I always cringe when someone asks me what’s the worst thing that’s happened during a wedding/event… and in over 20 years in the event industry; I’ve seen my fair share of fallen cakes, tables caught on fire, bad weather and mishaps… but my top five (in no particular order) would be:
• Having the best man collapse into my arms as he walked back up the aisle after the ceremony. He hadn’t taken his blood pressure medicine in 72 hours, not ate a lot and it was about 90+ degrees outside…. He was okay once we got him cooled, meds, and food/water. *Now you see why I push for CPR and first aid training.
• Giving another association member the Heimlich when they began choking on a waffle during a brunch meeting. *Again, now you see why I push for CPR and first aid training.
• While being a site manager of a venue, having a guest pass out and having him rushed to the ER to have his stomach pumped due to alcohol poisoning because he was the “favorite uncle” and everyone kept ordering him double jack & cokes (even against venue no double rules). *Now people wonder why I don’t play when it comes to alcohol.
• Having to evacuate a tent as a massive storm producing tornados heading directly for our outdoor wedding with nowhere to seek shelter on property. *Again now people understand why I am so vocal about back-up plans.

And number FIVE happened June of 2020… we hosted the first wedding for our company and everything was going great… the bride even mentioned how magical it had been all day. But at the end of the evening, I had to pull her aside and let her know even with ALL the precautions I had done for 3+ months leading up to that day and all of the safety measures we did above and beyond stated by the government… that there was a slight chance that I possibly just exposed her entire wedding to COVID-19… talk about a gut check!

~With about an hour left in our event, I got THE text no one wants to read. Bad news honey, I just tested positive for COVID-19… yep that’s the text I received from my boyfriend. Now the good news is I had been quarantined with my mother off and on for the past SIX weeks and we had barely seen one another. In fact the week prior to him testing positive, I had only seen him for a brief hi when he dropped a change of clothes off to the hospital as I sat bedside nursing my mother back to health… oh yeah talk about an even BIGGER scare: did I just expose my high-risk mother to this deadly disease? Following Saturday’s wedding and the news, I never returned to my mother’s bedside & missed a week of her warmth and smiles personally and I made sure to tell everyone that could have possibly been exposed to watch their symptoms. I began to monitor myself even more closely although I never showed one symptom.

I attempted to go the Sunday following the wedding to get tested but no luck. My boyfriend had already quarantined at his parents’ home to not further expose anything to my home. By then my boyfriend felt fine, he literally said “if my knees would let me I could run 20 miles.” Unfortunately, the fear had already sunk in… did we expose our roommates? Did I expose my mother and family? Did I expose an entire wedding? Was I going to be the statistic? Was I going to be the first headline in the news? Or the fear got bigger and bigger…then there was the fear of THE TEST itself. I made an appointment to be there early Monday morning but they were running late by over an hour. When I finally could check in, I overheard she’s got the next to last test, there’s one more and that’s it for the day. We bleached every inch on our home and I’ve probably cleaned it at least 3 times that week alone… I kept my distance even further from others and only emerged to see my mother go from the ambulance to her rehabilitation center; never getting remotely close to her and always having a mask on.
Then the waiting game… THAT’S the WORST! Unfortunately, the lab was backed up and they said 3-4 days. I waited, and called at three days = nothing, four days= nothing but for them to say it would be five business days… seriously! That’s a WEEK of not knowing! No wonder people are wondering around just spreading this crap like wildfire… finally a week later Monday afternoon I get the call “Ms. Ball you’re NEGATIVE.” Well DUH! I’m half way through a quarantine without a single symptom but thanks for letting me know for sure. I finally got to text and call everyone letting them know the results were in and that we were all safe.

I wondered if I should share my near experience or should I say twice. We might have quarantined my roommate’s boyfriend early on for pretty much most of April for sneezing…. But he did have several symptoms and after locking our house down for 16 days he went to get the antibody test (because then no one would give him the regular test at the beginning of his quarantine). Thank goodness it was just allergies…LOL (we laugh now, but he was pretty upset that he lived in our bonus room for 16 days for sneezing).
The scary part is my boyfriend doesn’t do crowds, no serious… he kinda doesn’t like people. It takes him a while to warm up to you… he works on his family’s sawmill standing 8-12 feet from the other 3 older gentleman and/or in equipment by himself and works alone in his embroidery shop the other half of the day. He can probably count on his hands how many grocery stores he’s been inside since this all started and two of those were when I was quarantined. He stops to get gas super early or late at night to avoid people and has been just as cautious as I have been due to my mother being high risk. So for him to be THE ONE to get it in our house… is just mind-blowing…
So if you thought my crazy protocols were insane before… just wait! We can only be as safe as the person next to us is…so WE have to set an example and WE’VE ALL got to do OUR PART… especially if we ever want to get back to doing weddings again with whatever new normalcy might look like.
 I see no buffets or sneeze shields if you choose to keep buffets or displayed food items.
 I see smaller intimate events and gatherings for a while.
 I see everything more spaced out which means more rentals.
 I see more events outside.
 I see focusing on the marriage not the wedding.
 I see more elopements and then bigger 1 year celebrations, family reunions, and/or baby showers.
 I see us focusing on the experience more than ever.
I still am for getting back to SAFE weddings and events but our industry as a whole is going to have to come together and create protocols to follow as a whole. We need to be on the same page and create guidelines to help our couples plan events for the future.

And most importantly, we’re going to need couples to be FLEXIBLE & OPEN MINDED. Couples need to jump on board with smaller gatherings. Guests are not going to want to be in a room of 200 somewhat strangers… honestly not even 100~
Elopements- happen quickly are usually just a handful of witnesses (more spur of the moment gathering/wedding.
Micro-wedding- are planned and sometimes cost just as much as a 100-200 person wedding because you are focusing on the experience. These typically have under 30 guests.
Intimate weddings- are also planned and are usually under 75 guests. The focus is the wedding ceremony and the marriage with an experience sprinkled in.

Large celebrations are over 75 guests and will be some time before the industry both guests and vendors feel 100% confident jumping back into. Plan on these late next year, if then.
If couples are postponing their 2020 wedding stay away from 2021 Saturdays. Vendors need those to remain open to gain new clients and income. Yes, our 2020 couples are just as important but most of these couples have already paid for majority of their weddings and vendors can’t live two years on one year’s income… especially with zero to little new income coming in. Let’s help one another out to continue to work together. Hopefully vendors/venues won’t charge extra fees to move to those Sunday-Friday weddings unless you use them for both an elopement AND their new wedding date… and IF a vendor doesn’t charge you…. TIP THEM greatly! Because several ARE charging extra fees!
We can still make 2020 and 2021 the most amazing wedding season ever… I hope you all learn from our scare in our own home and remember to wash your hands often, clean everything often, hand sanitize always and wear a mask as much as possible when out and about… and honestly stay home if and when possible. (Don’t invite the entire entourage to every meeting… only the couple plus one extra person and the vendor when possible or virtual meetings.) #safetyfirst

Check out our COVID-19 protocols for more planning tips and advice.