Reunion Planning Post Pandemic: Interview with Event Experts Rick Voight and Edith Wagner

Rick Voight and Edith Wagner are the publisher and editor of “Reunions Magazine” who know "How to Plan a Reunion Post Pandemic."

Rick Voight is the publisher of “Reunions Magazine”, who loves family and friends, and Edith Wagner is the editor, a well-respected event planning expert who knows a thing or two about How to Plan a Reunion Post Pandemic. As the world starts to open up post Covid, reunions are gaining popularity and this activity requires a lot of planning. “Reunions” magazine just published its June 2021 Quarterly Edition that provides lots of great information to help plan a safe reunion, the article can be read here:

Rick and Edith recently discussed ways to plan for such events via an exclusive interview.

Meagan Meehan (MM): Why are reunions of such interest to you?

Rick Voight (RV): Reunions are times/events that reconnect people. These events can be with family (family reunions) and friends (the most common being academic and military reunions) – where people shared a common activity and wish to stay “connected”. Our desire to remain in contact with others is a wonderful part of humanity.

MM: When did you first realize that you wanted to get into publishing?

RV: My reason for acquiring “Reunions” magazine isn’t born from wanting to get into publishing. It’s because I want to help people remain connected – to reminisce about the past, catch-up, and make new memories.

MM: What are some of the biggest things to consider when planning a reunion?

RV: Probably the most important thing is to plan activities that will please everyone. And, since everyone may not enjoy doing the same things all the time, to provide options so that all have a good time. The same is true of food – whether for the reunion or as it relates to activities. As an example, if the participants have dietary needs/desires, these options need to be provided. Similarly, everyone doesn’t want to “swim” – so providing options for folks will help everyone to enjoy themselves… I guess it’s part of “the spice of life!”

ReunionsMM: How had Covid complicated this activity?

RV: Covid disrupted physical contact. To overcome this, as individuals we connected through electronic means (Zoom, Teams, etc.). The same is true of reunions – folks met in safe, virtual ways – and are now reconnecting physically, as well as with hybrid reunions.

MM: What are some of the most unique reunions and reunion activities you’ve seen?

Edith Wagner: Some African American families have gone to the plantation of the family’s origin and in some cases have met with the descendants of their slave owners. Celebration of ethnicity comes in many forms. It gives elders the opportunity to share history and all generations to share traditions and particularly food special to the ethnicity. Multiple ethnicities in one family make it even more interesting when they all have a chance to share their particular specialties. Talent shows give members an opportunity to highlight their talents from professional entertainers to the smallest members showing off their ballerina and piano skills. Who better than family to cheer loudest regardless of the talent? More and more reunions of all kinds are taking cruises. It relieves the planner of many details a land-based reunion would require. Reunions for many groups foster travel to new and sometimes exotic places. Others convene at the same place such as the farm originally settled by the family over a century ago. Themes provide reunions focus for celebrating. A very popular one for summer reunions is Christmas in July where they celebrate a holiday few have the opportunity to be together except at a reunion. All aspects of the holiday are included: decorations, food, visits from Santa. Religious celebrations are the focus of many reunions often incorporating multiple religions so share with all members.

MM: What’s the best advice you can offer to people who are planning a reunion?

EW: Don’t do it alone. If the reunion consists of many branches and generations, involve as many people as possible in planning. Many reunions have committees who meet regularly to stay on top of details. Give yourself enough time. Starting a year in advance is not too soon. For a new, never before happened reunion, two years might be better. So many details to consider and to lock down so an early start is essential.

MM: What has been the best thing about working in the publishing industry so far?

ReunionsRV: By far, what has been best is folks desire to be with friends and family – and the sharing that occurs throughout our community. As reunions occur, people share their experiences and good ideas – they share these ideas with us – and we share across the Reunions community. It’s a very giving community – and a lovely place to spend time, with wonderful people.

MM: What projects are coming up for you soon and is there anything else that you would like to discuss?

RV: Since reminiscing is done at most reunions, we’re going to be explaining more ways to do this: through photographs, connecting those who are unable to travel, and also to help our senior population continue to enjoy reunions – whether through hybrid/Zoom activities or helping younger people understand some of the memory challenges that older folks sometimes have.