Why It’s More Important Than Ever Before to Buy from Local and BIPOC-Owned Businesses.

The upswell of the Black Lives Matter movement has created a conversation around supporting Black owned businesses. Some of my non-Black colleagues seem confused by this. “Isn’t this reverse racism? I’m not racist, I don’t see color!” is a common trope heard during times like this.

A tall Black woman makeup artist applies lip color to a Black mother of the bride.
Photo: Craig Strong

While an event planning blog is not the best platform to address how those types of statements actually promote white supremacy*, one thing I am qualified to address is how to make your event better. One way to do this is to make your event or wedding a force for good. Here’s my opinion on how buying more often from BIPOC- (Black, Indigenous, People of Color) and locally-owned businesses can do this, starting by contrasting with the following examples of common practices among large, global corporations:

  1. Starbucks forbidding employees to wear any clothing or jewelry supporting Black Lives Matter (later rescinded)
  2. Cambodian worker who makes Kate Spade and Michael Kors handbags was jailed for speaking up about coronavirus fears on Facebook.
  3. Racial profiling at Anthropologie stores (Sister co of wedding dress boutique BHLDN and owned by Urban Outfitters) In addition, Urban Outfitters has a long problematic history of stealing from independent artists, and for its own designs being shockingly offensive to pretty much anyone.
  4. Corporations profit from prison labor; meanwhile, Black and POC are convicted and incarcerated disproportionately to the population as a whole.

Yikes, right? While not every corporation may be guilty of these types of wrongdoings, it’s more common than not. By choosing a local and/or BIPOC-owned event business, you lessen the risk of sending your hard-earned event dollars to organizations that perpetuate racism, profit from prison labor, deplete the environment, and steal intellectual and artistic property.

In addition, when you avoid mass-produced event and wedding items, you’re more likely to:

  • integrate artisanship and hand-crafted know-how into your event
  • avoid cookie-cutter designs and boring flavors
  • reduce your carbon footprint by avoiding overseas shipping.

If you’re looking for even more reasons to Buy Black this year, check out this article from Green America: 6 Reasons to Buy from Black-Owned Businesses.

It’s important to reduce negative impacts of consumption, both environmental and social. This extends to events. Most of us know that in this big, big world of 7 billion people, we won’t solve every problem in a few months. I myself am just beginning a long process of educating myself, divesting from old processes, and doing my small part. I present this idea of normalizing buying local, and buying BIPOC, as often as you can, and especially with large purchases such as wedding- and event-related costs, as one way to raise awareness, reduce your risk of harm, and make your event better.

* I recommend Alishia McCullough’s 7 Circles of Whiteness article, which is much better at explaining this phenomenon.

Microweddings, Petite Parties, and the Next Normal for Events (for now)

On May 8, the “Reopening Oregon” Framework, and similar guidelines throughout the Western States Pact were released, outlining a phased timeline for when the public could return to holding events and mass gatherings.
Based on this framework, event professionals and event clients all over the Pacific Northwest now understand that large gatherings are forbidden through the end of September 2020, and only microweddings and small parties within one’s own household will be permitted. This came as a surprise to many, since when the outbreak in the US became known at the end of February 2020, the prevailing belief was that the epidemic would subside within six months, allowing events to begin again at the end of the summer.
A microwedding, or a small wedding with only a few guests.
photo: Altura Studio

This is not the case, and many weddings, festivals, events, and conferences have been postponed and are following protocols similar to the one I outlined in this blog post “What to do if your event is affected by COVID-19 regulations“.

Because of this, you’d think that all events and weddings have come to an absolute stop. But is this true? Not if you consider the many folks who are re-tooling their 2020 celebrations to comply with a 10-25 (depending on the area) person guest count and physical distancing guidelines. Add careful hygiene and sanitation measures, and we are starting to see what the next normal of events will look like for the next 6-12 months; at least until more testing, contact tracing, and treatments/vaccines are expected.

What are some things that will look different in this new world of microweddings and petite parties?

1. Physical distancing will change the way we set up rooms. Much larger venues for weddings of 10-50 guests will need to be booked than previously thought. A venue once thought to be “too big” for 50 guests will now be the norm. Room setups will incorporate physical distancing guidelines.

 

2. Food service will be different. Buffets and family style will not return until new cases are on the decline and a vaccine is available. Group meals will be plated, or be a creative twist on “boxed”: think beautiful packaging, linen napkins, and gorgeous flatware in a customized bag for each guest.

3. As travel is reduced, local and regional celebrations, meetings, and events will move to the forefront. Unfortunately, car driving will increase until mass transit becomes safe again; we hope this isn’t a permanent trend since the climate effects are sure to be negative.

Will bento become the newest catering trend due to COVID-19? Photo by Kouji Tsuru on Unsplash

What things will stay the same? The elements that are not as affected by physical distancing or sanitation are getting as much attention as they would at pre-COVID-19 elopements or microweddings:

1. Wedding clothing – whether it’s just the two of you, or a few combined households of 10-25, everyone still wants to look their best. Formalwear services like Generation Tux are offering increased sanitation practices and home try-on.

2. Photography and videography have become even more important, as many guests may not be able to travel. Sharing the day through photos and video, and also livestreaming, is more important than ever before.

3. Flowers – nature does not stop for a pandemic, and flower farmers are still hard at work. Buying local is a must; people are not flying in bouquets from other countries.

4. Cake and a celebratory toast: Involving dozens of vendors in customizing a celebration isn’t currently feasible, so we see microweddings returning to archetypes like these.

5. Elopement and small-event packages that include planning and services offered in an easy-to-book bundle will be more important as ever, as busy families won’t have time to sort out all the details of what’s allowed, where they can go, and what activities are permitted and how to do them. Expert planners who stay up-to-date on changing regulations and availabilities will be highly sought after.

This is Part 1 in a 2-part post about the Next Normal of Events. Stay tuned for our post about new developments in meeting, convention, and trade show setups; and trends to watch for in food service and even coffee bars.

Note: This article contains information about holding microweddings or small parties during COVID-19, the novel coronavirus pandemic during spring of 2020. Guidance is changing quickly, and you should check with local and state health authorities, local governments’ Executive Orders, and your own contracted wedding professionals, before making any important decisions about your wedding. We’ll try to keep this post updated with items marked “UPDATE:” when possible.

What to do if your event is affected by COVID-19 regulations

what to do if covid-19 affects your event

What to do if your event is affected by COVID-19 is on all our minds. This is a rapidly developing situation. For the most up-to-date information, check resources like the Oregon Health Authority (OHA), Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and World Health Organization (WHO) regularly. This post will be updated as new information becomes available.

It has never been easy to plan an event, but to do so during the pandemic era of COVID-19 comes with unprecedented difficulty. As of today, April 14th 2020, all 50 states of the U.S. and many parts of the world are under some form of Stay at Home order. Here in EJP Events’s home base of Portland, Oregon, we’re beginning Week 5 of social distancing and “Stay Home/Save Lives“. Travel, both locally and internationally, is severely curtailed if not outright banned. Our hearts go out to the many people affected: whether due to COVID-19-related illness, or to business and financial effects.

Most events for April, May, and June have already been rescheduled or cancelled. Event planners are taking cues from major world and regional gatherings and festivals such as the Olympics, Edinburgh Fringe Festival, Coachella, etc. which have all cancelled or postponed.

What does this mean for a couple planning a wedding, or an association planning a conference in late summer through end of 2020? First things first: please take care of yourself and your family, friends and coworkers. Do what is safe and healthy. The science tells us: COVID-19 is extremely contagious, can possibly be carried while asymptomatic for up to 14 days, and is potentially life-threatening for many. So follow your local health authority guidelines and right now: stay home and stay safe. Take care of your mental health too. The emotions around planning an event can be overwhelming enough without a global pandemic. It’s important to acknowledge the many feelings that can arise and be kind to yourself and others involved in this situation. Check out these resources from the CDC on coping.

OK, so thankfully you’re safe and healthy at home, but you have an event on the future horizon. Now what? While no one has a crystal ball, here are some thought processes we recommend as you plan what to do if your event is affected by COVID-19 and your event date approaches:

We agree with, and really love this chart made by the folks over at Filosophi Events in Vancouver BC. In general, you should have a Plan B for any event occurring in 2020; and you should set a “go/no-go” date on which you decide whether or not to invoke your Plan B. For most people, this “go/no-go” date will be about 60 days or 2 months before the event.

In order to create your Plan B, you’ll need to communicate with your venue and vendors about what options you have, find alternate dates, and find out if everyone is available on the possible alternate date. This is also a good time to review your contracts, especially any clauses about Impossibility or Force Majeure. Ideally, your contract should cover you in the event it becomes “illegal or impossible” to hold your event. There should be a way to seek relief from this impossibility (such as a reschedule) through this clause in your contract. Please contact your legal advisor or attorney for further advice on this.

Canceling outright (termination of contract) should be a last resort, as typically it will incur the most financial loss. A recent survey showed that 96% of couples are not canceling their weddings. It’s better to postpone than cancel. Should any of your event partners, whether vendor or venue, not be available for your Plan B, you’ll need to work out how to release them from their contract with you, and what, if any, financial repercussions there will be.

If your event is not a wedding, but a corporate event or conference, however, you may need to set your go/no-go date earlier than 60 days, since it’s not just the actual event itself that is affected, but your business partners’ ability to plan for and market the event as well. For example, if you aren’t able to sell trade show booths or registrations because your business partners aren’t sure if your event will even be allowed, it becomes impossible and commercially impracticable to hold your event, which may trigger a need to postpone.

Ultimately, the most important things are for you and your attendees to be safe; and for the purpose and spirit of your event to be upheld. Love is not canceled. Education is not canceled. With these things in mind, and with the positivity and teamwork of your vendor team, a solution will be found.

If you are looking for assistance with this process of what to do if your event is affected by COVID-19, please contact us. We’re currently offering complimentary phone and online consultations to assist any new and existing clients with COVID-19 questions. We are here to help. 

5 Things You’re Forgetting To Include On Your Wedding Venue Website {Vendors!}

Here at EJP Events we’re constantly searching for interesting and unique wedding venues. This means loads of google searches and digging around websites. It’s an ongoing concern, something we’ve been doing for 20 years. We’re on the lookout for information on the newest, coolest wedding venues.

We love it when venue websites make it easy for us to figure things out. We can easily figure out what the venue can provide, when all the nuts and bolts are displayed properly. Photos of the space set up for an event is a definite plus, so we can get an idea what a ceremony will be like. Take a look at this photo below of The Saltbox Barn in the Skagit Valley.

barn with chairs in front, set up for a wedding
Saltbox Barn on Fir Island, from their website.

It’s pretty helpful, isn’t it? (Emee says “LOOOOOOVE!!!!”)

But there’s a trend with some venues to lean towards the artistic. We can understand that bent in today’s Instagram-saturated world. Plus, there’s a line of thought that the best way to sell an experience is to be vague. So what can we gather about a wedding venue is full of only well-staged pictures of a bride’s hand clutching a bouquet, polished shoes, and Mason jars and Edison bulbs?

edison bulbs in mason jars, hanging from ceiling
Edison Bulbs in Mason Jars, so very now. Photo by Bonnie Kittle on Unsplash

Well, we can probably guess that this looks good on Instagram. But we’re still wondering:

  1. How many people can the venue hold?
  2. Do we need to work with a preferred caterer vs. one we choose ourselves?
  3. What’s the parking situation like?
  4. How the heck do we contact you? (Hint: DON’T use a contact form, or if you do, please also include address, phone, and email.)
  5. What about alcohol? Can we bring our own, is there in-house bartending? Corkage?

And so on. So then we have to contact the venue for more information. Depending on how busy the venue is, it can take a while for a response. Even if there is a prompt reply, it still adds another step into the whole process, and causes delays for the couple eager to close out their venue search and start the real planning! (Design! Pinterest! Tastings!)

So venues, include as much info about your venue as possible on your website. Please make it easy on us event planners to find information on your wedding venue! And make it easy for couples to book you.

And please don’t interpret this as an either/or: You CAN have lovely Instagram-bait pictures AND plenty of info on a wedding venue website! Take a look at The Saltbox Farm’s website for a good example of beautiful images plus all the pertinent info we wedding planners need. But it’s a good idea to have the pertinent info prominent and by itself, not buried deep beneath a bunch of photos.

 

Lewis and Clark College Garden Wedding

portland wedding planner

Photos by Rachel Veltri PhotographyThis time of year when everyone is taking stock of the past and looking forward, I often go through the more recent photos and relive some of the best moments. Shiloh and David’s wedding was a high point of a wonderful summer season.

lewis and clark college garden wedding

I was thrilled that both Rachel Veltri Photography and Outlive Creative were kind enough to share with me the still and motion images from Shiloh and David’s elegant garden wedding at the Lewis and Clark College Historic Estate. Shiloh and David initially contacted me when they were living in another state but moved to Oregon prior to the wedding. Many of their guests traveled in, and we had several hotel blocks as well as shuttles. In many ways it was an Oregon destination wedding.

lewis and clark college garden wedding

I won’t try to describe what pictures can tell in much more detail. Suffice it to say it was a beautiful day full of love and celebration. I was so glad to be a part of it.

lewis and clark college garden wedding
Video still capture by Outlive Creative

Venue: Lewis and Clark College
Photographer: Rachel Veltri Photography
Videographer: Outlive Creative
Catering: Devil’s Food Catering
Cake: The Hungry Hero
Flowers: The Blossoming Bride
Music: John Ross Music
Rentals: The Party Place
Signage: Hey Halle Design
Beauty: Chachi Hair, French Cut Hair, and Glam by Samiha
Transport: Northwest Limousine
Hotels: Heathman Hotel, Hilton Garden Inn Lake Oswego

EJP Events is a Preferred Coordinator of Lewis and Clark College Conferences and Events. EJP Events would recommend a Lewis and Clark College event to any of our clients or readers looking for an elegant garden wedding on a historic estate.
If you would like to view more photos and see what an effortlessly elegant Lewis and Clark College wedding looks like, please visit the gallery at https://rachelveltriphotography.pixieset.com/g/shilohdavid/
Enjoyed this post? You might be interested in the following:

Destination: Tacoma
Portland-Area Camping and Glamping Destinations
Destination Weddings 101: Traveling with a Wedding Gown

 

Tips and Tricks: Accessibility

Medicalcongress93 courtesy Clara Natoli, http://claranatoli.blogspot.com/ clarita1000@gmail.comIs accessibility on your site selection checklist?  It’s not always something that you as the couple may be thinking about.  Often, high on the site “gotta haves” are things like a gorgeous view, good chairs, and a good selection of caterers.

However, with so many people of varied ages and needs in most families, some thought should be given to the accessibility of your wedding event sites.  And that’s not just limited to the ceremony and reception — think also of your rehearsal dinner, bridal luncheon, goodbye brunch, or any other events to which you might have guests attending with accessibility needs.

The most common issues are older folks — think Grandma and Grandpa, your Auntie coming from abroad; anyone who might have trouble with a flight of stairs, a steep stone path, or uneven walkways.  Think about any of your family or guests who have recently had surgery or medical treatment which might make walking or longer distances between sites a potential challenge.

Putting a little bit of forethought into the accessibility of your chosen site can help a great deal in making sure all of your guests, including those with physical challenges, feel welcome and comfortable at your wedding.

A version of this article appeared on the blog in June 2008.