We may not be Niagara Falls just yet, but Golden is gaining ground.
In the past decade, and the last few years especially, Golden has skyrocketed as a premier wedding destination. Couples from all over Canada bring their friends and family to our little mountain community for their special day.
“Each year it’s more and more. I used to be excited if I did 10 weddings in a whole calendar year,” said Mike Pecora, owner of Elite Sound and Light and wedding DJ. Pecora has been DJing most of his life, and has grown his career as a wedding DJ particularly in the past 10 to 15 years.
“In the last three or four years it’s gotten huge. In 2011 I did 42 weddings in the Golden area… Out of those 42 only one was local.”
Pecora’s 2013 season has been equally busy. This summer alone he had to turn down 30 weddings because he was already booked.
“Nobody realizes how busy it gets. Ten years ago if you called me on Wednesday to DJ on Saturday, I could probably do it. Now I’m booking two years in advance. I already have two weddings booked for 2015,” he said. By the end of the year he predicts that he will be completely booked for the 2014 season.
When Pecora DJed his first wedding, at the age of 13, there were very few venues in town. It was primarily the Civic Centre. Today, Golden has a wide range of venues to offer including mountain tops, secluded lodges, downtown halls, and cozy restaurants.
The variety of venues means that a large variety of vendors are required to complete the wedding experience. Local photographers, DJs, caterers, bakers, co-ordinators, florists and mobile bartenders have all been growing their businesses in the past few years, and there’s still plenty of room for growth.
The ripple effect has also hit other local industry including recreation and food services businesses who have helped entertain the large number of visitors to the community while they are in town for a wedding.
“There’s enough to go around for everybody, but if everybody doesn’t get involved we’re going to be left behind,” said Pecora
“There is the potential for this industry to keep growing by leaps and bounds. It’s definitely on the uprise, and it’s a great market to step into,” said Karen Christakos, owner of Sips N Giggles, a mobile bartending and event co-ordination business.
Sips N Giggles is newer to the wedding industry, having only been around for the past year, but has already gained tremendously from the trend.
Christakos will have worked 14 weddings by the end of the year, and already has two booked for next season. She spoke about her experience in the industry so far as she set up a wedding at the Golden Civic Centre this past weekend.
“They come to Golden because it’s beautiful. That is the number one reason. And a lot of people were proposed to here, or had skied here, and just want to come back,” she said.
Her business has grown mainly through word of mouth, and she often finds herself promoting other vendors and local businesses while working a wedding.
“The bride’s wedding party is going out for lunch right now, and I always send them to the liquor store. All the weddings buy their alcohol here.”
According to Interior Health’s wedding statistics, by the end of July Golden had already played host to 72 weddings. Pecora predicts that by the end of the calendar year that number will be close to 200.
“Just going with Interior Health’s stats for weddings, and averaging 100 to 150 people per wedding, the people coming into town is coming close to what the rafting industry brings in. We’re looking at 20,000 people per year coming in just for weddings, and it’s only getting busier,” said Pecora.
Tourism Golden is also getting on board, and will be putting extra focus on marketing Golden as a wedding destination in the coming year. In their 2014 Travel Planner, expected out this December, there will be at least six pages dedicated specifically to the wedding industry.
“We have so many special and unique places for weddings in Golden,” said Joanne Sweeting, manager of Tourism Golden. “And there’s an untapped awareness about just how much we have to offer.”