Improvise. Adapt. Overcome.
Remember when we all thought World War 3 was going to start at the beginning of this year? And then shortly after, this disease that we had only just heard of caused the whole world to shut down and was declared a health pandemic crisis? Getting married was at a standstill, and couples struggled to recreate their dream weddings amidst the chaos. The entire event/hospitality industry ceased to exist, and everyone was in a panic. So far 2020 has not been the best year for everyone- my fellow event professionals and I know this more than anything. But what is rarely talked about or praised are how we experienced individuals coming together in a stronger presence (although not physical) than ever. Couples made the tough decisions needed to protect their friends and families and to let us know that love is not cancelled. Vendors worked day in and day out to help their couples flip their wedding plans around to meet the new demands of circumstance, as they themselves navigated these uncharted waters. Everyone was going through the same thing (although experiencing it in different way) for the first time ever. let that sink in...
We made history this year. I think after everything couples and vendors have been through in the preceding months (and will possibly have to go through in the future), that we deserve a moment to all acknowledge our strength in the face adversity. This blog post today is to acknowledge all of the pain, anxiety, tears, cancelled plans, and family members that we miss. You all deserve a celebration.
Cheers to the selfless, creative, and optimistic couples out there! Let’s take a look back at the evolution of weddings in 2020 and how couples have adapted.
2020 started out with many engaged couples from Christmas time (Christmas Day being the number one day of the year for proposals) and New Years Eve/Day. Shortly after in February was Valentine‘s Day- another popular holiday for engagements. 2020 started out promising and optimistic- a symbol of frivolity and rebirth as the “roaring 20’s“ were expected to make a comeback. Couples who just started planning their wedding had no idea that there would be some major problems with their plans. Just one month after Valentine‘s Day, the whole state of California locked down, as the Stay At Home Order was given by the Governor. People were fear-stricken by the virus, and stocked up on food, water, cleaning supplies, and toilet paper. No one knew how long this quarantine would last, and couples were left wondering what to do about their Spring and Summer weddings.
When we all realized that the Stay At Home Order would not be lessened anytime soon, the “pioneer” couples in the group who had weddings scheduled in the Spring months were faced with the difficult decision of moving forward with their weddings in a socially distant or very limited way, postponing their weddings, or cancelling them completely. Vendors were forced to completely rethink their contracts and ways of doing business. For some, being accommodating to all of the couples changing plans meant that they might not have the means to provide for their families. Others did what they could to make it work. All had to pitch in and find new inventive ways to help their couples. For all in our industry and those relying on our industry to help make their celebration ideas come to life, we had to put in work, be ingenuitive, think fast, and take MANY deep breaths. Vendors lost bookings rapidly and had to think on their feet of ways to stay relevant. Couples had to decide if their dream wedding was really worth it. Hope was lost all around, and with the restrictions getting stricter and stricter, wedding cancellations were inevitable. Celebrations ceased almost entirely. Everyone was worried about getting or transmitting this disease to their loved ones. Issuing wedding licenses stopped for the first time ever. And mental health was at an all-time low across the country.
So what did couples do about it? They rose to the occasion.
Never in a million years would anyone plan on cancelling their dream wedding just months (in some cases only weeks!) before, after putting down all of the necessary deposits. But these couples found the strength. They knew that there were more precious things that money can't account for, and that those prized possessions- family, friends, health, and being part of the solution- were more valuable than a physical wedding. Some chose to elope so as not to put their friends and family at risk, and some chose to cancel their wedding until it would be safe again. Neither one are easy decisions after all of the late night planning, money spent, vendor research, guest list planning, etc. But these couples' strength showed us all that love was not cancelled. We were forced to re-think everything we thought about weddings and what they stood for, and most agreed that a large wedding was not necessary as long as they were hand-in-hand with their partner. Couples realized that their preferred wedding date was just an arbitrary date until it was given meaning, and some had to pick a new date than the one they originally planned for. We experienced a spike in elopements, as vendors quickly put together elopement packages and did the research on what more they could offer potential clients.
Once California started to open back up again with guidelines, the socially-distant wedding was born. We saw a good amount of couples proceeding with their weddings, with a few caveats. Masks were required, and they were often given out as wedding favors or a door prize to ensure that each guest at the wedding had a mask to wear. Other popular wedding favor items included hand sanitizer and door openers. Weddings were either kept at a smaller number which led to some of the original guests being un-invited, or they were held at outdoor venues with wide open space to spread out guests. In some cases, the number of chairs at each reception table decreased by 50%, and in other cases the receptions were standing room only, with cocktail tables and lounge furniture set up in a socially-distant fashion. One couple even turned to their local drive-in to plan one of the most unique socially-distant weddings that I have heard of to date! Wedding food also had to be completely re-thought. No longer were buffets deemed "safe," so caterers, planners, and couples had to get creative. For some, shifting from a buffet to a plated meal was an option. But others looked towards boxed ready-to-go meals and individually packaged items. In the place of a shared cake, we saw cupcakes and other individually-wrapped goodies. We also had to come up with adequate cleaning procedures for everything. The pandemic shifted the way we thought about everything.
Now that the pandemic has calmed down a bit and things are starting to open back up, I wanted to write this blog post to remind everyone of the hardships that were faced on all sides, and to give those hardships the due praise. We are all wiser, stronger, and in some ways even more connected than we were when 2020 began.
Now I want you to look back on this year so far, and what a roller coaster it has been. But this time, I want you to look back at it with some different emotions. Rather than sadness, anger, anxiety, and frustration, I challenge you to look at it through the renewed lens of overwhelming pride for everything you have accomplished despite the circumstances. We did that.
Until next time,