My first Visionary Leaders feature story in my annual summer storytelling series undeniably goes to my wedding and event industry clients who persevered over the last year through one of the world’s most difficult and uncertain economic, emotional, mental, and physical crisis precipitated by the pandemic.

Crisis to Current Massive Boom

The wedding and event industries were thrown into a screeching halt and tailspin of uncertainty, fear, confusion, unrest, and often major loss of revenues.

Late March 2020 after the government announced we were in a full-blown pandemic; I went into leadership give-back mode. After a short denial “this couldn’t be happening” – I moved into – “How can I give my expertise to my wedding and event industry clients and their colleagues who are spinning in doubt and fear?”

The Pandemic Creative Roundtables were born. I immediately reached out to my social communities and emailed all my event industry clients of six years that I was offering an open complimentary Zoom roundtable for support.

April – June 2020 I hosted two complimentary Zoom roundtables every two weeks to help these business owners navigate the scary landscape of the pandemic.

We began figuring out together what the EIDL grant promised (sort of), the PPP loan mess, and a hope and prayer for a rescue plan from the government.

Over the months, we navigated their roller coaster business revenues, pivots, creative ideas, upheld their positive mindset and self-care practices to weather the uncertainties.

By July, as expected, I combined the roundtable into one group where the remaining members became this amazing loyal group who are still here today 15 months later sharing their transformations, struggles, successes, and celebrating the resurgence of the industry now in full boom-mode.

I was duly impressed with the positivity and strength my clients past and present in the group demonstrated throughout the horrible mess the industry and the country were in.

Over the first six months of the pandemic, these business owners bravely pivoted by not only downsizing their client’s weddings, consoling their clients and negotiating contracts for postponed dates,

but lowering overhead by moving to smaller locations or even bringing their gig home taking the enormous financial stress off their backs. Some learned how to let go of the hustle mindset and allow the downtime to heal their hearts. There was plenty of faith and trust holding us all up.

To acknowledge my group, let’s give a nod to JoAnn Moore, Master Wedding Planner; Brianne Cohen of Brianne Cohen Virtual Wine Tasting and Event Production; Robert Arthur of Invisible Touch Events; David Krieger, Krieger Entertainment; Lee Dyson of Hey Mister DJ; Josef Reiter of Botanica Floral & Home; Veronica Puleo of The Replicas Music; Stacie Poythress of Free Martin Smart Marketing.

In April 2020, I witnessed event planner, Brianne Cohen, be forced to stop the planning side of her 12-year-old business to pivot into her new addition of wine education and tastings. In 2019, she had recently graduated with a rigorously executed Sommelier certification and was planning to add wine education and tastings to her roster of offerings at some point. The pandemic forced her to work online resulting in a fast-moving, large, and

very lucrative business hosting wine tastings and educational parties for corporate and social clients. It grew so fast she had to restructure her business to accommodate the huge volume.

Our resident floral designer, Josef Reiter of Botanica Floral & Home, scaled through the pandemic with retail orders and later in the year opened a retail location in the trendy section of downtown Portland, affectionately known as The Pearl.

Literally, all of the roundtable business owners excelled in spite of the pandemic conditions.  I tell them repeatedly in our monthly complimentary sessions how amazed I am at their resilience and victorious human spirit.

One of several blessings in this pandemic is the current turnaround and volume of weddings now in demand.

Headlines all over the news are currently reporting a HUGE surge in the industry catching up with postponed and downsized weddings needing recovery.

Brides Magazine reads,

“The Wedding Boom Is Officially Here: What to Know About Party Planning This Year and Beyond. With the rollout of the vaccine and states opening up, weddings are coming like a tidal wave.

It’s hard to imagine something as vibrant, widespread, and booming as the global wedding industry coming to a screeching halt, but it did last March as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. It is only recently, thanks to mass vaccinations and restrictions being lifted on large gatherings, that weddings are being given the green light to resume and return to a more familiar degree of normal. 

Yet, even in the face of a resurgence of weddings, including those postponed, cancelled, and planned during the pandemic, the wedding industry faces yet another unforeseen challenge: a literal “wedding boom.”

ABC News writes, “NEW YORK — Couples in the U.S. are racing to the altar in a vaccination-era wedding boom that has venues and other vendors in high demand.

With restrictions on large gatherings loosening, wedding planners and others who make the magic happen said they’ve started pushing their bookings into late 2022 and early 2023.” Read more of the article

This is a good problem to have given the severity of the condition of the industry where event business owners’ livelihood dwindled for over a year as they scrambled to find alternative sources of income to support themselves and their families.

One big applause and bravo to my Creative Roundtable members! Proud of your unrelenting positive attitudes throughout an incredibly difficult, unimaginable year.

Loads of love and admiration,