Download the recently updated City of Chicago Phase 4 Event Venue Guidelines.
COVID-19 has thrown us all for a loop, but couples planning on getting married in 2021 are finally seeing a light at the end of the tunnel. As gatherings of larger groups return for wedding season this year, many of our clients are asking what they can do to help make their guests feel more comfortable attending their event. In 2020, Megan Estrada, the CEO of NSWE Events, established the Covid-19 Task Forces for the National Association for Catering and Events (NACE) in Illinois, Florida, New York, Massachusetts and Virginia. She has emerged as an industry leader driving the state and city governments to create safety guidelines to help event professionals and engaged couples across the country safely plan and host events. As the National Advocacy Team Leader for NACE she has developed a list of best practices for couples to think about when planning your wedding. As always, it is important to refer to your state guidelines, but this is a good place to start!
- Add a tab to your wedding website listing all the precautions you’re taking at your events for all guests to reference in advance when deciding on their RSVPs/plans
- Request all guests be vaccinated or get PCR within 72 hours of attendance
- Track guests who will be vaccinated by asking on the Response Cards
- Request all guests wear masks when not eating or drinking
- Create a few hand sanitizing stations scattered around your event spaces to encourage guests to keep their hands clean when socializing and before/after eating
- Give the guests some room! Make table seating more comfortable and provide more elbow room
- Outdoor venues- consider hosting your event at an outdoor venue. A tent is always classic!
- Consult with your caterer to find ideal ways to serve hors d’oeuvres in individual containers instead of big, communal spreads
- Ask the caterer and vendors if they will be vaccinated or be tested prior to working
- Use the whole room for dancing rather than one specific area
Hopefully these slight adjustments can help you and your guests return to celebrating safely and enjoying your wedding with all those who are important to you.
Updated: Jan 16
Happy New Year! Last year, as we turned the page to 2020, I wrote about “New Decade, New Perspective”. I didn’t know it at the time, but I was pretty on target as we all developed a very new perspective in 2020. Instead of 2020 being the roaring 20’s as imagined, it turned out to be a roaring halt to the wedding and event industry.
March and April were one of the most devastating times for the national events industry. Every event was postponed and reimagined. As I watched this devastation happening, I took action and partnered with the National Association of Catering and Events (NACE) to create the NACE Covid-19 Task Force for the Chicago area. With those efforts we were able to gain attention of the Governor of Illinois and Mayor of Chicago to the devastation happening to the special events industry. Guidelines were created for the industry to “Save Events with Safe Events” and events came back to life, in July, with a limit of 50 people in attendance.
In September, the Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity announced the Business Interruption Grants to include the most Heavily Impacted Industries, including the special events industry due to the efforts of our NACE Covid-19 Task Force and the Illinois Events Coalition. When shutdowns began again in October, we were partially calmed by the fact that some grant money was being funneled into our industry.
2020 was one of the hardest years of my life and my clients lives. As events were postponed and reimagined, I mourned the loss of life and livelihoods, alongside my fellow event industry and event clients. But as these celebrations changed, I found a light that I hadn’t seen before in my clients. Brides pivoted and showed their courage to reimagine their BIG day and reprioritize their events. Couples chose to get married and focus on the vows over the celebration and postponed the big party for a later date. Guests joined live stream celebrations of life, dressing up and toasting at a distance. Some guests even watched the live stream off their phone just outside the ceremony and then showered the couple with bubbles, streamers and cheer as they exited.
I was brought to tears on a regular basis, not to the sadness of our situation, but the beauty of our adaptability and the very human need to continue to connect. Gathering is part of human nature and even as we were separated by the need to protect each other, we still found ways to gather and emotionally connect. As we enter into 2021, I hope that we all recognize how important our gatherings and celebrations are and look forward to the ability to hold events in the future. Now more than ever these weddings and social events should be cherished and valued for what they are ... a basic human need.
2021 is an exciting new journey for North Shore Weddings and Events as we have rebranded to NSWE Events to represent our national brand and outlook. We will launch a new office in New York city and we are working on the future office openings in Texas, Florida and more locations around the country. NSWE events will serve the entire nation and we cannot wait to work with clients wherever they dream their event to be.
This year also marks the 10 year anniversary of this company and to celebrate... we must throw a party! The exact date and location of the event is still undetermined, but as soon as we have a clear path to larger events, in the Chicagoland area, we will be inviting all our clients and vendor partners to join us in raising a toast to making it one more year.
2021 will provide me more than I could possibly have imagined one year ago. This past year brought postponements and cancellation of plans, but it also introduced new plans. New clients were presented, new connections and friendships, and new business opportunities. I am forever grateful for what I have learned, in 2020, and the new opportunities it has provided.
“You can’t always get what you want,
but if you try sometimes
you just might find
you get what you need."
- The Rolling Stones