Kimball Township resident Amy Adams has waited a long time for her wedding.
Adams will marry her fiancée, Sean Bauer, on Nov. 11, 2022, more than three years after he proposed. The date holds a special meaning to the couple. The year 2022 represents Bauer’s sober date of Aug. 22, 2018, and 11-11 signifies a time to make wishes, a special meaning through all of the couple’s ups and downs.
The couple booked their venue of CityFlatsHotel Port Huron in September. Adams said they were told by the venue to book as soon as possible because bookings for the year were going fast and the couple wanted a specific date.
Adams is one of many weddings in a busy 2022 season for the Blue Water Area as several venues and businesses in the wedding industry say their books have increased from the past two years marked by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Jenny Lee, event manager for CityFlatsHotel Port Huron, said the ballroom has about 62 weddings booked for this year, compared to about 37 last year, when the venue was open from June to the end of the year due to COVID-19 gathering restrictions.
From May 2019, when the venue opened, to the end of that year, the venue hosted about 31 weddings, Lee said.
The increase in bookings comes from both newly engaged couples and those that rescheduled their weddings from the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 and 2021, Lee said.
The venue hopes to open the first phase of its hotel sometime this year, which will include 18 rooms, Lee said. That will be a further draw for wedding parties looking to have an all-inclusive venue and place to stay.
Lee said that many of the bookings are from couples who live out of the area, such as the northern Thumb or metro Detroit. The weddings will bring people to experience all downtown Port Huron has to offer, Lee said.
Amanda Bushor, assistant general manager for Doubletree by Hilton Port Huron, and Amber Burch, general manager for the hotel, said more than 50 weddings have been booked for this year, compared to about 35 in 2021, six in 2020 and more than 20 in 2019.
“Since the (COVID-19 gathering) restrictions were lifted last July the (hotel) has performed pretty well from all the pent-up demand in people looking to get out and travel and celebrate those milestones with their family,” Burch said.
The increase in bookings has caused the hotel to shift some of its practices, such as shifting workloads for staff and holding group rather than individual tastings, they said.
Robust wedding season beneficial for small business
Bev Taylor, owner of Royal-T Cakery, said she is seeing about a 75% increase in orders for weddings this year compared to last year.
“We’re going into the biggest wedding season we’ve ever seen,” Taylor said.
While weddings are only about 10% of her business right now, Taylor said she wants to use the increase in requests for weddings to expand her business into that area. Weddings tend to be large, expensive orders that bring in lots of revenue.
“It’s huge for Us,” she said. “We live off orders and they’re huge orders. Typically we sell individual cookies which are $1.50 or a mini cannoli which is $1 and weddings are up to $1,500 or more.”
Brian Wit, co-owner of Ullenbruch’s Flowers and Gifts, said the business is keeping up with this year’s increase in orders for weddings and wedding receptions by hiring two additional staff members. The business hopes to hire more in the future if orders continue to increase.
Wit said the increase in orders helps the business recoup lost revenue from events that were canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The business worked with couples when weddings were canceled to reschedule their orders, rather than demand money for services that were never provided.
“From a business perspective you lose service, but from a humanitarian perspective we’re all sitting in the same boat, let’s make the most of it,” Wit said.
Wit said this year’s increase in orders for weddings comes not only from weddings that were rescheduled from the pandemic, but also from an increase in orders for wedding receptions for couples that are already married, mostly from couples who married in small ceremonies during the pandemic.
Couples seem to be getting back to their normal timelines for orders after the uncertainty of the last two years, Wit said.
“There might be a hint of normalcy coming,” he said.
Contact Laura Fitzgerald at (810) 941-7072 or firstname.lastname@example.org.