planned because some people are already planning these things a year or two in advance, but we also had to incorporate all the rescheduling for the 2020 season,” said Chrestensen. “That’s why we wanted to create this space because we knew that couples had a hard time finding alternative places.”
Emily Kinney, owner of Brooklyn Bridal at 170 S. Main St. in Brooklyn has weathered the pandemic well. The company used to sell prom dresses, but quit in 2020 by chance and saved tens of thousands of dollars on inventory in a year when proms were canceled. The boutique also rents tuxedos.
“Last year we had a lot of last minute weddings and we knew it was coming,” Kinney said. “A lot of people needed their dresses sooner than we could really order them, but we still made it work. We still sell all of our ready-made samples, which is a bit different. Some stores only allow you to order. But it can take six months to get a dress made and shipped. So we had to sell a lot of them, but it was still good. Even for COVID, I think things have come back back to normal pretty quickly for us.
Kinney said the focus has now shifted solely to the bride. She and her co-owner mother, Michelle Kinney, enjoy making wedding dresses the most, Emily said.
“This year has been our best year yet, even during our slowest months, which are normally May, June, July – in the summer when the weddings take place. We’ve had our best year ever and we’ve had so many brides saying “yes.” Brides can be tricky sometimes and they want to go to many different stores. They have to think about it, sleep on it, which of course is normal,” Emily said. “Everyone who comes in here we become friends and they find their dream dress and I’ve only had one this month that didn’t say yes and one last month. Other than that, everything everyone buys her dress. So it was amazing.
Things are starting to look up for high-end transportation providers, but there has been a lot of consolidation and business is nowhere near what it was in the pre-pandemic era.
Mark Grabow, president of operations for Brentwood DET of Fraser, a trolley and limousine company, said his company recently merged with Tecumseh Trolley and Limousine and acquired two other businesses due to the pandemic. He said bringing companies back has been a slow process, but their operational costs have also doubled or tripled.
Summer weddings are starting to return, but the business is seeing only a modest recovery.
“We have about 50 vehicles to choose from, but still at this rate, we end up seeing a lot of gaps from what people are looking for. The equipment just isn’t available anymore,” Grabow said. “They’re looking for big buses. They’re looking for mid-size buses, mid-size equipment, whether it’s carts, limos and a lot of those businesses have closed down permanently.”