Future June brides and grooms have their sights set on July and August as the fiancées and their favorite venues move towards a faltering recovery and reopening from COVID-19.

“So people aren’t that scared. They don’t move things the way they moved them before or cancel them or whatever, ”said Peter Rosskothen, owner of the log cabin and Delaney house in Holyoke, two of the region’s top venues for spring events like weddings and proms. “But the June couple are very conservative. There aren’t many of them. But July, August, September, this is absolutely mixed up. “

He predicts his wedding business will be 40% to 45% lower in 2021 than it was in 2019.

“It’s good news,” said Rosskothen.

That’s because the wedding business was basically zero in 2020.

Peter Rosskothen on the terrace of his log cabin banquet house in Holyoke, March 24, 2021. (Don Treeger / The Republican)

And weddings and what Rosskothen calls “social events” like showers are returning more strongly than other events. He estimates that 70% of the schools that normally book proms with him have canceled and the other 30% are on the fence.

He only gave them until mid-April to decide.

And corporate events aren’t happening this year, he said. Businesses typically book now or in the next few weeks for recognition evenings and / or Christmas parties that would take place in the last three months of the year.

“These corporate events seem like the last things to come back,” he said.

But weddings are coming back.

“Most of them are looking to the second half of the year,” he said.

Besides moving months, some couples are looking for non-traditional places. Storrowton Village on Big E in West Springfield has been hosting weddings at its Greenwich Barn since last year, said Jessica K. Fontaine, director of the Storrowton Village and Museum, which works with Storrowton Tavern on weddings.

This is the North Center School on the Big E grounds, which is becoming increasingly popular as a small wedding venue (Hoang ‘Leon’ Nguyen / The Republican).

The historic barn was not a wedding venue before the pandemic. But a couple called in November and were dying to use a smaller room to meet occupancy requirements.

“It was just the perfect special wedding for her,” she said. “To use this room with the fireplace.”

Now couples are checking out the Big E for even smaller museum spaces that aren’t normally available for weddings – like Storrowton’s quaint schoolhouse – for intimate ceremonies for five to ten people.

“It’s people who are getting used to our way of life,” she said. “People feel more comfortable in their small groups.”

Suzy Fortgang, owner of Valley View Farm in Haydenville, an indoor or outdoor wedding company that’s in its fifth year of operation, said she could only host 15 to 20 very small weddings.

“For couples who felt they wouldn’t have wanted to do it any other way,” she said.

But such a dreamy conversation won’t pay the bills in an industry where the average 2019 wedding in Massachusetts was 130 guests and was $ 34,679, according to website The Wedding Report. That $ 35,000 figure made the Massachustts the third most expensive of the 50 states plus Washington, DC

And the food and housing sectors of the economy are still struggling to maintain and regain employment before the pandemic.

As of March 22nd, state COVID guidelines allow indoor gatherings for up to 100 people. Outdoor gatherings in venues or public places are now limited to 150 people.

These new limits, announced March 18 in Boston, have sparked a shift among consumers, said Tim Garstka, sales director at The Big E, who said the people there booking weddings are in a rush.

“Your phones lit up for the first time in a long time,” he said.

Rosskothen said the average wedding in the state is about 130 guests. So new guidelines fit this size.

But he said it would be helpful if the state gave more confidence to wedding consumers by announcing now what the rules will be like in months if certain benchmarks are met.

The log house

The carpets are being cleaned at the Log Cabin Banquet and Meeting House in Holyoke as they prepare for more weddings and events this year. (Don Treeger / The Republican) March 24th, 2021

Consumers are asked to book now without knowing how large the group or other restrictions will be.

“There are people who don’t want to take the risk,” he said.

President Joe Biden has discussed bringing the country closer to normal and making it more advisable to hold small meetings by July 4th. Health professionals have talked about Labor Day as a return to more normal activities.

At Valley View Farm, Fortgang said it could offer indoor and outdoor options, including a pavilion that is open on all four sides.

“So we have a built-in rain alternative,” said Fortgang. “Couples are very flexible in their plans and we look forward to getting back to work.”

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