With most COVID-19 restrictions lifted in B.C., Richmond’s wedding and event venues are preparing for an upcoming year of celebration bookings.
Richmond’s Riverside Banquet Halls was one of many venues that were affected when B.C.’s Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry announced the initial closures of nightclub and banquet halls in 2020.
Venues, such as Riverside, were eventually allowed to gradually re-open in October 2021 with many restrictions still in place including no-dancing, maintaining social distance between party attendees and having to wear masks whenever people were not seated.
Fast forward to 2022, Michael Ghirra, operations manager of Riverside Banquet Halls, says they are excited to be able to open at full capacity with most restrictions lifted such as seeing people on the dance floors, with the restriction that attendees have to wear masks, and have more staff working again.
“Our staff is very excited they can get back into work, especially our local staff that are in Richmond,” said Ghirra.
“It just created a good buzz for us.”
Ghirra told the Richmond News that they received wedding bookings almost immediately and anticipate more bookings for parties with 150 to 250 people.
“It’s going to get super busy right now with the amount of parties, not the big parties like 400 or 500 people, but the smaller number ones,” he said.
COVID-19, Ghirra added, has caused “significant financial burden” for everyone and their banquet halls aren’t expecting any big party bookings for the time being.
Riverside Banquet Halls is also a venue that is frequently booked for local high school winter formal events, according to Ghirra.
“It was unfortunate that the grads and students were unable to celebrate these past couple of years, so now that we’re opened, I’m quite happy for the students this year.”
Meanwhile, Richmond-based Lulu Island Winery has also seen an increase in bookings for celebrations.
Olivia Scholes, marketing coordinator at Lulu Island Winery, said it has been a long time since full-size weddings or events were held at the winery.
However, they have been receiving more bookings for baby and bridal showers and birthdays recently when most of B.C.’s pandemic restrictions were lifted in February.
“We are just really excited about fully re-opening everything,” said Scholes, noting that some weddings are coming up for the summer.
She added that the summer months is when most of their events, such as summer markets, Mother’s Day brunch or tours, are being booked.
“It’ll definitely be a celebratory year … and we’re just really looking forward to being able to welcome larger groups and families to a space that hopefully everyone feels safe in.
“With some, if not most, restrictions lifted and a sense of some normalcy returning is just great.”