Weddings are, typically, pretty intimate affairs. Not necessarily when it comes to the number of people present (although that can be the case, too), but in the happenings throughout the day. Guests sit closely together, you greet one another with hugs and kisses and, of course, you’re all gathered around each other on the dance floor, at the bar, or in line for the photobooth. But in these unprecedented times, many people are—understandably—reimagining what their big day looks like.
With guidelines put in place to protect not only the couple but also their guests and hired vendors, weddings for the rest of 2020 (and likely beyond) will look and feel different than before. But that doesn’t necessarily have to be a bad thing or take away from the magic of your big day—it just means some adjustments need to be made.
Here, some tips to help you plan a socially-distanced wedding to ensure that you and your wedding guests have a good, fun, and, above all, safe time:
A lot of venues across the country are lowering their maximum capacities, which means you might have to cut down your guest list pretty significantly. This can make for a lovely small intimate wedding. It won’t be an easy process, but the fewer wedding guests, the safer it is for everyone present. Plus, we’re sure any guests who don’t cut will understand.
For the loved ones that you had to disinvite, for those who are immunocompromised, or even just for the guests who can’t make it out, consider live-streaming parts of your wedding. This way, they’ll still feel like they’re a part of your big day and can bear witness via your virtual wedding. A fun idea is to mail out wedding favors ahead of time—along with, say, a glass of Champagne, a slice of cake, and a link to the reception playlist—so that they can have a mini wedding reception at home.
While getting married outdoors comes with its ups and downs, it’s one of the safest wedding venue options going forward. Not only will it allow for guests to spread out more, but it also lowers the risk for coronavirus transmission. If the venue you want is booked up, consider having a quaint backyard celebration.
Instead of allowing guests to sit where they choose during the ceremony and otherwise, try to assign seating whenever possible. For the ceremony seating, place chairs six feet apart to encourage social distancing and, during the wedding reception, limit the number of people at one table. If there are families who have been quarantining in the same place, make sure they’re together on the seating chart. This is also a good time for the couple to lean into the sweetheart table tradition so that they remain separate from everyone else but still accessible.
Guests should wear their face masks if that makes them more comfortable, otherwise, you should provide your own (and require guests to wear them!). They can be regular masks, or they can have a cute message printed on them, such as the date of the wedding, or even personalized with guests’ names. Additionally, individual hand sanitizers and sanitizing stations should be littered throughout both the ceremony area and the reception space.
As far as food goes, individual plates are a much more sanitary way to serve meals over a buffet or family-style presentation. If your budget allows, this is also a chance to invest in a white glove catering service, which is not only luxurious but also a necessary added precaution.
Instead of lining up for your turn in the photo booth, have guests sign up for designated time slots to make the process organized and seamless. This will also allow the vendor running the booth time to wipe the space down after every guest. Traveling to the bar should also happen in shifts to avoid congregating.
As great as they are, it’s important to recognize what traditions are and aren’t safe with these new government-mandated rules and guidelines. Things like the first and father-daughter dance are okay, but others like the bouquet toss should be nixed.
This way, guests won’t be taken aback by the alternative structure of the special day. Recommendations can be as simple as advising them not to crowd the dance floor, to avoid gathering in large groups, or to refrain from shaking hands or kissing the bride and/or groom.
These “rules” can be printed on the invitation or posted on the couple’s website, with the bonus that they also act as a source of comfort for guests knowing that the precautions are being put in place with their health and safety in mind for a seamless socially distant wedding.