The wedding industry is fast becoming a significant economic driver for Maitland and the Hunter and now we’re into Spring, the tills are set to start ringing.
Maitland-based marriage celebrants and representatives from businesses that supply the market, said the past two years have seen a strong surge in couples planning their big day in the area, booking everything from wedding locations to caterers, decoration hire and entertainment.
And with the recent “yes” vote on same sex marriage, business is set to becoming even bigger.
Long time Maitland marriage celebrant, Ken Wethered, has officiated at weddings from Walka Water Works to Barrington Tops.
He has seen the industry fast become a niche market for the Hunter and with the recent same sex marriage vote things are tipped to get busier.
“September through to early December is the peak period here,” he said. And this year is no exception with his diary filling fast.
Mr Wethered said the most sought after locations are Walka Water Works, Pokolbin vineyards, Tocal and Port Stephens.
President of Hunter Wedding Expos, Mr Wethered said a Maitland dressmaker started the once annual expo 10 years ago. It has now grown into a bi-annual event attracting more than 800 people from across the state.
“From a celebrant’s point of view business is picking up every year,” Mr Wethered said. “It’s no longer the traditional Saturday wedding, it can be any day of the week and most are outdoors rather than in a church.”
Expo vice president Amee Bailey who owns Floral Affects and Event Hire at East Maitland, said the past two years have changed dramatically.
“Things did quieten down a couple of years ago when there was a bit of a downturn in the mining industry but things are on the up now. The numbers at our expos have definitely increased, I’d say by about 25 per cent.”
Ms Bailey said many brides from outside the area are originally from Maitland but return to wed, bringing with them family and guests.
Patrick Lane of Ken Lanes Menswear said 50 per cent of his store’s business is in some way connected to a wedding. “If it’s not the people getting married its the groomsmen, the family or guests. They may be locals or from interstate or overseas. Every year it grows,” Mr Lane said.
He likens the wedding side of his business to “coal logistics”.
“We have to keep track of trying to pull everything together from fittings to colours and sizes – we have to document everything. It’s a 12-month of the year business hitting its peak in September and October.”