By Kaitlin Parisi (Adrian College senior, communications major)
ADRIAN – The COVID-19 pandemic has brought many events to a halt, but it hasn’t stopped Adrian College’s Office of Conferences from continuing to make that special day a reality for a number of engaged couples. Many couples around the world had to either postpone or cancel their wedding plans because of the pandemic. However, from Adrian College’s Commencement Plaza to Herrick Chapel to the Boathouse, that special wedding day has taken place despite the State of Michigan’s gathering restrictions.
The office of conferences offers some of the best venues in the area, according to Lenawee County residents. Adrian College was recently nominated for best “Wedding Venue” in the Daily Telegram’s Best of Lenawee for 2020 and finished as a finalist right behind Hidden Lake Gardens.
“We were just thrilled to have been nominated and voted a winner this year,” said Adrian College Director of Conferences, DeAnne Lewin. “We are going to do everything we can to be the very best wedding venue in Lenawee County next year!”
Many of the engaged couples have said what makes Adrian College a great location for a wedding is its stunning campus, the manicured grass, renovated buildings, a dedicated staff and of course, all of the beautiful pink flowers.
The challenges brought on by the pandemic have created many obstacles, but many good things have come out of them. Shawn and Ashley Skelly of Adrian had a small intimate wedding on the College’s Trustee Terrace in July. Ashley said their experience was “smooth and easy.”
“Lewin was a huge help in getting everything together for us behind the scenes,” Ashley said. “The pastor was very informative throughout the way with all the ceremony details and the flow and success of our day was all due to them.”
The Skelly’s decided with everything going on it was best to keep the wedding limited to family and close friends only with no reception to follow.
Lewin, runs a tight ship from coordinating and administering academic year events to a Summer Conference Program. Specifically, this summer Lewin and Amanda Briggs, the assistant director, didn’t give up on couples who were already scheduled to get married on campus. While following the recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and the Lenawee County Health Department, and taking precautions to ensure the safety of not only the wedding party, but the faculty, staff and students as a whole, they persisted to carry on with the weddings.
Pat DuMont, manager of the catering services on campus, also plays a big role. Standing in this position for 15 years, she has never experienced anything like this pandemic, however the partnership between her and Lewin has played a key role in making sure everything runs smoothly. Catering service on campus takes care of school events, as well as community events, including weddings.
“We are here to take care of our customers and at the end of the day that’s the bottom line and we are really proud of it,” DuMont said.
Both DuMont and Lewin give each other high praises for what they have endured through the summer, and their abilities to work strongly as a team to make the weddings a success.
Out of the 22 weddings the Office of Conferences had scheduled in 2020; six of them have rescheduled to come back in 2021, 12 canceled and the remaining four were held outdoors on the campus of Adrian College. Several of the couples who cancelled called Lewin to check the schedule for 2021 and 2022.
Following Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s orders and the recommendations of the Lenawee County Health Department, Conferences could only allow 10 people inside for gatherings at that time. Lewin has been encouraging outdoor events to abide by the orders set in place.
“Responses have been positive to this change,” Lewin said. “Adrian College is certainly one of the most eye-catching venues you can come across. The campus makes for lasting memories and beautiful photos to look back on.”
While there have been many positives with scheduling weddings on campus, there were also some challenges. One of the obstacles Conferences faced was trying to keep up with all of the cancelations and rescheduling. Prior to Briggs being hired in July, Lewin was flying solo. While a lot of positions slowed and/or came to a halt, she was still busy.
Another challenge for Lewin was having to share bad news with the couples when gathering restrictions were tightened.
“The biggest challenge was to see the hurt, their disappointed faces and the tears that followed.” Lewin said, adding that, “in the end they knew it wasn’t the college’s fault, but the pandemic that has turned the world upside down.
“That’s why it was so gratifying when we were able to host a wedding and see the smiling faces of the couples, their family and friends,” Lewin said. “We helped create a positive lasting memory that these couples will cherish and reflect on for years to come.”
For more information on Adrian College’s Office of Conferences or to schedule an event/wedding on campus visit https://www.adriancollegeconferences.com.