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A bridal couple is pictured during a styled shoot at Cedar Creek Lodge in Waverly.

It’s no secret that the wedding industry was dealt a particularly harsh blow in 2020. Between lockdowns and forced cancelations, vendors had to find ways to go with the flow.

Elena Edwards, wedding specialist at the Golden Isles Wedding Association, says the resilience shown by those in the business has truly been inspiring.

“This past year has truly been unique. It was amazing to see how couples persevered, despite the circumstances. We’re seeing that, when the big day finally arrives, it is even more emotional, and so much more special,” she said.

With the arrival of 2021, many are holding out hope for brighter days. Edwards notes that many couples have chosen to reschedule for 2021 and even 2022. Some, she adds, even opted to cancel and elope.

But even so, they’re expecting a business boom in the months that follow.

“We’re believing and hoping that 2021 will help the wedding industry and local businesses bounce back. Many local vendors are completely booked up already for the year due to the sheer number of rescheduled events,” she said.

“This is great news for everyone — from lodging to local tourism. Bringing people in to safely celebrate this year is vital to the area’s success.”

They are also excited for an upcoming event that will bring all the players together. The Golden Isles Wedding Association’s inaugural bridal show will be held from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Feb. 28 at 155 Cedar Creek Lodge Lane in Waverly. The VIPs will be admitted between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. with general admission opening up from 1 to 4 p.m.

Edwards says this event will be a benefit for both their members and engaged couples alike.

For the members, that is — area wedding vendors — it will offer an opportunity to reconnect in a way they haven’t been able to in quite some time.

“We are so excited for the wedding show. It will be our first, so we are flooded with emotion and very encouraged by the success we’ve already seen. Myself and venue coordinator of Cedar Lodge on Honey Creek, Tiffany Davis, have been working closely to organize and promote the show,” she said.

“The Golden Isles has its own market, aside from Jacksonville and Savannah, to be able to produce thousands of weddings each year. We have the resources, talent and venues, so why not showcase that?”

Engaged couples who attend will be able to peruse dozens of vendors and get a feel for what they want to incorporate in their ceremony. Participants can sip on mimosas and stroll through the displays, including options for wedding planning, all while taking in the picturesque Cedar Creek Lodge property.

“When I first visited, I was absolutely blown away. Owner Tommy McGraw did an incredible job with the venue, intentionally considering couples’ wants and needs, as well as the needs of vendors,” Edwards said. “From the gorgeous wrap-around porch, to the locally-sourced custom chandeliers made by Sea Island Forge, every detail was meticulously planned.”

There will be two ticket options for attendees — VIP and General Admission. Edwards says that those who secure VIP tickets will be admitted two hours early. That will also allow more space for attendees to coincide with CDC guidelines.

“Vendor booths will be spaced six feet apart, located both on the venue’s wrap-around porch and the first floor inside, with doors open for air flow. The spacious property is able to accommodate up to 300 people, and masks will be provided and required,” she said.

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