With most COVID-19 restrictions lifted in British Columbia, Richmond wedding and event venues are gearing up for an upcoming year of celebration bookings.
Richmond’s Riverside Banquet Halls were one of many venues that were impacted when BC Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry announced the initial closures of nightclubs and banquet halls in 2020.
Venues, such as Riverside, were finally allowed to gradually reopen in October 2021 with many restrictions still in place, including banning dancing, maintaining social distancing between party attendees and wearing masks. whenever people weren’t seated.
Fast forward to 2022, Michael Ghirra, operations manager of Riverside Banquet Halls, says they are delighted 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 should wear masks, and that more staff are working again.
“Our staff are very happy to be able to get back to work, especially our local staff who are in Richmond,” Ghirra said.
“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 of 150-250 people.
“It’s going to be very busy right now with the number of parties, not the big parties like 400 or 500 people, but the smaller ones,” he said.
COVID-19, Ghirra added, has caused a “significant financial burden” for everyone and their banquet halls aren’t expecting big party bookings at this time.
Riverside Banquet Halls is also a frequently booked venue for local high school official winter events, according to Ghirra.
“It’s a shame that grads and students haven’t been able to celebrate for the past two years, so now that we’re open, I’m very happy for the students this year.”
Meanwhile, Richmond-based Lulu Island Winery also saw an increase in celebration bookings.
Olivia Scholes, marketing coordinator at Lulu Island Winery, said it’s been a long time since weddings or full-size events have taken place at the winery.
However, they recently received more bookings for baby and wedding showers and birthday parties when most of British Columbia’s pandemic restrictions were lifted in February.
“We’re really excited to fully reopen everything,” Scholes said, noting that some weddings are coming up for the summer.
She added that the summer months are when most of their events, such as summer markets, Mother’s Day brunch or tours, are booked.
“It will definitely be a year of celebration… and we are really looking forward to being able to accommodate larger groups and families in a space where hopefully everyone will feel safe.
“With some, if not most, of the restrictions lifted and a sense of normalcy returning, it’s just been great.”