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Schedules packed for wedding businesses as restrictions loosen, make-up dates approach

Big weddings are back in season as COVID-19 restrictions loosen. This means that wedding venues, caterers and photographers are making a comeback after a particularly undemanding year.

After a long period of isolation, wedding guests are ready to make an appearance now more than ever.

Carmen Bush, owner and coordinator of Bush House Estate in Muncy, is no stranger to big weddings, with a nine-acre outdoor venue that can hold up to 200 guests. As indoor weddings were restricted, Bush explained that the estate persisted with outdoor events. Several wedding parties that initially were set to have indoor weddings instead moved their ceremonies to The Bush House Estate because of the availability of outdoor space.

As outdoor weddings provide a larger space for new coming weddings, the estate has a busy year ahead.

“This is a busy year…I have some openings in July and August,” Bush said.

In addition, the venue has a 6,000 square-foot house, with rooms that can accommodate for smaller, more private gatherings,

With the promising year ahead, some wedding specialists are expanding their services. Caterer Chef Richard “Hosch” Hoschar, owner of The Carriage House by Chef Hosch & Ann Catering Inc. has an open availability of space. Along with a flexible catering service, Chef Hosch explained that the two story carriage house is the perfect space for an intimate event.

“They design the menu…everyone gets to choose what they want…tell me what you want, we can make it fit,” Hoschar said.

As many wedding parties chose to limit their guest list during the midst of the pandemic, Hoschar explained that they were able to stay engaged with smaller events. “Only about 2 canceled, the rest just pushed to different dates…most have shrunk down to smaller rooms, smaller groups.”

“The property is surprisingly private, and peaceful … because of the trees and landscaping. Something is always in bloom,” she said. “People keep using the word character about the property. It’s very unique.”

“People downsized last year. A normal year people would invite 150 people. Now people are tired of being in the house, the reply rate is much higher. Weddings are much bigger,” explained Janet Jackson, owner of Eat & Run Catering in Williamsport.

Along with new bookings ramping up, wedding specialists are also now catching up with rescheduled events.

“We are crazy busy…we have calls everyday about all kinds of events. …We have multiple weddings each week. A lot of people have moved from last year to this year, along with new people (booking)…my best advice is, if you’re getting married in the next two years, you should book your caterers early.”

Tiadaghton Farm, a wedding venue in Jersey Shore, was also able to hold some weddings last year due to their accommodating outdoor space. With some wedding parties choosing to push their dates back, this coming year is looking particularly busy for the venue,

“We’re able to hold all of the weddings that were to be held last year. …We have more weddings this year than we have had in the past,” said Michele Rozenberg, owner of Tiadaghton Farm.

“Last year we did have people that continued with their weddings…we have a lot of outdoor space. That helped people to spread out…we are on our 50-acre farm. We have a big area for people to spread out and enjoy.”

Another partly outdoor venue that has remained accommodating to large outdoor events is 1900 Red Barn in Lock Haven. The spacious, rustic barn that was built in 1900 can fit up to 250 guests. Owners Jeff and Christina Frank are preparing for the wedding season ahead.

“We are having some activities for next year…last summer, who knew what was going to happen,” said Jeff Frank.

With some summer openings, Frank explained that renters get an entire week to have the venue to themselves,

“We have one event per week, so that guests can concentrate on their experience…they have it from Tuesday morning through Sunday evening.”

Wedding photographers alike are feeling the heat with the recent pick up of ceremonies. Alexis Wolfe, owner of Alexis Brooke photography in Williamsport is one of the many local photographers getting back into the swing of things,

“I would say things are normal…it’s just off. When you have a year off, you’re trying to get back into the swing of things at lightning speed.”

Offering advice to potential couples, Wolfe said, “Book earlier than you think. The good photographers are usually booked far in advance.”

Similarly, Amanda Steinbacher, owner of Amanda Steinbacher Photography in Williamsport shared how she and other photographers kept busy during the pandemic, despite the setbacks. “I feel like there have been couples who have thrown out their ideas and visions of their weddings, and have done an elopement style wedding,” she said.

“The way it has been in the industry is, the couples who have had to postpone their date, postponed to 2021 or 2022. Wedding vendors already had booked events for those times, so photographers are feeling the pressure of that.”

“I am fully booked for this year. Next year (2022), I have some openings.”

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