In 2020, COVID-19 forced a huge percentage of engaged couples to postpone their weddings and adjust their wedding planning timeline—with many pushing their save the dates into 2021, in the hopes that the Covid-19 pandemic would be under better control, and that it would be safer for them to bring their loved ones together to celebrate their “I dos.”
With the loosening of Covid-19 restrictions for a private event and the Covid-19 vaccine rollout in full swing, it looks like weddings will be safer in the coming months. But, if you’re on the guestlist for a wedding (or multiple weddings!) in the near future, or you’re in the middle of your own wedding planning, you probably have some questions on how things are going to play out—both with the vaccine and at the actual event.
Do you need to get vaccinated before you attend any weddings? What safety precautions will you need to take wedding venues? And how do you interact with other guests who may or may not be vaccinated—but aren’t taking the same safety precautions that you are?
Let’s take a look at everything you need to know about guests, weddings, and vaccinations in 2021:
The COVID-19 vaccine is optional; no one can force you to get vaccinated. But, if you’re attending weddings this year, chances are, the couples are at least going to ask.
According to a recent survey from Zola and Modern Fertility, more than half of the survey respondents (52.8 percent) said they wanted the majority of their wedding guests to get the Covid-19 vaccine before their big day.
After sending out wedding invitations and choosing wedding vendors, the couple may also want you to get a pre-wedding COVID test before you attend (according to the survey, 23.10 percent of people said they wanted their entire guest list to have a negative COVID-19 test before attending their wedding reception).
Although couples may look for cost-efficient options that they can change in their wedding checklist such as using free wedding websites, clearly, keeping COVID-19 out of their big day—and keeping themselves and their guests safe—is top of mind for many couples. So, if you have any weddings on the calendar in the coming months, you should be prepared for a test and/or vaccination request from the couple, and be sure to check their wedding website for more updates.
Getting the COVID-19 vaccine offers a layer of protection that can make you (and the soon-to-be-married couple) feel safer about your attendance at the wedding.
But, the vaccine isn’t a free pass to throw caution to the wind, ditch your mask, and run up to every person at cocktail hour (forget social distancing!) for a high-five or handshake. Even if you are vaccinated before the wedding, you still need to play it safe.
There are a few different reasons why COVID-related safety precautions are a must—even if you’re fully vaccinated before the wedding. According to the CDC’s recommendations, fully vaccinated people can be inside without a mask with other vaccinated people and with unvaccinated people who aren’t at high risk for serious COVID-related complications—but the CDC strongly recommends wearing masks and social distancing in public places and around unvaccinated people who are at an increased risk for serious illness if they catch COVID-19.
When you’re at a wedding, you have no way of knowing who is fully vaccinated, who is not fully vaccinated, and who might be at risk for developing serious complications if they catch COVID-19. And, because you have no way of distinguishing between vaccinated and unvaccinated, or at risk and not at risk guests, you have to take safety precautions with all guests. This means that you should wear a mask, keep six feet of distance, and wash your hands regularly.
You can make masks and social distancing a priority when you’re at a wedding, but other guests might not take safety as seriously as you do, which can lead to potential uncomfortable (and unsafe!) interactions, such as guests going in for a hug or handshake, sliding their chair right next to yours for the wedding ceremony, or getting a little too close for comfort during a conversation at the wedding reception.
If you’re the kind of person who has no problem telling someone that their behavior makes you uncomfortable, you’ll have no problem shutting down these interactions in real-time. But, if you’re someone who struggles with setting boundaries or being perceived as rude, coming up with the right thing to say when someone tries to hug you or initiate a conversation without a mask will probably feel challenging at the moment. This is why you need to have a plan for how to deal with those interactions ahead of time.
Before the wedding, brainstorm all the ways other wedding guests might cross your COVID-related boundaries—and develop a plan for how to deal with them. For example, if someone tries to give you a greeting hug, you might take a step back and say, “It’s so great to see you, but I’m still practicing social distancing. Sending you a big air hug!” Or, if someone tries to talk to you without a mask, you can say, “Would you mind putting a mask on? I’m still concerned about COVID-19.” However, if that feels uncomfortable, politely excuse yourself and head to another area of the wedding venue.
The point is that you can’t control other wedding attendees’ behavior—but you can have a plan in place to make yourself feel more comfortable and safe in how you deal with that behavior.
Vaccine distribution is ramping up every day, and it’s only going to get safer to gather in large groups—including at weddings. So, if you’re gearing up to attend a wedding in the coming months, have a good time, and enjoy yourself; just make sure to do it safely.