ST. KITTS – The wedding and events industry has been upended, suffering unprecedented loss of business as a result of COVID-19.
Since the outbreak, Natalie John of Dreamy Weddings has turned to technology to not only develop creative ways to keep her destination wedding business going, but to help establish regional standards for conducting business in the industry.
The St. Kitts-based entrepreneur is celebrating the 21st anniversary of her wedding planning business, which offers services in 13 Caribbean destinations, including Antigua and Barbuda.
As the Caribbean begins to reopen for tourism activity, weddings, events and private gatherings must be executed in adherence to a range of new public health and safety protocols and policies.
As a result, many weddings and other celebratory events have been transformed into hybrid affairs that address live and virtual audiences. With restricted use of indoor event spaces, beaches and iconic attractions, a new “COVID model” for staging events within a framework of strict health and safety standards, is emerging.
Dreamy Weddings will host its first “COVID” destination wedding in Antigua and Barbuda this weekend and John believes that this new model for executing events will become an industry standard. However, she notes the absence of best practices throughout the Caribbean that assimilate the different protocols established by individual destinations.
“While every Caribbean destination has established its own standards, very little has been done to develop standard policies and safety protocols for weddings and events throughout the Caribbean. There are no regional policies for independent planners on how to host events safely and the factors that must be weighed in determining whether to postpone, cancel, or significantly reduce the number of attendees for gatherings,” John said.
This A-1 Wedding Planner and Caribbean Wedding Planner of the Year awardee, set out to address this major gap in regional standards for the industry and founded Caribbean Weddings and Event Professionals (CWEP).
This advocacy platform brings wedding and event professionals together digitally, to converse, problem-solve, inspire and learn from each other.
The organization is focused on establishing Caribbean policies to address new health and safety protocols for all vendors and service providers who engage in wedding and event planning.
CWEP recently conducted in-depth discussions via ZOOM, with a range of service providers throughout the Caribbean to discuss strategies to enhance the protection of individuals and communities and prevent the spread of COVID-19.
“Our goal is to build a strong community of professionals to help drive innovation, workforce development and education. In these challenging times, we should use the pandemic as an opportunity to create, envision and support each other. We can play a pivotal role throughout the Caribbean in the economic recovery from COVID-19,” said Natalie John.
To help wedding and event planners navigate this landscape, John will release her new book, “The Destination Wedding Vendor Guide to COVID-19.’ This digital publication will outline standardized guidelines and protocols for protecting the health and well-being of staff, clients, vendors and the community. It will address frequently asked questions about safety standards and offer strategic guidance for mitigating risks while navigating major business barriers.
Virtual Learning Webinar
John’s organization Dreamy Weddings will host “Dreamy Romance Series” a virtual learning series that will explore recovery strategies and risk factors that must be considered before planning an event in the new normal.
Her book will be released during her first session on October 31st, 2020 | 5 – 7 PM EST, under the theme: “Managing In a COVID-19 Era”. The event will feature a range of regional and international industry experts who will address some of the key challenges and marketplace dynamics that event planners face today.
The webinar will feature the following topics and presenters:
- Resilience – Our Mental Check by Dr. Glenda Niles
- Managing to Stay Afloat During a Pandemic by Natalie John, Dreamy Weddings
- Connecting with your clients via Social Media by Paula Coop Mc McCory, Pinterest Guru
- So You Think You’re Good Enough? How to get Published – Dave Cox, Publisher Caribbean Bride Magazine.
- Navigating the Dynamics of Change by Brian Green, Award Winning Event Planner
- Launch of Destination Wedding Guide for Vendors Post Covid19 – Natalie John & Dave Cox
John believes that forming partnerships within the wedding and events industry is critical, particularly during the recovery from the pandemic. She encourages wedding and event planners throughout the Caribbean to join CWEP and become a part of the movement to help reshape and strengthen the wedding and events industry.