When a world-wide health crisis eliminates large gatherings and forces event planners to essentially shut down their businesses, there’s only one solution – pivot and change everything.
“There’s absolutely no question the hardest-hit industry was the large-scale event-planning sector because nothing we would normally be able to do was possible,” said Nancy Campana, owner of Windsor’s Nouveau Event Planning. “Everything I do involves more than 1,000 people including wedding extravaganzas, weddings, corporate gatherings, festivals, conferences and trade shows.”
Suddenly, in early March it was all shut down.
Couples postponed weddings, businesses cancelled shows and conferences and communities across the region cancelled festivals.
And Campana had to cancel her wedding extravaganza after 33 uninterrupted years.
It forced Campana to find another way to do business.
She needed to find a way for her vendors to get their names and products in front of consumers and to find a way for her clients to make connections with vendors without organizing a huge two-day show attended annually by hundreds of people.
“I contacted all my vendors and asked them if they would donate items for a gift bag which we would hand out to couples seeking wedding information,” said Campana. “We gave them out at Devonshire Mall and we had more people show up than had registered for the show a year earlier.
“It was amazing and it gave me an opportunity to speak to dozens and dozens of couples,” said Campana.
Campana also quickly realized that many couples were not postponing their weddings but simply scaling them back, still getting married and planning large family-and-friends gatherings once COVID-19 restrictions are lifted.
According to Campana, many of her jewelry vendors reported increased sales because many couples were ready to purchase rings with funds they hadn’t spent on vacations, clothes or restaurant outings.
Instead, many decided to spend more on their wedding preparations.
“Other couples decided to start living together because of COVID restrictions and moved everything forward because, if nothing else, we have learned life is unpredictable through all of this upheaval,” she said.
Building on the success of her first gift-bag giveaway, Campana is planning another one for the weekend of Jan 8-10th, 2021. (Registration required)
The event will be held at The Signature Tributes Event Centre at 3310 Dougal Ave (next to Families First) for the first two days from noon to 4pm and at Retro Suites Hotel in Chatham on the third day from noon to 4pm.
If either venue is closed at that time, curbside pickup will be available.
Campana is also planning a series of ZOOM workshop beginning on Jan. 10 including such topics as wedding planning, menu selection, budgeting, venue selection, wedding styles for brides, grooms, bridesmaids and groomsmen, décor planning, winery wedding options and wedding day makeup and preparations.
While Campana admits it’s been a challenge, she is upbeat and believes the industry will eventually return to normal.
“Once restrictions end, whenever that happens to be, I think there will be a pent-up demand for weddings, galas and other events and the challenge for many people will be finding available venues,” she said. “There will be a lot of catching up to do and it’s going to be very busy eventually.”
Campana has handled all of the details for her gift-bag exchanges on her own and while it’s been busy, she was left with little choice.
“I had to take care of the vendors who have stayed with me for years and to help clients and people who have been attending the wedding show for years,” she said. “Their revenue stream was different but we have survived and I’m looking forward to a busy 2021 and 2022.
For more information on the gift-bag giveaways, participating vendors and to register, visit www.weddingshows.com.