Collab Lab with Jenna Culley, Elizabeth Sherry, Matthew Sherry

Preparedness Planning Part #3 – Collab Lab

Elizabeth Sherry hosts with guests Jenna Culley, Jenna Culley Events; and Matthew Sherry, Complete Weddings + Events as they discuss preparedness plans and what the landscape for events is looking like for 2020 in this COVID19 Era.

About Jenna Culley

enna Culley is a born and raised Wisconsin girl but began her career in New York working at high end, private clubs learning how to plan, execute and design over-the-top events. When she returned to the Midwest, she launched Jenna Culley Events in the Twin Cities and brought all of that big city experience layered with her small town smile. She now has a team of planners that hold her same service-driven values and perfectionist tendencies.

Jenna lives on the East side of the Twin Cities with her husband, Justin, and their three children, Cate, Ava and Wyatt.

About Matthew Sherry

Matthew holds a Bachelor’s of Business Administration and Management, Marketing from Winona State University.

He became CEO of the family-owned and operated Complete Weddings & Events in 2017, where he enjoys working along side his brother, CFO Michael Jr. Sherry.

Over his 20 years with Complete, Matthew has won numerous awards for his work as a DJ and emcee; talent he continues to use today to support many charitable organizations including the annual Relay for Life.

His extensive first-hand experience in the weddings and events industries led him to co-founding the popular local networking group Twin Cities Wedding & Event Professional’s (“TCWEP”) in 2009 with Michelle Tverberg and sister-in-law Elizabeth Sherry. Matthew served for three years on the membership committee of Business Network International (BNI) and for four years on the Board of Directors for the National Association of Catering and Events (“NACE”).

A loyal South St Paul native, he currently resides in “SSP” with his two children and two Chihuahuas.

About Elizabeth Sherry

Elizabeth Sherry is the Development & Engagement Manager for the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce. She serves as the Director of Events & Programming for The Twin Cities Wedding & Event Professionals and is also the Director of Marketing & Communications on the board for Meeting Professionals International. She has won three International Live Event Association awards in the past couple years. Elizabeth has been a three time speaker at national Special Event Conference in 2013, 2014, 2015.

Show Dictation

hi everyone its Elizabeth Sherry program director for Twin Cities Wedding & Event Professionals and I am thrilled to be here with the two panelists I have today, Jenna Culley of Jenna Culley Events. Hi Jenna, oh we’re so excited to have you, and then we also have Matthew Sherry of Complete Weddings + Events. It’s so great to have you both here because in my opinion you’re experts in your profession and your field so it’s just so exciting to have you here and of course I may be a little bit biased because Matt is my brother-in-law you probably saw the Sherry name so I’m gonna just acknowledge that from the beginning. And then Jenna I seven years yeah long

time and you know it’s funny I

when you say expert it’s like yeah in

event planning but right now I feel like

who’s an expert in this let me start

with you Jenna like I just give us an

update and how are you and how are you

is your business doing right now yeah I

mean it’s it’s been an interesting year

and I you know we’re doing okay we’ve

had to postpone almost every wedding

that we had up until this point through

August we have one in August and then a

few in the fall yeah we’ve had to

postpone or cancel every event most have

postponed which is a good and a bad

thing because you know it’s now we’re

looking at next year and I literally

have a huge calendar trying to you know

these together what that’s gonna look

like for me and my staff so so it’s it’s

it’s been interesting for sure but we’re

you know we’re doing good and we’re just

kind of reevaluating different things

how how we’re gonna move forward and

what we’re gonna do create good to hear

you’re doing well and your calendar is

filling

for next year that’s exciting to hear

and how about you has complete doing

we’re actually in a pretty good position

at the moment considering everything

like Jenna said we boy every event we

had in April and May was either

postponed or canceled a lot of June I

would say 80 to 85 percent of June as

postponed or canceled July it’s kind of

holding on

I got we got I got some brides if you

ladies we can do it so I’m pretty

excited I mean I I know that things are

opening up we’re starting to open up now

even though it’s pretty slow in our

industry but you know I guess we’re

we’re gonna adapt and I don’t

necessarily think it’s gonna last

forever but there’s some some different

things that we need to pay attention to

and and just make sure we’re ready when

that business does come back and in a

good position to take care of people

great good to hear and as far as filling

this time up until now having events

Matt do you feel that your company has

retooled and if you have what’s been

successful in that retooling yeah in

some I mean so we’re a multi-system

operator your service operator really so

we do photography and video we also do

DJ photo booth lighting you know some

coordination – and so different aspects

have had to change in different areas I

I’d say the biggest changes are in sort

of photobooth and DJ and the

entertainment areas some stuff with film

but it hasn’t really changed I mean film

is more kind of we’ve we’ve made our

self advance ourselves in film because

there’s just an opportunity for a lot of

the events where a lot of people can’t

attend at the moment so so we were

tooling in that way but we’ve done a lot

of really great things especially on the

DJ and you know just kind of focusing

more on different entertainment ideas

like games and trivia and you know

different kinds of entertainment

icebreakers there’s some issues about

dancing that are going

  • so we’re kind of planning lots of

spread out line dancing things like that

that we can probably get away with so

we’re we’re doing our best I’m excited

to see the Macarena in that forum

because I don’t think that’s gonna

change too much there you go

and Jonah what about you I mean how are

you saying innovative and retooling

during this fill in time between yeah I

think honestly if I’m being completely

honest it has given me a chance to

really put together policies and

procedures that I’ve intended to have in

place for a long time you know and and I

think sometimes it takes things like

this a combination of just a little bit

of a slowdown with like okay now I have

to have them you know I have to have

these in place and so having policies

and procedures both for staff that I

have and how we are going to function on

wedding days and we need up to the type

of verbage that we’re using with both

vendors and clients you know just having

some kind of guidelines on that for them

and as well as just thinking through

what new tools we actually are

physically going to need on the wedding

day things like masks gloves

thermometers may become a thing in our

bags which I never thought would be a

tool I needed on a wedding day so it’s

just been kind of evaluating a lot of

that those types of things and actually

implementing ideas that I’ve had in my

head forever like oh I really need to

put that into you know our policies and

things and and now finally doing it

mm-hmm

but it might be a positive side

effective of all of this you know taking

that breath and thinking for it about

what is gonna be a problem or things

that year like you said bucket list I’ve

always wanted to add that you know

that’s so important to do because I

think as wedding professionals we all

just try you know water and we just hope

that we can take a breath come

Thanksgiving so I think it’s kind of

nice to be able to take a breath right

now and really analyze while we’re in

Myr

into what the season looks like so well

tear on that now then I am so curious

about what is the new normal for wedding

planner and event planners two of us

speak that but what what is your

day-to-day gonna look like either

leading up internet and even on day on

yeah it’s um it’s gonna be a little

different I think I don’t know about a

lot of other planners but I’m number one

I’m a hugger right I am connected to my

clients not only my clients I mean we’re

in a in an odd position need an event

planner where we really our goal between

between clients and vendors right so

some of my favorite people on the planet

are other vendors and now I’m gonna be

like but also with our clients we’ve

been with a lot of them from day one all

the way through to their wedding day and

so to have them walk back down that

aisle one of my favorite moments is

usually I’m the first hug right like

they walk back to me and I hug them and

all that so it’s just kind of thinking

through some of that of like elbows but

I think it’s also you know right now

we’re waiting you through as planners

we’re waiting through like what our role

is according to government restrictions

and stuff like are we having to take

temperatures of people are we having to

enforce social distancing just what is

our new role that day of and I think a

lot of people a lot of event planners

don’t want that that position of having

to enforce a lot of that so I think

we’re waiting on guidelines of what is

our role according to them but other

than that I mean new norm leading up to

the day is just thinking through plan a

plan B planning around all of these

unknowns and also a measuring tape is

not my best friend set on six feet of

distance

just thinking through like what are

those six foot squares that we have to

kind of keep people in so yeah a lot has

changed Oh her nest and I think of

wedding planners and I’m sure many of us

have witnessed wedding planners on a

day-to-day and you guys are running

around and you’re talking to this person

talking to this person so you’re

engaging with more than just a couple

you’re engaging with the wedding party

you’re dating with VIPs of that group so

I’m curious like like I think of you

bustling a bride’s dress like what is

that yeah well you know I don’t we

talked about this a little bit before we

started but we the good thing is we’re

behind the bride in that scenario right

so it’s not like we’re right here and

there’s an immediate sneeze possibility

so we are underneath but I mean it’s

gonna be masks and gloves and and you

know just sanitizing after the fact I

gotta love a little spray that I you

know watch our hands it’s gonna be doing

all of that or depending on the bride’s

come you know how comfortable they are

it may be doing guidance from afar for

somebody who’s in their household right

a sister mom somebody like that where if

they personally are like trying to keep

six feet of distance from everybody that

they can having to say like okay you see

the blue string okay now find the other

blue string and then tie verbal cues

from afar which is something new as well

I had a great conversation with Amy and

Michelle prior to this and it’s those

verbal cues that we’re all having to

work on instead of just doing it

ourselves because that’s what we’re so

used to so well thank you Joe that’s

really interesting to see the new normal

for your ear realm here and then Matt

what is the new normal for DJ’s you can

elaborate on photographers videographers

photo booths because I know you’ll love

and you’re around but feel free to talk

a little bit about each one of them if

you would like so what is it going to

look like sure well photography and

videography is probably

in the same area or similar elements so

a lot of that is just you know our

videographers or photographers are

wearing masks they’re wearing gloves

when needed you do have to be dexterous

with equipment so that’s not always

going to be a thing

photographers trying to keep their

distance and like Jenna said I mean just

doing a lot of deliberation and letting

other people that are closer and I move

people around stuff like that and you do

have you know we’ve we’ve done some

weddings you know this month that’s been

we’ve had some experience with it we do

notice that you kind of see people

volunteering to help the photographer a

little bit more so that that’s that’s

been helpful for DJ you know we’re doing

things like just making sure that we

have wipes available for all of the

equipment making sure that we have

sanitizer that is available for any hand

shaking or cussing that might happen and

to be able to do that on a regular basis

and kind of Reese Anna ties wireless

microphones you know we’re not passing

microphones right now so we’re putting

them on stands and we’re just kind of

wiping them off quickly you know just in

the poem no big deal no see anything

just a quick wipe invite people up to

give their speeches and their talks

that’s that that’s work really well

people have responded really well to

those types of things I just see a lot

more

Master of Ceremonies work at these

events I’m just a lot of more

togetherness a lot of a lot more

structure on the natural events that do

happen at these events any made

attention to those more entertainment

focus I think I mentioned earlier like

we’ve put together kind of a trivia

program too if anybody ever saw the shoe

game at a wedding basically it’s you

know it’s that times 10 and everyone can

use their phone and you know so that can

be some fun stuff that we’re going to do

and dancing you know yeah I mean we

might have to dance in our little

circles I’ve heard the word band a few

times I don’t know that how how we can

help that I mean if someone wants the

dance

they’re gonna do it I guess but maybe

not as encouraging or dancing as much

and then line dancing and that sort of

thing a photo booth there’s no enclosed

photo booth anymore right now you’re

sure so we do offer both and we’ve just

let our clients know that an open-air

booth is really the only option they

have props we’ve stopped giving props

momentarily

you just you just don’t know if they do

want to provide prompts they can they

can assume that liability on their own I

don’t know what venues we’re gonna do

these menus have their own liability and

everything but we’ve been making quite a

few changes you know that that I think

are going to help especially going

through this this fall and you know

hopefully things relax you know and we

can go back to you know doing dancing to

journey all together in big group hugs

yes well and you touched on my ability

mat and I know Jenny you mentioned

changing your contract so I’m curious

I’ll start with you Matt have you added

language to your contracts that helps

remove some of that liability and put

them back either on the clients or the

venue and not saying that that’s the

best way to go I’m just curious what

does that language look like for you

yeah we’re we’re kind of thinking of

different Burbridge that we can utilize

for it you know at the moment you know

no matter what and our contracts or our

liability is limited to the amount you

know of the the paid service so you know

we’re somewhat protected you know

something like that happens we can’t be

sued for the entire wedding you know or

something like that but I don’t know

what the verbage really is because you

know one upset or scare people about it

but at the same time you have to protect

yourself

and so we do have an act of God clause

that that sort of works and there’s

there’s there’s some variation in the

verbage from state to state as to what

that means you know but I don’t have a

good answer for that because what do you

get what are you gonna do you know

nobody’s getting into these contracts

planning on back

yeah you know and their their

unfortunate circumstances that’s why

we’re working so closely with their

clients you know I’m sending people to

next year cost me a lot of money because

it means this money didn’t make any

money yeah oh man and that’s because we

have a business that’s been around for

thirty years and I wanted to stay around

for another 30 years so I mean so it is

tough but we’re doing it because they

deserve their day you know yeah and they

deserve it to be the best way that they

want it and maybe they don’t want 20

people there and they do want that 150

200 people there so we’re going to give

them that spot good to hear and and

Jenna I don’t know if you have any

specifics you want to share our advice

you have for business owners on what

things you’ve added to your contract

that feel really good to you yeah well

so I had kind of a standard boilerplate

contract and that I’ve been using for

years you know just it was kind of what

I could do when I first got started and

then you have all these other things

that you’re spending money on and doing

as a business owner and just updating

that has never been a priority like it

is right now um and so I actually I just

hired a new lawyer to do like a very

specific contract for my team now and

one of the conditions that I do I was

asking her about that we could include

um is something called a working

conditions clause and basically what it

does is it allows us if for any reason

we feel like the client is not following

regulations or the group following

regulations and that we could somehow be

called liable for it or somehow

personally you know be getting sick from

it or whatever it may be basically

anything if one of my staff members

strongly feels like they are not in a

safe situation we can actually leave

that event and that clause in there

protects us from litigation so things

like that are things I never thought I

would need to look at and and add in

what are things that I just I want to

make sure that my staff and I are are

safe conditions so we’ve been looking at

that we’ve also updated our postponement

policies and things like that because

yeah just like Matt like we’ve managed

to be able to work with every client and

not we haven’t charged a postponement

fee at this point for things other than

you know if something is additional work

mm-hmm

it’s very it’s different with planners I

feel like because our clients know how

much work we’re putting in for different

things they see it as we’re going

through and so if they postpone I’ve

been saying like I will tell you if

there are additional hours with all the

changing over of vendors and whatnot you

know so so we kind of function that way

so but in our contract now we have act

of God clauses the postponement policies

and things like that just to make sure

that our business can continue to serve

clients in the future and not go away

completely well know those all sound

like really great additions and so

important to have to protect your staff

I think that’s something that in this um

you carry almost double liability in it

for you as both of you manage a team so

I think and I feel for you guys because

sometimes to put in a rock and a hard

place on that those contract terms I

think then make it a little bit easier

so you know Jenna my next question goes

to you because I know you’re such a

great forward thinker so now having to

go through 2020 and I this year would be

  • what would be the bar spread this year

would be wasted and I hate to say it

like this if we all didn’t emerge from

this better people so what do you think

these next five years they’re gonna

bring for you maybe you have to just

kind of put your fortune teller hat as I

said in the last one eyes like what is

the next five years you know look like

for you you feel confident you can grow

your business or you want to keep it the

same it’s very curious to hear what you

have going on yeah yeah no it’s brought

up a lot within that and thinking how do

you pandemic proof yourself you know and

and you can’t to some degree right like

it’s I mean life is going to happen

for me the things that I’ve been looking

at are things like online services that

we could offer you know whether it’s

it’s a consult where I’m just helping

people kind of design their time line or

you know start if they’re starting to

plan what you know what are the things

they should look at and is that

something a service that I could sell I

can sell it no matter what’s going on

right more of a in purse or a zoom

called contract kind of thing where it

would just be an hourly rate and people

can book that time with me um to looking

at things like that also looking at some

online course type things that that

brides and grooms could buy for me

whether they want to work with me or not

but just different aspects of the

wedding they’re like oh we really are

stuck here or you know an overall

wedding planning course that they could

purchase in an online forum so thinking

business-wise for some of those things

I’ve also had in my head to possibly

expand to other cities and that honestly

has has progressed even more with all of

this because you know one state things

are going really bad and you know you

just don’t know but other states things

are loosening up and are totally fine

and so having that in a way risk

mitigated across the country is good and

bad right there’s you have to learn all

of the protocols and all the regulations

and all the cities but having that has

been a thought and then for me

personally I also it’s looking at

diversifying I’ve had a another business

I have a network marketing business –

and if I hadn’t had that income coming

in during all of this it would have been

a completely different story for me

this you know during this time so I’ve

always heard only stick with one

business and you know put all of your

eggs into one basket and I’ve never been

able to do that I’ve always had these

two things and this year Ellison I was

like

you know that’s been great so I think

it’s it’s looking at those things as

business owners and saying like what how

can I change the services that I offer

to be in a more online format but also

how can I diversify our own portfolio so

that we’re we’re protected no matter

what happens

that’s great points Wow and just so cool

to hear about how you’re almost growing

your business outside of what you

normally do like the education that is

so neat I mean we do I remember planning

my wedding and thank goodness I knew

vendors so Matt how about you what’s in

the future for complete I mean you guys

are a franchise of multi cities and

states which is helpful but I’m kind of

curious big picture for you as Minnesota

goes and then even for complete as a

whole nation oh wow I mean for us

locally I mean we’re always looking just

to do the the best that we can we’re

looking to grow we think this year might

actually not this year necessarily but

next year might be a very great

opportunity for growth because a certain

amount of business is already booked and

we can you know we can move on top of

that and that’s a great opportunity for

us to hire more people and change more

lives that way to something I’m excited

about with which i think is fairly

temporary is you know these guidelines

and restrictions we’re going to have for

the next you know this season and maybe

part of the the next season is that it’s

giving us the opportunity to really

think outside the box and add some new

services that could be very marketable

and very exciting going forward you know

so you know with with the the trivia and

just with different icebreaker

interaction ideas there’s a lot of

things that we see with streamlining

film and being able to actually do good

production with streamlining ceremonies

and conventions and things like that

there’s some things we’ve developed that

I think are going to help us in the

future as add-on services you know and I

still believe it I believe in my heart

that you know be what’s happening is

terrible we need to be care

but it’s not gonna last forever and so

this isn’t you know we’re not going to

be talking about wearing masks you know

a year and a half from now if we are we

have much bigger issues you know so I’m

just I’m hoping hey you know what I’m

looking for and I’m being positive that

things will actually go to a much larger

resemblance of normal than we think at

the moment and so I’m we’re prepared for

that and we’ll be prepared in the future

that does happen but looking forward to

normalcy happening and growth you know

as usual and taking care of some really

great people on some very big days

that’s good to hear it

Matt I enjoyed then you know I work with

complete quite often and you guys have

done a wonderful job taking care of your

clients like really so I think you can

thank you but yes I think how how people

help vendors are handling this situation

is going to propel them forward or

propel the methods you know and I yeah I

think complete is doing a fantastic job

so I think we want to sit back and

complain but it’s not gonna help anyone

or anything so make the right plans

let’s go forward let’s do the right

thing and you know if we’re prepared and

it’s gonna be fine

you know let’s be prepared and if

everything is fine then we’re super

prepared and you know watch all of us be

incredibly successful because of it here

and you know a lot of our audience is

vendors so we’re speaking to them but in

case those audience members are engaged

or are gonna be couples themselves here

soon with an upcoming wedding I’m just

curious if you guys have anything you

want to say directly to them because

what I’m hearing right now and I want to

take words on your is his mouth is that

you’re willing to work with them like

you’re humans they’re human you really

want to make sure their wedding day is

spectacular you know with keeping to

making people are see so you guys have

any words of wisdom for you know couples

that might be listening yeah

yeah I actually had um I had clients

that about a week and a half ago maybe

two weeks ago contacted me and just said

they’re more they’re more day of so

they’re handling a lot of the vendor

communication themselves but they

contacted us to let it let us know like

they’d probably we’re gonna be

postponing or cancelling their wedding

altogether they were having some issues

with the venue and with their caterer

and and they had already talked to a

lawyer and things were height you know

emotions were heightened and I basically

told them I said listen take a breath

understand these vendors want to work

with you like they’re it’s not you

against them they want to work with you

they really will they I know this this

caterer they will work and rearrange

things with you however they can do they

need to protect their business and do

they need to protect the income they

were expecting yes but they will work

with you to try to figure out a solution

that works really well through both

evening and we just got an email earlier

this week that they were able to talk

everything’s back on she was so excited

you know everything she’s like I feel

like it’s we’ve done a 180 you know and

and so my advice is just to be super

honest and super specific for what you

need with from that vendor if they are

able to do it they will do it you know

if they aren’t able to do it it may be

able to meet you somewhere in the middle

that makes it a good arrangement for

both of you but I I think having that

complete transparency and just really

honest conversations with your vendors

is what’s gonna make everybody come

through this situation so much better

that’s really great advice I love that

type of story that testimonial is huge

and that anything you want to say to

clients of people planning their wedding

for this year or next year well I think

I would second what Jenna said

especially for events that are happening

within the next six months you know and

ones that have already been postponed

and canceled and working with them and

we we do we this is what we do and we

love what we do and we want to do it for

that client you know and you know we

have to protect ourselves and you know

and and and and so we’re working with

them and making sure that they

understand that we have their back and

we’re in there for like next year 2021

I’m honestly just kind of like hey you

just got engaged playing wedding and

plan it like you want it to be you know

and we’re not worried about that stuff

right now and in seven or eight months

we’ll have a better picture and if we if

we have to make some adjustments to make

your plans work or change some things

around we’ll do that absolutely

doing this for an entire year and if not

and things are wonderful and great you

know you just had a really great time

you know putting everything together and

you get the day you deserve and you work

for you know and just just think of that

you know you know this is this is some

of the best stuff of human beings it’s

just being able to celebrate with each

other and celebrate big moments in our

lives with the people we love you know

it means more to us than most everything

else you know and I’m not gonna let it

go

so this industry’s gonna stick around

because I’ll have a deejay board in my

car and ready to just do parties I don’t

care

think about the celebrations after all

of this lifts I mean it’s just it’s

gonna be a huge party for everyone I’m

excited about it well you guys are said

party and celebration it just inspires

me to think that we should probably

provide our audience with what our best

social distancing dance must look like

now that we have the space to do the

dance moves we want to do I mean now no

longer pack dance floors we get to have

this thing so I challenge you both to

get out with me here we go did you yeah

we’re gonna do this distance dancing huh

and that’s all we’re gonna get together

again and have events again

now that our heart rates up and our hair

is a little hostile I’m gonna say

goodbye Thank You Jenna and Matt for

being our special panelists today it’s

been so great chatting with you and and

to our audience listening thank you so

much for tuning into our 3rd edition of

our collab web virtual so thank you

again Matt Jenna we are excited to see

what comes out from your guys’s your

stuff everyone have a good day

[Music]

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