For couples who were looking forward to a spring wedding in 2020, COVID-19 has postponed dates and created uncertainty. Some have moved their date to the fall or pushed the wedding all the way back to 2021. Although we’re optimistic about getting back to normal, 2020 couples who are rescheduling to late 2020-2021 or newly engaged couples planning for late 2020-2021 may still need to consider how the virus could potentially affect their plans. As we try to adjust to a new normal post COVID-19, we know there are some additional factors you should consider as you plan your wedding. Follow these tips to plan your wedding with COVID-19 in mind.
Limit Wedding Size
There are some indications that the government will continue to limit gatherings to 50 to 100 people. You will want to take this into account when planning your guest list. Consider planning a smaller, more intimate wedding. Realistically, many friends and family, especially those who are in high-risk categories and/or will have to travel to attend, may not be willing to take the risk. You can help keep them safe and still allow them to be present and participate by live-streaming the event.
Some couples anxious to tie the knot are planning “mini-monies” in the near future for an intimate ceremony of 10-25 guests. After the mini-mony, couples may plan for a larger celebration/reception later in 2020 or sometime in 2021.
Consider Logistics of Social Distancing
Even with a reduced guest list, you may have to spread out tables and think about the layout and foot traffic of your wedding and ceremony. Any indoor area should provide adequate room and airflow. Wedding venues should be able to help you with solutions that will address these concerns.
Whenever possible, take your activities outside, which will naturally provide more space and air circulation. It is also important to provide plenty of handwashing stations and hand sanitizer in all areas of the venue, not just the bathrooms.
Communicate with Guests
As you put together your guest list, make sure that you have mailing addresses and email addresses for everyone. This will allow you to send formal invitations, but also quickly send updates as circumstances change. For example, if the government guidelines are updated, you can easily communicate with guests so that everyone can make the necessary adjustments.
Email is also the easiest way to share links to live streaming services that will allow guests to watch the ceremony remotely. The Knot and WeddingWire also provide couples with convenient communication tools that can help you update guests. However, if you use one of these services, you will want to let guests know that they may be receiving messages from the site and to be sure to read the information.
Work with Caterers
Caterers are implementing new safety protocols when it comes to foodservice. Instead of family-style meals and self-serve buffets, plated meals and server-attended buffets and stations will likely be the new norm. Individual canned sodas, bottled water, and other beverages will replace bulk water and ice tea. Also, the wedding cake will be served directly to guests rather than placing out desserts for self-service. (Unfortunately, this means guest stations like self-serve candy bars and taco stations should probably be put on hold for the time being.) Finally, bartenders will also take certain precautions such as using sneeze guards and other serving strategies to minimize contact with guests.
Pay Special Attention to Photography and Videography
Since you may have to limit your guest list and some guests won’t be able to attend, it is important to make sure you have an excellent photography and videography team in place. This will help you capture and share the event so that everyone feels included. For guests who want to tune in and see the ceremony as it unfolds, live streaming can be a great option. Your videographer may also be able to create a shareable link so that guests who couldn’t attend can see the highlights.
Carefully Plan Entertainment
Activities and attractions such as dancing, yard games, and photo booths have become wedding staples. These are great ways for guests to have fun and interact. You may be able to continue to incorporate these activities, but you may have to make adjustments and get creative to ensure maximum safety. Perhaps the number of dancers on the floor will be limited and disinfectant wipes can be strategically placed near your photo booth and/or games to sanitize surfaces between guests.
Limit Contact with Shared Objects
Be aware of high contact surfaces and do your best to limit the need for multiple guests to handle the same items. For example, there is usually only one pen at the guest registry, which means that guests will all be handling the same pen. As a safer alternative, you can provide a “clean pen” and “used pen” container so that everyone can still sign their name and include well-wishes while also limiting contact with shared objects. Maybe you could offer pens with the wedding couple’s name or initials, provide each guest a pen to use, then allow guests to keep the pen as a keepsake/favor.
Foregoing the traditional programs is another way to limit contact with shared objects. Instead of printing and handing out individual programs, you can use chalkboards or other signage to post a timeline and names of speakers.
Instead of handing out party favors, you can have them mailed directly to the guests’ homes. Another option is to skip the favors altogether and make a donation to your favorite charity in honor of your guests.
All of these techniques will improve safety and hygiene without putting a damper on the day’s festivities.
Guest Seating Arrangements
Instead of placing seats close together and having guests scoot down rows to find a seat, consider having guests stand during the ceremony. This will allow everyone to stand a comfortable distance from each other. If you use this approach, be mindful of the length of the ceremony and be sure to provide seating for anyone who may not be able to stand for an extended period. You may also consider providing reserved seating upfront for immediate family.
For the reception, it may be wise to assign seating based on household to limit close contact with individuals outside of guests’ typical social circle. Instead of using individualized escort cards, setting up a sign with a seating chart can eliminate the need to touch additional surfaces and will still provide a pretty display.
Provide Gentle Reminders
By now, extra hand washing and sanitizing have probably become second nature to you and your guests, but you will still want to provide reminders about best safety practices. Strategically place signage throughout the venue to remind guests of the extra precautions you are taking to keep everyone safe so that they can do their part.
There is no way to know exactly what the new norm will be after COVID-19, but it is possible to take what we do know and use that information to plan your wedding with everyone’s health and safety in mind. As circumstances continue to change, it is important to communicate with your guests and remain flexible. You can still enjoy a beautiful and special wedding day surrounded by your loved ones if you are willing to adapt and do things just a little bit differently.
For more suggestions about how to handle your wedding planning during the COVID-19 pandemic, contact the experts at the Rand-Bryan House. Not only do we offer a gorgeous venue that can accommodate a wide range of needs, but we also have the experience to help you find the right vendors and organize all the details of your big day. We look forward to hearing from you.