To have and to hold and socially distance from your guests: COVID Wedding Guidelines
As couples worldwide face love in the time of Corona, taking appropriate actions and navigating this ever-evolving situation can prove to be challenging. Weddings & Events by Raina is here for you through the ups and downs of planning during a pandemic, and we will continue to update you on all things related to weddings and COVID-19 as new information is available.
There are already a great many things to think about when planning your wedding, regardless of when your date falls on the calendar, but when it happens to be in the middle of a global pandemic, you might be wondering how you can plan ahead to be prepared.
Here are the precautions weddings might say “I do” to for the rest of 2020 if you're continuing to plan a wedding in 2020 :
Follow CDC Guidelines
If If you have your date and venue set, pay attention to what the experts (CDC) are saying and heed their advice. Pay close attention to what venues are allowed to do and how you can make sure your guests are safe.
Expect a Smaller Guest Count
It’s important to be aware of your guests’ travel plans, and understand if some guests choose not to attend the wedding or any pre-wedding event. They love you and want to be there to celebrate with you, but health reasons or COVID concerns may keep them home.
Consider Food & Beverage Minimums
Some caterers require a food and beverage minimum. If this is the case, you might have a difficult time meeting these minimums due to your lower guest count. Speak with your caterer or venue to make sure you understand their policies on cancellation, any fees that might come into play and what options you have to make up any missing food and beverage minimums. In the same vein, if you find that you have to change your date, before you sign your new contract or an addendum, see if your venue/caterer is willing to lower the food and beverage minimum to help protect your investment in the case of another drop in the guest count even on your postponement date.
Keep Your Guests Informed
To help guests feel safe and in the know, communicate with them in advance of the wedding celebrations. Incorporate more details on your mailed invitations like inserts featuring heath and safety information, let them know to check your wedding website for regular updates and definitely include a list of frequently asked questions. For this page on your wedding website, we recommend details on accommodations like hotel blocks, day-of transportation, and any new health and safety precautions that will be incorporated into your wedding festivities. For anyone who has already sent out invitations, we recommend posting a quick note or update on your FAQ page with any new information you may have...or a simply reassure them with a message that lets guests know you're monitoring the situation closely. If you haven’t printed your invitations, ask your stationer about the option to pay for rush printing so you can hold off until the very last second. We also highly recommend that you design your invitations with a line that requests your guests’ email address for any major changes. Be sure to also direct them to your wedding website so they won't keep texting you for updated information. Communication with guests is key right now!
Design Locally With Available Product
The current climate has made it considerably difficult on florists to obtain fresh flowers depending on where they are sourced as they are primarily shipped from Holland, Ecuador, and South America. That said, consider discussing backup plans for certain blooms and select a design that makes the most of locally sourced products to produce the desired look for your special day.
While sanitizing products did not used to be a staple of modern wedding décor, health and safety measures can be incorporated into your wedding day in creative ways. Putting a personalized touch to these measures will go a long way in normalizing the incorporation into weddings and keeping the positive, fun spirit of a wedding intact. Stylizing bottles of hand sanitizer as wedding favors or even having waitstaff pass out mini bottles of Purell on silver trays like passed appetizers can be a fun way to incorporate this modern necessity. Or even creating personalized hand-sanitizing wipes in petite packages with guests' names on them so people can sanitize as soon as they sit down for dinner truly normalizes these measures while putting guests minds at ease.
Masks & Gloves The typical wedding favors, candles, candies or mini bottles of Tennessee whisky are now being swapped for masks and hand sanitizer. Couples may offer gloves and masks to guests in colors or patterns that coordinate with the wedding decor, and even adopt formal gloves as a fashion accessory for their wedding day look. Historically, gloves have been seen as an elegant and timeless fashion accessory, which some couples have natively adopted with handshakes in mind. Vendors will likely be required to wear personal protective equipment, especially those who are serving guests, such as catering staff and bartenders.
Dinner Service While great food and delicious drinks are still at the top of the list for most couples, however, how things are served will now have to follow stringent safety precautions. If you aren't opting for plated meals in lieu of the buffet, may we suggest a bultered buffet, where the buffet staff is lined up in masks and gloves behind the buffet ready to serve. We suggest either requiring guests to wear masks when approaching the buffet or setting up a separate table where a server will "take their order" and go through the buffet line safely on their behalf. The health and safety of guests is of utmost importance. Communicate to guests the measures being put into place in advance and emphasize that by following the guidelines, they're showing love and respect to themselves and others in attendance.
Open Air and Add On Options
We have been working closely with many of our couples and their venues to stage socially distant, yet creative, ceremony and reception groupings for guests. If you haven't selected your venue, yet, we suggest incorporating open-air or outdoor element to their celebration to eliminate the feeling of confinement for your guests. For those who have chosen their venue already, be intentional with regards to who you’re inviting, making sure that you are grouping the same guests together at both the ceremony and reception for a level of added safety.
Socially Distanced Ceremonies Shorter wedding ceremonies with standing room, allowing guests to be as close or far to others as they feel comfortable as well as an area for those who prefer to have a seat is becoming more of the norm. This enables ceremony venues to more easily accommodate social distancing with spaced-seating arrangements. And don't forget to respect the safety of your wedding officiant. Stand a bit further away from them during the ceremony while also spacing out your wedding party for overall safety of everyone involved.
Receiving Line vs. Gesture Line While greeting each guest is traditional etiquette for newly married couples and their family members, we suggest that in lieu of this age old tradition, couples put a unique spin on contactless greetings. This could be something casual and playful like a contemporary “gesture line” filled with winks, waves and good wishes.
Satellite Stations Dancing will still be a part of weddings, but we suggest you explore the idea of satellite dance floors and satellite bars to provide more than one space to party or refresh your drink. This not only serves as a health and safety precaution, but it also allows guests maintain distance while exploring other entertainment options throughout the evening. Some of our favorite alternatives are the incorporation of outdoor elements into the event such as small, lounge furniture vignettes or a tented outdoor site along with an indoor ballroom creating an open-air terrace allowing couples and their guests to spread out more than usual.
Quarantine Minimonies: Marry Now, Celebrate Later
While in quarantine, many couples have got creative with ways to honor their original wedding date by often getting married before their rescheduled celebration mini-ceremony, also known as a “minimony.” A minimony is when a couple choses to celebrating their wedding ceremony intimately between the two of them or with a very small group of loved ones. Minimonies don’t take the place of a couple’s postponed wedding celebration, however, they are often a cathartic way for couples to honor their original wedding date during this unprecedented time. We highly recommend that you lean on your Weddings & Events by Raina wedding planner for guidance to help bring your “minimony” to life. We are helping couples coordinate by organizing all the details with their selected vendors, such as their cake artist to create a “mini” version of their wedding cake, their florist to create a mini version of the bouquet and the wedding photographer to capture all the lovely memories they share during the minimony. Often couples will post photos of the minimony as a sneak peek for guests of what’s to come during the later celebration.
Livestreaming Live streaming wedding celebrations for loved ones who may be uncomfortable traveling or being in large crowds is a great alternative for them to safely celebrate your love. These guests will also be more likely to take a digital approach to gifting for weddings and showers as well, so fire up those registry guns and keep items on your lists up to date!
I Do, Take 2 Love, in the time of COVID, means that sequel weddings are gaining in popularity as well. Couples who want to celebrate with all those nearest and dearest to them safely have been opting for a second ceremony paired with their larger-scale celebration that follows their more intimate minimony or microwedding. This concept of an "I do, take two," allows you to still bring your wedding vision to life and celebrate with all their guests at a later, safer date.
Microweddings Due to unpredictable lifting of social-distancing restrictions, many couples turn to us to assist in planning their microweddings. These intimate celebrations, known for their reduced guest lists, truly create a one-of-a-kind experience with couples splurging on elements like a top-shelf open bar, a decadent sit-down dinner, or outside-the-box guest entertainment. Nearly all of our couples who host microweddings also choose to host a larger celebration the following year with the rest of the guests on their list.
Weekday Weddings Many couples, thankfully are being flexible when it comes to their postponement dates. Rescheduling their wedding date to ensure their full vendor team is available for the new, rescheduled date, often means the possibility of a Thursday wedding. Fridays are the most popular, of course, followed by Sundays, but Thursday is certainly seeing a lot more love these days. Plus, it is still convenient as an extension of the weekend for both destination and local guests.
Multi Weddings Utilize all of your previously planned events such as your rehearsal dinner, ceremony, reception and wedding brunch to host multiple celebrations. Invite different groups of guests to each event to enjoy the festivities with all your guests over a span of an entire weekend instead of just one day, allowing for lengthier events and larger guest counts.
Alternative Guest Entertainment Couples who have been planning with precautions in mind for limiting close quarters might want to consider alternative guest entertainment options they can enjoy at a safe distance. Some of the ones we've seen that have been real crowd pleasers are the ever popular "Shoe Game," bar style trivia run by your emceeing DJ, live musical performances by the groom and his band (we are in Nashville, after all), having a rave style 'silent disco' so guests can celebrate as they spread out at a safe distance, having a string quartet perform on the during dinner, offering a caricature station with a cartoon artist to draw guests with different scenes from the wedding incorporated, a live event painter working against the clock, a Cirque du Soleil style performance, fire dancers, or even carefully interactive magic show during dinner followed by a collaborative dessert display at the end the evening.
Wedding Planning Continues in a Social-Distancing World For couples planning weddings for 2021 and beyond, there are a few things to keep in mind. First, wedding planning is still very much able to happen right now and can easily be done in the comfort of your own home. Many vendors are conducting virtual appointments and are getting to know couples just as easily as they would in person. Couples can take virtual venue tours, try on wedding dresses, bridesmaid dresses, suits and tuxedos at home, enjoy home-delivered catering tastings, peruse albums from photographers and videographers, and read reviews on all vendors they’re looking to book for their day. Couples, venues and wedding professionals are all working together during this time to assure that weddings can proceed safely, while still maintaining a beautiful and fun environment that our couples have always dreamed of. Just remember, you're not alone right now. So many couples have been impacted, countless weddings have been postponed, and we know it's a challenging time for you and for all the couples impacted by this pandemic. It’s still your wedding, the most important day in your life, but the last thing you want is your celebration is to make people sick, so celebrate, but please be safe.