This year has been such a rollercoaster of emotions for many wedding and event planners. Some planners are barely hanging on to their business, others have closed up shop, and yet there are others who are still succeeding and profitable.
In November 2020, we interviewed three event planning companies from around the United States to learn what they did to succeed in 2020 during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Thank you to these three wonderful wedding planners who shared their experience and wisdom in this article:
Heather Dwight from Calluna Events shared her experience:
There are a couple of reasons I can think of for why we have still been successful this year. When the pandemic hit in March, we had a wedding on March 14th that we executed with health and safety precautions in place right away. We also had another wedding coming up three weeks later that we had to postpone.
We were immediately immersed in how venues, vendors, and clients were navigating it. We were on the phone with our attorneys, talking through contracts, postponements, and cancellations, and working with our couples to be proactive and help guide them through all their vendor contracts. Because we stepped right in and were thrown headfirst into it and didn’t really have a moment to catch our breath, we were really able to be proactive with our couples and provide reassurance to them.
Helpful Affiliate Link: Contract Templates for Wedding & Event Planners
At that time we started offering complimentary Calluna Consulting over the phone and through video to couples who didn’t have a wedding planner. We were staying on top of all the state, county, and local government regulations as they were changing and also became an active member of the Colorado Event Alliance, a local collaborative group of event professionals. Because we’re keeping up to date with all the changing regulations we could accurately communicate with our couples what was happening in real-time and also assist non-clients with decisions.
In all, we took it one day at a time. We’ve navigated the recession of 2008-2009 and also a massive flood in our area that required us to move a wedding in 48 hours. We have also coordinated and managed events during the wildfires in Napa this year. Planning in the midst of a pandemic, although a challenge, was one that our team was up for!
We positioned ourselves as a leader in the beginning part of the pandemic with our blog posts, e-newsletter, and the messaging we were putting out there. We also embraced small weddings quickly.
An example of messaging that Calluna Events used:
While we are elated to be back in event production season, we’d be remiss to say hosting a gathering of any kind is a serious decision that should be made with extreme sensitivity and consideration of your own circumstances.
We encourage exercising an abundance of caution with micro-weddings and parties during this time, including but not limited to: gathering in small groups, staying outside when possible, social distancing with groups outside of your household or quarantine pod, mask-wearing of vendors and guests, frequent sanitization and cleaning, and continuous communication with your loved ones to ensure a happy but safe environment.
Calluna Events continually shares valuable information on their blog and social media. Here are a few of those blog posts:
Ashlee Erlinger from Signed Sealed Delivered Events shared this about succeeding during 2020:
For the first time in my planning business, I had money saved in the business bank account when the pandemic started. This allowed me to maintain my business and continue to pay my staff and myself. I also qualified for a PPP loan that helped us through a few lean months.
I have a considerable level of trust that this will all work out. While wedding inquiries are still coming in and we have a good number of 2021 weddings on the books (many that were rescheduled from 2020), we haven’t had many new bookings lately. It comes down to money for most of those who told us why they did not book our services. We have not lowered our price points or created packages for smaller weddings either.
We charge fees for every wedding that postponed with the exception of the first three. These fees have covered the extra hours and work that we have done to reschedule weddings.
We have used this slower time to expand our wedding planner portfolio. We have done three styled photoshoots in the past month and have two more planned in the next month. One shoot was for a new venue that needed to showcase their space.
Photoshoots give us new content for social media, our website, and our blog. They give me a chance to take my design skills to the next level and improve my sketching skills. They also let me diversify who I work with since I often reach out to new-to-me vendors who I don’t have a relationship with yet.
Publications still need content during this time, especially since weddings are lean this year. Planning and coordinating photoshoots give me the opportunity to do super unique shoots and submit them for publication on wedding websites, wedding blogs, and in magazines. We recently had an owl in one of my shoots. I have had a sheep, owl, ostrich, and dogs in past shoots and we have a cat in an upcoming shoot! Everyone on our team loves their animals so this fits with our overall brand as well. Our team is also working on a spring styled shoot and an LGBTQ photoshoot to expand the company portfolio.
Helpful Affiliate Link: Learn the Secrets and Checklists on How to Submit Weddings and Photoshoots for Publication (use the code PLANNERSLOUNGE to save $10)
Susan Southerland shared this about succeeding during 2020:
Part of succeeding through 2020 is how wedding businesses planned ahead for slower seasons. Some business owners planned for financial difficulties and had money saved to help ride the wave. A significant reason why some event planners have been able to maintain their business this year is whether or not the business owners were able to access credit, grants, loans, and unemployment to help keep their businesses and employees afloat.
Having diversity in service offerings also plays a role in those who have maintained their planning businesses in 2020. Planners who were able to facilitate online events, or shift to smaller events, are better surviving the chaos that Covid-19 has caused.
Our planning business in Florida is in a community where the restrictions in place are not as strict for group sizes. I am sure this has something to do with our continued success as well. The majority of our events have an outdoor component. Luckily, in Florida, the weather works in our favor for that.
We are seeing a significant increase in smaller weddings. Even the larger ones have reduced their guest list. There has been a huge impact on our South Asian weddings. They’ve been reduced to a fraction of the sizes they used to be. We have always been known for our smaller weddings which has been our saving grace. We really haven’t had to change how we promote ourselves.
Wedding and event planners from different parts of the country are still succeeding in their business during this pandemic. What has worked for your planning business this year? What can you take away from their experiences and use in your wedding planning business? Share with us in the comments!
Pricing With Confidence: Secrets to Profitable Pricing & Services for Professional Wedding Planners is a comprehensive guide with templates and worksheets that give you the tools and information needed to confidently offer profitable and sustainable wedding planning packages and pricing.
This guide is ideal for both new and experienced wedding planners who want to understand pricing methods and techniques. This guidebook is also perfect for wedding planners who want to save time by having ready-to-use templates for planning packages, examples of website wording, and a professional spreadsheet to rely on for calculating prices for weddings and events.