Rhode Island’s Wedding Boom

With the return of in-person and full-scale events, the industry bounces back bigger than ever

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We’ve seen a 50 percent increase in weddings since 2019,” says Nicole Mattiello, vice president of business development at Pranzi Catering & Events. Based in Providence, Pranzi began exclusively as a catering business back in 1997, but in 2018, dipped its toes into the rental business with Pranzi Tents & Events. Today, the company practically has it all: a large and growing inventory of rentals and decor, state-of-the-art tents, a catering team, in-house pastry chefs, and even their own in-house floral services and design team.

“With rentals, we are involved in over 150 weddings per month and we cater 50 weddings per month,” says Mattiello. “We have a wedding all 12 months of the year now – there really is no more ‘wedding season.’”

While bookings are a sweet relief after a pandemic-driven drought, the wedding industry faces new challenges in an effort to keep up with the growing demand – the same struggles many are now all too familiar with: supply chain disruption, inflation, and staffing shortages.  

“We are doing the best we can.” In Pranzi’s case, Mattiello says separating the rental and catering ends of the business has helped, with inventory kept and stored in two warehouses located in Quonset and West Warwick, and culinary goods coming from Providence. At the moment, their team consists of 75 employees in the rental company, and 200 in the catering, but Mattiello says, “We are currently employing the most staff we ever have in company history, and we are still hiring in every department for multiple positions.”

When it comes to weddings, Matiello has a dual perspective, since she is also currently planning her own. “My best advice is to find a venue first and reserve early,” she instructs. “We are now closing off dates earlier than ever because the demand is so high, so I recommend as soon as you can to book a caterer or rental company.”

Catering and rental companies aren’t the only ones feeling the heat this wedding season. Bridal shops are encountering longer-than-anticipated shipping of dresses, limousine companies are coping with the rising cost of gas, and available dates are dwindling. According to sources like The New York Times, 2022 is shaping up to be a bridal boom year – even for Little Rhody.  

“There’s a lot of amazing places to get married in our tiny little state, and as a floral designer, that is such a wonderful opportunity,” says Polly Hutchison, owner of Robin Hollow Farm in Saunderstown. She believes flowers make a wedding – and not just because it’s their business. “The living colors and textures of flowers bring any space to life. Combine that with good decisions around signage, decor, and the like, and your event will be gorgeous.”

Robin Hollow’s niche in the wedding industry is unique because of the fact it is a cut-flower farm, meaning its colorful blooms are planted, grown, picked, and fashioned into striking displays – all in the same place and, often, by the same hands. “Because of the broad nature of our business, ranging from home delivery through farmers markets and full-scale wedding decor, we are a bit of a unicorn in that we have folks who cross-train in farm tasks and design so that we can flex depending on the jobs at hand.

“We are extremely fortunate here at Robin Hollow,” Hutchison continues. “That said, the floral industry as a whole has been hit very hard, with vase and supply shortages as well as price increases that are much higher than the national average.” Because Robin Hollow grows many of their own flowers, they are able to control their quality and availability. Hutchison also credits her dedicated team, whom she is grateful for in such a tight labor market.

“We are doing our best to find ways to continue to make beautiful weddings happen for all of our clients,” says Hutchison.

Of course, there are ways the happy couple can help. “We have always encouraged clients to let us know the look and feel they are going for, any colors they particularly like, and let us make the appropriate flower choices that are seasonal,” Hutchison says. “Now more than ever communicating that vision is important so that we can get you the best of what is available, and it gives us the freedom to make your dreams come to life.”

As for Hutchison’s outlook for the industry moving forward? “Our crystal ball broke in March of 2020, so we just think in terms of what each client needs and how we can best serve them now.”

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