Weddings & Events During the Coronavirus (COVID-19) Pandemic

15 March 2020
wedding covid-19 corona virus

(Originally published 3/15/20 and updated as needed since)

On Wednesday, March 11, the World Health Organization officially declared coronavirus (COVID-19) a pandemic and heightened the concerns of our team, our clients and their event guests about the impact it could have on upcoming events. As the owner of Amplify, I wanted to personally post the actions we are taking. This post is the result of our DJ team coming together and sharing our thoughts, ideas and collective research surrounding coronavirus. I hope you’ll find it transparent and conversational, yet comprehensive and thorough.

I want to first acknowledge the anxiety and uncertainty that surrounds a moment as unique as what we’re experiencing right now. In addition to concerns surrounding the virus itself, the thought of COVID-19 affecting a couple’s wedding plans, a son’s bar mitzvah celebration or a daughter’s quinceañera is distressing. We understand that these are important, once-in-lifetime events and that any threat to them — whether it’s a natural disaster like we previously experienced with Hurricane Michael or a pandemic like COVID-19 — can lead to compounded stress and sleepless nights. My message to our clients who are reading this: We’re here for you and we’re still committed to your event! APRIL UPDATE: Counties in some of our service areas have enacted mandatory stay-at-home orders and night curfews, along with fines and criminal charges for violations related to gatherings of more than 50 people. Amplify will not be able to participate in events that break any laws or represent a violation of these official orders, and I would strongly recommend that our clients postpone any events scheduled to take place during the timeframe of any order in the county of your wedding or event. JUNE UPDATE: As many of the states/counties in our service areas begin to lift stay-at-home orders and open back up economies and gatherings, we will continue to follow their laws and guidelines. JULY UPDATE: We are now DJing weddings and events again and have DJed 15 weddings and events since re-opening. 6/25/20 UPDATE: With mask mandates in effect in a few of our service counties, any in-person meetings at our office will need to abide by those mandates. Phone and video call meetings are still available as a great alternative. 9/26 UPDATE: With cases declining in many of our service areas and Florida in particular moving into Phase 3 of re-opening, we will move forward accordingly. We’ve now safely performed more than 50 weddings since lockdown was lifted!

So on that note, let’s first get a few important facts out of the way:

    • This situation continues to evolve, so our policies, actions and stances will likely evolve as well. Things could level off/flatten and otherwise get better quickly or they could grow worse and prompt more drastic measures and updates.
    • At Amplify, we’re not the experts on the coronavirus, so we’ll need to rely on the experts. We promise to seek out reliable sources of information and not act on rumors or hearsay, whether positive or negative.
    • Both our company and our clients are incentivized toward the best news surrounding coronavirus. For our company and our DJs, this is our livelihood, and postponed/cancelled events can have a deep impact on our personal lives economically. For our clients, we understand that no one wants to cancel her/his wedding day or other important event, and that there is both a financial and emotional impact in doing so. In short, our company and our clients both really, really want the same thing to happen and that is for the wedding/event to go on as planned. And that’s still the plan! But while it’s painful for both parties, we should also acknowledge that despite our aligned hopes and dreams, there could be valid reasons to have to change plans. So, let’s go there next.

 

Our Policy on Postponements and Cancellations

  • On Amplify’s end: First and foremost, if any member of our team has tested positive for coronavirus, they will follow the quarantine guidelines established and will not be a part of your scheduled event, unless they have recovered and have since tested negative. For years, Amplify has built strong contingency plans for the primary service that we provide: the DJ/MC. Our DJs have caught the flu, experienced family emergencies and, in one instance, even been involved in a serious car accident. In each instance, we still had a back-up ready to go and each event was still a success. Our back-up options for the add-on/secondary services we offer, like dance floor installers and live musicians, aren’t quite as deep, so in a perfect storm scenario that a novel virus like this could potentially create, adjustments may need to be made, but we’ll also be prompt and transparent when these come up. Again, we are still committed to your event and will make any adjustments needed to address any potential shortfalls caused by our team being affected by the virus.
  • On our client’s end: If you need to postpone your wedding or event due to the coronavirus, we will respect your decision and help you reschedule your event for a post-coronavirus date. We’ll also allow you to apply 100% of any payments you’ve made toward your new date. We would need to approve the new date to make sure it’s not a date we’re already fully booked (certain Saturdays in Oct/Nov/Dec/March/April, for example), but we’re happy to communicate back and forth to make sure it’s a date that both works for you and is available for us. We can’t guarantee your same assigned DJ for your new date, but we’ll try our best to keep the same one. If, rather than postponing your event, it is outright cancelled or you choose a new date we’re unavailable, deposits will still be non-refundable as usual (due to non-refundable costs we incur and other efforts made to secure the date — which is why we keep our deposits at only $250), but no further payments will be required and any payments that have been made beyond the deposit will be refunded. In other words, deposits are transferrable, but not refundable, while any payments made beyond the deposit are refundable. We also don’t charge any penalties or additional deposits for date changes. In addition to the postpone/cancel options above, a third option we’re happy to offer is for clients who are neither cancelling their wedding nor postponing it, but due to COVID-19 are downsizing their wedding to a much smaller number and therefore need to remove items like dance floors, additional hours, etc. that are no longer needed in their currently booked packages and instead would prefer to downsize their package to our entry-level, music-only True Elegance package, for example. Though it’s a less common route we’ve seen so far, we have DJed a few of those 10 to 20-person weddings already and they were a success despite their drastically lower-than-originally-planned guests counts. This third option is still available even if you decide to postpone — it’s not a “one or the other” option — so if you need to push the date forward or backward and adjust your package, we can do that as well.

Next, let’s talk next about the guidelines we’ve created for our our team, our clients, and our clients’ guests.

For Our Team

Why are we publicly posting the actions we’re taking internally? Because 1) we love transparency and 2) we believe these things are all connected. So on that note, we’ll be implementing the following to keep our team safe and healthy so they can rock your event:

 

    • Commit to officially recommended quarantine practices should any member of our team be tested positive for coronavirus. UPDATE: We’ve had four total members of our team across all locations (including DJs and musicians) recover from COVID-19 already and we’re happy to report that all four followed all quarantine and testing guidelines and that all four have recovered and received medical clearance before returning to work for Amplify clients weeks later. Due to the timing and contact tracing info we’re able to glean, we also understand that it is highly unlikely that they contracted it at any Amplify event. We’re also happy to report that when those team members had to step away, we had backups ready to successfully fill in in ALL of the cases so far, and we plan to keep it that way.
    • Close the physical Amplify office and move all currently scheduled meetings from in-person to by phone or FaceTime until further notice. SEPTEMBER UPDATE: In-person meetings are now available again, but please follow any face mask guidelines, and we’ve re-arranged our office furniture in accordance with social distancing guidelines.
    • Develop a temporary logistical plan that allows each DJ to keep as much of the same audio and lighting equipment week-to-week as possible (while still making sure all events have appropriate equipment allocated) rather than picking up and dropping off different equipment each week.
    • Each DJ will follow any current local mask mandates.
    • Frequently wash hands with soap and water as often as possible at events and, if available (currently out of stock), keep a bottle of hand sanitizer at our tables.
    • Wipe down equipment between each use with a disinfecting wipe.
    • Provide each DJ with a bottle of mic sanitizer/wipes (as they become available) and/or disposable mic covers (confirmed) to use after each necessary third-party use of a microphone (think wedding officiant, toasts, etc.)
    • Limit microphone use to absolutely essential needs. DJs should not share their microphones with guests of an event.
    • Try our best to practice good nutrition, exercise and hygiene. While none of these things will likely prevent the virus, it may make the effects less-than-otherwise severe since they can affect our immune system in general and have been shown to influence the susceptibility to and response to viral infection, in general.
    • Set up a dedicated live chat channel so that each of our DJs can do the following: 1) share his/her own status; 2) share thoughts and ideas related to this post; 3) help each other solve challenges as they come up in a live setting.
    • 5/20 UPDATE: Amplify’s physical office remains closed since we can easily meet with clients via phone, FaceTime, Zoom, etc. While we love in-person meetings, with such a practical solution for simple meetings, we’d rather not rush the opening of the office. We’re re-designing the layout of the Amplify portion of the WeddingSuite (where our office is) to ensure we are at least 6 feet from our clients and others we meet with. SEPTEMBER UPDATE: In-person meetings are now available again, but please follow any face mask guidelines, and we’ve re-arranged our office furniture in accordance with social distancing guidelines.

 

For Our Clients

What are some things our clients can do?

 

    • We encourage you to adopt loving messaging about the sick and elderly not attending your wedding.
    • Possibly reconsider your existing layout to accommodate the recommended six-feet social distancing for large events. Circular tables would likely better accommodate this compared to rectangular ones.
    • Expect a lower guest count than you were originally anticipating. While we’ve seen only a very small number of guest drop-off so far, we expect that could change as new information is released. Also, be understanding of those who leave before dancing starts because they feel uncomfortable dancing close on the dance floor with others.
    • If your venue adopts a clause that your event can only happen if you have “less than x number of guests,” consider sending a group message to guests who are not immediate family and wedding party members asking for volunteers to graciously bow out.

 

For Our Clients’ Event Guests

While it’s less likely that this audience will read this post, we’ve created some recommendations and notes for guests of our clients’ events. At our clients’ request, we’re happy to announce these at the start of the event to keep it clean and virus-free!
    • Let’s remember to regularly wash our hands thoroughly with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
    • Please don’t be offended if someone doesn’t want to shake your hand. In fact, rather than shake hands at this event, we can all just go ahead and agree to elbow bump or virtual high-five. It may still seem silly for one person to ask for it, so we’re announcing it to everyone so that no one feels awkward doing it.
    • If you have a fever or cough or otherwise feel sick, please go ahead and head home. No one will be offended that you have to leave early and it’s better to be safe. When in doubt, head out.
    • Please comply with any face mask mandates.
    • Please treat others with respect and dignity.

 

And that covers it for now! Do you think we’ve made a mistake in any of these points? Do you have an idea or suggestion? As I mentioned, we’re not experts and I’ll be the first to admit that we don’t have all of the answers. So I’ve set up a dedicated email address to receive your thoughts, ideas, praise, or criticism. You can reach my dedicated COVID-19 inbox at covid19 [at] amplifymyevent [dot] com (obscured so bots don’t overrun it). I want this to be a living, breathing post so I’ll update it, if needed.

Our hearts and thoughts go out to our clients who are dealing with this and to those who have already been affected by coronavirus. We’re hopeful for the future, and we’ll get through this together!

Sincerely,
Nate Long
Chief Entertainment Officer
Amplify Entertainment

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