HELENA — Summer in Montana is not just construction, rodeo season and tourist season, it is also wedding season. Helena-area wedding industry businesses are gearing up for a busy year.
“It’s just game on from the time it starts and the time it ends,” Connie Anderson Herbst said.
Herbst owns Cabin Creek Ranch, a wedding venue in Helena. Not only is the venue her childhood home, she and her husband also got married there.
“We had such a good time at our wedding, I said other people need to experience this,” Herbst said.
After opening the ranch as a venue, summers have become all about weddings. Herbst said wedding season stretches from the last weekend in May until the first weekend in October.
“We take winter to prepare for the season, and then once it comes on—it’s just so buy,” Herbst said.
Over at Chili O’Brien’s Catering, the ovens are hot, in fact, they never cooled down.
“Weddings can be as early as the New Year for us,” Tim O’Brien said. “We’ve had some weddings in April already.”
And it’s gearing up to just get busier.
“I don’t think I have a weekend that is free,” O’Brien said. “Every weekend I have at least two, three weddings.”
It’s not just Montanans getting married and going to weddings in the state.
“We have so many out-of-staters that come in,” Herbst said.
This summer, Herbst said a couple from Texas is traveling more than 1,000 miles to get married at Cabin Creek Ranch.
People aren’t just traveling far for weddings, they’re also planning far in advance.
“People area already calling me for next year,” O’Brien said.
Herbst said Cabin Creek Ranch gets booked as far as two years out from the wedding date, and they even have a wedding on the books for 2024.
So far this year, O’Brien and Herbst say wedding seems back to normal when it comes to booking and business, but there are some new hurdles to deal with that were not there before the pandemic.
“I feel like I’ve got a great crew now together, but it’s taken me a long time to get to that point,” O’Brien said.
Along with hiring issues, O’Brien said he’s also dealing with inflation and supply chain issues, impacting everything from from chicken to frozen lemonade.
In a business that’s all about planning, these hurdles mean another step in the process.
“I’m having to order some things a little sooner just in case, because there is definitely prices and shortages still,” O’Brien said.
Otherwise, Herbst and O’Brien say they are looking forward to a busy wedding season.