The 2020 In Review with Anything But Gray Events

There were so many high hopes. Full-bellied wishes, dreams, and expectations. 2020 was going to be the year. It was to be the roaring twenties incarnate. My events calendar was full, my clients were wonderful, and I was so excited about what was about the possibilities of the year.

January was a bur of busy. I had had a 30 something birthday at the beginning of the month and the calendar was already jammed packed full of meetings, travel, walk-throughs, phone calls, and networking events. I am the kind of person who still keeps a physical planner and it was all ready to go for the year. Little did I know it would end up useless.

February was fun. I toured the Bachelor Manion, went to see a Cirque Du Soleil show with Sebastian, and co-hosted our largest Tuesdays Together Los Angeles meeting to date. Plus, our styled shoot with an incredible vendor team at The Ebell of Los Angeles was featured in a huge spread advocating for inclusivity and LGBTQ+ people in the wedding industry. Check out ‘When The Bride & The Groom Are The Same Person’, on A Practical Wedding blog.

 

Then March came. It was March 12th and I was on my way to a luncheon for women in business in Santa Monica with my best friend and fellow wedding planner, Renee Dalo of Moxie Bright Events. We often drive to events together not only to catch up but to partake in the freeway carpool lane on the 405.

The week before, she and I, along with friends Leah Weinberg of Color Pop Events and Julie Shuford of Julie Shuford Photography had been in Palm Springs renting a house together for the Alt Summit Conference. There were chatterings of how New York was being hit with a virus and how there was the potential for it spreading. But it seemed so far away on the other coast. At that point, there was no way to have predicted the wave of what was about to hit us next.

Renee and I sat in the car together, heat blaring, almost unable to speak. Something neither of us is known for. All I remember us saying to each other was, “I don’t know. I don’t know what to do next”. As we drove to Santa Monica it began to rain. Much like no one walks in LA, it hardly rains in LA either. The rain then got harder. March 12th was becoming ominously special by the minute.

As we arrived and parked, the rain started to come down in full sheets. Neither of us had an umbrella with us because again, it never rains in LA. We sprinted from the car into the venue. At the door, we must have looked like wet dogs shaking off. We were smiling in this photo, but our shoes were full of water and our hair was flat from the rain!

Sitting through the luncheon, still completely unsure of what was about to happen, there was a sense between the two of us that life was about to change, but we didn’t quite know how yet. Rain began to fall even harder as we looked out the glass windows of the venue space with the Santa Monica beach right outside. Never had such a happier and brighter place looked so sad and dark. I remember clearly that the waiters were all masked and gloved. I also remember that there was a lot of butter on the table. I love butter which is why I guess that stands out to me. As the event began we were politely asked not to hug or shake hands. That was the physical first sign for me that everything was about to change. Almost 10 months later, I didn’t know how much I would miss a good hug.

We left the event immediately as it ended and drove home together, in panicked silence. Again, not our norm. As Renee dropped me off on the sidewalk outside my building’s lobby, amidst my street which was now flooded from the fast rain, we hugged. It was the last time I would hug my best friend all year.

There is no question that 2020 has been one of the hardest years of my business. To be honest, there have been worse in my life. I would be lying if I said otherwise. I think, for the most part, we are all in agreement thought about how this year made us feel. Scared, sad, depressed, frustrated, hopeless. The list goes on.

What I didn’t expect from this year was finding the resilience to keep moving forward, despite it all.

If you are anything like me, an overthinker, you constantly mull over the ‘coulda, woulda, shoulda’ of life. In good times and in bad I think of ALL the outcomes. 2020 has been no exception. I initially thought of the things that I had lost rather than the ones I had gained.  For all the setbacks of being a small business owner in the hospitality and events field in 2020, and there were many, there were still so many positive lessons to be learned, good memories to be made, community to be fostered, and growth to be explored that I will take with me into 2021 and beyond. The year ended with silver linings I would have never seen coming in mid-March.

If nothing else, I learned that myself and my business can make it through anything. Like a full-blown global pandemic anything! Resilience along with a lot of sweat, tears, heart, hard work, and kindness can get you through just about anything. Even the shitshow that was this year showed yet again that we are all in this together.

In all honestly, there were moments, months really, that felt like full-blown triage. As if the blood would not stop and the wounds kept getting wider and deeper. From March-June I was in postponement mode, moving, in full, 12 weddings and 2 events for our clients to future dates. The emails didn’t stop and neither did the worry. Those four months felt unendingly epic.

As a planner, my job is to build things up, create something out of nothing, and bring them to life. I have never had to tear them down and rebuild them again in a totally new way. For this, I feel as though I now have yearned some sort of badge of honor. I am beyond thankful to say we did not have one cancellation this year. I am beyond grateful to my clients for having faith (and patience) in my experience and the trust to know I had their back throughout this whole ordeal. I am beyond excited that we will party SO hard together in 2021!

Yes, 2020 was a dumper fire disaster of a year, but truth be told, it wasn’t all bad. Like the sunshine carebear I hope to be, I tried to find the micro-joys wherever I could to keep myself and those around me going.

For the last five years, I have written a year in review blog in December to reminisce back on all the weddings, publications, and high points of the year. This year’s review will be different but I hope you still enjoy it. There was beauty in the struggle and struggle in the beauty.

Here are some of the high points in both my personal life and Anything But Gray Events in 2020 quarantine.

Personally:

-Stayed healthy and as productive and positive as possible.

-Started a balcony summer garden full of 30 varieties of tomatoes (I have never gardened before) that I lovingly called, “The Gardenette”.

 

 

-Spent way more quality time talking, laughing, relaxing, and learning with my partner, Sebastian.

 

-Took online dance classes.

-Broke my computer monitor during said online dance class.

-Celebrated Oliver’s 14th doggie birthday.

-Walked every bit of my neighborhood. Thankfully there were no pro-Trump signs where I live.

-Started the “Holly & Ollie” dinner showcase (now about 100 photos full) where I showcased what we were having for dinner while Oliver watched with curiosity from our kitchen.

 

 

 

-Grew a collection of face masks in every color for every outfit.

-Organized my closet and office multiple times.

-Caught up on some much-needed sleep and enjoyed frequent couch naps.

-Purged a ton of unneeded things in my life both physically and emotionally.

-Connected with friends, family, and my local community in a whole new way.

-Demonstrated and spoke out in alliance with the Black Lives Matter movement.

-Co-planned an amazing driveby baby shower for my friends Julie and Andy.

covid drive by baby shower

-Supported and fostered community in the events industry.

-Went to the beach in August and had a sunburn until early November. No joke!

-Finally shook my 30+ year nail-biting habit for good.

-Focused on creating for fun and not work.

-Celebrated Sebastian’s birthday with a cake from Sugar Studio.

-Cooked up a storm and did the dishes that came along with that.

-Ordered a water filtration system to cut down on our use of plastic water bottles.

-Sebastian and I handwrote and mailed 165 postcards on behalf of the Biden/Harris campaign encouraging voters.

-Taught my mother how to use Zoom! She is now a Zooming machine.

-Was a contestant on a game show.

-Fostered (and have now adopted) two additional female boston terriers that needed a home right before Christmas. Safe to say, we are now a 3 dog home and are considered “foster failures”. Please welcome Betty and Veronica to the pack. 

 

Professionally:

Kept my business of 8 years afloat and my sanity (nearly) intact.

Had tons of meaningful conversations with vendors who I hope to work with in the new year. 

Helped all of my 2020 clients postpone their weddings and events successfully.

Applied and was granted an SBA (small business association). I am truly thankful for that. 

Participated in over 100+ events industry webinars and educational online seminars.

Set new and wonderfully lofty goals for my business in 2021. 

Learned how to create, design, and plan events in a whole new way.

Became a founding member of The Los Angeles Small Wedding Collective created by friends and fellow wedding planner, Margaux Fraise of Harmony Creative Studio.

Planned, designed, and facilitated 1 small styled shoot at Forme Los Angeles that was featured in Black Bride.

Planned my brother’s small wedding for our immediate family. It was chosen as A Practical Wedding’s top 20 weddings of 2020. 

 

 

Had weddings featured in national and international publications 10 different times over the course of 2020 including Black Bride, Not Your Wedding! and Amor Latino Unveiled

Booked some amazing new clients for 2021 & 2022.

 

Redesigned my website.

 

Created an email marketing list.

Participated in The Profitable Planner Bundle.

Held 2 event industry leadership positions as The Director of Public Relations and Marketing for WIPA SoCal as well as a Leader for Tuesdays Together Los Angeles.

This is what we accomplished as a community with Tuesdays Together Los Angeles in 2020.

Hosted 1 (Mega) Tide Talk with 3 speakers and 200 guests

Hosted 12 TTLA Meetings with Speakers/Education

Hosted 12 Themed Community Calls

Hosted TTLA Leadership Happy Hours

Hosted 2 Panel Discussions on Inclusivity & Diversity

Hosted 9 TTLA Talks on Human Rights/Inclusivity Issues

Hosted 6 TTLA Community Chats

Hosted 1 Philanthropical Fundraiser raising $1000 for the Los Angeles Mission 

Hosted 1 Vision Board  virtual activity

Adding closed captioning to Zoom Meetings

Adding a mailing list & e-newsletter

Grew our TTLA leadership team

Retaining membership through the transition from in-person to virtual meetings

 

When I think back on 2020, I am happy it is over, but I am also proud of the journey to took to get through it. Here is to 2021 and the year of possibilities it holds. 

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