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Entrepreneurs in the event Industry find ways to sway and recreate beautiful traditions.

Odyssey Media and its partners announce a major effort to assist event planners, photographers, makeup artists, caterers, art galleries and many other entrepreneurs and small businesses who have been devastated in the event industry.

One segment hit hardest is traditional celebrations like weddings.

When COVID hit, there were dresses on order, venue deposits paid, and airline reservations booked.  One of the worst byproducts of the Pandemic is the permanent closing of businesses  that cater to and execute exquisite weddings. 

Our featured wedding vendor is Maritza Walton. 

“We postponed over 80 weddings to 2021.  Some Brides have now postponed twice not realizing COVID-19 would affect us this long,” says Maritza Walton, founder of the Ritz Walton Collection, New Jersey’s leading floral design company.  

Maritza is credited with turning Odyssey Woman Brenda Farrow White’s backyard into a beautiful wonderland for her daughter Ashley’s wedding. 

Some celebrations have been rescheduled, but many are moving forward  with reduced attendance, socially distanced dance floors and organized, horn-honking drive by’s. 

On October 8, Odyssey woman Ashley and Gilbert Petit Compere decided not to wait and they threw a spectacular backyard wedding for just a few friends and family.

Maritza Walton tells Odyssey, “Ashley’s wedding was downsized from 150+ to 30 people, but it was the MOST beautiful wedding I have witnessed in my career. To watch this young lady walk down the aisle of the backyard she played in as a little girl with her father holding her arm and her mother overlooking with tears warmed my heart. There is no way this would have been able to be replicated at a formal venue.”  

Kellee Williams, Ashley Petit Compere, and Grace Speights marry during COVID-19

Left: Sandra Rice’s daughter Kellee(Williams) celebrated at home and over zoom. Middle: Ashley(Petit Compere), daughter of Brenda Farrow White was married in the backyard of the home she grew up. Right: Grace Speights, married lawn and terrace area of the Salamander Resort in Middleburg, VA.

Odyssey woman, Sandra Rice reports her daughter Kellee (Williams) didn’t let COVID-19 destroy wedding plans either. Her wedding to Marc Williams was a heartfelt backyard wedding with only eight attendees. But countless friends and family showed up via Zoom.  Grammy-nominated soul singer Kenny Lattimore sang “For You” as a special send-off to the delighted couple. 

Aimee Dominick, president of A. Dominick Events, says gone are the gigantic events with endless guest lists. “We have seen a shift to smaller weddings — a better fit than waiting six months, or a year.” She says outdoor events require a new game plan, and as the seasons change so should the planning. “The guest’s comfort is very important. We have found heaters, blankets, and pashminas make a big difference and can be coordinated to the wedding décor.”

Odyssey woman and speaker extraordinaire, attorney Grace Speights’ wedding proved that event planners have gotten creative.  From Grace’s personalized hand sanitizers to the beautiful tented garden at the Salamander resort, owned by Black female business woman, Sheila Johnson they attended to every detail.

Grace married longtime beau Charles Johnson on October 3, and they say their outdoor event was a huge hit thanks to A. Dominick Events. The outdoor event was punctuated by floral décor and masked guests kept their distance as the couple tied the knot under a gorgeous fall sun. 

“We originally planned to have 175 people inside a hotel in DC.,” Grace said, adding that they “reduced the number of guests to 80, and implemented many COVID related protective items” as a result of the pandemic. “We had seated social distancing at the wedding… required masks and/or face coverings for everyone in attendance… had individual and separate microphones for each speaker… and all food was plated and served by masked servers,” she continued. 

Grace’s band, Secret Society, swayed to the new COVID beat. All players wore masks when they could, of course, but even the stage setup was planned with COVID in mind.

 “The stage had a huge plexiglass shield —probably 15 feet across, which allowed everyone to feel protected,” sax man Bryan Mills tells us. “It shows that you care and are conscious of what is going on. Necessity is the mother of invention.”

So what are the teachable moments and how do some small businesses and entrepreneurs manage to sway and pivot to survive? 

Follow this series as we  feature event based businesses who swayed, pivoted and found new pathways to stay afloat.

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