I have a confession: For the first few years working as an editor at a weddings magazine and website, I didn’t feel like I was really a part of the weddings and events industry.
That’s not to say that during those early years I didn’t love the planners I interviewed for articles across the country, adore the cake bakers I called for photo shoots, and admire the designers I met at runway shows. I really did!
But I initially identified more as an editor who worked in publishing at a magazine in New York than I did a person who worked in the weddings industry.
That most definitely changed.
I’m not really sure when it happened. But somewhere between the days of after-work New York wedding industry cocktail parties in the early 2000s and epic work retreat getaways with a dozen of my closest industry friends in Palm Springs, I 100% crossed over into the weddings industry.
It’s not that I stopped being an editor at a magazine. It’s just that I spent more time outside of work with my wedding industry contacts than I did with any other group of people, and so naturally many of my contacts became my friends.
From late-night talks on the beaches of Mexico to hotel room parties and check-in phone calls, the people in this industry are SO DARN SPECIAL TO ME.
If you have no idea what the weddings and events industry is all about, let me try my best to explain what this group of people is like…
For one, the weddings and events industry is made up of people who are passionate AF.
From outspoken party planners to quiet invitation designers, we’re all in this because we have a passion for what we do. Also…
Our industry is dominated by strong, smart, hard-working women—from single women who work around the clock for their clients to moms who run their own businesses and employ others in the community and everything in between.
It’s rare to find an industry of women, and I believe that’s a big reason it’s so special. Also…
I know I am!
Many of us are smart, creatives with very outgoing personalities. And on the other hand, many of us are also the super introverted types. Both extremes are common and both personality types don’t necessarily jive with traditional corporate culture.
Add to that, many of us have overcome some serious hardships in life or faced some sort of adversity growing up. As a result, we’re also more open and inclusive than most industries.
(For example, despite the awful headlines about people like the Colorado cake baker, you would be VERY hard-pressed to find an industry networking group that did not support the LGBTQIA community. If they’re out there, I’m glad I don’t know about them because #loveislove.)
We are made up of so so so so many creative people.
There are artists with the most beautiful eye for photography and videography.
There are designers who can look at a room and, in an instant, see something no one else ever thought to do.
There are wedding singers and DJs who can bring a room to their knees.
We are problem-solvers—thousands of event planning logistics queens and kings who can solve anything with duct tape, safety pins and a walkie talkie.
And we are a very supportive bunch.
Many of us are better-than-therapy confidantes to one another and we don’t mind opening right up and talking about the real stuff—even if that means shedding a tear or two about it along the way.
I’m telling you…
The people that make up the weddings and events industry are some of the kindest, most generous, smart, creative, passionate people I have ever met.
I could go on and on, but let me stop right there though because the headline above does not suggest that I would spend paragraphs talking about why the people (my people!) in the weddings industry are so great.
Here’s the deal: Right now, I don’t have a single friend in the weddings industry who is out and about preparing for a big wedding or event this month.
They can’t do that and we all know why.
But even though their small businesses are at stake, they have mouths to feed and mortgages to pay, and they have no real idea as to what is going to happen; they’re shining brighter than ever by sharing with the world what they know best.
Here are 8 examples of how small business owners in the weddings industry are reminding us of what is important, starting with love…
Lesson 1: Love Doesn’t Get Canceled
This photo above taken by my friend and Connecticut-based wedding photographer, Carla Ten Eyck. She recently posted this photo and the following caption:
It’s the end of the night. I’m in the corner drinking my requisite Diet Coke, packing my gear when my second shooter Greg says- ‘Turn around quick’
I look to see this moment unfolding: the couples grandfather had lovingly picked up his wedding photo with his wife, who had passed away and gently kissed the photo.
He stood there a moment, reflecting. We all stood there in the shadows crying quietly as he gently placed their treasured wedding photo back on the table.
I’ll never ever forget this moment, as a photographer and a human.
Lesson 2: Music Doesn’t Get Postponed
This comes from my beautiful friend, Cindy Salgado. Cindy is a destination wedding planner based in Italy and owns Cindy Salgado Wedding Design & Events In Tuscany. This video is of her talented opera singer and musician friend, Maurizio Marchini. In the past, Cindy would commission Maurizio to sing at her clients’ weddings in Italy. Here, he sings from his balcony.
From Cindy’s Instagram stories:
I’ve had the immense honor of having @marchini.maurizio perform at several of my events and every time I hear him sing, I have to hold my arms for goose bumps…
But this time it is different. This time he’s not dressing as he normally does for weddings (very elegant and with his tux)…
This time he is not in a luxury venue or performing in an opera.
This time he is not singing for the bride and the groom and their guests.
This time he is singing from the balcony of his house. Singing for the Italian people.
To bring a ray of sunshine, a ray of hope.
He’s singing for the doctors who fight day and night without rest.
The translation of this song (Nessun Dorma) is:
“None shall sleep
None shall sleep!
Even you, oh princess
In your cold room
Watch the stars
That tremble with love
And with hope
Set stars! Set stars!
At dawn I will win!
I will win!
I will win!”
3. Activism Doesn’t Get Canceled
I met event planner and designer Annie Lee, Daughter of Design, over a decade ago in New York. She’s this smart, fierce woman with a strong sense of self (not to mention incredible taste in decor and fashion). About a month ago, this bright pink and yellow badge popped up in my feed on Instagram and it caught eye:
Here’s what the caption read:
“Postpone. Don’t cancel.
I’d like to encourage the event industry, especially my fellow planners, to encourage clients to postpone their events rather than cancel. Delaying revenue vs losing it completely can help stop more event industry businesses from shuttering and from people losing their jobs.
Call your news outlets and make your story known. The more awareness the more attention and funding! Cruise lines and airlines are not the only hospitality businesses at risk. Sign the Change.org petition for Federal Aid for the Event industry.”
Since then, that petition has more than 453K signatures. On top of that, Annie has organized a coalition of mask-makers, partnered with Wish Upon A Wedding to take tax deductible donations, called insurance companies from across the country to understand their offerings, coordinated media messages (with me!), and advocated for our industry near and far. She continues to speak up for our industry in new ways and you can see all of the latest right here and @daughterofdesign.
4. Self-Care Doesn’t Get Canceled
David Beahm, owner of David Beahm Experiences, is this kind, caring and incredibly inspiring human. Every week for the past month, he has gone live on Facebook and Instagram—encouraging his friends and followers to breathe, to remain calm and stay connected. He’s doing that by story-telling, offering words of hope and suggesting breathing exercises and meditation. Here’s a snippet from one recent video:
Follow along via Instagram @davidbeahm
5. Community Doesn’t Get Canceled
The places I felt a sense of community before Covid-19 are STILL a place of community. They just look different. Instead of cocktail-ing next to a pool at a ridiculously fabulous resort with @EngageSummits or any of my other favorite networking groups, we’re engaging online. And as for those dear friends I used to look forward to meeting up with at events across the country, now they’re my Zoom and FaceTime dates. And while we can’t dance up on each other or exchange giant hugs like we’re accustomed to, we’re reaching out to one another more than ever. This screenshot graphic here pulled from wedding photographer, Dennis Kwan’s personal Instagram profile, @DennisKwanPhoto.
6. Creativity Doesn’t Get Canceled
Like I said, pretty much everyone in this industry is a creative person. It’s in their bones. So a couple weeks ago, when my friend Ed Libby, owner of Ed Libby Events, challenged his community to create tabletop designs from home, the industry went totally gaga for it. What was so cool was seeing all of the wonderful creations that came out of it and continue to. The hashtag #dreamersalwaysdream has well over 500 photos tagged to it and I HIGHLY recommend you take a look if you’re in the mood for something pretty.
7. Gratitude Doesn’t Get Canceled
I’ve admired Minneapolis-based event planner Amy Zaroff since the day we met. She has this vivacious personality accompanied by what seems like endless energy (and that’s a lot coming from a gal who considers herself energetic!). I’ve always enjoyed being around Amy. She’s funny, outgoing, curious, and most of all, a genuinely caring person. So when out of the blue, a promotion for a new series called “Today Is A Reason To Celebrate” popped up in my feed by Amy Zaroff, I wasn’t surprised.
The show is fun! It features her friends and contacts doing all sorts of things from home, like making a family recipe and teaching at-home beauty regimens. But under the hood, it’s a real reminder of how important it is to be thankful for what we have right here, right now in the this moment. Her Instagram show is all about that and I highly recommend you tune in for a watch!
8. Generosity Doesn’t Get Canceled
I can’t even begin to list the number of wedding and events businesses who are stepping in to help the front lines. The generosity of this industry is truly mind-blowing. And I’m not talking about the big names with lots of employees and cash reserves. I’m talking about small local businesses making a BIG impact on their communities through generous giving of their time and resources.
Here are just a few examples…
- Big D Party Rentals in Dallas is turning their tents into Covid-19 testing facilities
Nardos, a bridal designer in Dallas, Texas is making thousands of face masks
Beth Chapman, owner of The White Dress by the Shore in Connecticut donated breathable bags meant to protect dresses to be turned into masks
JoAnne Gregoli, of Elegant Occasions in New Jersey, organizing mom groups to sew masks
Meena Lee-DePasquale of 5th Avenue Weddings & Events in New York is getting fabric donations from interior design clients, making masks, making food particularly for night-shift NYPD precincts
Marcia Selden Catering is a family-owned and operated catering business based in New York and Connecticut. They’re donating food to local hospitals for tired doctors and nurses.
- Creative Edge Parties based out of New York is making meals for doctors and nurses on the front lines.
- Nuage Designs is a linens company based out of Miami. They haven’t stopped using their sewing machines but instead of creating new linens, they’re creating masks and gowns for hospital workers. They have a new donation program too. It’s called NuageMasks4All (buy a mask and they’ll donate one).
In the midst of this Covid-19 pandemic—from New York to LA and across the world—the weddings and events industry is demonstrating that even though weddings and events may be canceled or postponed for now, what we stand for, will never be.
I hope you see now what I see…
That it’s not about the latest color palettes, the hottest food trends, the new centerpiece ideas, prettiest new dresses, best first dance songs, most extravagant tablescapes, finest wines, or the most over-the-top venues.
(It never was.)
It is, and always has been, about the people. And if there’s anything that the weddings and events industry knows, it’s people.
It seems wherever I turn, there are these incredibly creative, passionate people who refuse to sit back during this time. Instead, they’re rolling up their sleeves and going to work for those people who need it the most right now.
Until the day when it is safe to gather and these incredibly passionate, creative, generous people can work their magic, they’re going to remind you and I and the rest of us that we’ve got this.