With a surge of weddings and a new variant known for its increased transmissibility, it might feel like the event industry can’t catch a break. If you’re feeling frustrated by the circumstances, you’re not alone. However, the good news is that Omicron doesn’t seem to be making the same impact on 2022 weddings as earlier variants in 2020 and 2021.
“At current, clients are optimistic and have every intention of moving forward with their wedding since the overall population is now vaccinated,” states Jaclyn Watson, principal planner of Jaclyn Watson Events. “Clients are not ready to cancel or postpone and wish to move forward with their events. It will be important to remember to stay flexible and have ongoing communication with all of your vendors.”
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But let’s be clear: Just because Omicron isn’t forcing countless postponements doesn’t mean the industry can let down its guard. There is still a significant need to prioritize health and safety to protect your team, clients, and guests.
With the busy season around the corner, here are a few ways to navigate around Omicron in the months ahead.
Stick to virtual meetings.
Many event pros have continued with virtual conferencing to mitigate risk as much as possible. With Omicron, this practice should be maintained for the foreseeable future.
Fortunately, virtual meetings tend to be more convenient for clients as well. Consider this safety measure as a way to enhance the client experience by making it as easy as possible to connect.
Stay up-to-date with local guidelines.
While we don’t expect to see the same strictness as we have in the past couple of years, event professionals may stay abreast of local, state, and national laws regarding COVID.
“As of now, with the emergence of the Omicron variant, state mandates have not proposed shutdowns of establishments nor social events,” confirms Tara Melvin, owner of Perfect Planning Events. “However, depending on where you live, the strictest mandate being observed is the wearing of masks indoors in public spaces and/or individuals to show proof of vaccination. Depending on your venue or locality, guests may be required to wear a mask or show proof of vaccination.”
By being adequately informed, industry pros can protect their clients not just from illness but also from legal consequences.
Discuss health and safety measures.
By this stage of the pandemic, wedding professionals should be quite familiar with the best ways to manage risk for clients and their guests: masks, social distancing, increased PPE, vaccines, and on-site testing.
“Event-wise, most of our clients are requiring proof of vaccination, as well as on-site rapid testing,” Sheils says. “We can require masks all we want, but without someone policing it, masking slowly declines as alcohol consumption levels go up.”
Jamie Chang, destination wedding planner and owner of Mango Muse Events, agrees that on-site testing is a smart move: “With Omicron, we’ve learned that being fully vaccinated and boosted isn’t always enough to prevent the spread, so adding a test on top of that helps to give everyone the peace of mind that you’re gathering as safely as you can and you’ve done everything you could to protect your guests, vendors and the community. Having that conversation with clients about what steps to take and how to take them so that it's easy for guests is important to make sure we’re all doing our part.”
Define roles and responsibilities.
It takes a considerable amount of work to manage COVID risk, so it must be a team effort between a couple and their vendor team.
As owner and creative director of Color Pop Events, Leah Weinberg, explains: “We're having to discuss who is responsible for making sure their event is compliant. Is the venue checking everyone's vaccination status at the door, for example, or is it the client's responsibility to collect that information in advance and report back to the venue? And how can I be involved to make sure that everything is being followed to the letter?”
So make sure there is a collaborative approach to handling Omicron, just as there is for design and logistics. Consider scheduling a meeting with all involved parties to ensure all bases will be covered when the big day arrives.
At this time, it appears that Omicron will not force the industry to come to an abrupt halt. Event professionals have watched and learned over the past two years, and, as a result, we are now better equipped to host celebrations safely and respectfully.