Throughout the course of the pandemic, COVID-19 had an incredible impact on events and gatherings - of all types and sizes. And while many events could reschedule, or even adapt to different models of delivery such as virtual or hybrid, the reality of that impact hit especially hard for those planning to host special celebrations like weddings.

In many cases, couples opted to forego the usual traditions and scale back their approach to just the essentials. Others have waited for restrictions to ease so that they could have their special day with a larger group and more conventional wedding fare.

Liting Chan, Creative Director and Co-Founder of Paradise Events, has worked with a number of clients over the last year to adapt their weddings so that they could be safe and firmly within the established guidelines, while still capturing what they envisioned for their perfect day.

As you would imagine, stricter restrictions earlier in the pandemic made it more challenging to create those experiences, but as Liting explains, "If we can put in the extra effort and hard work, follow our local health authority guidelines, have clear communication, be flexible and have creative solutions for our clients, we can still create and produce beautiful weddings."

Now, here in British Columbia, thanks to the success of our COVID-19 response and high vaccination rates, restrictions have finally begun to lift and, for the first time in over a year, weddings can begin to look like they used to – albeit safely, and within certain limitations.

At the Vancouver Convention Centre, catering team have begun working with clients looking to move forward with their special day this summer within the guidelines set in Step 3 of BC’s Restart Plan.

What does that mean, though? Even though organized gatherings can proceed with larger attendance and eased restrictions, there are still important safety measures that are necessary to ensure the event can be held while also reducing the risk of spreading COVID-19.

Jenna Nicholson, Director, Catering at the Vancouver Convention Centre, says that it’s critical to be flexible as we learn and adjust best practices to ensure the required health and safety measures are integrated at every level of planning.

“Adaptability will be the approach to wedding events moving forward,” she explains. “It’s important for us to educate and engage with our clients on new best practices including requirements within menu design and service delivery. We will continue to communicate – from guests to our staff – that health and safety is top priority.”

Since wedding and banquet bookings have begun ramp up with the opening of the province, a lot of work has been done to ensure that they can be safe while delivering on clients’ visions as much as possible. That’s created opportunity for new ways of looking at how weddings are executed and innovations such as introducing virtual components for out-of-region guests unable to travel, and more carefully planned aspects such as food and beverage service. Many couples have also opted to adjust to outdoor events which reduce risk even further, prompting more creative uses of outside space (for example, the Convention Centre has utilized our outdoor terraces for some aspects of many events) or hybrid events using both indoor and outdoor areas.

At the Vancouver Convention Centre, we have a feature called The Beam Pro, which allows virtual viewers to move around a space using a remotely controlled robotic screen. Recently a wedding client used the Beam Pro to include the bride’s parents who reside in India and were unable to attend in-person.

And while there are challenges that come with re-introducing these exciting celebrations that have been held back for so long – discouraging close encounters and mingling, and sharing food and drinks, for example – clients and guests have been eager to adopt these measures to ensure that these moments can happen.

Finding the balance between safety and those special moments will continue to be key as all of us continue to navigate the COVID-19 pandemic. At the end of the day, the goal remains the same: creating a successful, safe and memorable event for everyone, and making sure that this can still be the best day in a couple’s lives.