Coronavirus and Mitzvah Celebrations
In the midst of COVID-19 a/k/a Coronavirus, Mitzvah Families are navigating unchartered waters. In these unprecedented times, the realities of a pandemic has set in. Countries are closing borders, sports seasons and Coachella are postponed, Broadway performances are suspended and Disneyland has closed. New York and California have banned large gatherings. While parents and guests want to celebrate each child’s important milestone, we must remember that health and safety come first!
Many parents are torn as to what they should do. On the one had they have spent months, if not years, planning and preparing the perfect celebration for their child. On the other hand is the health and well-being of their guests. For this reason,
has reached out to the most sought after event professionals in the country for guidance on what to do.
Amy Shey Jacobs
in New York, NY has been proactive in establishing contingency plans for all events. She feels that knowledge is power, especially as the unpredictable unfolds. Amy said that for most event professionals, this is their first pandemic. Many have been through traumas and emergencies before such as extreme weather or 9/11, but in this instance there are a whole new set of issues to navigate. In an abundance of caution, Amy contacted her clients, venues and vendors to explore back-up dates, place holds and establish deadlines for making decisions. Her goal has been to mitigate the financial damage and give her clients well-thought out strategies for rescheduling their event date.
shared some important tips for parents that are currently planning a mitzvah:
1) Contact your venue and vendors to see if there is a backup date that works, and when you need to decide. Get this in writing and calendar when you need to make decisions. Put down deposits if needed to hold back up dates that can be applied to current events or postponed events in the event your mitzvah needs to move;
2) If you have an event in the near future, see if your venue will consider lowering the minimum spend when you know you might end up with a smaller guest count than anticipated;
3) Order swag earlier than ever and prioritize purchasing items from local vendors to limit importing delays;
4) Don't put dates on your swag;
5) If your invites have already gone out and you need to reschedule, work with your invitation professional to create a custom Paperless Post invite for your new event;
6) Make simple changes to HOW we're gathering and catering: elegantly pass hand sanitizer on trays, replace buffets with individualized portions;
7) Keep social distancing in mind; and
8) Explore live-stream solutions for ceremonies that might proceed with guests who can no longer attend;
said, “This is a giant game of chess. With mitzvahs there are so many conflicts to consider. Summer doesn't work and other children already have dates locked in.” Amy is working to line up all the pieces so that IF and when a mitzvah needs to move, the family has the flexibility to do so.
, Event Guru at
Sara Renee Events
in Ft. Lauderdale, FL has not seen any cancellations yet. The venues she works with have all been following the guidelines of the CDC and are taking extra measures in cleanliness and sanitation. If clients cancel, vendors are not offering refunds and are enforcing the terms of the contracts. Parents can decide if they want to reschedule to another date within the same fiscal year or they can cancel and pay the balance due to each of their vendors. Most of the vendors in South Florida are enforcing cancellation policies in their contracts.
Harris Van Cleef
Star Trax Event Productions
in Ferndale, MI is focusing on supporting his clients and making sure they feel good about any decisions they make. He said that deciding to cancel or hold a Mitzvah during this pandemic is a personal one that can only be made by the mitzvah family. Most
clients are more concerned that guests will not have a good time because of the fear of the virus more than the virus itself.
is all about community and has worked with vendors to make sure that their clients are taken care of. Harris doesn’t want vendors or parents to feel like they are being taken advantage of, but realizes that many vendors are dependent on income from upcoming parties.
Chris Weinberg Events
in Miami, Florida started contacting clients and vendors who could be affected weeks ago to address any concerns and contingencies. She has reached out to all vendors for upcoming parties to find out their protocols. Each client’s event is being handled on a case by case basis. She has advised clients to stay calm. For events in the next coming weeks, she recommends putting aside emotions, doing what is in everyone’s best interest and postponing events. For all events in the next coming months, she recommends contacting vendors to find out their protocols. If an event ends up being postponed, check to see which dates are available sooner rather than later. According to
, many future dates are already on hold.
Geo Events Group
which serves clients in New York, Florida and nationwide had 23 event cancellations/postponements this week! Geo is allowing his clients to reschedule or cancel. He is not only concerned about his clients and vendors, but is also worried about the well-being of his employees. Geo wants to make sure that each of his employees does not lose income from the pandemic.
Amy Katz Events
located in New York City encourages her clients to stay calm, relax and be positive. She suggests that all upcoming mitzvah parents have a Plan B for April and May dates with the venues and all vendors involved.
Florie Huppert Designs
in New York, NY suggests that parents “move their happy events out of the wake of this virus so they and their guests can focus on all of the fun.” For the last week most of Florie’s clients have been in a “we’ll see” holding pattern. In the last 24-48 hours people have started cancelling events through the end of March. Those who are scheduled in April are waiting to see what happens. Florie recommends that people get ahead and reschedule for fall, giving their guests and vendors information about the new event date without the chaos and stress of last minute cancellations or reschedules. From a financial point of view, most venues and vendors are willing to move a date without penalty, but they need lead time. If you want to cancel your Saturday Mitzvah today, your caterer and florist have most likely already completed your job and you can’t expect to cancel or reschedule without a cost.
in West Bloomfield, MI respects each family’s decision to cancel or hold their event. She said that some vendors are offering full refunds and other are keeping deposits until events are rescheduled. Pat suggests if clients chose to hold their events to use a gift card box, do not put bowls of open candy or nuts on the tables, don’t pass out dance floor giveaways that go in your mouth like grills and have any buffet station served.
Find ways to deal with the stress of party planning as stress will lower your immune system and make you more susceptible to illness. Eat a healthy diet, take vitamin C and find activities like yoga, exercise or another enjoyable hobby to reduce your stress;
Look into live streaming your event. Send out the link, instructions and time to tune in for guests that are unable to attend;
Place signage to remind guests to wash their hands for at least 20 second and cover their mouths with their elbow or a tissue when sneezing;
Put of hand sanitizer, boxes of tissue and trash cans in multiple locations at your event;
If you are having a buffet, consider adding white gloved servers to place food on your guest’s plates to minimize sharing of serving utensils. Or perhaps, change to a served meal;
Avoid all dances that involve hand-holding or other close contact;
Avoid physical contact such as handshaking or hugging and instead have alternative methods of greeting; and
If you are having a candy bar, offer wrapped candies in lieu of loose unwrapped candies.
Last but not least, please remember to be kind to your vendors. Small vendors are depending on the income from your event to support their families. Most vendors will work with you in choosing another date, but don’t expect refunds.
Of course we have to maintain our sanity and sense of humor during these challenging times. Pat Blackwell suggests if you chose to have your event, provide guests with logoed masks, themed hand sanitizers and instead of swag, give packs of toilet paper that say, “We rolled with it.” In all seriousness, whatever decision each family choses will be the right one.
Stay healthy and safe!