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Wedding industry boom putting vendors in a hiring crisis

Many wedding vendors are down staff after layoffs and can’t find enough people to work the number of events they’re booking.

KENT, Wash. — More than 50% of weddings in 2020 were postponed or outright canceled because of the COVD-19 pandemic, according to Wedding Wire.

This put a strain on wedding vendors, with some closing their doors permanently. Most vendors ended up laying off employees to survive, forcing the industry into a hiring crisis and making it hard for couples trying to plan weddings to find available vendors.

Prop Gallery Events is a Kent-based company that decorates and builds customized props for parties in western Washington.

“Gosh, in 2019 we did about 300 events, and of those, about 200 were weddings,” said Prop Gallery Events Owner Greg Olsen. “So, it’s a really core part of our business.”

But 2020 hit Olsen’s company hard.

“We had to furlough a lot of valuable employees,” explained Olsen. “I think we went from 20 employees down to six or seven. It was hard because some of the people worked for us for a really long time and were really good workers.”

But business has picked up tenfold.

Companies are booking events left and right as the state prepares to fully reopen, putting them in a hiring bind.

“It has been challenging because of the [business] ramp up,” said Row Wamil, vice president of sales and events for Prop Gallery Events. “It’s so quick. That part has been really challenging, and I think I know all the businesses are struggling to find our people.”

“It definitely opened up the floodgates for even last-minute bookings for 2021,” explained wedding planner Rebecca Grant.

Many Vendors are down staff after layoffs and can’t find enough people to work the number of events they are booking.

The advice from Grant, a long-time wedding planner, is to book and book fast if you are getting married anytime soon.

“There’s no room for really sitting on your laurels and making that decision of like, do we want to book this place? Or do we want to book this vendor? You're really going to have to make very decisive decisions,” Grant explained.

Prop Gallery Events is excited to be booking clients again, but the bottom line is, they need some help.

“Hospitality is going to come back strong; we just have to the people,” said Olsen.

Many people in the wedding industry are hopeful workers will feel more confident returning to hospitality jobs after June 30, 2021, when Washington state is expected to fully reopen.