A typical wedding would involve wedding planners acting as an intermediary between venues, caterers, guests, florists, families, and the couples themselves getting married. But it all ended in March 2020 when COVID-19 put events on hold, and wedding planners were in dire straits with cancellations and deferrals of payments.
So, we spoke to 4 wedding planning companies to find out how they managed to keep their businesses alive during the pandemic.
Plan for the unforeseeable
During the AGC’s first announcement, all 4 companies reported that customers now choose between 2 options: a) take the ‘wait and see’ approach and delay their ceremonies, or b) have a more intimate home wedding. instead, the latter being kissed by my colleague and her husband.
“I think we realized that the pandemic wasn’t going to go away anytime soon, and we also didn’t want to wait a whole year to get married. And the wedding day was never really the end goal, what my husband and I wanted was to get married, ”explained my colleague.
Realizing that technology allowed them to live stream their ceremony, they found it to be a win-win situation since most of their close friends lived abroad, unable to cross borders for the ceremony anyway.
Noticing this market change during MCO 1.0, Eventistry has pivoted its business to offer party services through its “Party In A Box” and “Party To Go” packages. The two delivered compact party items like decorations, balloons, and cakes for couples who wanted small, intimate weddings.
Eventistry took MCO 2.0 a step further and started a side business, Messy Play Don’t Care, which organizes and sells sensory play kits for kids who spend more time at home.
Leticia Hsu, president of the Association of Wedding Professionals (AWP) and founder of her own wedding planning company, Elysium Weddings (Elysium) told Vulcan Post that Elysium is hosting a virtual wedding fair for couples to get affordable offers of wedding services for use in the near future.
Although Love & Love tried to run similar promotions, it came to nothing as customers were unsure. So her team instead diversified their wedding planning expertise by running an academy with short wedding-related classes and weekend hobby workshops.
Moments has chosen not to open new sources of income or offer any promotions or discounts for its work.
“There are more people with great needs besides us. We are still able to cope for the moment even if it was a difficult time, ”co-founders Tricia and Evelyn told Vulcan Post. “A lot of people lost their jobs, their homes and had little to eat. They needed donations more than we did.
The small business stopped signing new clients and focused on existing clients who hired them before the pandemic, which actually increased the workload for the team. Indeed, planning a wedding was now a 2-3 year job (down from a few months previously), as guests wait until extravagant ceremonies are allowed again.
And because of Moments’ 80-90% drop in income, Tricia and Evelyn have taken part-time jobs elsewhere to support themselves and the business. It was one of their ways of handling cash flow.
Keep the dream alive
With weddings and events postponed and canceled by clients, the 4 companies struggled with their cash flow. Their employees have also all suffered wage cuts.
“We faced a sharp drop in revenues, but our operating costs remained the same. Although there have been grants provided by the government, in the short term we cannot stay afloat unless demand picks up, ”explained Juvien and Laverne, co-founders of Eventistry.
To cut costs and minimize the impact on the business, the two founders received no income during the first MCO, while employee salaries were reduced.
All of Moments’ permanent employees have been converted to contract employees so they can find part-time jobs elsewhere if they wish. This means that wedding planners will only work and be paid according to the demand of the projects.
“The future was so uncertain and it was impossible to continue to pay our staff their full salary, EPF and SOSCO, and wait for another potential MCO,” shared the founders who did not touch a Moments’ sole salary for a year and a half.
Love & Love staff have received payroll deductions and have been promised the necessary repayments once the business returns to normal after the pandemic.
On behalf of the Malaysian wedding industry, AWP President Leticia said, “At first everyone was just in ‘pause’ mode hoping it would end, so weddings were just postponed. . I would say 100% of wedding services were in this mode.
“We are more ready with the announcements [of MCOs] now and it has already become an internal SOP in and of itself on how we should work from home, reassure our clients and move forward. Our meetings, our projects, [and] the proposals do not end with containment. This is our new normal.
People will always want weddings
As with all industries, there is no survival of this seemingly endless pandemic without an online presence. Moments has learned that events can be managed remotely, even for its clients’ home weddings in Malaysia and overseas.
“We did not attend and coordinate the wedding in person. However, we wrote the program, informed the vendors and family members, who made the program run smoothly without too many problems, ”explained the founders of Moments. “We also realized that we may or may not need a physical office in the near future. “
As the daily number of COVID-19 cases in Malaysia continues to cause concern, Eventistry has been unable to provide a definitive answer on its company’s future plans.
“The pandemic is still as real right now in our country. We are more focused on the short term for the moment because we believe that it is not necessary to project too much into 2021/2022 as there are still a lot of uncertainties ”, confide Juvien and Laverne.
Love & Love founder Joey Ling, however, has high hopes for the recovery of the wedding industry. “People always want weddings and we’re pretty sure that for so long [as] the government is handling this pandemic properly, things will get back to normal, ”she said.
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Featured Image Credit: Moments
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