Since August 2019, around 45 weddings have been postponed or cancelled at different wedding venues in Squamish.
First came the closure of the Sea to Sky Gondola, its cable cut by a yet-to-be-identified assailant on Aug. 10, bringing operations to a halt and leaving plans for booked weddings up in the air. The Sea to Sky Gondola’s Christy Allan confirmed 22 weddings were cancelled or postponed because of the incident.
Then in November, the Cheakamus Centre cancelled 23 weddings booked at their venue for 2020. The Re/Form Conference is going ahead on March 19 and 20, and the Centre said educational programming will continue.
In an email on Jan. 3, the Cheakamus Centre’s spokesperson, Sepideh Tazzman, said “The Environmental Learning Centre space will be unavailable while repairs are taking place. The space is still being used until the repairs begin.”
On Jan. 3, the recently re-opened Fergie’s Cafe said it has to close for repairs in the kitchen until March 2020. The restaurant is part of Sunwolf, a popular wedding venue on Squamish Valley Road.
In an email, owners Jessamy and Jake Freese told The Chief, “The recently announced two months closure of Fergie’s Cafe is not going to affect our Sunwolf Riverside Resort weddings this summer in any way. Our events team contacted each couple prior to our public announcement to alleviate any concerns they might have had.”
While it is difficult to track just how many couples get married in the Sea to Sky on any given year, the Sea to Sky Wedding Collective said a professional wedding, at minimum, supports 15 local businesses. Destination weddings can support more than 20, the Collective’s Angela Bliss, Caroline Hyatt, and Lindsay Nevison told The Chief in a joint email.
“The cancellations of the Sea to Sky Gondola and Cheakamus Centre have unfortunately put all those booked couples back on the market to find a new wedding venue. If you thought finding a spot on your specific date was hard enough a year in advance, then finding one in a couple of months is going to be a much larger challenge,” the women said.
“All of these couples will have also found out about the cancellations on the same day or week and that can sometimes cause a surplus of people booking up whatever last available dates are out there for 2020.”
The circumstances mean couples may relocate their weddings outside of the corridor so they can keep their wedding date.
Vendors — including accommodations, caterers, DJs, makeup artists, and photographers — are often booked after venues, and some hire their staff based on their booked gigs.
“Although they do normally take deposits, the loss of working the wedding is greater, both financially and [for] publicity,” the women said of vendors.
And it’s not just the vendors who are financially impacted. As weddings often bring out-of-town or international guests to the Sea to Sky, such events add to the tourism industry and local businesses.
“If these types of cancellations continue to happen, it could leave future couples worried that the Sea to Sky region is not a reliable place to plan their special day. It also means less exposure to guests that would be potential returning tourists. Both would mean less money being put into our community, less work for those businesses and local employees,” the women from the Collective added.
But there’s still hope for these couples to get married in the Sea to Sky, especially those who can be more flexible on the date of their wedding. The Collective recommends hiring a wedding planner who is familiar with the area.
“There are a lot of locations in the Sea to Sky that are still hidden gems. These types of unforeseen circumstances have allowed many small, somewhat undiscovered business to come to the forefront and showcase what they have to offer. Some of these businesses have never considered hosting weddings but saw an opportunity and it has become beneficial for everyone.”
*This story has been updated, as it previously identified the Sea to Sky Wedding Collective as the organizers of the Sea to Sky Wedding Show. This is not correct.