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Gwen Helbush Photo by Colson Griffith Photography
Gwen Helbush now offers services to fellow event pros.

Bay Area Wedding Network Fights Fires with Support Network

The heartbreaking fires in Northern California have inspired a heartwarming response from the Bay Area Wedding Network, which matches planners in need with supportive partners.

The heartbreaking fires in Northern California, which are estimated to have killed 40 people and destroyed 5,700 structures, have also inspired a heartwarming response. The Bay Area Wedding Network, under the direction of co-founder Gwen Helbush, CPC, has launched a grassroots effort to ensure that members of the wedding industry harmed by the fires can go on with their events.

Helbush, who also heads up Where to Start Wedding Management of Newark, Calif., has been a respected member of the wedding community for years. Her blog describing the most poignant wedding she has yet created—for a gravely ill bride—has been one of the most-read articles on

Shortly after the fires broke out in Napa Valley on Oct. 8, the BAWN newsletter began reaching out to wedding professionals offering both professional and personal help. The motto: “Please reach out; your wedding community is here for you!” The BAWN network offered a roster of experienced planners willing to step in, replacement venues, and workspace.

The wedding industry community has heeded the BAWN call. Contributions have included a floral designer in Belmont, Calif., offering workspace, along with caterers, photographers, DJ's, bakers and floral designers willing to help.

A standout contribution comes from Leah Hwung of Two Perfect Events of Palo Alto, Calif., who created an Immediate Emergency Venue Availability spreadsheet that offers specific details on available venues with their capacities and open dates.

Also included on the BAWN email blasts are contacts for filing Federal Emergency Management Agency paperwork in order to get federal disaster assistance.

Helbush is modest about her contribution, telling Special Events, “I just sounded the call; everyone else stepped up.”

BAWN marches on: The next BAWN meeting is Nov.  28, from 10:00 am-2:30 pm at the San Mateo Marriott San Francisco Airport. To register, click here.

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