As a result of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, many event and wedding venues in North Georgia are booked at least a year in advance.
Many of these bookings are weddings and events that were delayed during 2020. Jeff Buffington, owner of the Cold Creek Farm wedding venue in Dawsonville, said the venue is completely booked this year with more than 90 weddings.
Buffington said out of these scheduled weddings, 27 were originally scheduled for 2020 and delayed because of the pandemic.
“It’s weird, 2021 is the busiest year in eight years of being in the business…there were couples that delayed getting engaged and then there’s couples that were engaged prior, but they knew they weren’t going to do a ceremony until they could have all of their people there,” said Buffington.
Buffington is also a partner in the ownership of The Chair Factory venue in Gainesville. He said he is already booking weddings at The Chair Factory that are “overflow” from Cold Creek Farm.
“We’ve got five additional weddings booked that are just overflow from Cold Creek Farm, we haven’t even started trying to market The Chair Factory yet,” said Buffington. “We anticipate being able to book about 90 to 95 weddings a year at The Chair Factory.”
Buffington’s venues are not the only ones filling up fast. A little farther north in the cities of Cleveland and Dahlonega, venues that are coveted for their scenic views are experiencing the same demand.
Calah Coker, who is co-owner with her husband Carson of the Meadows at Mossy Creek in Cleveland, said the first half of the year has been slower because couples are still skeptical of the pandemic. However, Coker said beginning in July, the venue will host an average of two or three weddings per weekend.
“We gave our brides up to a year to postpone and so most of them have already gone through with their weddings,” said Coker. “Once we hit July, most of our weddings the rest of the year will be new brides.”
Coker said her business took a big hit during the pandemic. However, she and her team are already looking ahead to 2022.
“We still didn’t have a whole lot of people wanting to book this year just because they were unaware of how the pandemic and all that would play out this year, but 2022 is definitely going to hopefully be more like 2019,” she said.
Haley Gilreath, director of Marketing and Public Relations for Montaluce Winery and Restaurant in Dahlonega, said they are already booking for events as far out as 2023.
“In our restaurant, we are booked for reservations at least a month out, but we’re still accepting walk-ins,” she said. “For weddings and events, we are booked for 2021. We have just a few Thursdays and Fridays left at the end of the year, but we’re already booking for 2022 to 2023.”
Gilreath said many of the weddings scheduled at Montaluce are brides trying to last minute reschedule their big day.
Each of these three sources contributed their busy schedules to the ongoing pandemic and said their venues are following COVID-19 protocols. Some of these precautions include offering open-air spaces for ceremonies and receptions, as well as allowing the bride to decide if guests should wear a face covering.
In the meantime, those looking to schedule a wedding or event at one of these venues are encouraged to do so as soon as possible.
“I tell couples that if you have a certain date in mind you want to get married, you need to get on it,” said Buffington. “If you like the venue and you have a certain date, you need to move forward with it…because if anybody’s got any dates available, they won’t last long.”
“Do it now. Don’t wait,” said Coker. “I really, truly think 2022 is going to be a crazy year in the wedding industry…people are ready to get out and celebrate.”