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'Normal' wedding season is underway in Minnesota

Wedding planning is known to be a stressful time in anyone’s life. There are food, venue and floral arrangements to consider, but what about a global pandemic?

Weddings were all over the board, and regulations changed several times, said Christy O’Keefe, chief operating officer of the Bavaria Downs event venue in Chaska.

While some couples chose to celebrate their big day anyway, others postponed their wedding for when they felt more comfortable. It was a challenging, emotional and rewarding time, O’Keefe said.

“You really felt like you made it through with the couples when it came to their event day. By the time their event day arrived, we had all been through so much,” O’Keefe said. “I think that we felt closer.”

It’s pretty safe to say that weddings are back to “normal,” according to O’Keefe. However, she has noticed that guest counts have tended to be smaller since the pandemic began.

O’Keefe oversees three venues — Bavaria Downs, A’BULAE and the Van Dusen Mansion, as well as another company called Bellagala — that offers wedding services. Between those venues, nearly 1,000 weddings were postponed, she said. In Minnesota, the prime wedding season is May-October on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays. Because those days were taken so quickly, people are now booking weekday weddings, she said.

“That’s something we’re seeing that’s changed and I think is really neat,” O’Keefe said. “It’s great for couples because the rental rates and food and beverage minimums are typically lower on weekdays and it’s become acceptable to have a weekday wedding.”

Feeling of normalcy

While wedding planning feels back to normal, it all depends on the couple, said Melody Hall, owner of Events by Melody, a wedding planning and design company based out of Savage. There are some couples who never even mention the word COVID-19 and others who require guests to be vaccinated or test before the event, she said.

One bump in the road that Hall mentioned was that when the week of the wedding rolls around, some guests need to drop out because they test positive. While it’s unfortunate because meals have been planned and seating charts are completed, she encourages couples to just enjoy their day.

Hall is relieved with the state of weddings today. She said it’s nice to see couples not having to worry more than usual since wedding planning is already stressful enough without having a pandemic. However, in the back of her mind she still wonders what winter will look like, since a good number of weddings are planned for November and December.

“It’s always in the back of my head and I’m guessing a lot of our couples too, but it does feel good to kind of have a little more normalcy, if you will, in the wedding industry,” Hall said.

A relaxing big day

Champagne and Lace, based out of Savage, started as a full service wedding planning and coordination business, said owner Jennifer Brisson. Because of the pandemic, it has shifted into floral design and rentals because of the lengthy lead times, she said.

The biggest change Brisson has seen since the beginning of the pandemic is that weddings have become much more relaxed. Clients are taking a longer period of time to enjoy the engagement and to plan the wedding, she said, adding they want the wedding experience to be just as relaxed. Some couples are even having their ceremony one day, going out to breweries afterward and having their reception the next day.

“They’ve just now realized what is more meaningful to them within their event.” Brisson said. “It’s just more about the experience and enjoying the moment.”

Brisson has noticed many more outdoor weddings and receptions in a tented space. Whether that is 45 people in a backyard or 100 people in a beautiful venue, outside is the way to go at this point, she said. She is also seeing people including experiences within their reception, such as cigar rolling or caricature artists.

While everyone will have their own perspective on the current state of weddings, Brisson is loving every second of it. She enjoys seeing each of her client’s true selves and getting to know couples before their big day.


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