Photo courtesy of Chris J Evans Photography

Weddings During Coronavirus

Are you wondering how to plan a wedding during coronavirus or how to social distance at weddings? With states starting to reopen and social distancing guidelines being relaxed, couples are realizing that their wedding plans may be able to continue this year. Planning and having a coronavirus wedding might look a little bit different than what you imagined, and that’s okay.

Put you and your spouse’s personality into your wedding. Get creative and have fun with it. Your wedding is what you want it to be whether that is having a socially distanced wedding in 2020 or cutting your guest list and eloping in the woods. Whatever you do for your wedding, it’s the right choice. Have some fun with it, and think about the story you will be able to tell the younger generations about the time you married the love of your life during a global pandemic.

The wedding industry is changing like much of the world, and they are doing their best to accommodate you and your wedding plans during this new normal we are living in. Here is how the wedding industry and couples are making their weddings happen during COVID-19, and how you can make yours happen too.

How to Plan a Wedding During Coronavirus

Wedding planning usually involves travelling to multiple venues, spending time with vendors and shopping for your wedding dress and tuxedo in person. While in-person meetings may not be happening during COVID-19, there are tons of great alternatives that can help you plan your wedding.

Have Virtual Meetings with Wedding Vendors

Hair stylists, makeup artists, photographers, videographers and other wedding vendors are adapting by offering virtual meetings and consultations. Nothing can replace the trust and bonding created during an in-person meeting, so how do you know you will be selecting someone you can trust? Ask to see a portfolio of the vendors past clients, or better yet, ask for the contact info of past clients and get in touch with them to see how their experience was with that vendor. If a hair stylist or photographer does a great job, they will have plenty of happy clients who are willing to give them a good review.

Wedding Dresses and Tuxedos

Shopping for wedding dresses and trying on tuxedos and suits are a big part of wedding planning. Thankfully, many companies now have options for you to do much of your shopping at home by letting you try-on your wedding dress or tux at home and returning it if it doesn’t fit. The same goes for your bridal party. Bridesmaids and groomsmen can get their dresses and tuxedos sent directly to their home for them to try on and return if the size is incorrect. This also helps save them time during their already busy lives.

If you were really looking forward to going dress shopping with your friends and loved ones, don’t let COVID hold you back. You can still have a good time with your friends and family by organizing a Zoom hangout to showcase the wedding dresses you try on at home. They will love that you still included them in your selection process.

Food and Caterers

When it comes to food on your wedding day, many caterers are nixing buffets and only allowing plated meals. If you are looking to protect your guests as much as possible, this may be the way to go. Having a plated meal eliminates the long line of a buffet where people are much more likely to come in close contact with each other. If a buffet is really speaking to you, you can still have one if your venue and caterer allow it. Be sure to use safe practices such as social distancing and wearing masks when inviting people to get their food.

Another option that could be less expensive than a plated meal is having a pre-packaged, boxed meal put together for each guest. Your guests could get their boxed meal from a buffet-style table, it could be waiting for them at their assigned dinner spot, or you could even have a food truck at your wedding that has a list of pre-made meals your guests can choose from.

Switching to plated or boxed meals sounds great, but how do you find a caterer you like while stuck at home?

Some caterers have added a new service to their business model that includes ordering packaged, to-go items from their menu. Instead of an in-person tasting, you could order one of these packaged menu items from a caterer and do a tasting at home. This could be a great alternative for you to try out a caterer’s selection.

You can even do the same thing for dessert. If your favorite baker isn’t allowing in-person tastings, see if you can at least get a taste by ordering one of their desserts and picking it up from their store. Again, like other wedding vendors, personal recommendations and reviews can go a long way when picking your food.

Wedding Venue

One of the biggest questions about coronavirus weddings is about the wedding venue. This is where everyone is going to convene during your ceremony and reception, so it is important to understand the venues guidelines.

Venues must follow their state’s and county’s guidelines regarding the maximum number of people they can allow at their site. Some states are only allowing venues to host small weddings of less than 50 people, while others are allowing up to 300. Each state and county is different, so check with your specific state to understand the rules in your area.

Many venues are giving virtual tours either through a pre-recorded video or by having a staff member show you around via a video tour. Some are even showing previous weddings that have been held at their venue to show you what your big day could look like.

Additionally, many venues are opening for weekday weddings to increase the number of events they can hold. With delays and postponements, venues want to make sure they can accommodate everyone who wants to get married, so weekday weddings are becoming more common. This might limit who can come to your wedding, but it could also drastically reduce the price of renting the venue since it is not a peak day like Friday, Saturday or Sunday.

Guests

One of the most important things to consider when wedding planning during COVID-19 is your guest list. Not only who you are going to invite, but also setting expectations with guests up front on how you want people to interact during your wedding.

Depending on the capacity of your venue, you may or may not be able to invite everyone you wanted. If your guest list is limited due to venue constraints, this could be an opportunity for you to have a small wedding that is more intimate. If you are still inviting all of your guests because the venue is allowing it, you will want to think about the people on your guest list. If you want Grandma and Grandpa to be at the wedding, but they need to get on a plane to be there, be sure you know the risks involved when it comes to guests travelling for your wedding.

If you do have your wedding this year, or any time with the new protocols in place, set expectations with your guests up front on how you want them to interact. Close contact like hugging, kissing, hand shaking and dancing will increase the likelihood of transmitting COVID-19, so consider letting people know what you want them to do instead.

This is all about your personal preference. You need to do what makes you and your loved ones feel the most comfortable. If limiting physical touching and passing out masks at the door is what is going to make you feel the most at ease during your big day, then by all means do it.

Setting up Zoom for Guests Who Can’t Attend

Even if all your guests can’t attend your wedding, that doesn’t mean they shouldn’t be a part of your big day! With technology like Zoom, you can include anyone from any part of the world in your wedding celebration.

For $14.99 you can buy Zoom’s Pro Plan and have up to 100 virtual attendees at your wedding. This plan also includes a meeting duration of 24 hours and 1 GB of MP4 video storage, which should be more than enough for your ceremony and reception. You can also upgrade to a more expensive plan if you need room for more participants.

There are some additional considerations to think about when adding a Zoom component to your wedding:

  • Where will the laptop, phone or tablet be positioned that is going to record the wedding?
  • Will you have a virtual MC helping with the virtual guests?
  • Are some of your wedding speakers going to be attending virtually?
  • Will there be any music for the virtual guests?
  • What view will you use: speaker view or gallery view?
  • What time of day will you have your event to account for people in different time zones?

There are a ton of features on Zoom that can help make your wedding an enjoyable experience for your virtual attendees. One of these cool features is the breakout room feature. This allows you to divide up your virtual guests into multiple, separate rooms in the Zoom meeting, and couples are using this feature to divide up their guests for dinner and other mingling, just as if they were seated at the same dinner table at the in-person wedding.

Adding a Zoom component to your wedding is a great way to include guests who can’t attend. Not everyone will know how to use it, so you may want to send an email educating your guests on the etiquette you expect and how to use some of the basic features of Zoom.

Oh, and don’t forget to hit record on your device!

Financial Benefits of a Wedding during COVID-19

While you may have to invite less people to your wedding, this could be an opportunity for you to save a ton of money. The cost per guest can rise quickly when planning a wedding, so fewer guests means less meals, less party favors, less transportation from your reception to the hotel, smaller venues and less of many other aspects of your wedding.

If you plan to scale back your wedding due to the coronavirus, use this as an opportunity to put that extra savings towards your next big goal, whether that is a down payment for a home, your next vacation or even stashing some money into your emergency fund for some extra security.

Know the Policies

One final note when it comes to wedding planning during COVID-19. Before agreeing to work with any vendor or venue, make sure you read the contract, ask questions and understand the refund and postponement policies before you sign any paperwork. Uncertainty is the new normal right now, and you want to feel comfortable with the refund and postponement policies of your vendors before you start working with them.

How to Have a Social Distanced Wedding

On the day of the wedding, venues are getting creative to uphold the social distancing protocols of their state. Families, friends and people arriving together are being seated as groups during the ceremony, making sure that seats between groups are six feet apart. Additionally, venues are reducing the number of people who are sitting at the same dinner table, again spacing the tables out according to social distancing guidelines.

Many venues are also working with brides and grooms to setup multiple seating and gathering areas to accommodate coronavirus weddings. For example, instead of having every guest in the same banquet hall for dinner, there might be a few people sitting inside and a few people sitting outside on a terrace. Using multiple spaces at a venue is a great way to keep your original guest list and ensure everyone is staying safe. Venues might even have multiple bars for people to order drinks from, so people don’t congregate in one area.

Staff at most venues are being required to wear masks and sometimes even gloves, but you and your guests may not have to. It is your decision to determine how you want you and your guests to handle masks and gloves.

Sanitation stations are also replacing self-serve stations. Instead of self-serve coffee and water, venues are replacing these with sanitation stations to help you, your guests and their staff stay healthy during your wedding.

What about Dancing?

No wedding is complete without dancing and music, right?

Some states are not allowing dancing at weddings, however, many venues are leaving it up to the married couple to decide how they want to handle dancing. Bands and DJs are still being booked, and they are following the social distance guidelines set by the state and by the couple getting married. Some couples are putting multiple dance floors at their reception, so small groups can dance together. Other couples are putting socially distanced marks on the dance floor to keep people safe while still dancing the night away. How you want your guests to dance and interact is up to you, unless restricted by the venue.

If having a traditional father/daughter or mother/son dance is important to you, make sure you check with the venues you are looking at before you book it to make sure these dances can happen.

What about Your Honeymoon?

Your honeymoon is a time for you and your spouse to relax after the many months of planning your wedding. But how do you take a honeymoon during COVID-19? Can you travel internationally? Are resorts open? Is it safe to fly? Check out our previous post talking about honeymoons during COVID-19 to see what your options are.

It’s Your Wedding

When it comes down to it, this is your wedding. Coronavirus or not, you can make your wedding how you want it to be. Get creative, have some fun with it and enjoy the process. One day, you will look back on this and smile when you remember that one time you got married during a global pandemic.

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