Photo: Beatbox Portraits
Now that all 50 states are in some stage of reopening and many cities and counties are beginning to allow small gatherings, there are a multitude of safety questions for the weddings industry to tackle. What will weddings and events look like now? How many guests and staff is too many? Masks or no masks? What about the dance floor? And most important, how are wedding pros across all categories–from caterers to photographers, venues, planners, florists, makeup artists and beyond–planning to stay safe and protect their teams? With such a large variance between states, counties and cities, we as an industry have to work together to understand and unpack these unique, tough questions.
To broach such a large, meaty topic, we thought we’d start with this: an overview of the safety considerations that pros from across the country are taking to keep themselves, their teams and their clients safe–along with a few innovative and creative ideas to inspire you. Have a read!
1. In-Person Client Meetings vs. Virtual Client Meetings
Because essentially everyone in the events industry was forced to have client conversations virtually (and in turn learn new video streaming technologies), it’s not far-fetched to think that client meetings will continue to stay virtual–for some businesses that is. Bridal salons on the other hand, are having to make major adjustments to their in-person meetings. For example, at Lovella Bridal in Hollywood, the team has enacted a series of protocols for their team and customers to follow.
Pro Tip: “We try to make the Zoom appointments feel as much like our in person meetings as possible,” says Cece Todd of Cece Designs. “We make sure that our lighting is good, that our makeup is on and we are prepared with the necessary slides to share to make an impact.”
2. Setup and Event Day Team Safety
The majority of pros we have spoken to are embracing the idea of a staggered arrival time for setup–as in having the venue staff, decor, catering, cake teams all arrive at different times to set up. Pared-down teams are a big theme as well for most planning, design and catering teams. Travel to and from events also has to be taken into consideration. “When we do have our first wedding, I know I have to rent more cargo vehicles because we want to make sure that there aren’t too many people riding in one vehicle,” says Nancy Liu Chin, owner of Nancy Liu Chin Designs. Nancy is not only going to keep her teams from overlapping with other teams, she’s also going to start encouraging guests to take the centerpieces home at the end of the night, rather than having her or the team pick them back up. For those who are required to be within close proximity in order to do their jobs like Megan Garmers, founder of MG Hair & Makeup, she’s having her makeup artists wear face shields and requiring clients to wear face masks.
Pro Tip: Eurykah Fon, owner of Asheri Events is pinpointing a person on her team to help enforce their safety standards and keep her team accountable. “Have one person or a dedicated team whose role is solely sanitation and social distancing enforcement on site. If you are a solopreneur, YOU are responsible for enforcing safety as you provide services,” says Eurykah. “Things like making sure that everyone is in the correct PPE equipment before getting into work, holding COVID-19 safety conversations with all clients and/or those who will be part of the event, practicing and enforcing social distancing, and more.”
3. Mental Health Between One Another and The Teams
The toll this pandemic has taken on our mental health is also a conversation that many pros are having between one another and with their teams. “Even though safety is our priority, the initial conversation prior to getting back to work as a team or service provider should be on mental sanity and emotional health as a whole,” says Eurykah. “This pandemic is not a one-size-fits-all. Do not place unattainable expectations on yourself and or your team members. Make sure everyone is equipped to come back to work by addressing how the pandemic has affected them.”
Pro Tip: One way of doing that? “Maybe running a cope or talk session with your team weekly,” Eurykah suggests. “What can be discussed at these sessions can be tailored to fit the needs of your team.”
4. Contract Updates
Since the beginning of the pandemic, there have been countless conversations around event and wedding contracts–especially as it pertains to cancellations and postponements. Now as events begin to take shape, many venues and wedding pros are looking to add health and safety clauses to their contracts for their teams and partners.
On the flip side, wedding pros are signing new paperwork too. For example, Dan Quinn, owner of DQB Entertainment, recently had a venue request that he sign additional paperwork and agree to the following:
- Use a designated vendor entrance
- Wear PPE at the event
- Will not arrive having had any COVID-19 symptoms
- Will sanitize hands immediately upon entry to the venue and at least once per hour throughout the event
Pros should consult with their legal counsel about what, if any, contract modifications for COVID-19 might work best for their business.
Pro Tip: New York-based Brian Buonassissi of DJ Brian Official, is creating an escrow account that he’s asking his destination clients to pay into. The money covers two COVID-19 tests (one before he leaves for the wedding and another for when he returns). If he tests negative upon his return, the money goes back to the client. If not, the idea is that he would use the money to cover the extra costs incurred to quarantine. “It’s really all about finding ways to stay transparent and having that conversation up front,” he says.
5. Addressing Equipment Safety
Across the board, supplies and professional equipment have to be addressed. Those pros who are there on-site during the entirety of the event are obviously the most impacted. For planners, that might mean masks for their teams (some going so far as to have ordered custom branded masks made). For many photographers, it means getting comfortable shooting with a long lens camera. For DJs, that might mean addressing their booths. DJ Brian is attaching a piece of plexiglass to his usual DJ booth to ensure guests keep their distance. “Anything we can do to maintain that level of elevated service while still staying safe,” he says.
Pro Tip: Because so many upcoming events are going to be live-streamed, DJ Brian is actually working on an event with special virtual booths where the couple and the guests at the wedding can pop in and say hi to those tuning in from home.
This post is for general informational purposes and does not intend to provide legal or financial advice. Government guidance and restrictions for events and businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic vary by location. Before implementing any safety measures for your business, we recommend consulting the government guidance in your area, or your legal or business advisors.
About the author: Anja Winikka is the former editor of TheKnot.com and The Knot Magazines turned educator and contributing editor @WeddingPro. She’s on a mission to help creatives, community leaders, and wedding businesses own their stories and tell the world about it (follow along via Instagram @editorinchiefmedia).