By Alyssa Schnugg
With no more state or local restrictions in place for large gatherings, and the number of cases of COVID-19 down across Mississippi, events and celebrations appear to be returning to “normal.” That includes the business of saying “I do.”
Now halfway through June, the 2021 wedding season has officially arrived and local wedding planners, venues and vendors are almost as excited as the brides and grooms.
“We are grateful that the whole country is coming through this,” said Margie Green, owner of The Jefferson wedding and event venue in Oxford. “Our brides and families were so patient as we had to sort through last year and the COVID-19 guidelines, but that seems to be behind us now.”
Green said she has booked a “fair number” of weddings for 2022 and is still booking weddings for this year.
“We have some on our books for this summer that were postponed from 2002,” she said. “We are finding that people are just excited about the possibility of celebrating with friends.”
For those couples who went ahead with their weddings in 2020, guest lists were streamlined to meet the state’s COVID-19 guidelines.
Once the COVID-19 vaccinations became available, Green said more people called to book their weddings.
“We’ve seen a real uptick in bookings since the vaccinations,” she said. “So 2022 is filling up and that’s exciting for us as a business. It’s just so fun to be able to finally go to a reception where people can hug each other and dance close to each other. It feels like we are moving toward ‘normal,’ and how exciting that is for everyone.”
Wedding planner Anna Purvis said she hasn’t noted any new or particular trends for this wedding season and that people were just happy to plan their special day without restrictions.
“Some brides seem to be going with a lot of light colors, creams and pastels,” she said.
Purvis said there is a good number of receptions being planned for those couples who chose to get married during the pandemic in small and private ceremonies.
“Now they can celebrate with all their family and friends,” she said.
The Paris-Yates Chapel on the University of Mississippi campus is open for people to book weddings, but there are still a couple of guidelines in place, such as wearing a mask if you are not fully vaccinated.
“We are only hosting one wedding per Saturday instead of two,” said Mary Leach, director of Professional Development & Lifelong Learning. “We may open it back up to two weddings per Saturday in 2022.”
Photographer Bill Dabney said he recently shot a wedding that had been postponed twice due to the pandemic.
“I think we are beginning to see couples once again setting wedding dates with confidence,” he said.
However, despite the overall feeling of pre-COVID-19 life returning, the pandemic may have some lasting effects on weddings and large events.
While the last few weddings he’s photographed saw pre-pandemic practices among the wedding party and guests, Dabney said wedding support personnel – such as photographers, videographers, caterers, bartenders and servers – are still wearing masks.
“I think this practice will continue indefinitely, and I imagine some photographers will continue to wear masks, especially when taking pictures in crowded reception halls.”