Ottawa-Gatineau wedding service providers launch new industry association


Local wedding planners, florists, officiants, entertainers and other suppliers say they’re forming a new industry organization to better communicate with government officials and the wider public about how COVID-19 rules on large gatherings are continuing to hamper their sector.

"The government restrictions limiting us to 50 indoor guests for wedding receptions are devastating to our industry,” Stonefields Estate owner Stephanie Brown-Malenfant – who is also a board member of the new Ottawa Gatineau Wedding Industry Association – said in a statement. “Most venues have such high operational expenses that only large events can cover the costs.

One of the issues confronting the wedding industry is a call from some individuals for venues and suppliers to refund deposits because government restrictions – such as maximum guest numbers, physical distancing, mandatory use of masks and a requirement that individuals remain seated throughout the event – mean many couples are being forced to change their wedding day plans. According to a CTV story, a petition launched by an Ontario bride calling for deposits to be refunded has accumulated more than 6,800 signatures.

The Ottawa Gatineau Wedding Industry Association says such a move would have the potential to bankrupt many businesses in the sector.

“When a couple provides their non-refundable deposit for wedding services, they are making a promise,” said Sophie Branchaud, owner of Sage Florals and Designs as well as an association board member, in a statement. “We invest our time and expertise, and we hire staff to work with our couples leading up to their wedding. We spend on equipment, supplies and repairs. It's how our industry works. That initial deposit is spent well before the big day.”