The events industry was hit hard when COVID-19 began shutting down gatherings. And we can’t imagine anyone more heartbroken than a bride or groom who was looking forward to their big day. Thousands of people postponed their wedding until next year. But if you’re one of those who is determined to get married in 2020, we have some tips to help make your big day happen.
Update your guest list
The first thing to consider is your local guidelines about how many people are allowed to gather in a space. This will help determine your guest list – and hey, gives you a great excuse not to invite anyone you don’t absolutely want to be there! Silver lining?
If you need help deciding who to cut from the list, The Knot has some great tips. Try going with a kid-free wedding and removing people like coworkers or acquaintances. Lastly, be firm about plus-ones.
They say the more the merrier, so consider live-streaming your nuptials! It’s a great option to include more of your friends and family on your big day! (More tips for live-streaming later.)
And hey, if you can’t invite everyone right now, it’s a great excuse to throw a big anniversary party next year! Who says you can’t have two “weddings”?
Assemble your wedding party
While some couples are foregoing bridal parties and groomsmen altogether, you could get creative instead! Lots of small businesses on Etsy have begun producing adorable masks to protect your wedding party. They can also help identify who’s who among all the bridesmaids and groomsmen!
If you’re not into labels, try some masks that coordinate with your color scheme. They can be patterned, lacy, or just pretty (or handsome) colors. Turn it into a fashion statement instead of a reminder that you’re getting married during a pandemic.
Check on your venue
Venues across the country have been closed to large gatherings and there are many that have not reopened. If yours was one of the venues that has closed, you’ll be faced with finding a new place to get married.
When looking at new spaces, consider just that – the space. An outdoor venue is probably your best bet for being able to spread out and ensure your guests can social distance. But if not, be sure to calculate if you can set up seating, ceremony space, and any musicians or performers with adequate distance.
There are all kinds of events taking place right now using the “drive-in” method. Why not your wedding, too? Your local church, movie theater, or other business with lots of parking may be willing to let you rent it out for your nuptials. Your guests can drive in and watch the proceedings from the safety of their own vehicles!
Once your venue is chosen, double-check their cleaning procedures to be sure they’re up to your standard. It’s also important to note any requirements that the venue has, like mandated masks, temperature checks, and more.
Plan your wedding photos
Luckily, your wedding photos are one aspect that may not have to be adjusted much. Since your photographer will likely be a few feet away anyway, most of your shots will be the same. Just be sure to speak with your photographer ahead of time to discuss the safety precautions they’re taking, like wearing a mask or face shield. They can also share how they plan to get those up-close shots or if you’d prefer to forego those.
Think about what sort of wedding shots you’d like. Do you want to wear masks in some shots to capture what was happening at the time? Or would your rather stick to traditional shots? Your wedding photographer can help you think through these questions to ensure you love your wedding photos, pandemic or not.
Arrange your ceremony
As mentioned above, your venue should have plenty of space for your guests to spread out. Set your chairs at least 6 feet apart and provide a mask for your officiant.
If you’re planning to live stream the ceremony, think about the best placement for the camera. Be sure it doesn’t obscure guest views or your photographer’s access. Recruit a tech-savvy friend or family member to be in charge of the live stream. Some wedding videographers have shifted their services to offer live-streaming services, too. Remember that practice makes perfect! Try live-streaming the rehearsal to test everything out the night before to mitigate any tech issues during the ceremony.
Many musicians and singers have modified their performances to ensure safety at events during the COVID-19 era. Speak with them ahead of time so they’re aware of the venue space, safety precautions, and any other requirements. Set up a space that allows them to social distance and discuss whether they’ll be wearing a mask or not. It’s important to manage your expectations under normal circumstances, but getting married during a pandemic may require more communication and clarification than usual.
Design your reception
Celebrating with your loved ones at your wedding reception may seem like a pipe dream right now. After all, we’re supposed to be keeping our distance. But with a little creativity, we think you can still have a fabulous reception!
Get on the dance floor
Since social distancing is key right now, try marking your dance floor with temporary circles (masking tape is a good option). Your guests can still boogie while staying in their own space. Set up a wedding DJ off to the side to provide the perfect dance mix.
Another option is to have a dance instructor lead some line dances. Everyone can stick to their own space and join in the fun as they follow the moves from the instructor.
If you have a brave crowd, take a page from Hitch and set up some space for solo dancers to make their way down a line of cheering wedding guests!
Or stay in your seats
If dancing isn’t your thing but you still want something special at your reception, consider a stage show. Your guests can remain seated and enjoy a magician, an aerialist, some circus entertainment, a dancer, or other variety entertainers.
For a laidback reception, book a solo musician, small acoustic band, or jazz group to play for your guests. Ensure they have adequate space, of course. Your guests can mingle in their masks and enjoy some cocktails and music.
Map out your menu
Tasty appetizers and creative cocktails are a must at any great wedding. And don’t forget the cake, of course! The menu is important but you should also consider how the serving will work. To avoid unnecessary touching, reduce self-serving by hiring a caterer, waitstaff, or bartender. They will keep your guests protected by wearing masks and gloves and help limit cross-contamination.
Plan your seating by grouping family members or roommates in the same area. Since they’ve likely already been spending time together, they’d probably be more comfortable sitting with each other. You could consider smaller table settings too, if possible. This will help people spread out at the table as much as they can.
Don’t forget the favors
No wedding is complete without some cute wedding favors! In addition to cute things like mini candles or bags of Jordan almonds, you can keep your guests safe, too.
Mini bottles of hand sanitizers are great for your guests to use at the wedding and then keep for later in their purse or cars. Stamp them with your name and date to make them instant wedding favors!
A themed mask can also be handy for your guests who may have forgotten theirs. Choose a romantic quote or meaningful song lyric to make them more than just wedding-friendly.
When you imagined your wedding, it probably wasn’t set during a pandemic. But the important thing is you’re marrying the one you love – for better or for worse! They say love can conquer anything, and that includes a ceremony during COVID-19. With a few modifications, you can still have a beautiful wedding and have an unforgettable story to share with your loved ones.