optimum weddings Director, Dyana Dessar, and bride-to-be, Sarah Rick-Harris, discuss how to turn your postponing disappointment in the face of Covid-19 into a 2021 wedding win success story!
optimum weddings is a leading wedding planning boutique consultancy service founded and run by Dyana Dessar. Dyana and her team of experienced planners have been planning bespoke weddings all over the world for more than 14 years. They have a reputation which puts them at the forefront of the destination wedding community, and they continue to grow to add more destinations each year. No dream or idea is too much for optimum weddings and they pride themselves on being able to turn any couple’s vision into a beautiful reality.
The Wedding Planner’s Perspective
As a wedding planner you always have every possibility and problem accounted for, it is simply called having a wedding planner’s insight and foresight! However, you cannot plan for a worldwide pandemic, and you cannot predict the implications that this will inevitably have on your upcoming weddings and the wedding industry as a whole.
Thankfully, with over 14 years of wedding planning experience, optimum weddings managed to stay ahead of the curve when it came to backup plans and the once dreaded (now widely accepted) “postponement”. There is no manual for this situation, nor is 14 years of experience going to prepare any wedding planning company for it.
I am fortunate that as both the director and lead planner of optimum weddings, I am able to stay very much in contact with our clients and have that personal touch and relationship with them. So, when the crisis started to become more of a long-term situation, I reverted to one of the key ingredients to the success of our company, communication. It was and still is inevitable that our couples were and are going to be extremely emotional at this time. By establishing a solid line of communication, via weekly and sometimes daily phone conversations, we were able to navigate our way through the emotional storm, so as to address the issue of postponing from a slightly calmer, more informed and rational perspective.
That is not to say that there were no emotions involved when it came to discussing postponement with our clients. As a wedding planner, you become more than just an event planner and manager, you become the couple’s go-to person and to some extent a form of therapist. You see your clients laugh, get stressed, get angry, cry and a whole range of emotions, and it is our job to make sure that we accommodate our couples’ feelings throughout this difficult and unprecedented time.
I think one of the hardest parts of navigating through this pandemic is its unpredictability and its uncertainty. At the beginning, we had clients who were postponing from June until September, as it was widely (and possibly wrongly, but we still don’t) assumed that September would be safe for people to travel and host destination weddings. The reality is that no one can put a time frame on this virus and so one of the most important jobs for a wedding planner at the moment, is to stay abreast of any developments during the pandemic. This includes developments with chosen vendors and as well as the developments of the pandemic itself.
Unfortunately, there are always victims of any storm and I would be living in an ideal and unrealistic world if I didn’t acknowledge that the fallout from this virus will inevitably affect a lot of the vendors and suppliers who we use and are incredibly fond of. So, it is imperative that we offer them as much support as we can during these difficult times.
The majority of our weddings for the summer 2020 season have now been postponed until summer 2021. This involved a lot of tentative plan B’s and then confirming new dates. Fortunately, by getting ahead of the situation and speaking to our clients, so as to put a plan B in place, we were able to secure them their new dates and their chosen suppliers. We always knew that there would be a rush for summer 2021 dates as there would be next year’s weddings regardless, and now there is the surplus of this year’s weddings. That is why we started having discussions with our clients and their suppliers over six weeks ago.
With most of our clients now settled with their new 2021 dates, we can step back from the frenetic side of re-planning multiple weddings as a result of a worldwide pandemic! However, that is not to say that I can take my foot off the gas pedal, so to speak. Needless to say, we have a positive attitude that like all crises, this one will end at some point, hopefully, sooner rather than later! This attitude is essential as how you feel as a planner will directly influence your actions and how you deal with your clients, and inevitably it will affect their attitude and perspective too. If you are telling your clients it will be ok and to remain positive, then you simply have to practice what you preach if you want to come across with any remote sense of conviction.
The upside is that love cannot be cancelled by anything and so there are couples who are still getting engaged and will still be wanting to get married and plan their 2021 weddings. Obviously, with travel and social distancing restrictions, site visits and meetings are on hold at the moment. This is why I have taken this time to work on the optimum weddings website as so much of what we are currently doing has become digitalised. We are continuing to look for new and exciting venues, destinations, concepts and ideas.
I suppose that I see my job as a wedding planner as a sort of real-life fairy godmother who makes people’s dreams become realities. So, at a time like this, it is even more important to stay on the ball, stay up to date and stay actively involved, so that I can resume waving my wand and creating that little bit of sparkle and magic for our current and future couples’ as soon as possible!
Sarah is planning to marry Richard at Tikitano Beach in Marbella in June 2021. They were originally scheduled to marry in June 2020 but had to postpone due to the Covid-19 pandemic. We have been working hard together to create their dream beach wedding.
The Bride’s Perspective
As a bride, you always want to plan for every possibility and thankfully I enlisted the help of Dyana from optimum weddings to ensure that this was feasible. You always think that you know everything, but truthfully having an insider’s perspective, expertise and assistance is invaluable.
Richard and I got engaged in May 2019 and the first thing I did was to find a wedding planner as we wanted a destination wedding in Marbella as it is like a second home to me and Richard loves it. I flew out to Marbella with my mum for a week of wedding planning and I met Dyana on our first day there and the rest is history! She planned my cousin’s wedding a few years ago and so she came with glowing recommendations from my family. Dyana, mum and I managed to make the main decisions and secure our main vendors and suppliers within that week, which was incredible and genuinely, a completely stress-free process.
As the year went on we finalised the small details and then before we knew it, it was 2020 and the countdown began! Everything was organised and scheduled, and every possible problem had a solution and we thought nothing could go wrong! Then we were slapped with a worldwide pandemic. Needless to say, this threw a spanner in the works and our once dream June wedding seemed more and more unlikely to happen. We spoke to Dyana a few times each week to keep updated as to the situation in Marbella and she managed to get all of our vendors to agree to a backup plan for September 2020. However, as the weeks went on, it became clear that there was simply too much uncertainty surrounding this virus and its trajectory. So, Richard and I together with Dyana, made the heart-breaking decision to postpone until June 2021.
When we first made the decision, it didn’t feel real. I became so engrossed in rearranging the wedding that I had a wonderful distraction! By some miracle and no doubt down to the amazing work of Dyana and Jessica, we secured our new date and all of our providers in 48 hours. This is where you really come to appreciate having a wedding planner! They have the pre-existing relationship with the providers and vendors and so they are able to facilitate these changes and requests so much easier than I would have been able to.
Once the wedding was all rearranged and the file put to sleep (so to speak) until January 2021, the enormity of the whole situation suddenly hit me. I cried. I shouted. I felt truly heartbroken, and I was to some extent grieving and processing. However, after a week the relief set in and I realised how lucky we were to have secured our first choice of date and all of our chosen providers for the second time when the demand for next year was inordinately high. This sense of gratitude is so important, but it also highlights just how important planning, foresight and a good relationship with your vendors is. Ultimately, you are planning an event with them, and I made sure to establish that relationship from day one. I did not want anyone to feel as though they were working for me, but that we were a team, working together.
The truth is, no wedding planner, no matter how amazing they are could have seen this pandemic coming. I think that this is where optimum weddings really came into a league of their own and to me and many other brides became the best planners out there! Dyana and Jessica were available to me any time of day and multiple times of the week. No matter how many times I called them, they were always available to offer words of wisdom and reassurance and they definitely became my therapists as well as my planners!
One of the things which saddened me the most about this pandemic and its effects is the inevitable and heart-breaking result that it will have on so many providers in the events and hospitality industries. I have become quite attached to all of our people, from our amazing hair and makeup artists Alex and Nicola, to our wonderful band One Entertainment and so many more of our providers. I was incredibly touched that they were so accommodating in giving us our first choice of date for next year without any demands. That is why it is so important to look after them. As a bride to be and one who is now on furlough, I know that times are tough, but always remember that these providers depend upon your weddings for income and so it is incredibly important to try and compromise and still honour payment schedules and maintain that relationship. After all, you want them to still be able to be up and running when you get married next year!
Looking to the future I am excited, excited for a beautiful wedding, excited to get married with a crowd of people with me (not three feet away from me!), and excited to marry the love of my life overlooking the sea in Marbella. It is so easy to let this whole experience be a negative one, however, it is so important to remain positive because truly it could be a lot worse! Next year’s weddings will be even more special and they will have a real sense of love and gratitude that we once maybe took for granted. If I could give anyone planning a destination wedding some advice it would be to make sure that you get a wedding planner from day one! Every planner is different and has a different style but I think it is essential to find one who you have good chemistry with because planning a wedding is one of the biggest jobs you will do and it is a whole lot easier with a planner by your side. Also, try and stay positive, because this will pass and weddings will happen. So, if you are planning on rescheduling then stay positive and realise that you made the best decision, and if you have just got engaged then enjoy the magic of planning your upcoming wedding because the show must go on and it will, providing that we all focus on the positive and the beauty of the future.
Flowers and place settings: Unique by Roberto Silvosa