In March of 2020, the coronavirus changed our lives drastically in the United States. COVID-19 hit and it hit hard. I suffered personal losses of loved ones with so many others in the world. But, in the midst of so much devastation, I kept thinking, “there has to be some good to come out of this.” I started thinking about what I could do to lift people’s spirits, including my own. I turned to what I love, which is to plan events and weddings. Since outside was closed, I started to share pictures and videos on social media of when outside was open (click here to see). This reminded me of how important it is to have a great photographer and videographer. They are worth the investment because the final product helps us to experience the celebration and all the “feels” again and again. It's priceless.
So, on my visual and verbal journey to “spread JOY” during this difficult time, I had an amazing opportunity to help celebrate the accomplishments of an awesome 2020 high school graduate from Jackson, Mississippi. Miss Kamilah Soleil Brown is on her way to study the viola at the prestigious Oberlin Conservatory this Fall and her parents, Jeff and Yoluanda wanted to celebrate her “in” community. The coronavirus did not want us to be great, but I was determined to find a way. I shared with Yoluanda that I figured out a way for us to do it being “COVID compliant” and she immediately said “Yes, let’s do it!” We had exactly 4 weeks to make it happen. Since I could not travel to be with them on site, we aligned on the platforms we would use to connect with each other and to track our progress throughout the planning, designing and coordination stages. We were set.
So, with Yoluanda in Jackson, MS and I in Brooklyn, NY, we planned a fabulous No-Contact and Virtual College Trunk Party that included 3 live performances from Kamilah on the viola and 1 private Zoom party. The “stage” for her live performance was set with beautiful organic balloon garlands installed outside their home. Complimenting Kamilah’s “stage” were garden lawn signs and hanging banners that congratulated the 2020 graduate and pointed all eyes in her direction. We also designed a table dedicated to Kamilah’s journey and another table with special favor bags for guests who attended.
To help guests socially distance while attending the event in person, custom lawn signs were created and positioned in front of the Brown’s home for “Car #1,” “Car #2,” etc., to line up and have great seats in their cars for Kamilah's performance (click here to see). We coordinated a site survey in advance of the big day for a sound technician to determine the right equipment needed for guests to clearly hear Kamilah perform live up to 60 feet away. After each of Kamilah’s beautiful 10 minute performances, guests were directed one car at a time, to exit their vehicle and stand on the “X” marked in the walkway. At this safe distance, Kamilah could be seen standing behind them on stage for the photographer to get “group shots” of guests with Kamilah and no one touching. It was a great success! Our guest of honor was pleased, Jeff and Yoluanda were happy and guests expressed great joy for being invited to the celebration. One guest told Yoluanda, “This made my entire day.” I was beyond proud as I attended and coached virtually. Later that night, the Browns hosted a private family Zoom celebration with loved ones who couldn’t be there in person. The private celebration included dinner delivered from a favorite local restaurant and cake to top off the sweetness of the day.
Here's what Yoluanda had to say about her experience planning this celebration.
Tell us why it was important for you to plan your special celebration during this time?
To honor a wonderful, talented, scholarly young lady who has worked very hard. To celebrate her accomplishments. To allow others to recognize and celebrate her. To allow her to share her gifts.
What part of your celebration was most special to you?
The concert. Watching our guests enjoy her music.
What was it like working with Suzette virtually? What was it like working with the event Team?
I enjoyed working with Suzette so much because she is super organized and handles things down to the detail. She has great ideas and vision beyond what I could see and envision. She is super responsive and follows up as she promises. She is resourceful even across the miles finding vendors and sources that allowed me peace of mind and took things off my to-do list. Very personable, easy to talk to, like talking to an old friend.
Would you recommend Envisioned Events by Suzette to others? If so or if not, why?
Absolutely because of the level of warm and homey professionalism. Delivered on what she promised and was able to give good advice, support, and had the experience to know what would and would not work.
Thank you so much Yoluanda for trusting us with such a special celebration in your family’s life. It was an honor and a pleasure to collaborate with you and I am most happy that we were able to celebrate Kamilah safely and JOYfully. Wishing Kamilah nothing but the best. Go Class of 2020!