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Tallahassee Wedding Industry Is Rebounding After Pandemic Lull

Man in suit and woman in wedding gown stand in front of a female officiant holding a book
Kate Bellflower
Bellflower Photography
Tallahassee-based wedding professionals say the local wedding industry is beginning to pick back up.

The wedding industry is one of many that saw a dramatic drop off in business during the pandemic. Many Tallahassee couples chose to postpone their nuptials amid fears of transmitting the coronavirus during large gatherings. Now that the CDC has lifted some regulations and vaccines are plentiful, wedding professionals say business is starting to pick back up again.

Bryan Honhart is a Tallahassee-based wedding photographer. He says once pandemic guidelines against large gatherings were announced, his business dropped about 75% during the pandemic.

"We quickly learned to pivot to do more of different styles of shoots to just help us survive. My wife and I are in a bit of a different situation in that we are a husband-and-wife team that both do wedding photography. So, we don't have a sort of a safety net by having a spouse that might be in a different type of industry," Honhart says.

Their business, Black and Hue Photography, stayed afloat by doing maternity and newborn shoots. Event and wedding planner Christie Woodrow also had to change her business model. She says all her clients rescheduled their weddings—some more than once—forcing Woodrow to focus on what the industry calls "elopements."

"Your average elopement is fewer than 12 people, but you still really need professional assistance—you still need an officiant. It really still helps to have a planner for logistics. It really helps to have a florist for a nice bouquet, and I usually also recommend a hair and makeup artist and photographer," Woodrow says.

Woodrow says she partnered with other local business owners to offer elopement packages to couples choosing to postpone their weddings. John Gandy is another Tallahassee-based event planner. He says he lost hundreds of thousands of dollars when all his corporate events were canceled last year. As for weddings, he says those mainly were rescheduled.

"In March, April, May, June of last year, there was so much uncertainty. So much skeptical thoughts on, you know, even health issues and what would happen, and so people were so hesitant to do anything, but now people are moving forward definitely to proceed like they've always planned on," Gandy says.

Honhart says his business has bounced back to what it was like before the pandemic.

"There is a sort of backlog of all of these brides that have wanted to get married last year that are now pushed to any available date they can find this year and the following. We have people writing us for weddings as far out as 2023 already," Honhart says.

But Woodrow says the wedding industry isn't out of the woods yet.

"A lot of us are still really hurting financially from last year. A lot of us are still trying to re-engineer our business models to meet the new needs," Woodrow says.

Woodrow says she's seeing an upward trend for her business and is trying to help others out by hosting a mock wedding this Sunday where wedding vendors can show off their skills. The results from the mock wedding will be posted here.

Robbie Gaffney graduated from Florida State University with degrees in Digital Media Production and Creative Writing. Before working at WFSU, they recorded FSU’s basketball and baseball games for Seminole Productions as well as interned for the PBS Station in Largo, Florida. Robbie loves playing video games such as Shadow of the Colossus, Animal Crossing, and Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles. Their other hobbies include sleeping and watching anime.