Expert: After a rough year, the Midstate’s wedding industry is thriving

Coronavirus in Pennsylvania

HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) — After more than a year of last-minute changes, an expert says the local wedding industry is back on track and actually thriving.

“We were up until about June, last year, we were hoping to have a normal wedding with a full guest list and all that stuff,” said Justin Baer of Camp Hill.

As time went on, Baer and his then-fiancé Jess Hammaker decided to change course.

“We ended up just getting married in my parents’ backyard on our original wedding date and then moved our bigger celebration to September of 2021,” said Hammaker.

“Having been through the pandemic, people are valuing the ability and the freedom to celebrate,” said Susan Moran of That’s It! Wedding Concepts and Hammaker and Baer’s wedding planner.

Moran says about one third of her clients do what Hammaker and Baer do, and are currently planning what she calls a “pivot celebration.” One third pushed their entire wedding back, and the other third was fine with having a small ceremony and moving on.

Moran says the challenges of the pandemic have forced creativity and made whatever couples choose more meaningful.

“I’ve been doing this 13 years and in all my years, yes I’ve seen joy, but nothing like last summer,” said Moran. “Everyone was so…oh I tear up. Everyone was so excited to be with each other.”

“The day ended up being perfect. Everything we could ask for,” said Hammaker.

For Moran, this wedding season is jam-packed with new clients and those who changed dates or added parties. She says local venues, caterers, photographers, florists and musicians have been more than accommodating.

“In the South Central PA region, we have an incredible group of vendors,” said Moran. “They have all bent over backwards on the one hand to make the clients feel confident and comfortable, and on the other hand to be able to care for and nurture their businesses.”

An already detail-oriented industry now includes a focus on changing safety protocols and even fun new, elements, like monogramed masks.

With more vaccines and less restrictions, Hammaker and Baer are excited for their reception in the fall.

“It increases our chances of family and friends coming from afar,” said Baer.

The couple also had to reschedule their honeymoon; they’re hoping to make it to South Africa at some point this year.

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