• Raina

Love in the Time of COVID - Post Coronavirus Weddings & What to Expect

Weddings worldwide have been postponed thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic. While we are accustomed to sharing handshakes and hugs during milestones and celebrations, with the entire world maintaining social distancing, this may not be the only change we can expect to see with future weddings.

Our ‘new normal’ for celebrating will likely be more intimate with emphasis on top-notch hygiene standards as well as contactless services to limit risks and ensure safety. Couples who plan to celebrate their weddings during the latter half of this year are already altering their ceremony and reception plans.

Unfortunately, as it is with everything in relation to the Coronavirus, there seem to be far more unknowns than absolute knowns. As states begin to reopen, you may wondering what the possibilities are for having your wedding post-pandemic. If you choose to proceed, and we certainly hope you opted to postpone rather than cancel...here are our top tips for guest safety.


GUEST COUNT

Even as the world begins to slowly reopen, there are limits in place on how many people can gather together safely in one location. Not to mention that your guests may feel ill at ease being in a crowd of 100 people they don’t know. Many of these guidelines are contingent upon your venue, as some have a lower or higher capacity. Also to consider, is your venue a restaurant or literally a rental space that permits you to bring in your own vendors, as this will also provide an entirely different set of post-COVID rules to follow. From what we have been able to discern, if your venue has a “restaurant”, they can follow the guidelines that are in place for those establishments. However, if your venue is just an empty rental space where you bring in a catering service, then you are bound to the “group gathering” guidelines.

We have been advising our late-summer and fall 2020 clients to prepare for an altered guest list. If they opt to wed this year they may need to consider a guest count of around 50 guests, in a mini wedding or micro wedding format, or a guest list that is only at 25% of the fire marshall capacity of their venue.

Now, it’s a whole other thing if you decide that you actually WANT a smaller guest count. I can tell you this...my sister had 250 guests at her wedding, and she always said that she wished she had invited fewer people. I can assure you, you can still have an amazing wedding if you keep it small! In fact, it can be even more amazing, because you can spend more of your budget on decor and details! Not to mention, a reduced guest count increased the amount of quality time you get to spend with each guest giving everything a more intimate feel.


LAYOUT

In this post-pandemic era, people will be eager to socialize again, however, they are going to be skeptical about attending mass gatherings. In such a world full of heightened cautiousness, wedding planners and couples alike need to take all precautionary measures while organizing mass gatherings...especially weddings. An open-air or outdoor wedding means plenty of space, which could help people maintain physical distancing as compared to an indoor wedding. Furthermore, a well-thought-out seating arrangement is essential to reduce risks. Venues should organize bigger tables with limited seating to maintain distance between people. For instance, a table for 10 should be assigned to 5 guests only.

We now have the “6 feet apart” rule engrained into our day-to day comings and goings. With post-Coronavirus weddings, this is going to be a big factor, however, another benefit of a reduced guest count is that spreading your reception tables out will be a easier now. Where a venue might have been considered too large for a small guest count wedding, we now need all the extra square footage to allow for people to move throughout a space with proper distancing. New floor plans that group households together at a table for example. Also, for your ceremony, rather than rows upon rows of chairs, groupings of lovely soft seating, where families can sit together would be a fun alternative. Remember, just because its not what is expected doesn't mean it can't also be a fun and creative alternative! This is where having a wedding planner is such a great benefit because we can handle figuring all of this out for you!

FOOD

It’s no secret that weddings, and their budgets, revolve around food and drinks. At a post-pandemic wedding, some of the expected food and drink aspects will need to be altered for safety. For example, a single bar area is not the best idea, as it is potential place for gathering. Consider having your drinks passed by servers during cocktail hour (this would be a great opportunity for having a signature drink) and have several bars set up during the reception to reduce lines and large gatherings.

While some couples may still opt for a buffet, we highly recommend that you take precautionary measures such as having one designated server assigned to serve each dish each at the buffet to avoid guests coming into contact with the cutlery. A side benefit of this also happens to be that the buffet lines will move through much quicker and your buffet will remain far tidier as a result. Needless to say, if you do offer a buffet-style service, we recommend a line marking to maintain six feet of distance between people as they wait.

Opting for family-style entrees or sides served directly to the table is another way to ensure the safety of your guests. This eliminates the buffet line entirely where people tend to gather in close proximity at weddings.

And finally seated dinners, which aren't always the norm, is likely the safest option. Having each meal plated in a controlled environment and brought directly to the table by a server in a mask and gloves is the utmost way to take precautions with your guests health and safety.

RECEPTION

With restrictions on how many people can gather in a location, this may be a little difficult for the typical reception activities, like cocktail hour and dancing. It is because of that, we have been seeing a trend of more ceremony only weddings, where couples are postponing their reception for a later date when guests can more freely gather in large groups and close together.But don't feel badly for those couples opting to do this. The concept of a dinner-party style wedding reception is super trendy right now. Plus, they have the added benefit of being able to continue the celebration of their love by throwing a party later on!

The benefits of a dinner-party style reception would mean that you could have “servers” coming to your tables, just like at a restaurant for top level attention to your guests truly making them feel pampered. By adding some softer instrumental music during dinner to encourage conversation you will still have a party atmosphere and then following the meal, your first dance and parent dances, and don't forget dessert!

IMPECCABLE HYGIENE STANDARDS

Right from the entry to exit, venues need to place hand sanitizers at every point. Guests should be able to sanitize their hands on arrival and have access to cleaning and protective equipment throughout the building or venue space. If this is something that your venue does not readily offer, they can be rented from many of the local party supply companies, such as Southern Events Party Rentals. Be sure to also check that your venue has one specifically dedicated person who will be diligently disinfecting the restroom spaces during the course of your event who will also keep the paper goods stocked and the trash from overflowing.

Apart from venue hygiene, even makeup artists and photographers documenting the wedding will have a certain new procedures that they will follow. To ensure that the bride feels safe, makeup artists and hairstylists will wear masks and sanitize their products. In many cases, for an additional fee, you can even request that they only use disposable brushes. With regards to photographers, you may prefer a smaller team to cover the wedding. Additionally, as weddings are set to be more intimate, a large team won’t be as necessary at this current stage.


EXTRAS

There will likely be a few “extras” with post-Coronavirus weddings, too, such as optional masks for guests but masks and gloves required for all service providers. In some cases we have even heard that couples have been asking for temperature checks upon arrival for all in attendance. Custom masks, sanitizing areas that are at high tops with matching linens and flowers, and even custom labels to match your wedding are a great way to dress up these modern day necessities.

In addition to all these changes, we do appreciate that there will be more technology involved at weddings now to allow elderly relatives to safely "attend." For example, having “streaming stations” set up with Pioplay Livestream, so that the people who are unable to attend your wedding in person can still be there to see and hear what’s happening. Technology is pretty great nowadays- use it to your advantage! 

Don’t be afraid to ask your vendors if you have an idea for something or if they have any suggestions for what you can do to make your guests and the people working at your wedding feel more comfortable. Its a difficult time, but we are all in this together. Planning a post-pandemic wedding is definitely stressful. The best and certainly easiest way to get through this troubling time is to hire a wedding planner. After all, it’s times like these that are the REASON why you hire a planner!