As spring showers fall, new buds start to bloom, and vaccine appointments begin to open up, we are taking time to reflect on the past year under COVID-19. And what a year it’s been!
Before COVID-19, few people could have imagined the many profound ways in which our lives changed in 2020. For all of us, it was a year of loss and uncertainty, of learning to adapt and find the happy and even joy in the every day. Despite the onslaught of the global coronavirus pandemic, people continued to work and grow and celebrate milestones—from new babies to yes, weddings.
The coronavirus pandemic has brought particular challenges for couples getting married. As we mark a year of quarantine and social distancing with this year’s “coronaversary,” the Meadow Brook wedding team is looking back and ahead on their lessons learned from a pandemic year.
Cheryl Donovan, Manager of Sales and Events
I never could have imagined how my role working with engaged couples in the sales and planning process would have changed over the past year. The challenges affecting our couples and our industry have been so dramatic and truly unlike anything we’ve seen before.
One of the most difficult parts has been seeing so many weddings postponed, reduced or changed. My heart breaks for everyone trying to get married right now and the unknown challenges they are facing. However, I have learned a lot about resiliency, flexibility and yes, love, from our couples.
I am filled with admiration for how engaged couples have approached their weddings—a special milestone that many dream of all their lives—with a whole new “can do” attitude born in the pandemic. Our brides are no longer worrying about many of the traditional wedding stress points, but rather are getting creative to keep things fun. Most are filled with gratitude for the opportunity to carry on with any version of their wedding with their nearest and dearest—face masks and all!
Our Meadow Brook team has also learned so much throughout the pandemic to stay compliant with the ever-changing mandates. We created special elopement and intimate wedding packages this year to help our couples get married no matter what. At the same time, we debuted a new virtual planning tool designed to help create a safe and functional setup for events throughout the estate.
There is also an overall bonding and genuine appreciation taking place between us and our vendors as we go through this together and try to make the best of it for each of our clients. We’ve had to grow and adapt and learn so much this year to keep delivering breathtaking celebrations. More than anything, I think we have all learned that together we can overcome incredible obstacles and uncertainties to make wedding dreams come true. I can’t wait for the day when face masks are in the past and I can witness everyone’s amazing smiles again and the pure joy and excitement that comes with getting married at Meadow Brook Hall!
Lindy Romans, Catering Service Manager
Although weddings are traditionally a time to bring friends and family from all over the world close together to share in the bride and groom’s joyful day, we’ve had to adapt and modify the traditions to follow the required health guidelines. We know that the last year has been difficult for couples planning to get married and we have done our best to make sure that their weddings are memorable and special, no matter how many changes we’ve had to make to keep everyone healthy.
We’ve been able to find very creative ways to utilize our spaces so wedding guests can have fun celebrating while staying safe. At Meadow Brook, we’ve reimagined the layout and structure of our pre-celebration activities, ceremonies, cocktail hour and tent dining to be socially distanced. And if we’re indoors, we’re fortunate to have lots of windows to open to create ventilation and keep fresh air moving throughout. Outside, our beautiful garden tent and grounds offer many spacious areas to celebrate safely.
Since walk-up bars were not allowed last season, we expanded cocktail hour seating on the lawn to allow for guests to sit down and spread out while enjoying food and beverages brought to them by waitstaff. We have learned not to get too comfortable in doing things a certain way, and to be prepared to adapt to new changes and restrictions as they arrive.
Pat Gazzarato, Executive Chef
Dining has been impacted dramatically by the coronavirus pandemic. We have learned that our dedicated team can adapt quickly to meet changing guidelines and still provide exceptional client service.
For example, we were not permitted to offer food displays or walk up bar service. In order to accommodate our guests, we adjusted our style of service, (which required an increase in staff) to provide butlered drinks and served meals while guests remain seated at their tables. The increase in staff costs but the decrease in revenue due to reduced capacity requirements has been challenging for The Hall, like it has for many other venues.
However, my staff and I have embraced the challenge. We work in this field because we like to serve people and make them happy. We live to serve. We work in an industry that is held to a very high standard—even before the pandemic. Adapting to an even higher degree of cleaning procedures was easy, because we were already doing most of it as an industry. We have learned that these higher standards are very achievable and many will continue to be a part of our day-to-day permanently as we serve up inspired cuisine.
Stephanie Pratt, Sales Associate & Event Manager
So many of our couples either booked with us or postponed their weddings during the pandemic. The understanding and support we are receiving from them have been getting us through this time.
The pandemic has opened all of our eyes to never take gatherings and celebrations for granted. Our clients understand this and are willing to adjust their guest counts, socially distance and comply with mandates just so they can be with their loved ones in person.
It has been a year where we have learned to rely on each other more than ever and I am so thankful for our clients who still are smiling despite the circumstances.
After all, a wedding is truly is about uniting with the person you love most in the presence of those you care about. For me, I have learned that the ability to safely gather with 10, 100 or 300 people in any capacity, mandates or not, is something we must never take for granted again.
Getting married is a major milestone in any couple’s life. The brides, grooms and spouses-to-be who have adapted, reconfigured and, above all, persevered in hosting their weddings in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic are nothing short of incredible. The Meadow Brook team has learned so much in the last year as we adapted to ongoing uncertainty and ever-changing regulations. But mostly, we have learned to value time spent with each other.
As we breathe a collective sigh of relief that spring is coming and the COVID-19 vaccines are coming, we pause to applaud the people—couples, planners, venue managers, wedding vendors, photographers, florists, waitstaff and so many more—who did their best to keep love alive throughout a remarkably challenging year under COVID-19.
For more information about weddings at Meadow Brook Hall, contact or call (248) 364-6220.