LaLonde's Bridal Boutique in downtown Johnson City. (Madison Mathews/Johnson City Press)
After opting for smaller affairs over the last several years, brides and grooms are beginning to say “I do” to bigger ceremonies, according to local wedding business owners.
While June is still considered by many to be the traditional wedding month, some local businesses stay busy the entire year.
“We don’t have a wedding season. It is year-round,” said William Bailey, co-owner of The Charles, a downtown Johnson City event venue that has been home to weddings for about 10 years.
Bailey said he has noticed a shift from smaller ceremonies to larger events this year as the economy has become stronger.
“I think it’s because the economy has returned and people are tired of hearing that it hasn’t even though pocketbooks are saying that it has. People are letting go of their money back to the days of the big weddings,” he said.
During the recession, Bailey said most weddings and receptions that were held at The Charles saw ceremonies that averaged anywhere from 50 to 100 guests.
“This year, we are seeing them back up to pre-recession levels of the 200, 250 to 300 receptions,” he said.
Of course, some brides and grooms still prefer smaller ceremonies, and venues like The Range House, 2823 E. Oakland Ave., are perfect for intimate weddings.
The Range House is one of the oldest buildings in Johnson City. Built in 1796, the house now serves as a popular wedding venue owned and operated by Sam and Joan Humphreys.
While The Range used to cater to larger events, Joan said she has scaled things back and tries to schedule smaller ceremonies of about 30 to 50 people now.
“I go for the small, personal, very intimate weddings,” she said. “You constantly book some, but it’s more than just a business. It’s something that we enjoy and I want to keep it at a pace that I can enjoy it.
The Range has had about four ceremonies this month, and most of them have been fairly small affairs.
“Usually, April, May, June are very busy. July is kind of a slower month because it’s hot, but some do them in the evenings,” Joan said.
When it comes to preparing for the wedding day, most of the planning is done far in advance, which means a slower month for dress and tuxedo shops, like LaLonde’s Bridal Boutique on South Roan Street in downtown Johnson City.
“It was a good year so far. June is the wedding month but from our perspective, the people that are getting married in June already have their dresses and everything, so June is not a great month for us as a store because everything was done prior to June,” owner Linda Fields said.
Fields said the first quarter is typically very strong as people order their dresses, suits and other wedding party garb, but business slowly declines over time.
“It’s very specialized, so our first quarter is really good and from then on, it’s hard to say. The economy fluctuates so much right now that we can’t project like we used to,” she said.
Sara Schwenke has been planning weddings for about nine years.
While she hasn’t been involved in many weddings over the last several months, Schwenke said she has two large weddings coming up in the fall.
While bigger weddings are making a comeback, Schwenke said it’s because brides are saving more money doing things themselves — mainly because of social media sites like Pinterest.
“I’ve found that a lot more brides are doing their own stuff, printing their own invitations and saving the money on those ends and making the reception bigger where they’re not having to spend a whole lot of money on the things they can do on their own,” she said.