Not to be cliche, but WOW, WHAT A YEAR! When attempting to do a year end wrap up all that comes to mind is the word “Pivot” – over, and over, and over again. To say that this year brought unexpected challenges is the understatement of the decade. But alongside those challenges, there was an unexpected amount of joy, kindness, opportunity, and fun.
Looking back on 2020, I can truly say we learnt the importance of focusing on the small wins (instead of the big losses), the pricelessness of our incredible support network of event vendors and fellow small business owners who we leaned on hard throughout the year, the resilience & kindness of our clients who kept trekking forward with us despite the ever changing regulations and uncertainty, and, despite it all, that there’s humour to be had in, almost, everything – a global pandemic included.
Early in the spring, when our days were filled with a lot more losses than wins, Sara started creating memes to lift our spirits. They were mostly made up of some of the ridiculous moments she’s captured of me over the years, but they brought us all a laugh nonetheless. When we started chatting about this post, it only made sense to continue the fun and create some new memes to illustrate our year.
Follow us on the journey through this mess we call 2020, illustrated by this set of memes, lovely created by Sara.
Ah, new year, new beginnings! We geared up for what was going to be our busiest year yet! We made a summer schedule (HA!), we booked new clients, and we had a team retreat at the gorgeous Beach Club Resort in Parksville where we had delicious food, and paddle boarded in the snow!
(Photography by Sabrina Patrice)
February was FULL of fun! We started the wedding season early with two beautiful weddings, including A+C’s Winter Wonderland wedding which, as it turns out, was our first intimate wedding of the year, but certainly not the last!
Led by Dakota, we executed the Shine Fashion Tea at the Fairmont Empress where everyone got to dress up and put on their best hat for the day in support of the BC Children’s Hospital Foundation.
And on Valentine’s Day, with the support of 25+ local vendors and suppliers, we helped 7 couples all get married at the Victoria Public Market – with all proceeds going to Victoria’s Help Fill A Dream Foundation! The Love Bash was definitely one of the highlights, not only of February, but of the whole year.
Next stop in February was the Vancouver Island Wedding Industry Association’s wedding awards! We loved getting to let our hair down, dress up, and dance the night away with 200+ event industry friends. We nabbed 5 awards including Best Planning, Best Coordination, and Best Designer and couldn’t have been prouder of our team, and the industry as a whole!
(Photography: Top Row – Kim Jay // Centre Top – Jesse Holland // Centre Bottom Row – Tegan McMartin // Bottom Row – Rivkah Photography)
Well, we all know what happened in March. Just two weeks into March we were ordered to stay home and stay safe. COVID was a problem we needed to deal with right away. We quickly scrambled to re-organize a regular wedding into a live streamed wedding. It was our first taste of taking a large guest group (100+), shrinking it down (12 total), and moving it online, and it wouldn’t be our last.
The last two weeks of March felt like they lasted a year, but also a second. With tears in our eyes and a lot of fear for the future we watched spring conferences, galas, grand openings, creative displays, and weddings all pull the plug on the plans and designs we’d worked tirelessly on. It was scary, heartbreaking, and exhausting.
Thinking back to April is quite difficult because the days started to blend together. We were all still at home, going a little (okay, a lot) stir crazy. We needed an outlet for our creativity and therefore the balloon train was born!
Each member of our team made a balloon garland to display at home to bring some joy to their community and the trend caught on! We’d always done large scale balloon installations but now we were getting requests for balloon garlands for birthdays, anniversaries, bringing babies home from the hospital, and more! It was the perfect way to let loved ones know they were being thought of, even when big celebrations couldn’t happen; our garlands kept us busy all summer!
Other highlights included ZOOM workout classes led by Casey (which were really just another reason to see each other’s faces) and the birth of Curbside Cocktails from our friends at Twist of Fate.
Some restrictions were lifted in May, and our elopements began! We helped a few of our couples tie the knot in a much more intimate way than they had planned, but it was still magical nonetheless.
Danielle + Jesse eloped in their backyard with their new puppy, Penny. Amy + Nicholas eloped on top of Lonetree Hill which Amy hiked up in her wedding dress! You can find five beautiful elopement celebrations from the spring on our blog!
(Photography: Top Row – Berkley Vopnfjord // Bottom Row – Melissa Styba)
More elopements! We loved being able to witness these intimate ceremonies. Sometimes we acted as the planner, a guest, and a witness. Graeme + emma eloped at Bilston Creek Farm with an intimate dinner in the lavender field for their immediate family, while Lily + Daniel eloped in Sooke – just the two of them!
June was also a very exciting month as we started our relationship with the Royal Beach team! Royal Beach is a seaside community in Colwood that is just beginning to take shape and we were lucky enough to be a part of their summer of community pop-ups and gatherings alongside managing their social media channels. We organized drive-in movies, spin classes, dog walks, markets, and so much more. While it was a summer literally nothing liked we’d been planning back in January, it was an adventure that kept many of us busy – as it turns out, we loved spending our days at the beach!
A highlight of June that can’t be forgotten was the addition of a new team member, Chloe! Chloe joined us for June through September and learned the ropes of what it means to be an event planner… or professional pivot-er… or balloon wrangler. We wrote a blog post all about Chloe, just because we love her that much.
(Photography: Top Left – Fragment of Light // Top Centre – Tegan McMartin // Top Right – Kyle Joinson // Bottom Rows – Jesse Holland)
Summer arrived and with it came micro-weddings! With the updated gathering restrictions in place, events were limited to 50 people or less. We had so many couples who just wanted to get married, big guest groups or not, and so they went for it! These smaller numbers were just as fun, just as special, and so meaningful.
We had a few hiccups along the way as halfway through the summer restrictions changed about liquor rules, dancing, and what could and couldn’t go down, but by this point, we’d just learned to go with it (and also that tears, a hot bath, and a huge glass of wine is the perfect way to hit the reset button, even if it’s the middle of the day).
July included many other highlights including Ashley’s stunning 29th Surprise Birthday Celebration, a Parking Lot Gala with our friends at Toque Catering in honour of the Canadian Special Event Awards (we were nominated for Best Canadian Wedding Planner in the under 150k category!), our UVic CO-OP student, Kirsten, joining our team (we aren’t ever letting her leave), and another edition of The Planner’s Supper Club.
For this summer’s supper club, Carley teamed up with a handful of local Cowichan Valley based vendors and put together a beautiful COVID-friendly socially distanced picnic style event at the gorgeous Keating Farm, just south of Duncan.
(Photography: Top Row – The Toths // Centre Row – Lilly Ann // Bottom Row – Veronique Gagnon)
August was our busiest month! It really felt like a full on wedding season with multiple weddings every weekend! We had a wide range of guest groups from elopements, to 10 guests, to 48 guests! Let us tell you, after a summer of elopements, 48 guests felt like 200 to us! We had such a great time putting on our party skirts again and seeing our team members for what was the first time in months. We loved feeling a little bit “back to normal,” whatever normal now meant.
Somehow we also managed to fit in a little backyard bash for our team, complete with a jerk chicken BBQ feast from House of Boateng and the most extra white bouncy castle you’ve ever seen!
Also in August, we were honoured to be featured by Douglas Magazine – The Good Party Pivots But Still Celebrates for their local small business feature.
(Photography: Top Row – Shari + Mike // Centre Row Far Left – Chelsea Warren // Centre Row Middle – Faganello Productions // Centre Row Right – Sanctuary of Light // Bottom Row – Shantal Marie Creative)
September continued on with our micro-wedding trend. We really got into our groove by September, we became pros at social distancing dinner tables, hand sanitizer favours, and had lots of cute mask options to wear. Even with all the changes in event regulations, our couples were still able to have beautiful (and safe) celebrations with their loved ones.
A September highlight was a new series we started on the blog, highlighting words from some incredible brides (and grooms!) from the summer who had downsized their wedding plans and gone ahead with their intimate wedding celebrations under the current restrictions.
Every single blog post made us tear up and we still have more to come in 2021. You can read about Antheia + Jesse’s Bilston Creek wedding, Chelsey + Pete’s Shawnigan Lake wedding, Catie & Hunter’s backyard celebration, Krista + Ryan’s Laurel Point party, and Erin + Andy’s intimate west coast micro wedding!
(Photography: Top – Luke Liable // Bottom – Sweet Heirloom)
October was our last wedding of the season! Annika + Mason had an intimate celebration in Port Renfrew and while it was a little bit rainy up there, it was still beautiful! We also featured Annika’s advice to future brides in our Love isn’t Cancelled series!
Typically October is our month to catch up on emails, rest our tired feet, head off on a tropical vacation (or two!), and start planning for next year. So we did just that (minus the tropical vacations!)! We met lots of lovely new couples that were starting to plan their weddings, and we started to get excited about 2021 and 2022!
Of course, we can’t forget about Halloween, so we teamed up with the Town of Sidney and Designer Weddings to create Jack-O-Lantern alley!
(Photography: Top Row – Kirsten Larsen // Bottom Row – Kim Jay)
November went by in a BLUR!
We got back on the balloon train creating a show stopping install for Lululemon’s grand-opening in Mayfair Mall. November also became our Christmas Prep month. A few team members are BIG Christmas fans and so by mid-November the studio was already all decorated for Christmas.
We collaborated with Bespoke Blossoms for The Bay Centre’s Festival of Trees creating one of the most gorgeous trees (in our own opinion) filled with pom-poms, dried florals, and more!
We had our first wreath workshop with the City of Langford, prepped over 1000 ornaments for Tinsel Tunnel at Bear Mountain, and bought over 300 snowflakes for Belmont Market.
(Photography: Kirsten Larsen)
With our Christmas Installations all up for December 1st, we got to sit back and see all the magical photos from community members come in. We loved seeing snaps from Candy Cane Lane in Sidney, Mistletoe Walk at Belmont Market, and Tinsel Tunnel at Bear Mountain. We also saw 350+ community members have the opportunity to participate in our, now digital, free wreath workshops with the City of Langford.
We weren’t sure how the holidays were going to feel this year, but we are so glad that we could help bring a little magic to the island. We hosted a big giveaway inspired by our all our seasonal installations and gave away over $1000 in prizes with the support of some incredible local small businesses and community leaders!
(Photography: Kirsten Larsen)
One of our favourite things about December was the surprise proposal for one of our lead planners, Carley!
Carley’s now fiancee, Al, reached out to Emma to plan the ultimate surprise for Carley – this story is definitely getting its’ own blog post one day soon! With the ruse of a balloon tree installation, Carley and Emma headed out to Sea Cider, but instead of finding balloon supplies, Carley found Al, a giant Christmas tree covered in Polaroid photos of highlights from their 5+ years together, a hundred candles, Jill Cooper signing their love song, and her dream proposal. It was the best way to end the year!
(Photography: Kyle Joinson)
This year had high highs and low lows, we certainly cried tears of joy at our couples special celebrations and tears of sadness wondering just what the f*** was going to happen next, but all in all we are all so grateful to be a part of this community, this industry, and to have the best clients in the world who pivoted right alongside of us! Here’s to 2021!