SEATTLE — After more than a year of COVID-19 mandates, people are ready to gather again.
This is causing a huge influx of weddings and events that planners, venues and caterers are struggling to find the capacity for.
Bj Duft is the owner of Herban Feast, a Seattle-based company that caters and operates several different venues, including SODO Park.
In a typical year, Duft said Herban Feast does around 550 events but not in 2020.
“Devastating, yep...we lost 93% of our revenue,” Duft explained.
Wedding planner Rebecca Grant was in the same boat.
“Hands down, bar none, 2020 was certainly the most stressful year I have ever been through in my career,” said Grant, owner of New Creations Wedding Planning.
Now the tables have turned.
After Gov. Jay Inslee set June 30, 2021 as the full reopening date for Washington, people rushed to book events.
“We're getting so many last-minute calls right now for 2021," Duft said. "It's just crazy. Now we're on the opposite end of the spectrum of 2020, where we have more demand and the lack of supplies."
“I shouldn't be able to book any more couples," Grant said. "Obviously, I have to live and so I did book 11 more. So, I have 42 weddings this year, which is insane, and so I’m just trying to survive."
So, what is the advice from the wedding planning pros?
“I would say 2023 is your year. I just think that there's going to have to be an insane amount of flexibility, “ Grant said. “Try and find that vendor that's still going to do an incredible job for you. But somebody that might just be starting out or might have just launched a business.”
Another big problem for the hospitality industry is a hiring crisis.
Many businesses can’t find enough people to fill vacant positions and are actively hiring after having to lay off and furlough employees during the pandemic.