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Richmond hotel offering pop-up pandemic weddings

Starting with a Valentine's weekend special, the Executive Airport Hotel has just launched a package to meet the current 10-person ceremony limit

A Richmond hotel has teamed up with two business partners to offer “pop-up weddings” to forlorn engaged couples still wanting to get married despite pandemic restrictions.

Valentine’s Day is next week and with some couples perhaps looking to throw caution to the wind, the Executive Hotel Vancouver Airport – on Westminster Highway – has launched a choice of three, themed, decorated wedding spaces for up to 10 people (which is the maximum allowed as per current public health orders) until the end of May.

The idea to tailor weddings to the current pandemic capacity started with event planner Alice Fung, owner of Event To.The.Nines, who was looking for a venue that would agree to dedicating decorated spaces for a run of months this spring.

And only a few days ago, Fung sat down with the hotel’s general manager, Maswood Schah, and one of her partner agencies, Proline Events, to hammer out the pop-up wedding package deal.

The $1,500 Valentine’s weekend package includes the venue (either grand ballroom, candles and crystals or outdoor courtyard themes), a bridal suite for the day, hotel room discounts, room décor, bridal florals, event planning and day-of coordination and a wedding official.

“We held a meeting five days ago and all came to the conclusion that we all have a similar interest in helping couples get married this year. We all realized it’s so challenging for couples to organize and host a 10-person ceremony,” said Fung, who hasn’t hosted a wedding since the new restrictions (used to be a maximum 50 people) kicked in last November.

“You can’t hold it at home, you can’t hold it in your backyard, you can’t go to a park. A lot of people are going to off-the-beaten track places, but it’s not ideal. And they can’t post their photos!”

Fung explained that a 10-person wedding ceremony (receptions aren’t allowed) is allowed in certain venues because they are controlled spaces, where there’s a higher level of sanitation and distancing.

“I have a lot (of weddings) on hold right now, many of them are still hoping for 2021,” added Fung, who won’t even be in the ceremony room due to the restrictions, but will be right outside.

“When the hotel first contacted me, they weren’t even thinking of a 10-person wedding. Maswood Schah (hotel manager) agreed to have three rooms dedicated until the end of May this year and all the decorations can stay up.

“There’s $2,500 worth of décor in there and we’re only charging $1,500 for the whole package.”

Schah acknowledged that the hotel will barely be breaking even with the plan, but has his sights set on that goodwill and sentiment coming back in the future.

“We’re hoping that, when bigger receptions are allowed again, those same people will consider coming back here,” Schah told the News.

“That is our main goal here. We can have 10 to 500 people here when times are better. They will get a discount if they come back.

“The hope is, they get married here, so they might want to have the reception back here in the same place, when it’s allowed.”

For information on all the packages, go to