November through February marks proposal season, the most popular time for couples to get engaged. Here’s how local trades and organizations are pivoting their wedding operations due to COVID-19.

By Ashlee Green

Photo: Dazzle Jam for Pexels

Americans have made it through an unprecedented holiday season fueled by the hope of access to the COVID-19 vaccine. However, with vaccine rollout happening at such a slow pace, another season still remains that people must adapt to: proposal season. 

Reportedly lasting from November through February, proposal season is the most popular time for couples to get engaged. According to the 2020 Jewelry & Engagement Study conducted by The Knot, the nation’s leading wedding planning website and app, COVID-19 isn’t slowing down proposals. In fact, it’s speeding them up: 66% of newly engaged couples started planning their wedding one month or less after getting engaged. Eight in 10 of these couples have a wedding date set already, with seven out of 10 of them set for 2021 and one in five of them set for 2022.  

“People are getting pretty creative with what they can do because [COVID-19 precautions] are changing every week,” says Brooke Rockwell, owner of Brooke Rockwell Hair Design, located at Nova Place in Allegheny Commons. Rockwell says her three-person staff styled just 27 weddings in 2020—a major drop from their normal average of 70—and since many churches and larger locales have been closed, she’s seen many of her clients instead get married via a Justice of the Peace or in a small backyard ceremony.

Brooke Rockwell, owner of Brooke Rockwell Hair Design located at Nova Place in Allegheny Commons, says her three-person staff styled just 27 weddings in 2020, but predicts that 2021 and 2022 will be “super busy.” Photo courtesy of Brooke Rockwell

Community venues are used to pivoting their normal operating procedures at this point, and two popular ones in Pittsburgh’s Northside, MuseumLab and the National Aviary, are ready.

Located in the former Carnegie Free Library of Allegheny, MuseumLab, a creation of the Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh, is offering pop-up weddings for couples and up to 30 of their guests on Sunday, Feb. 14. Dubbed “Perfectly Paired,” the weddings are two-hour rentals of the MuseumLab’s Assembly Hall and Gathering Space and a one-stop-shop package deal. A wedding planner, wedding officiant, photographer, and florist are included, plus there are livestreaming services, a small bar, and a cake, with to-go desserts for guests. 

Increased COVID-19 safety protocols are also in place for weddings at The National Aviary. The Garden Room, the Aviary’s newest event space, can accommodate socially distant events of up to 200 guests, depending on the most recent federal and local regulations. Dates are available through 2023.

While working around her clients’ face masks has been “interesting,” Rockwell says that her salon has “never been cleaner” and with shorter wedding ceremonies taking place, her staff is able to spend more time with each customer. Hairstyles can be fancier, too, she says, because they don’t have to last 10 hours. 

“I feel like everyone’s just waiting for it to go back to the way it was and to do what they wanted to do,” says Rockwell. “We have all of the brides from last year and all of the brides from this year, so I think it’s going to be super busy 2021 and 2022.”

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