Local business owners in the wedding industry have dealt with highs and lows since the start of the pandemic, but are optimistic about the next couple of years.
Makeup and hair business
Lauren Simpson, a Meriden-based wedding makeup artist and hairstylist, owns LA Page Makeup. In 2020 over half of her scheduled weddings were canceled or postponed.
“I’m twice as busy this year from all the rescheduled weddings that were pushed to this year,” Simpson said.
She travels throughout the state and often to New York, Massachusetts and Rhode Island. The weddings that are being held are much smaller, she said.
“I used to do the bride and maybe 10 or 15 bridesmaids,” she said. “Now I may just be doing the bride or possibly one or two bridesmaids.”
The break from weddings at the start of the pandemic gave Simpson time to launch a cosmetics brand — Emerge Cosmetics, which includes lipstick and lip gloss.
While there were only 1.27 million weddings in 2020, a total of 2.47 million are expected in 2022 – the most in a year since 1984, according to My Wedding Report, a source of statistics for the wedding industry.
Meriden makeup artist and photographer Amelia Mirabello said she is booked through November.
“With the adoption of digital opportunities for clients to utilize and inquire, my bookings went through the roof,” Mirabello said. “My Instagram has grown from 8,000 followers to over 15,000 since the start of the pandemic. This year, I’ve had the most weddings I’ve ever had.”
Mirabello is happy business has picked up, but is also focused on protecting the health of her and her clients. She has taken courses on maintaining a healthy work space.
“It’s been a scary time for me because my profession is touching people’s face,” she said. “My main focus is protecting myself and my clients. Safety must come first.”
Ana Parzych owns Ana Parzych Cakes based in Cheshire. The shop specializes in high-end custom designed wedding cakes, although they create specialty cakes for other celebrations.
“Wedding cakes comprise about 90 percent of our sales, so we basically had no income for majority of 2020 until early 2021,” Parzych said. “Meanwhile, we still had overheard costs — rent, utilities, insurance — and incurred product loss.”
Parzych said because the cakes are intricate and time consuming, she only takes about 35 to 40 orders per year. In 2020, 26 orders were postponed and five were canceled.
Other obstacles the business has encountered included staffing and vehicle rentals for cake transportation. Because the price of ingredients and supplies have increased around 30 percent, her cake prices increased.
“We already have a record number of bookings for next year,” she said. “I’m also looking to devote more time to developing a wedding cakes online master class and to teach in person during my slower months.”
Kristin Gudaitis, owner of Dynamite Designs in Wallingford, said she has taken a step back from selling bridesmaids dresses after noticing a shift in trends.
“Some websites have made it much easier to have dresses readily available,” Gudaitis said.
After Dynamite Designs relocated to a smaller location at 300 Church St., she began focusing more on formal prom attire and homecoming and mother of the bride dresses.
Aqua Turf in Southington reopened in May 2021. Manager Jeremy Otano said since then the venue has inquiries every day for weddings and have been hosting weddings every weekend.
Knowing the number of weddings will increase in 2022, Otano said he is looking forward to great changes for the business.
“I’m hoping to get back to where we were years ago,” he said. “I hope we can get to a place where we are holding 12 weddings in one weekend.”