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The Complete Guide to a Social Distancing-Friendly Wedding

Introduction

Wedding planning looks a little different this year. You may have to do a virtual venue tour or replace the buffet-style dinner you always wanted for your reception. But no matter what, a social distancing-friendly wedding is still possible. Here’s what you need to consider before you make (or change) any wedding plans.

Key takeaways:

  • Check your state’s laws about in-person events.
  • Decide what your non-negotiables are.
  • Look into virtual wedding options.

Check your state’s laws about in-person events. You need to know how many guests you can legally gather for your big day. If you’re hoping to have a large wedding, you may want to consider pushing your wedding date back. Many states have limited gatherings to 50 people or less. If you just invited immediate family and your wedding party, that could easily add up to 20 people alone.

What truly matters? Is your wedding date extremely special or sentimental to you? Is the church you choose the same one where your parents or grandparents were married? Have you always dreamed of a fall wedding and already bought some décor that matches a fall theme? The biggest thing you have to do is be open and honest with your soon-to-be spouse and focus on your non-negotiables.

Is a virtual wedding an option? If any of the topics above are non-negotiable, consider having a virtual wedding! Many couples can’t wait to get married, so they’ve opted for an online ceremony via Google Hangouts, Zoom, Skype, and even Facebook Live. Invite your guests through Facebook or an email invitation, send a link, and have everyone tune in from the comfort of their home. (The ladies will love not having to worry about wearing uncomfortable shoes!) Don’t forget to record the video call—your wedding day will be a memorable event.

If you’re still set on having an in-person wedding, you have a few options. You can either push your wedding to next year and buy yourself some more time, or you can plan a totally-safe social distancing-friendly wedding now. Your dream wedding can still become a reality if you plan it correctly. Let’s breakdown everything you need to know about staying safe during COVID-19 wedding planning.

Find the perfect way to communicate

Key takeaways:

  • Pick an online tool to communicate.
  • Check in often with vendors & guests.

Before you get too deep into wedding planning, we highly recommend finding a way to communicate online to all of your vendors, bridal party members, and your wedding coordinator. This will make wedding planning so much easier and is totally social-distancing approved! Online tools like Google Meet, Microsoft Teams, Discord, and Skype allow you to instant message (or IM) an individual or group of people. You can easily set up a quick phone call or video chat from your laptop, tablet, or an app on your phone. This way you can stay connected and ask any quick questions or relay updates during your wedding planning.

wedding couple having indoor ceremony

Courtesy: cbc.ca

Pick a type of wedding to have

Key takeaways:

  • Smaller, more intimate weddings are the COVID trend.
  • Determine your head count and decide how you want to spend time with your guests.
  • Plan a larger reception at a later date.

Many brides and grooms are getting creative for their upcoming nuptials and are ultimately planning smaller weddings. Here are some new types of weddings we’re seeing during COVID-19:

“Minimony” is a short, mini ceremony with just a handful of people—meaning the bride, groom, officiant, and a few witnesses or just the parents. This can be done at the courthouse or a park if you’re wanting a somewhat normal ceremony setting.

“Micro wedding” is a wedding with 30-50 people, typically the people mentioned above plus a full wedding party and extended family. Plan a backyard wedding and rent a food truck or mobile coffee cart for something fun and different!

“Shift wedding” is an all-day wedding that has guests come in shifts at your venue. Keep the ceremony short and sweet with just family and your wedding party. For the reception, have different guests arrive in one-hour windows. In between shifts, the venue coordinators can clean and sanitize to make sure your guests stay healthy and safe.

“Multi wedding” is similar to a shift wedding where you mix and match guests. For instance, one group of guests attend the rehearsal dinner and reception, but another group attends the ceremony and a post-wedding brunch. This way you can see all of your guests in a safe way and you don’t have to cut down your list.

No matter which size wedding you choose, you can still plan a larger reception at a later date.

Choosing your venue

Key takeaways:

  • Before you start your search, know your budget, guest count & preferred wedding date.
  • Check for reviews, photos and videos online.
  • Virtual tours are the new norm and don’t be afraid to ask questions.

A number of venues are now offering virtual tours! Before you start your search, try to have your budget and guest count set and know the range of your preferred wedding date. After that, research your favorite venues online—look through their photos, check out the location via Google Maps, and read through any reviews from past brides. If you’re interested in learning more or have any questions, reach out to the venue coordinator.

Once you narrow down your top 3, ask to set up a virtual tour during the daytime so you can see the space in natural light—even if you’re getting married at sunset. Don’t be afraid to ask to see every inch of the venue. You want it to be perfect after all! Be sure to also lay out any non-negotiables like guest count, indoor/outdoor space, BYO alcohol or food, and any cancellation policies. From there, pick your top 2 to visit in person if the venue allows.

Picking your vendors

Key takeaways:

  • Do your online research & search for reviews.
  • Set up a virtual meeting.
  • Ask for samples via curbside pick-up or have them mailed to you.

Just like when you chose your venue, do your research and look up any reviews of local vendors. Reach out and ask them any questions you have and see if they’ll send you samples. For larger vendors like the caterer or bakery, see if you can pick up your samples via curbside. Have the DJ send you a sample playlist! Check out your photographer’s and videographer’s online portfolio and tell them what styles you like.

You can also find gorgeous digital wedding invitations to send to your guests and save money while you’re at it. Send your florist photos of bouquets you like, your color scheme, and any seasonal flowers you want to include.

This is also a great time to support your local small-business owners. COVID-19 has probably affected them in some way, so give them your business for your big day! For any vendors that you’re seriously considering, set up a video conference call. You’re trusting them to come through on the happiest day of their life. If they’re worth it, they’ll definitely agree to meet via Skype or Zoom.

Virtual bridal consultation Bridal consultation with masks

Courtesy: wedding411ondemand.com & telegraph.co.uk

Finding your dream dress

Key takeaways:

  • Pick your favorite dress types online & send ideas to your consultant.
  • Schedule a virtual consultation with your local bridal shop.
  • Allow plenty of time for an in-person appointment, for the dress to be made & alterations.

This one's a little tricky, but still doable at a distance. We’re going to sound like a broken record but do your online research first! Decide what shape and style of dress you like, what fabric and accessories appeal to you, etc. Keep your budget in mind too! When you find your favorite dresses, see if your local bridal boutique is offering virtual appointments. Many boutiques will set up a meeting and show you options on screen that fit your style and budget.

The good news is you can still have your mom, sister, and best friends there with you! Invite them to the video call and have them join in the fun. (Champagne optional, but definitely recommended.) Once you find the 2-3 dresses you love the most, schedule an in-person appointment at a later date.

Reminder: don’t schedule too close to your wedding date. You may need to make alterations. If you can’t make it to an in-person appointment, some bridal shops will allow you to purchase the dress online and return it.

 

woman hosting virtual bridal shower

Courtesy: phillymag.com

Showers and Bachelor/Bachelorette Parties

Key takeaways:

  • Send out digital invitations to your virtual shower/bachelor/bachelorette party.
  • Set up your online wedding registry & share it out.
  • Find ways to personalize your parties to make guests feel special.

You can still have an amazing wedding shower, even if you’re not there in person. Send out digital invitations to your virtual shower and ask guests to dress up! If you have a registry, share the link. Many retailers will allow you to ship gifts straight to the bride and groom. Or, have guests contribute money to an online cash fund like Zola or Honeyfund. This is a great option if you’re saving up for something big like a new couch or putting money towards your honeymoon.

In lieu of gifts, you can always ask your guests to share their favorite recipe, a memory of the couple, or tips for a beautiful marriage. To make your guests feel extra-special, mail out shower favors, or have sweet treats delivered to their door.

It may not be the same as a regular Bachelor/Bachelorette party, but a virtual party may be the only way to avoid large gatherings. For the girls, find a fun group activity that you can do online! Many event companies are holding virtual classes like at-home candle making, sip & paint, or a cooking class. Send out custom “Team Bride” shirts and a bottle of wine! For the guys, play digital poker or start a video game tournament. Break out some beer and you’re good to go.

Day-of wedding plans

Key takeaways:

  • Keep your guests safe with masks/gloves as favors & set up sanitizing stations.
  • Stick to simple décor for easy set up & breakdown.
  • Live stream the wedding for the guests who couldn’t attend.

On your big day, you want to make sure your guests are safe. Ask your guests to wear a mask or provide some for them. Have your coordinator set up sanitizing or handwashing stations throughout the venue—you can even rent them! Make sure the venue has plenty of paper towels, tissues, no-touch trash cans, and plenty of soap in the bathrooms. Put up signs reminding guests to cover their sneezes or coughs and keep their masks on.

Keep the décor simple for your big day—something easy to set up and breakdown. All you really need for a stunning wedding is florals, table linens, lighting, a backdrop, and signs.

For guests who couldn’t attend in person, hire an AV expert to live stream the wedding. Make sure they test out the audio and video 15 minutes before the ceremony to make sure everything is working properly and that all of your virtual guests have arrived. You can also have a wedding slideshow play for your guests.

You can still get ready for the walk down the aisle with your best friends! Set up a group video chat and get your hair and makeup done with your bridesmaids. Play some music and pour the champagne, wine, or beer. Take screenshots and selfies for your wedding album. When it’s time to meet up in person, talk to your photographer about cool group shots that you can do at a safe distance. Be sure to get a shot with your matching face masks!

wedding couple having outdoor ceremony

Courtesy: cincinnati.com

The ceremony

Key takeaways:

  • Keep your guests safe with masks/gloves as favors & set up sanitizing stations.
  • Stick to simple décor for easy set up & breakdown.
  • Live stream the wedding for the guests who couldn’t attend.

Whether you’re getting married inside or outside, try to space out the chairs at least 6-ft. apart and allow only families to sit close to each other. If you’re getting married at a church, limit each pew to just one family each. Have your bridesmaids and groomsmen walk down the aisle alone and space out at least 6-ft. when they get to the end of the aisle. Have them also walk back up the aisle alone. The rest of your ceremony should be able to stay as traditional as possible!

The reception

Key takeaways:

  • Keep seating spaced out for guests.
  • Find new options for entertainment, including dancing in intervals or smaller celebration stations.
  • Skip the buffet and have a plated meal.

This part of the day will be the hardest to keep at a social distance—but you can do it! You probably won’t be able to hug or kiss or shake hands with your guests, and it’s best to have a sign to gently remind them. Ask your venue coordinator to set up large round or square tables with only four people per table. You can comfortably fit up to six people at most, so save those tables for families. Have your caterer provide plated meals, including appetizers. Servers can either deliver the plates to the tables or guests can take turns picking up their plates at a food station.

You have a couple of options for reception entertainment. If dancing is a must, consider dancing with guests in shifts. Choose 1-2 tables at a time to dance for 10-15-minute intervals. That way you can spread out and everyone has a chance to dance with the bride and groom. Skip the garter and bouquet toss—they’re becoming outdated traditions anyways!

If you and your groom aren’t big dancers, set up small “celebration stations”. This works well if your venue has multiple areas to spread out—a garden, ballroom, terrace, etc. Each designated area could have places to sit, speakers to hear the DJ’s music, and a drink/food station. The bride and groom can move around to each station and spend quality time with their guests.

While the other guests are waiting to mingle with you, have them hop onto social media and use your personal wedding hashtag or filter to post on your virtual guest book. This cuts down on the number of people touching pens or markers for a traditional guest book.

Post-wedding

Key takeaways:

  • Right now, enjoy quality time as newlyweds.
  • Save up for a future vacation or larger reception party at a later date!

Consider planning a staycation honeymoon now and save up for your big vacation at a later date. Take a mini road trip or explore your own city. Quality time together as newlyweds is what matters most! When you do plan your honeymoon, get insurance. We don’t know how long the coronavirus may last, so you want to be protected in case of a last-minute emergency.

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