Planning A Wedding During A Pandemic: Every wedding planning journey has its twists and turns. To make sure your path is as smooth as possible and to help you keep an eye out for tiny potholes and giant roadblocks, always follow the advice of your local health guidelines and the recommendations set forth by the CDC. The state of the pandemic can change quickly, but by staying informed, you can make it to your destination—wedded bliss—without a hitch.
In 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic brought the wedding industry to a screeching halt, with many couples choosing to postpone their weddings until it felt safe to gather in large groups.
Now that the vaccine rollout is in full swing, many of those couples feel ready to bring their friends and families together to celebrate their big day—and celebrate a new, brighter chapter in what was, for many, one of the most challenging times in living history.
But when it comes to weddings and vaccines, a lot of couples have questions. Can you ask your guests to get vaccinated before the wedding? If so, what’s the right way to ask? And what do you do if you and your wedding guests don’t see eye-to-eye about vaccines?
Zola, partnered with Modern Fertility, conducted surveys in March & April 2021 asking over 1,400 people for their insights on all things COVID, vaccines, and weddings. Some of the survey’s key findings include:
Protecting themselves and their guests from COVID-19 is top of mind for many couples with impending nuptials.
One in five people surveyed said that COVID-19 tests and vaccines are not playing into their plans for an in-person wedding reception. That being said, if the COVID vaccine hasn’t had much of an impact on your wedding planning, you’re not alone. Nearly one in five people surveyed (19.59%) said that COVID-19 tests and vaccines are not playing into their plans for an in-person wedding reception.
But if you and your partner are concerned about COVID-19 and organizing a large gathering, you may need to broach the topic of testing and vaccination with your guests. So, the question is—how, exactly, do you do that?
In short: Yes.
It’s your wedding—so if you want your guests to be tested and/or vaccinated before they attend your wedding, you are 100% entitled to ask them.
If you’re going to ask your guests to get a COVID test and/or coronavirus vaccine before your wedding, there are a few things you’ll want to consider, including:
How to tell people about your testing/vaccination requirements. If permission to attend your wedding hinges on a negative COVID test and/or a full vaccination, you need to make sure that every wedding guest gets the memo. You might want to add a quick disclaimer to your wedding website, but it's also important to reach out to guests in a more direct way - for example, by calling or emailing guests individually.
Access to vaccines. All Americans over the age of 12 are eligible for vaccines. But it could take months for everyone to get vaccinated—so if your wedding date is short, you need to decide how you’re going to deal with guests who are willing to get the vaccine but aren’t able to get an appointment before your big day. You should also decide how you’re going to deal with guests that don’t have access to the vaccine—namely, people under the age of 18.
How to confirm testing/vaccination. You’re asking people to get tested and/or vaccinated before your wedding—and you need to decide if and how you’re going to confirm that before your big day. Are you going to take the “honor system” approach and trust that your guests will follow through on your testing/vaccination request? Are you going to ask to see test results or vaccine cards with their RSVPs? Getting clear on how you’re going to confirm guests’ testing and vaccination status—and, when applicable, sharing that information with guests beforehand—can help you avoid potentially uncomfortable conversations on your wedding day.
There’s no mandate on the vaccine; the choice to get vaccinated (or not) is a personal one, and every person needs to make that decision for themselves—including the guests at your wedding.
So, what do you do if you have wedding guests who choose not to get the vaccine?
You have two options: you can either allow them to attend the wedding...or not.
Like any other important decision, there are pros and cons associated with both options. If having your guests vaccinated is important to you and your partner—and you let unvaccinated guests attend your wedding—you might feel stressed on your big day. If those guests also refuse to get tested, you also run the risk of introducing COVID to the rest of your guests—and potentially putting them (and yourselves) in harm’s way.
On the flip side, telling unvaccinated people that they can’t attend the wedding also presents challenges. If the person choosing not to get vaccinated is someone close to you and/or your partner, not having them there on your big day can feel like a loss. And, depending on how they react to being told they can’t attend your wedding, it could cause issues in your relationship that may extend well past your honeymoon.
When it comes to how to handle a disconnect between you, your guests, and the COVID vaccine, there’s no right or wrong answer. Ultimately, you have to make the choice that feels right for you and your partner—and the decision you’re going to feel the most at peace with, both on your wedding day and in the months that follow.
COVID-19 testing and vaccines—and how they relate to weddings—is a complex issue. All you can do is make the decisions you feel are right for you, your guests, and your event—and move forward from there.