Due to social distancing restrictions, many newly-engaged couples have organized "minimonies," microweddings or elopements to celebrate. If you're organizing a wedding during the pandemic, we're here to help. We've put together a guide on how to have a COVID wedding so that you can celebrate safely. With everything from conversations to have with your vendors to creative favors, we'll help you plan an unforgettable (and safe) wedding during this uncertain time.
Here's the good news: you can still have a wedding and celebrate with your loved ones. You and your partner simply need to rethink certain aspects of the wedding to ensure everyone (including you) can stay safe. It may be different than what you originally planned, but Desireé Dent, owner of Dejanae Events, tells us we need to keep things in perspective. "Focus on the love that brought you together and make that love the epicenter of your planning experience," she says. "The celebration will still be just that: a celebration of your love for one another among family and friends. Don't allow masks and hand sanitizer to over-shadow that."
Follow Local (and National) Recommendations
If you're unsure about how to plan a COVID wedding, we suggest looking to local and national recommendations first. They'll offer a framework for you to start building upon. For example, some states are permitting more guests at private events than others.
It's worthwhile to check for updates from the Centers for Disease Control so you can be aware of current recommendations. "All vendors should follow CDC guidelines, and the couple should respect that," Dent says.
Check-In With Your Vendors
Make sure to contact all of your vendors once you're informed of national and local guidelines. Discuss COVID-19 protocols and how they will be implemented day of the wedding, and discuss your role in implementing those measures as a client. Perhaps even consider ways you, the couple, can help your vendors (see below for communication with guests). This responsibility doesn't solely fall on your vendors as it's your wedding and these are your guests, so you should help make sure the event is as safe as possible.
Work With Your Venue
Your venue is one vendor you'll want to work closely with while planning a COVID wedding. Be clear on guest limitations so you don't invite too many people. Talk to the venue about their rules regarding masks indoors and social distancing as well. That way, you can tell your guests exactly what to expect on the wedding day.
Plan the layout of the space to allow for proper social distancing. Work with your event planner or the venue coordinator to determine out how guests can stay six feet away from each other throughout the event. They likely have creative recommendations for this, so be open to their ideas. For example, some venues are setting up socially distanced dance floors and ensuring tables are six feet apart.
Stock Up On PPE
In addition to wearing your own masks, we encourage couples to provide their guests with PPE to keep the event safe. Provide them with masks, hand sanitizer, gloves or any other protective equipment they might want or need. That way, everyone is doing their part to stay safe (and your vendors don't have to worry about providing your guests with extra materials). "Custom masks are a great option to give guests as they enter the building," Price says. "Couples can also provide a custom sanitizing station: hand sanitizer infused with lavender and mint will get rid of that stinky alcohol smell and keep everyone germ-free."
Get Creative With Catering
Your caterer is another vendor to stay in close contact with. Talk about the ways they'll be making mealtime as safe as possible (servers wearing masks and gloves, for example). The buffet meal you originally planned might have to be adjusted, but that's OK. Talk to your vendor about the options available so that you and your loved ones can enjoy a lovely meal together—safely.
There are so many lovely wedding traditions: the receiving line, the late-night dance party, the family pictures. However, these popular events don't coincide with social distancing guidelines, which means you'll need to rethink them. Perhaps in lieu of hugs at your receiving line, your guests can give cards. Or, you can create mini dance floors so everyone can jam out to their favorite songs from a safe distance.
"I am fully aware that couples want to celebrate with their wedding guests, but they must remain vigilant," Dent says. "This deadly virus still exists, and I'm sure they do not want to hear of anyone getting sick after their celebration. Understand that this 'new normal' for weddings will not continue forever, but if you are hosting a wedding during this time, additional precautions and protocols will be required."
Call for Backup If Necessary
If you're still worried some guests might not respect your wishes on your wedding day, consider calling in for backup. Whether it be a wedding planner, venue coordinator or security team, ask someone to keep an eye on the guests. If there's someone breaking social distancing or refusing to wear a mask, perhaps this person can remind the guest of the expectations or politely ask them to leave the venue. That way, you don't have to stress about confronting people on your wedding day.
Show Grace to Your Guests
Coronavirus is a serious health concern for many people. Even if they specifically may not be at risk, they might be living with someone who is or come in contact with someone who is (like their parents, who they're grocery shopping for). Rather than pressuring guests (or members of your wedding party) to attend, go out of your way to tell them that they don't have to attend if they don't feel comfortable. They will appreciate how considerate it is of you to start that conversation. Know that your guests all wish to celebrate with you, but the pandemic is a unique circumstance. If they're unable to attend, make sure you tell them you understand and that you can't wait to celebrate together when it's safe.