March 8, 2021.
written by: Karolina Bialkowska, Impact Events

We’re not quite there yet but spring is in the air, event planners are tentatively hopeful, and couples who have been engaged since 2017 are REALLY hoping to get married in 2021. Even Dr. Bonnie Henry is sounding pretty optimistic, envisioning a “post-pandemic summer” IF things go according to plan. 

How’s it going to look?

Well, truth be told, we don’t anticipate that events will get back to “normal” in BC for some time, but we do have some tips for what you should expect to think about and how to plan for modest covid-friendly events when they do come back.

  1.       Aim small. If you’re hopeful for the ability to host an event this summer, aim for around 50 people. Currently, all events are out of the question but as more people get vaccinated, and if infection rates drop, Dr. Henry has indicated that we can expect that small events will be able to move forward  (think along the lines of restrictions in the summer of 2020). Even if restrictions ease, it is a lot easier to add additional guests than it is to rescind invitations or reschedule events. Given enough notice, most vendors will be happy to increase the guest count (as long as you provide the vendor with enough notice and your budget allows it).
  2.       Double your space. People are slowly getting vaccinated but we don’t see spacing requirements changing anytime in the near future. Ensure your venue has lots of space for your guests to stand or sit socially distanced, for tables to be kept apart, and don’t plan on an intimate dance floor. Outdoor spaces are your best bet. Since the summer in the OKGN is perfect for an outdoor event, we think it’s best to spread yourselves outdoors.
  3.       Think of your touch points and bottlenecks. Ensure you hire extra staff to accommodate for safe food and bar service. Where a really good bartender could easily serve 50 ppl in the before-Covid era, nowadays you’ll want to avoid lines, add an extra bar area to give people room to space out, and ensure there are servers to handle the utensils at buffet stations (if you choose to go that route). The less hands and bodies involved, the better! Unfortunately, we think Covid will be around for the long haul so better safe than sorry. 
  4.       Stagger, stagger, stagger. When it comes to safe events, scheduling is your friend. Staggering arrival times, seating times, and service times will help you avoid congestion, too many people trying to do the same thing at the same time, and ensure people are safe. We don’t expect that everyone will be guaranteed a vaccination by summer – that’s the aim. It’s best to operate as if some of your guest list has not. 
  5.       Don’t bank on guests attending from afar. While events may eventually be allowed to happen, we can’t bank on travel restrictions easing to pre-pandemic levels. Consider live-streams or virtual attendance. There are cute ways to involve people from far away, even if they can’t attend in person. 
  6.       Know that your deposit is not guaranteed to be refunded if Covid regulations don’t change (or change for the worse). Every vendor has their own Covid policy but many event companies simply don’t have the money anymore to plan events, do the work, and then return the deposit at the last minute. If you’re booking before officials give the go-ahead, it’s at your own risk. Plus, we all know this pandemic can be unpredictable so please, please, expect the best but be prepared for the worst!
  7.       Hire a planner: There is nobody better versed in Covid-related Public Health Orders than the people that live and breathe events – planners! They can help develop event guidelines, ensure that local and provincial health Orders/protocols are met, and work with vendors that they know and trust to do the same.

Keep in mind that planning any event at this time is risky but since Dr. Bonnie is feeling hopeful so are we! If you feel confident that you can keep your guest list small, and your event is far enough away in the future that vaccine programs will have had some widespread success, your best bet is to keep the event small, well-spaced out, outdoors if possible, and appropriately scheduled. Better yet, hire a pro!