“We’ve been in two regimes since COVID, ‘ghost town’ and ‘fucking crazy.'”
This is how wedding photographer Rick Liston sums up the last two years of working in the wedding industry in Victoria.
What was it like to go from months without work to the tidal wave of weddings approaching you?
I talked to a photographer, a florist, a stationery supplier, and a celebrant to hear what it was like for their small wedding venues, now that COVID’s restrictions were easing, they were widening.
Rick Liston, photographer
Rick Liston is a wedding photographer operating in the Yarra Valley, Victoria.
He filmed weddings for seven years and before the pandemic he thought he was busy. It wasn’t until the restrictions ended that he found a whole new meaning for the word.
“Previously [weddings] they were only on weekends and Fridays and I would think, ‘I’m busy right now’. But when you do 115 weddings a season, you say, ‘Wow, is that what is physically possible?’ Says Rick.
“Having said that, I definitely don’t want to be so busy again.”
Rick and others in the wedding industry did not have the luxury of adapting to the “new normal.” When the restrictions eased, after months without weddings – and reduced income – it was their moment.
But getting through the “wave of weddings” the photographer was slowly pushing to burn out.
“Physically and mentally, it was incredibly exhausting,” says Rick.
“It’s not really a job, you can just show up and go through the moves; it’s like getting up [comedian].
But like the others, Rick was determined to overcome this busy time and support the couples who had to postpone the wedding.
“We knew we had to get over it to get our finances back on track, but also because we were on this journey with couples,” he says.
Annette McIntosh, stationery designer
Annette McIntosh worked tirelessly to turn the postponed wedding invitations into cards to save a new date for couples who were planning their big day before the pandemic broke out.
“In one year, I put off about 32 pairs and I put off some of those pairs two or three times [because of COVID lockdowns]”Says a stationer from Melbourne.
“It got to the point where you really felt their disappointment.”
When the events were finally written back on the calendars, says Annette, it went from “zero to 100… really fast” as the couples finally managed to walk down the aisle.
“I’m booked for the wedding packages until February next year,” he says.
“At one point I said to my husband, ‘No wonder I’m tired; I looked at the calendar and worked 13 days at a time. [doing] 16-hour days.
But reviving a couple’s dream wedding is what kept Annette motivated for days and nights.
“It’s emotionally exhausting because it’s not just my business; in fact, I really care about these couples, and that’s why I do what I do because I like to celebrate with them,” he says.
As a one-man team, but also a mother of two who is studying at university, Annette says she has learned that having boundaries is important.
“I always limit how much I take in a month … when you work from home, you tend to work 100 hours a week at random and you’ll never get any relief,” he says.
“It’s about finding a balance when you take care of yourself and your family.”
Lindy Roberts, florist
Lindy Roberts owns floral styling in regional Victoria and has been operating for five years.
Since the florist is considered a basic service, Linda has had the pleasure of keeping people in touch during the lock, but now she has felt the pressure when the weddings are back.
“This year was like no other – it was absolutely phenomenal,” he says.
“Since February, every weekend [I’ve] he had at least one wedding, if not two or three. During the wedding season until Christmas, I am fully occupied.
“It’s so beautiful to see people celebrating these special moments in their lives. Just to see the sheer joy of people saying, ‘We can finally get married.'”
The busy wedding season also gave Linda a chance to create local jobs.
“It gave me the opportunity to hire a few local girls in busy times and it’s a beautiful thing in itself that I can only support others in the district,” he says.
Sally Hughes, birthday party
Sally Hughes is a Melbourne wedding boyfriend who has been marrying couples for over 13 years.
The increase in weddings did not resemble anything she had experienced before.
“It was about fourfold in terms of people’s adaptation,” he says.
“I’ve been working for a very long time and it’s been a pretty stressful but happy event.”
Now that the wedding season is slowing with winter approaching, Sally has managed to get through a pile of postponed weddings.
“Where was five or six [big weddings] week, it is now [down to] two a week, ”he says.
“I am fully occupied this year and the year 2023 is almost full.”
After two years of uncertainty and moments of feeling both a counselor and a celebrator, Sally says there is no better feeling than seeing her clients walk down the aisle.
“It’s quite an honor,” he says.
“Walking with them and then seeing them get married is so satisfying and really, really beautiful.”
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