Life is normalizing across northern Michigan in many cases, with Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer ending restrictions on the outdoor pandemic on June 1 and all other restrictions ending on July 1.

Earlier this month, the state began resuming indoor wedding events and conference centers with a capacity of 50 percent instead of a maximum of 25 people.

On July 1, Michigan “will no longer adopt comprehensive mitigation measures during the pandemic unless unforeseen circumstances arise,” Whitmer said in May.

With Northern Michigan venues officially entering the summer wedding season, the recent relaxation of restrictions was not only a welcome sight, but also a sigh of relief for many wedding venues.

“We are absolutely thrilled,” said Anora O’Connor, general manager of The Boathouse on Lake Charlevoix, located in east Jordan. “We officially opened last July and of course opened right during COVID, and it had its downsides.

“We look forward to jumping back in,” said O’Connor. “I’ve been in the wedding industry for a long time and I’m happy to be back. Taking a year off was very tough. “

O’Connor noted that The Boathouse – which sits on the facade of Lake Charlevoix and overlooks eastern Jordan – had its first official indoor wedding three weeks ago.

“It was great because last year we had to have our weddings outside in a tent,” said O’Connor. “It was a small wedding, but we managed to hold it inside and it was a great start to our wedding season.”

As for this summer’s wedding reservations, O’Connor said their venue is booked for the remainder of this summer. The boathouse also only has a select number of weekends available for July and September 2022.

“We’re booked for this summer, which is what I was hoping for,” said O’Connor. “I think we got off to a very good start for next year and for us as a new venue it is great to see.”

Reg Smith, chairman of the board of directors of Stafford’s Hospitality, said his organization sees a normal summer form of wedding planning, although guest numbers tend to be lower than before the pandemic.

“We’re now seeing events in the 80-140 or 150 range where it used to be common to have 150-200 people, at least for our particular venue here,” said Smith.

Smith said that given the ever-changing restrictions on indoor events, gathering size, and masking, some hosts may be more conservative and look for a lot of mask use while others may not.

“The challenge for us, and really for any venue, is that you can’t be the police and you have to take people’s word for them that they’re vaccinated and things like that,” said Smith. “We all do that because there is neither a tattoo nor a passport, and neither should there be.

“For me the time has come again that individuals can make their own decisions about whether they can attend these events and whether or not to bring their children with them, whether their children are old enough to be vaccinated or not. they’re all considerations, “said Smith.” We’re not exactly back to normal, but we sure are a lot closer to where we were the past 12-16 months. “

Smith noted at the Perry Hotel in Stafford that most weddings are outdoors and indoor events can still take place but are often less crowded.

“We’re pretty much back to normal with our outdoor weddings at this point, and there are still some technical restrictions on indoor weddings until July 1,” said Smith. “Weddings are largely planned in advance, and even when the rules changed earlier this year and even in November and December, we hoped and expected they would change.”

O’Connor said last year was a difficult time for many venues trying to sift through the changing restrictions.

“It was a lot to make up for those restrictions and what couples wanted to do and ultimately the weddings that we had planned last year, we canceled five of them and one canceled, three moved and one was outside in the tent,” O said ‘Connor.

Despite the challenges of the past year, O’Connor said she couldn’t help but notice how everyone in the northern Michigan events industry has come together and worked to support one another.

“We all have our backs and found ways to make it work,” said O’Connor. “Having a certain season last year and then coming into this season is not a competition and everyone works together. That really came to light during this pandemic.

“It was great to be able to work with other venues.”

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