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Here Comes the Bride(s): 2021's Northwoods Pandemic Wedding Boom

Tansy Hill Farm Facebook

After a year of wedding postponements and cancellations, many couples are more than ready to say their “I dos.”

But now, they’re competing with a crowd who intended on getting married this year all along.

The result is a surge in demand for venues, caterers, florists and DJs – some of which are having to turn away business after a year of pinching pennies.

Maria Neubauer and Mike Rozumialski are making the final preparations for their June wedding.

Instead of a big wedding cake, the two decided on gelato for dessert.

Credit Erin Gottsacker/WXPR
Maria Neubauer and Mike Rozumialski sample gelato flavors with George Rouman.

They stand behind a metal counter at George Rouman’s gelato kitchen with a bucket full of tiny plastic spoons to sample the Italian ice cream flavors.

“That’s really creamy,” Neubauer commented.

The two have already booked a venue, picked out flowers and finalized invitations.

“We kind of used COVID to our advantage because we didn’t want a big wedding in the first place,” Neubauer said.

Wedding planning has gone smoothly for the couple, who got engaged about a year ago.

But the same can’t be said for Rozumialski’s brother.

“My brother’s the one who really got hit by it,” Rozumialski said. “They had to change venues and pretty much had to figure out everything again. Third time’s the charm!”

Instead of getting married a year apart, the brothers are tying the knot just weeks apart.

It’s a situation that’s not uncommon.

According to a study from The Knot, a wedding planning website, almost half of couples postponed their reception last year and 15 percent delayed their entire wedding.

That’s why local businesses in the wedding industry are now struggling to keep up with demand.

“I’ve turned away at least 10 times what I’ve been able to keep,” said Becky Teichroew, the owner of Tansy Hill Farm, a venue east of Wausau.

Credit Tansy Hill Farm Facebook

“There’s an influx of brides who had to postpone their dates, so they’re competing with those that naturally would have been looking this year and those that had to postpone,” she said. “I’ve told so many people I wish I owned two barns.”

Like Tansy Hill Farm, Rondele Ranch, an upscale venue west of Rhinelander, is also completely booked, said the venue’s sales and marketing director, Vonda Bachaus.

“We’re also seeing an increase in weddings during the weekday,” Bachaus said. “And brides moved into 2022 and we’re booking into 2023 as well.”

Credit Forth Floral Facebook

The wedding flower industry is changing too.

Ruth Hempel is the owner of Forth Floral in Rhinelander.

She said, with so many carryover weddings from last year, 2021 is looking busy.

In addition, although some couples are holding smaller weddings, they’re not necessarily skimping on flowers.

“A lot of brides just had a small reception at home, but still beautiful because they still want beautiful pictures and memories,” Hempel said. “And now, all of a sudden, they’re not feeding 150 people. They only have close family, so there’s only 25 people there. That loosens the budget up, so they can have a little bit more flowers.”

Smaller, more casual, and frequently outdoor receptions like these work in favor of George Rouman’s gelato business.

“If you’re outside, something like gelato sounds like a really nice treat, so we picked up a bunch of weddings,” Rouman said.

His gelato cart is booked nearly every weekend between now and November.

“Right now in June, there’s one, two, three… seventeen weddings in June,” he said.

One of those weddings is for Mike and Maria.

Credit Fun Factory Sweet Shoppe

Sent home from their tasting with a cooler full of gelato, their wedding plans haven’t been drastically altered because of COVID-19.

But that’s not the case for their honeymoon.

“With COVID, we’re waiting a year. We were thinking about traveling out of the country,” Neubauer said. “But the testing makes us nervous.”

It’s a reminder that, while love is in the air, COVID-19 still is too.

Erin Gottsacker worked at WXPR as a Morning Edition host and reporter from December 2020 to January 2023. During her time at the station, Erin reported on the issues that matter most in the Northwoods.
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