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She had the white dress, the handsome groom and the perfect ring. But twice in 2020, Janay Green's intended wedding day came and went with no nuptials.
After two postponements due to the coronavirus pandemic, the third time was finally the charm for Green and her husband, Renondo Wilson, who tied the knot May 1 in front of 15 friends and family members on the outdoor patio of a Cedar Park home they rented through Airbnb.
"My wedding day was perfect, even with the rain," said Green, 26. "I had a great support system of friends to help decorate and cook our food so the stress level was taken off our shoulders. We were able to get ready and not have to worry about small details."
Janay Green married Renondo Wilson on May 1. (Janay Green)
Following a year that put the world–and the wedding industry–on hold, Austin wedding planners say they're now bracing for a "crazy busy" summer season.
"It was almost like people were all waiting for this open door, and when that open door came, they all just rushed in," said Lorelei Starbuck, owner of Elope in Austin. "It's been really busy and really amazing."
Starbuck, who specializes in small, affordable elopements and microweddings, expanded her offerings in 2020 to include options such as drive-up weddings to help her company stay afloat. Following Gov. Greg Abbott's announcement of plans to reopen Texas and the increased availability of COVID-19 vaccinations, however, Starbuck said she's seen a major uptick in business.
Elope in Austin, which hosts many of its events at Star Hill Ranch in Bee Cave, held 30 weddings in April and has 36 on the books for May so far, Starbuck said. These numbers are on par with her spring bookings in 2019.
"Yesterday I got 14 reservation requests in one day," Starbuck said. "This is going to be a good year I'm very pleased to say. We're back on track."
Elope in Austin, wedding planning service, hosts many of its events at Star Hill Ranch in Bee Cave. (Lance Smith/Elope in Austin)
Starbuck said she's also hearing from people who want to commemorate other special life events, such as anniversaries and vow renewals. That's the case for Round Rock resident Rey Sarmiento, who plans to celebrate his 25th anniversary with his wife, Angela Sarmiento, in a ceremony at Star Hill Ranch on July 16.
"We've gone through a lot of changes with what happened last year with the coronavirus. I didn't even know if we were going to be able to do anything," he said. "It's just going to be my wife and I—it's for us. We didn't want to spend a whole lot of money, but I did want to make it something that was special."
Wedding officiant Spike Gillespie, who performed Green's wedding, said she has also seen an increase in requests recently. Gillespie, who officiates off-site weddings as well as weddings at her picturesque Tiny T Ranch in Garfield, added that the pandemic and the stress of large-scale events including guests who did not want to wear masks has prompted her to refocus her priorities. Moving forward, she said, she plans to largely dedicate to smaller, more intimate affairs.
Spike Gillespie officiated the marriage of Austinites Janay Green and Renondo Wilson. (Spike Gillespie)
"The ranch will be converted to primarily a retreat center to promote slowing down, and this summer I will be opening a second property in Smithville, much smaller, but with similar 'Be Still and Feel Better' potential," she said.
For Green, who is a pharmacy technician and lives in Killeen with Wilson, an Army mechanic, the wedding was a silver lining to a difficult year.
"We wanted to get married and we were tired of waiting," she said. "We knew (the whole) family wouldn't be able to make it so there was no point to keep putting it off. We had hesitations and I had several mini breakdowns the week of the wedding, but everything turned out perfect."
Now that they've walked down the aisle, Green said, they can turn their attention to the future.
"What I am most looking forward to with my spouse is just traveling together to create new memories," she said, adding "and expanding our family."