Saturday was supposed to be full of abundant flowers, incredible entertainment and a decked out 8,000sqft tent in the heart of my clients multi-acre property. As the third, and final, in the series of weddings for an incredible family, it was going to be the cherry on top, not to mention the wedding I’d be most proud of in my career to date.
Let’s rewind 5 years. I was introduced to a woman with high expectations and she knew events like the back of her hand. As a philanthropist and lover of entertaining, she didn’t ‘need’ a wedding planner for her daughter’s wedding; but after some convincing, she hired me. We fought, I cried more times than I’ll admit, I told my now-husband I’d “never work for her again,” but that wedding was the pinnacle of my career on Memorial Day weekend 4 years ago, and the start of something very special.
Since then, we have produced 30+ events together, and I say ‘together’ because we now have a symbiotic relationship. She trusts me, and I value her input and opinion more than anyone I know, even on events that are not her own. She is an adopted mother to me and has pushed me beyond what I even thought was possible. Her meticulous eye for detail, coupled with her expectation for perfection, have made me grow leaps and bounds as a better event planner. I often say that my standards for my clients’ events are higher than their own – and a lot of that is due to her influence.
COVID19 showed up knocking on doors in mid march. COVID wasn’t exactly the nice neighbor we wanted to let in for a cocktail, but we rolled with the punches and pushed 16 weddings and events to the fall, or early 2021. Having recently been a bride myself, and a wedding industry pro for over 10 years, seeing both sides of this mess has been harder than ever. I need to take care of my creative partners, but I feel for our clients. Having to move what will be the best day of your life is not easy or fun. The excitement, anxiety and calmness I felt as a bride on my wedding day are all things that I want for my clients. Having all of my favorite people in one room to celebrate us was a day I will never forget, it truly was the “best day ever!”
It’s now Memorial Day weekend 4 years after our first wedding together, (Happy Anniversary S+M!), and this weekend we chose people over things. (Hurray, we can finally celebrate!) J+A married in a small backyard ceremony with just parents and siblings followed by a relaxed family dinner for 20. I cried during their first look because I knew how much it meant to them to marry on their original date, and to have their immediate family there for them no matter what. We put the “stuff” aside and chose love, because amid COVID19 – all we really know for certain is that we have each other.
But I won’t lie: the day was really hard for me, but not because I was mourning the loss of our “would have been” big production wedding. It was hard for me because the perfectionism and service that I have developed from this particular client couldn’t show up. It couldn’t show up because we had to socially distance. It couldn’t show up because we wanted less staff in the house to limit potential exposure to the virus. My perfectionism couldn’t show up because I was too busy plating meals, bussing tables, and trying to keep things moving. I didn’t have the extra time I normally do to simply take care of my people.
I cried the whole way home because I felt like I didn’t do enough. I felt like I didn’t do my job to the best of my ability for a family I love so much. I’m hard on myself, yes, that is likely a defined trait for a perfectionist somewhere on google. Even though I did the best I could with the situation at hand, it felt flat. And it hurt.
We are in this business to serve others and to serve them well. We invest so much time and energy into our families through their events and we care SO MUCH for the people we serve. COVID19 took my ability to serve the people I care about most in what should truly be the “best day ever,” and turned it into an “as best as it can be,” kind of day.
Perfectionists beware – and there are a lot of us in this industry. The changes that are coming to our events due to COVID19 and health protocols are not simply just barriers to event logistics or problems to be solved. They are emotional hurdles that will forever change the course of how, and why we serve others. Now, more than ever, we have to re-define what a successful event looks like since the landscape has been completely altered from our previous realities.
The domino effect caused from economic impacts, group gathering perception, and health concerns are just the tip of the iceberg. We can strategize on how to change food service or re-arrange a floor plan to accommodate state guidelines, but how all of those things roll together to affect how we FEEL as professionals about our own impact and service is the biggest fallout of COVID19 I didn’t see coming. Do we have to settle for “good enough?”
Our team has successfully produced 5 events since returning to work on May 30th with several more on the horizon (state permitting.) Below are a few professional tips for you while navigating COVID19 and producing events in our current landscape.
“Striving for excellence feels wonderful because you are trying your very best. Perfectionism feels terrible because your work is somehow never good enough”