I think we all know that the global pandemic is unprecedented, it’s scary and it’s uncertain. As a wedding planner I like having plans, back up plans, scenarios and what ifs in place for lots of details. Event planners love control, trust me. Rarely are there crazy things that arise during an event or in life that throw me too far off my game because I tend to be one of those people that runs through all sorts of worst case scenarios in my head beforehand.
When talk first started about the Coronavirus in China this past winter I thought, no big deal, every three to four years there is a new virus that threatens a great portion of people but by the time it reaches us it’s handled and under control. Especially in the US. During my first pregnancy 3 years ago it was the Zika virus, and we had recently traveled to Panama City where there were several cases of Zika spreading from Brazil, but I got tested and all was safe and sound and by the time my baby arrived it was a thing of the past and no longer was attracting media attention.
When a mother of the bride pulled me aside at a meeting on March 11th and asked me if I thought they should be concerned about the coronavirus, my response was a flat out “no”. The next day at 9pm the decision was made to postpone a large corporate hospitality event for Friday March 13th, less than 24 hours prior to the event start time. The heartbreaking decision was something I was honestly against doing. I thought we were making a mistake but driven by the California Governor’s suggestion that events over 250 people be called off the organization leaders thought that we can’t in good conscience host an event for 280 people the next evening. Considering my role as an event planner my thoughts were with my fellow vendors and all the people who put time energy and resources into making this happen and calling it off over a fear that hadn’t seemed to reach our community yet really infuriated me. Not to mention that I know the costs that come along with cancellation, events are wasteful enough and then consider the waste of food, florals, manpower, etc that goes into calling something off the DAY before.
But it wasn’t my decision, and frankly and in retrospect, it was a smart decision. To help protect those that would have attended, including my very pregnant self.
Then the reality of this whole situation started to set in, at first I thought and called all the measures of Shelter-in-Place extreme. A few days later I read that a college classmate that I traveled to China with in 2008 passed away from the Coronavirus. He was 34 years old, he was a cancer survivor but otherwise healthy. The reality that maybe this situation was not like the viruses of the past started to set in.
Then I went to the hospital for a non-stress test for my baby, and the intake rep there was going over their policy and procedures in light of the coronavirus. She told me that as of right now they are going to continue to allow a support person in the room with you during childbirth. The thought that my husband wouldn’t be able to witness the birth of our child was horrible. Then came the policy that if either parent exhibited symptoms or was at risk for the virus they would be quarantining the baby from the parents for a 14 day period. The thought brought me to tears the thought that I could not be able to hold and love my baby boy for the first 14 days of his life. Then the reality that if precautions aren’t taken who knows how it could affect a tiny newborn. It’s terrifying to think of all the what ifs in this scenario, places that I refuse to let my mind go but have been running over in my head for the last two weeks.
Our generation, yes, I am a millennial, has literally never experienced these sorts of fears before. The defining memory of fear in our generation was 9/11, but I am older for a millennial and that happened when I was in early high school. I don’t remember the widespread panic as much as the anger and sadness that swept the nation. I remember going to school on 9/11 and watching the news in one of my classes and eventually having the discussion about our country going to war and starting a draft. The only reason that this caused fear in me was because I had an older brother that was 18 or 19 at the time and having to imagine my only brother being drafted was terrifying. We have to remember that those younger than me were even too young to understand the implications or how 9/11 impacted the American perspective of life and our treasured freedom.
Our parents grew up with the reality of the cold war, and people were prepared to “bunker down” at the drop of a hat for the fear of nuclear war, that is a feeling that has long passed from the American way of life. But here we are, terrified and without any clue on what can happen next. Even the greatest minds in medicine are unsure what the future holds but maybe preparing us mentally for the worst.
The point of this long winded blog post is to say, collectively we will overcome. Is it going to cost us a lot. Yes, businesses will shutter, people will be financially broken, people will lose loved ones. Many sweet couples are having to grieve the loss of their wedding, in which they have sunk a ton of time, energy, money and emotions and that is a reality that is so hard to accept.
With all that being said, I am a big believer in mindset and trying to remain positive. While I am lucky that I am still working I would be lying if I said my business is not hugely impacted by this. But I have to remain looking at the positive, the fact that I have couples that are willing to postpone and not cancel their events. I have to look at this order to remain home as an excuse to slow down, focus on my family, spend time with my beautiful little girl and treasure the last few weeks of her being an only child. I have to remember that my clients are postponing their weddings to keep me and my new born baby safe and home as well as their guests safe. I am going to have a maternity leave that I would never have given myself. While yes, there is a ton of fear and uncertainty that I would have never expected at the beginning of 2020, there is also a lot to be happy about and shifting the way we look at things can be a big factor of mental health and happiness. So In this crazy time, I highly encourage all of us to see what we can focus on about being healthy and happy. I also know that in later 2020 and 2021, we as a globe are going to have a lot to celebrate and those of that work in this crazy event industry will be here to make those special moments in your life with your most important people memorable for you.