As you are well aware, COVID-19 is taking the world by storm and postponing gatherings all over America. Unfortunately, Weddings are not immune, but if you’re in an area where you are still able to hold your wedding, here are some tips to make it as safe as possible for everyone involved.
PS my degree is in Nursing, believe it or not, so I’m glad I can intertwine my love for people, hand hygiene, and photography all into one post!
*Update*–August 2020–I have photographed a handful of full-sized weddings since Texas opened back up and let me tell ya, the people who attend weddings are BRAVE! I still think it’s possible to have a safer wedding during COVID-19. My best advice is to be up-front with your guests. If you want your guests to wear a mask at your wedding or if it is required by the venue you need to let them know. Add it to the RSVP card or somewhere in your invitation.
I will update the rest of this post to reflect the current times.
Since writing this post I’ve seen some really good ideas to encourage mask-wearing at your wedding! 1. Supply surgical masks at the entrance and a cute sign that encourages your guest to take one and wear it. 2. Have CUSTOM masks made for your wedding! Masks are a little controversial here in the South, but I think it is mentally easier for people to wear cute custom masks that you put some thought into rather than surgical masks. It seems that people would much rather wear mask merch than the medical masks.
Ask your venue to provide sanitation stations at every entrance, The beginning of buffet lines, and the dance floor. If they don’t have the commercial sanitation stand option you can make your own with a big bottle of sanitizer and a cute sign that reminds people to use it.
Also ask your venue to sanitize high traffic areas that people always touch–Especially if there was an event the day before yours. *Purell is hard to come by right now, so your venue might not have access to these things. But it doesn’t hurt to ask!
Fun fact: the sun naturally sanitizes things with its UV rays! So if your ceremony is in full sun there is no need to sanitize those chairs.
Get a final headcount. A week before your wedding round up your friends and family to reach out to every guest who RSVP’d that they would attend to make sure their answers are still the same. Things change so rapidly as the virus spreads; they might be taking extra precautions or unable to make it to the wedding. Assure them that it’s okay for them to stay home, especially if they’re over 60.
Add live streaming to your wedding for guests who can’t make it! This would be something to add to your conversations over phone calls and texts when you’re checking on a guest’s RSVP so they know they can still watch from home and relieve some FOMO. You can also have one of your guests at the wedding Zoom or Facetime those who couldn’t attend.
Once you have a better idea of who’s coming to your wedding contact your venue and caterers (having a wedding planner comes in HANDY!) and let them know your number changes. Venues are often in charge of setting up tables for your seating layout, and obviously caterers need to know so they can bring the right amount of food and have less go to waste.
While you’re finalizing the seating arrangement for your reception, seat less guests per table so there is a little more distance for each person. Also seat households together. And if you have the room, make sure there are extra tables so your guests can really spread out. Covid-19 is a contact virus(*but is it?) but can easily spread through a cough, sneeze, or laugh. So the more space the merrier.
Consider having your meal plated and served. Buffets are great but can also be a pit of germs. Have you seen the scene in Vegas Vacation with Uncle Eddie? 😂(If your budget doesn’t allow for plated dinners have someone is at the beginning of the buffet line making sure every guest gets a pump of hand sanitizer). Plated dinner settings also look beautiful when photographed. Proof:
Bonus: add customized mini hand sanitizers to each place setting
If your wedding is coming up but still 14+ days out you might be able to get wedding insurance coverage in case of mandatory bans of gatherings or quarantines. I found this article helpful.
Try to avoid hugging, especially those who are over 60. You could unknowingly be carrying COVID-19 (or the flu) to them. (*Update–I have heard horror stories. One being that a bride unknowingly had COVID-19 and gave it to a LOT of her guests. Thankfully I have not experienced this with my own weddings). I know this is hard in the South because we are a bunch of HUGGERS, but when you’re giving your couples toast at dinner let tell them how much you appreciate them being there and let them know you’ll be first-bumping, peace-signing, or elbowing them later ✌️
*Update* I have found that this isn’t really possible with weddings! A better way to handle social distancing might be with these bands that are green, yellow, and red. It saves some awkwardness. Not everyone who comes to a wedding is willing to hug and get funky on the dance floor, but a lot of people are! I think these would help for sure. If you are more conservative about social distancing be sure to let them know upfront and wear a yellow or red band.
Consider wrapping up your reception an hour or two early. I know some of you have been looking forward to your crazy dance party, but the more alcohol your guests consume, the more germs fly!
Attach a travel-sized hand sanitizer bottle to the back stems of the bouquets! Have the guys put theirs in their inner coat pocket. We don’t need any pant bulges in your wedding photos. 😂 You can buy Travel-sized bottles and fill them with Hand sanitizer or you can purchase these cuties on Etsy that come with personalization options.
Get creative. Give everyone a travel-sized bottle of hand sanitizer, and every time someone says the word “wedding” or “ceremony” everyone gets a pump of hand sanitizer. I’m sure you can come up with more games like this!
GET TESTED! But do it 2 weeks before your wedding! Then self-quarantine as much as possible before your big day. The last thing you want to do is get sick and not be able to attend your own wedding. And you don’t want to be one of those asymptomatic Typhoid Marys and spread it to your guests.
If you’re worried about testing positive and losing all of your money–your wedding contracts should cover you since you technically cannot be at your wedding. Just like they cover you if you’re in a freak accident or are in the hospital.
Have your wedding all outdoors if possible! If you’re in Texas this is pretty easy. It’s harder for other states like New Jersey, but research shows that being in confined spaces makes the spread easier/more likely. The virus is also pretty fragile when it comes to temperatures above 75 degrees and humidity (I’m looking at you, Houston. LOL) so take the party outside! Or if your venue has garage doors, have them open up, like this!
Be sure to share this post with your friends and family here or on Instagram and Facebook! Especially if you know someone getting married in these trying times.
Getting married and need a wedding photographer with excellent hand hygiene? I’m your girl ;) (Contact me here!)
Allison Jeffers is a photographer and educator serving sweet couples and helping other creative entrepreneurs reach their goals. She specializes in wedding photography, elopements, and proposals as well as Bridal and Engagement portraits in Texas. She is available for travel worldwide and has her passport ready!