There are so many highlights and lowlights of 2020. Am I right? We’ve gone from thriving businesses to an almost stand-still. We’ve had couples cancel weddings and of course, postpone their much anticipated weddings. During these postponements, we have worked so hard to make changes, work with the wedding pros involved in each, had lengthy meetings and phone calls with all and are definitely more empathetic because of it. It has been really tough, but we’ve learned.
We have learned to adapt and pivot. We’ve added new services to our existing businesses such as elopements and micro weddings. We’ve done a styled shoot or two. We’ve settled into working at home. We’ve spent more time with our families and pets. We’ve checked in to see how friends and family are doing more than ever, and we’ve had others do the same for us. We’ve started exercise/health regimes, we’ve learned how to balance money better. We’ve taken the time to learn new things for our businesses and home lives. We’ve worked as a team better than ever before. We’ve asked for help when we needed it, we’ve helped others more than ever, and we definitely appreciate everything that we have a little more.
I’ve asked some wonderfully talented WPIC alumni to give their feedback on lessons learned, and advice moving forward into 2021. (*In alphabetical order)
“We’re all in this together! 2020 has brought many challenges but has also brought many lessons to be learned. Flexibility and adapting is key. Patience and understanding too. And many couples learning that It doesn’t matter if the wedding has 10 or 100 guests – it’s the celebration of the couples love and marriage – that is what’s important.”
~Marlene Barcelos, WPICC, Social Catering Sales Manager of The Waterside Inn
“It is no secret that the wedding & events industry got hit hard due to Covid-19 and is still full of uncertainty. The unity I have witnessed within our industry as we joined forces and banded together to support one another is truly beyond measure. It has been difficult to see the impact that Covid-19 has had on society, on our industry and on our clients. Words like “social
distancing”, “cohorts”, “gatherings” “quarantine”, “lockdowns”, “zooming” and “PIVOT” have become a part of our everyday language. As an industry, we have worked diligently to support our couples & clients; while encouraging them to postpone, rather than cancel… because “love is not cancelled.”
One of the biggest lessons from 2020 that I will carry through to 2021 in my international destination wedding planning business is to learn how to adapt to change and to be ready for anything. 2020 was an unprecedented year and I don’t think any of us could have planned for a worldwide pandemic that would change our lives and our industry as we know it.
My wedding couples have been forced to make many difficult decisions, which not only affected themselves but affected all of their invited destination wedding guests. We have had to learn how to adapt to uncertainty. And even though we can’t predict the future, we must still try to plan for the unexpected. Now more than ever, we need to be flexible and responsive to sudden change. Flexibility in the world of destination weddings proves extra challenging when having to consider the ever-changing travel restrictions, quarantine periods, hotel & wedding venue closures and airline cancellations. I am more grateful than ever to be partnered alongside a professional travel advisor, who literally dived headfirst into these uncharted waters with me managing and navigating the ever-changing travel restrictions, hotel/wedding venue closures and the entire requoting & rebooking processes.
The pandemic has been a perfect example of how the synergy of a wedding planner & travel specialist is a real benefit to destination wedding couples and it allows us to be able to share the workload of the time invested into the ever-evolving change in plans. I have had to learn how to adapt and prepare for the future of live events.
The uncertainty pertaining to when the industry will return to normal is unclear however I have been taking every opportunity to educate myself on risk management protocols and in preparing new systems & processes and contract updates to responsibly help my couples plan and execute their future events.
On a more personal note, I have realized now, more than ever that life is precious. Moments are precious. Family is precious. Hugs are precious. The world stood together in the face of adversity. And although 2020 may seem like a year we want to forget; let’s not forget the lessons. I am entering 2021 more resilient and ready for whatever trials come my way. I will be holding my family closer and am optimistic about a brighter 2021.”
~Monica Caesar, WPICC of Aisle Plan Your Day
“ Unbeknown to us, our lives, as we knew it, unravelled.We have taken great lengths to adapt to our new reality with its ginormous challenges, showing tons of dignity, humour anywhere we can find it, and much resilience(which sometimes took effort).For better or worse, these past months HAVE changed us. How?
Let’s look back and see what lessons I’ve learned: I’ve learned how to surrender with grace, whether I wanted to or not. At the end of 2020, I prepared to write a book. YES, I planned to FINALLY do it.”
~Daniela Caputo, WPICC of Montreal Event Planner
“Where to begin?! One favourite takeaway from my wedding business in 2020 is how absolutely supportive others are in this industry; for some reason I assumed I was in this alone since I wanted to start my own company. On the contrary, there really seems to be a ‘lift others up’ and supportive mentality, it has been pretty wonderful!
The next lesson learned was to NEVER stop learning; between my past experience, all my research and pinterest browsing and so on, I was sure I knew everything there was to know about wedding planning and event design. Wow, was I wrong! I hadn’t even scratched the surface. Now every time I think I know it all, I know that it is time to take a new course or pick up a new book!”
~Laura Chapman, WPICC of Laura Chapman Events
2020 taught me so many lessons. Here are a few I would love to share:
- Pivot is not only a verb but an action word. It is not enough to plan to pivot, being intentional about what your strengths and abilities are and working towards achieving the set goals is what makes the difference between talking about Pivoting vs a successful Pivot
- Weddings may look different for the near future, but they can still have a memorable experience.
- Smaller does not necessarily mean cheaper. Neither does smaller mean less work, so pricing my services appropriately is key.
~Adeola Damie, WPICC of Celebration Events Mgmt.
“From 2020, there have been many up and down obstacles with our industry due to the pandemic. For all of us, it’s been a difficult time. For an industry we absolutely love, not be able to create and plan someone’s day has been devastating.
One of the most important things that I have learned during this time was not being prepared with client questions due to the pandemic and having a contract that illustrated all necessary next steps if a situation like this were to happen. Our team at C’est Beau quickly learned that we had to quickly go over our business contracts as we evolve as a company and come up with a plan to ensure our clients were taken care of.
As a company, we had a force Majeure clause, however, we were “rolled with the punches,” when the pandemic hit not being prepared for postponements. Every company should have a “worst-case” business plan to ensure in cases like these, rest assured we are prepared for the worst circumstances. Thankfully, we postponed all weddings to 2021 with no additional fees in good faith. We now know it’s extremely important.
For anyone starting out in the industry, spend the money on a great contract and see a lawyer. This will ensure you and your business are completely protected.
As a planner who’s been in the industry for 10 years now, I’ve definitely learned a lot and will continue to as things rapidly unfold with the industry. Stay patient and hopeful that things will change and we will be able to get back into the industry stronger than ever!”
~Amanda Dias, WPICC of C’est Beau Luxury Events & Design
“There is no such thing as ‘it can’t be done!’ When you shift the focus to “people” over “things,” anything is possible when it comes to Love.”
~Emma Martin, WPICC of Ever After Emma
“It’s strange reflecting back on a year that feels like it was simultaneously the worst and the best year. This was to be the year Pastiche really gained its footing. And although it felt like so much had to change and so much was wiped away, I’ve learned what I’m truly capable of. This was the year of my first Martha Stewart feature, the launch of my brand, new services and learning opportunities for couples and industry alike, and big plans for some future projects.
What I’ll take with me from 2020 are trust and kindness. Trust in myself, my instincts, my ideas, in the teams I hire to help me keep growing. Trusting myself to pivot, to invest, to keep going even though our industry was brought down to its knees, really tells me what I need to know about myself. I can do anything. And I fully intend on bringing that mantra into 2021 and beyond. Being a bride and wedding industry professional this year also reminded me how important and simple kindness can be. Kindness for our couples and understanding so deeply all of the emotions they’re going through; kindness for those uncertain with how to make new plans; kindness for fellow vendors and the real people behind these businesses; kindness for myself whether that looks like boundaries, charging what I’m worth or leaving toxic habits/people/thoughts in 2020.
Whatever your feelings about 2020, just know this: you’ve made it this far. Just keep going, one step at a time, on to bigger and brighter things. We can do this.”
~Khrystyna Moro, WPICC of Pastiche Events
“Cherishing the small victories in the tough moments of life is an acquired skill that is only developed during trying times. I am most grateful for the process of refining myself and my business. It’s been a very hard year for us all, but one where we have learned the most about who we want to be as people, entrepreneurs, and industry partners… and I cherish that.”
~Beth Olatunji, WPICC of Beth Jacobs Events
“2020 was a year that really tested the mettle of a professional wedding planner in so many ways. With the pandemic situation this year, there were unprecedented changes / rescheduling involved with most weddings that required the skills and negotiation skills of a wedding planner. Our team worked very hard to guide our impacted clients with innovative solutions that reduced clients’ financial losses, reduced their stress levels, and provided much more additional planning to help meet their needs. We also provided a lot of emotional support to distraught clients that thought their event wouldn’t be salvageable in the future.
One could view 2020 as a detriment to the wedding planning industry, but in reality it was a year in which our industry showed the significant value we do bring; and how we stand with our clients in their time of greatest need.”
~Flora Peng, WPICC of Fleur Weddings
“The lesson I will take with me in my wedding business from 2020
- Learning how to pivot on a moments notice is crucial to my business’ longevity
- being genuinely kind is crucial to my brand’s longevity
- learning how to do both at the same time without compromising the other will be the key to Nóbl’s long term success.”
~Kirsten Rezek, WPICC of Nobl Events
“It took a pandemic for me to appreciate the necessity of a wedding community working together, especially in a crisis.
Prior to 2020, I was quite insulated, as were many of my peers (my mainstay is photography). Coming together made navigation so much smoother. In fact, it made surviving this year possible!
Together, with all aspects of the community, we developed countless petitions, formed collectives, associations, blogs and Facebook groups that connected vendors and clients. We solved so many issues together and have made our voices heard by our government (who now seem to realize there is a multi-billion dollar wedding business in Canada fighting for survival). We can go further, but it’s been amazing watching this happen and being a part of this.
I am absolutely grateful for the new connections and will remain community-minded as I move forward. The silver lining in the horror show for certain.”
~Kathi Robertson, WPICC of Kathi Robertson Wedding
Here are the lessons I’ve learned:
- Health and safety should always be a priority. We’re all waiting for COVID-19 to end, but this doesn’t mean hand sanitizer can’t be supplied at events in the future!
- You can plan all you want, but you need to be quick and adaptable for things that will drive you off course.
- Remember to take care of yourself and spend quality time with your loved ones.
~Jyoti Saini, WPICC of SJ Soiree