Like many other things in 2020 the wedding industry has been turned upside down by Covid-19. Unfortunately, the virus doesn’t appear to be leaving us any time soon, so we must adapt. Now that we have been dealing with this for several months, I can share my experience with you.
When it comes to wedding planning right now, we have three options:
- Postpone - 2021 and 2022 are going to be very busy wedding years, assuming we resume to some sort of normalcy by then. The sooner that you postpone, the more likely you will get your desired date, day, or time of year. When postponing, it is important to look at all of your contracts, make sure that your deposits will be held. Always notify the vendors first and as soon as possible. Update your guests, VIP guests deserve a phone call, then update your wedding website, send out an email, or similar to a save-the-date card, send out a change-the-date card. Postponing sucks but it isn’t the end of the world. You are more likely in many ways to have a day closer to your original vision if you were planning for a larger wedding.
- Cancel and Elope (with possible future plans for an epic anniversary party). For many brides Covid-19 has been the excuse that they needed to scale back from family pressures of having a larger wedding. Elopements can be a beautiful, intimate experience. If you want to celebrate later with friends and family, you always have that option.
- Plan-on and have a wedding anyway. I can’t blame a bride for wanting to press on and make the plans. Like with driving, there is a point of no return, read your contracts and understand what is at stake when you get there. For many vendors (not all) it is 30 days, if you cancel or make changes, prices can change and deposits usually become non-refundable. If you are still all-in at that point, the next step is accepting that your gathering, despite every precaution, could potentially expose your friends and family to Covid-19. If you weigh your social responsibility and don’t feel as though that could tarnish your memories of your wedding day, we take all that we know and plan-on.
In Alberta the basic guidelines for gatherings can be found here.
Here are my tips:
Currently, outdoor gatherings are restricted to a maximum of 100 people and indoor gatherings have a maximum of 50 people. Remember that this is everybody on-site, your officiant, your planner, your caterers, etc. Adjust the guest list accordingly. With travel restrictions currently in-place this is an excellent place to start, also think of the guests over 60 or who are immunocompromised to cut from the list. Plan for an outdoor venue if you can. We also know that being outdoors can allow for better social distancing and air circulation, helping to further reduce some of the risk.
Chairs at the ceremony should be spaced to allow for distancing, meaning empty seats between guests not from the same household or cohort. Tables at the reception need to be spaced similarly with no more than six guests per table and adequate spacing between. Venues and Caterers have been adapting, be sure to map out your space to make sure you have enough room to do what you need to do. Be aware that although you may be having fewer guests you may need more tables and chairs than previously, with distancing measures, this can come at additional cost.
Food and drink can’t be buffet style or self-serve in any way. Plated meals are the best, as this can be done in the kitchen, another option is a cafeteria style buffet where there is a selection that is plated by a series of attendants. Remember that those staff do take away from your guest count, it may be worth paying more for a plated meal, especially if numbers are tight. Nothing should be out and open on the table, consider even wrapping the cutlery. Little touches add peace of mind and extra protection for your guests.
Entertainment and Dancing, at this time a dance is discouraged and difficult as it doesn’t encourage appropriate distancing. If you have a huge space, it isn’t impossible, if you can keep people in their cohorts and distanced from others. This can be challenging as the night goes on and people have had a few celebratory cocktails. Live bands need a 12 foot bubble between the stage and the audience. Again, not impossible, it really comes down to space.
To reduce the risk and make your guests comfortable, communicate with them openly about the steps you are taking to make sure that your event isn’t the next hotspot. Make sure they feel as though they can stay home if they are sick, or if they have been around anybody who has been ill, even if that means cancelling at the last minute. Have visible sanitation stations throughout the venue, whether that is hand sanitizer, or a portable sink with soap and water. Temperature checks and health screening, can be done at the door, but you must then be prepared to turn away any guest with a fever, even if it is your best-man or maid-of-honour. Masks can also be provided and encouraged. Make sure all of your vendors are following the fit for work guidelines as well.
Whether you postpone, elope, or plan-on, I just want all of my brides to look back and remember their wedding day as one of the best days of their life.