A typical wedding involves wedding planners playing the middlemen between locals, caterers, guests, florists, families, and the same couples who make the knot. But all this stopped in March 2020, when COVID-19 suspended events and wedding organizers were in a disastrous position in the face of cancellations and deferrals of payment.
So we spoke to four wedding planning companies to find out how they managed to keep their businesses alive during the pandemic.
Planning what cannot be planned
During the first MCO announcement, the 4 companies reported that clients now chose between two options: a) adopt the “wait and see” approach and delay their ceremonies, or b) have a more intimate home wedding, hugged by my partner and her husband.
“I think we realized that the pandemic would not go away soon and we did not want to wait a whole year to get married. And the wedding day was never the end goal, what we wanted with my husband and us was to get married, ”my partner shared.
Aware that technology allowed them to broadcast their ceremony live, they found it a win-win situation, as most of their close friends lived abroad, unable to cross borders for the ceremony.
Noticing this market change during MCO 1.0, Eventistry boosted its business to offer party services through its “Party In A Box” and “Party To Go” packages. They both delivered basic items for compact parties, such as decorations, balloons and cakes for couples who wanted small, intimate weddings.
Eventistry took MCO 2.0 one step further and launched a secondary business, Messy play doesn’t matter, curing and selling sensory game kits for kids who spent more time at home.
Leticia Hsu, president of the Association of wedding professionals (AWP) and founder of her own wedding planning business, Elysium weddings (Elysium) told Vulcan Post that Elysium held a virtual wedding fair that allowed couples to get affordable offers of wedding services to use in the near future.
But Love Love tried to offer similar promotions, to no avail, as customers were uncertain. Therefore, her team diversified her experience in wedding planning and hosted an academy with short courses related to weddings and weekend hobby workshops.
Moments he chose not to open new revenue streams or offer promotions or discounts for his work.
“There are more people who have great needs apart from us. We are still able to deal with it at the moment, even though it was a bad thing, ”co-founders Tricia and Evelyn told Vulcan Post. “A lot of people lost their jobs, they lost their homes and they barely had anything to eat. They needed more donations than us. ”
The small business stopped signing new customers and focused on caring for existing ones that hired them prior to the pandemic, which increased the team’s workload. This is because planning a wedding was now a two- to three-year job (rather than a few months earlier), as clients stop until extravagant ceremonies are allowed again.
And due to the 80-90% drop in Moments ’income, Tricia and Evelyn took on part-time jobs elsewhere to support themselves and the company. This was one of his ways of managing cash flow.
Keep the dream alive
With weddings and events postponed and canceled by customers, the four companies have been in tight spots with their cash flow. All of its employees have also received pay cuts.
“We faced a sharp drop in revenue, but our operating costs remained the same. Although the government provided subsidies, in the short term we will not be able to stay afloat if demand does not increase, ”said Juvien and Laverne, co-founders of Eventistry.
To reduce costs and minimize the impact on the business, both founders did not receive revenue during the first MCO, while employees ’salaries were cut.
All of Moments ’permanent staff became contracted so they could find part-time jobs elsewhere if they wished. This means that wedding organizers will only work and will be paid based on the demand of the projects.
“The future was so uncertain and it was impossible to continue paying our staff the full salary, EPF and SOSCO, and wait for another possible MCO,” shared the founders who have not earned any Moments salary for the past 1.5 years .
Love & Love staff received salary deductions and were promised the necessary refunds once the business returned to normal post-pandemic.
On behalf of the Malaysian wedding industry, AWP President Leticia said: “At first, everyone was just in‘ pause ’mode in the hope that it would only explode, so weddings were only postponed. “I would say that 100% of wedding services were in this mode.”
“We are better prepared with the announcements [of MCOs] now and already it has become an internal SOP for itself on how we should work from home, reassure our customers and move forward. Our meetings, plans, [and] proposals do not stop with blocking. That is our new normal. “
People will still want weddings
As with all industries, one cannot survive this seemingly endless pandemic without an online presence. Moments has learned that events can be managed remotely, even by doing so for their clients ’home weddings, both in Malaysia and abroad.
“We did not attend or coordinate the wedding in person. However, we drafted the program, we informed the vendors and family members, who proceeded to run the program smoothly, without any problems, “shared the founders of Moments.” We also realized that we may need or not a physical office in the near future “.
As Malaysia’s daily COVID-19 case count is still worrisome, Eventistry was unable to give a definitive answer on its business’s future plans.
“The pandemic is still so real in our country. We are more focused on the short term for now, as we believe it is not necessary to look too far until 2021/2022, as there is still so much uncertainty, ”Juvien and Laverne confided.
Joey Ling, founder of Love & Love, however, has hope in the recovery of the wedding industry. “People still want weddings and we’re sure for so long [as] the government is managing this pandemic properly, things will return to normal, ”he said.
- You can read about other topics related to MCO here.
Featured Image Credit: Moments