by Lesley Pinder, WPICC, of Lesley Pinder Wedding and Events
You have met the couple, heard the vision and you’ve been hired. Contract signed and the wedding planning is well underway for a multicultural destination wedding. Then without any warning, forethought or prelude…. here comes the COVID-19 Pandemic; a deadly contagious virus that has been likened to the great pandemic of the 20th Century – the Spanish flue of 1918.
What do we do & Where do we begin?
In order to properly plan and navigate the couple through this new era, we must stay current and monitor all of the pertinent information regarding the pandemic. It’s the most important and significant news in the world. Perhaps the most important and practical question, Wedding and Event Planners need to ask is…How do we move forward? The answer, however, is not as simple as it sounds.
In a post COVID-19 environment, our number one priority would be to ensure the overall safety of our clients, guests and vendors within the guidelines and protocols. Protocols which are based on information emanating from the governments and health officials of a city, province or country hosting the wedding. Every destination has their own protocols and procedures. Do your research, understand and be able to advise the client of what will be required for their special day. For example, in many countries, it is of the utmost importance that bridal party attendants, family, guests, vendors and planners wear masks and periodically sanitize.
Generally, protocols should include requirements for weddings, testing procedures, airline policies and travel requirements (inclusive of immigration and customs regarding entry). Contacting local authorities or reviewing requirements posted online for information purposes will confirm what each destination requires. Planners will also need to liaise with hotel properties and vendors providing contracted services. This should include the wedding officiant, photographers, videographers, florists, wedding cake vendors, transportation services and any other vendor providing services.
As a new norm, venues should be equipped with sanitizing stations strategically placed and monitored restroom facilities. Food stations/ Buffet areas should remain constantly sanitized and monitored by masked personnel with gloves. Plated meals may be best suited to avoid queuing up at stations. Guest seating should reflect social distancing. Tables once seating ten persons, should be redesigned to include five persons whether outdoor or indoor for ceremony and reception, respectively. The venue should be a sanitized and clean air space. Vendors should be reminded of social distancing protocols and that face masks or shields should be worn during the entire event.
There may be instances where persons may need to take a break, as it is very common for persons to experience nausea after prolonged use of a mask. Wedding Planners must remain observant and vigilant to avoid unexpected occurrences. Photobooth vendors should ensure that props are disposable or single use props, as it is unrealistic that sanitation of props between guests can be accurately done.
In events where it is the Planners responsibility for securing the wedding cake, boxes should be on hand for proper storage and secured using gloves. Candy/ Dessert Buffets should include pre- packaged treats for easy distribution to avoid person to person contact or there should be an assistant available to manage and distribute directly to guests using gloves. Beverage station/ bars should be managed to avoid person to person contact or opt for a butler passed service. If using glassware, guests should be asked to hold on to their glassware for refills or ensure that there are at least three times the amount of glassware for each guest.
Cocktail areas and dance floors should be large enough to allow guests to move freely and socially distant. When the time comes to capture the moments of the wedding and should bridal party attendants wish to remove masks briefly, it should be at the discretion of the photographer. Family photos or guests wishing to take photographs with the bride and groom, or other guests should also be mindful of social distancing. Ground transportation services should also support clean air and spaces in vehicles. While it may be a challenge to reduce or limit the number of persons being transported, guests and drivers must be mindful of the protocols for safekeeping.
All is not lost. A “new reality”, does not mean “doom and gloom”. Innovative ideas and adhering to protocols will, in the long run be beneficial to all participants. The sensitivity of this global panademic may be personal for some and may require an overwhelming degree of patience and attention to detail, especially if there may be guests who prefer not to conform. It must be clearly understood and agreed to by the client, that when there are instances (and inevitably they will happen), when a guest refuses to comply with the necessary safety steps and precautions; this guest will be denied entry. This relates to family members, friends and any guests, who are uncooperative in your attempt to safeguard the wedding festivities.
As Professional Wedding and Event Planners, we have a responsibility to do all that we can as we try to navigate our clients through their memorable moment, safely and responsibly. We must however balance this with our commitment to our clients to provide exceptional service and ensure that safety protocols are adhered to at all times.
Our Code of Ethics with WPIC should speak for itself as it relates to our business practices with clients and vendors. Our name is Our Brand.
Lesley Pinder, WPICC of Lesley Pinder Wedding and Events, is a veteran in the field of Wedding and Event Planning. With more than 16 years of experience, Lesley continues to lead the industry in the Bahamas with trendsetting, inspiring approaches to the planning and execution of weddings and events, She is a master of the art of execution and offers her clients a variety of services from assistance with intimate settings to coordinating elaborate and multi-layered large events. Her Motto…”Dare To Be Different” en capsules her personality and approach to taking her clients’ vision and making it a reality.