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How to Hold Safe Weddings: 20 Tips for Your Big Day

Jun 9, 2020
By Wedding Spot

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed every facet of our lives over the last few months, including how and when we can gather. With restrictions on everything from the number of people that can gather to how close they can stand together, planning safe weddings has many challenges.

Due to this, large-scale gatherings that don’t have significant safety measures in place are out of the question for the time being. Being so, some couples have opted to postpone their weddings, while others have decided to go virtual. But there are also steps couples can take to have the show go on while also ensuring that, first and foremost, they’re following the safety guidelines put forth by local, state and federal authorities and organizations.

Since many states are taking a phased approach to the reopening of businesses and gathering places, couples must first be aware of what phase their state is currently in, and also the phase they plan to be in when the day of the wedding arrives. Take the time to check into these guidelines and make sure your guests are able to gather safely to celebrate your big day. Here we explore some creative ideas for holding safe weddings. But remember: These are just recommendations. Consult with your planner, if you have one, as well as your venue, to make sure that all guidelines are being met.

Discover 20 ways you can make safe weddings a priority:

Prioritize physical distancing

Physical distancing, also referred to as social distancing, means that guests should be at least six feet apart from each other at all times. As the gathering restrictions lift state by state, expect these guidelines to still be in place to reduce risk to those who venture out. Be sure that you are making practical adjustments to your ceremony and celebration to adhere to these guidelines.

1. Space your ceremony seating.

Use event diagramming software to organize your seating. There are many configurations you can use, so don’t be afraid to get creative with your approach. Work with your venue to configure layouts that reduce the likelihood of people walking too closely to each other and see what types of chairs they have available. Add fabrics or tasteful linen decorations to the chairs to help space them out.

2. Space yourselves and your officiant.

Place marks where you, your significant other, and your officiant need to stand during the ceremony. One simple way to do this is to give the officiant a microphone and place them off to the side. Some couples have even opted for a virtual officiant. Of course, as with all virtual components of your wedding, do a dry run before the big day!

3. Get the venue’s capacity chart.

In light of the pandemic, many venues have had to change their room capacities to keep head counts in line with social distancing guidelines. Check in with your venue and make sure that your guest list is not exceeding any updates on capacity, and make adjustments if needed.

4. Consider moving to a larger space.

If moving the ceremony or reception to a larger space is necessary, speak with your venue to find out if that’s possible. Ask them about all of their available spaces, and if they’re no longer able to handle a party of your size indoors, check into their outdoor options. It can be just as elegant and safe and will likely enable you to accommodate all of your guests.

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5. Update your guest list.

When evaluating your guest list, take into account those who have to travel long distances. While this may not be a preference, there’s always the option of removing them from the in-person guest list, which will help you make them more safe and make your guests who are able to be there in person more safe, too.

Add virtual components

One way to maximize the attendance of your big day while also increasing everyone’s safety is to add a virtual element to your wedding. Talk through these options with your partner and any other pertinent parties and see if they’re right for you.

6. Conference people in.

You can livestream the ceremony or set up a Zoom meeting so that those who cannot be there in person are still able to celebrate with you. This will help keep your guest numbers in line with updated venue capacities and still enable you to have everyone “there” when you and your partner tie the knot. Just make sure you do a dry run beforehand to make sure everything works properly.

7. Use digital wedding invitations.

Another way you can make a wedding more safe is to make your wedding invitations virtual, meaning that no one has to handle a physical invitation in the mail or take an extra trip to the post office. Another plus is that virtual invitations make it much easier to track RSVPs and reach out to those who haven’t provided one yet. The sky is the limit with virtual invitation design, so get creative!

8. Ask your guests for digital gifts.

Ask your wedding guests to give gifts that are shipped directly to you and your partner instead of brining them to the wedding.

9. Make your wedding sign-in process digital.

Provide your guests with a link so they’re able to sign in from their phones or mobile devices. Not only does this prevent people from using the same pen and gathering in a small area, but when it comes time to send thank-you messages, you’ll easily know who was there and what they gave. It also enables your virtual attendees to participate as well so no one has to feel left out.

10. Send virtual thank-you cards.

Just like with the wedding invitations, send virtual personalized thank-you cards to those who came to your wedding.

Keep it clean

Cleanliness is one of the most important elements of safe weddings and gatherings, and making sure your guests know they’re in a clean environment will give them peace of mind and help them focus on you and your partner. Work with your vendors to take these steps to ensure that your wedding is as clean and safe as possible.

11. Pay attention to highly-trafficked areas of the venue.

Work with your venue and planner, if you have one, to ensure that all areas of the venue, especially high-touch areas, are being thoroughly and consistently cleaned.

12. Make sure there are sanitation stations.

Ask about sanitation stations for guests and make sure your planner and/or venue employees let all attendees know they’re there. Make sure hand sanitizer is readily available and accessible to all. Ask about hand-washing stations as well, and make sure there is a large supply of disinfectant wipes available to your guests. Another step is requiring guests to wash their hands when they arrive.

13. Wear masks.

One great way to maximize safe weddings is to require that all guests wear a face mask for the entirety of the event. While face masks may be a hard sell to guests, you can make it fun. Create masks for your guests (you can add your wedding hashtag or a picture of you and your soon-to-be spouse) or give them the opportunity to design their own.

14. Add sanitation elements to gift bags.

If you’re giving gift bags to your guests, you can include personal-sized hand sanitizers, face masks, and much more. Make sure they know that those items are in their gift bags and are available for their use during the ceremony and reception. You can even get the packaging of those items customized for your particular event, so get creative with your safety measures!

15. Ask your venue about ventilation.

One of the major factors in safety is ventilation, so ask your venue about their ventilation options. If there are windows, keep them open, and if it’s possible to make your wedding an outdoor wedding, nothing is better ventilated than the great outdoors.

Maximize food and beverage safety

Get your caterer involved and talk to them about the safety needs of your wedding.

16. Elevate the dining experience with a lower headcount.

With a smaller headcount, you may be able to give your guests more options for their meals, depending on your package and your venue’s offerings. Get creative and make sure you’re anticipating and accommodating any dietary requests. Also, instead of having a buffet where guests are all touching serving utensils, ensure that the meals are plated and served individually. It elevates the meal portion of the event and keeps everyone safer.

17. Provide snack boxes.

Ask your caterer to provide snack boxes for your guests instead of a buffet or a tabled display of goodies. You can work with your caterer for options and have your guests pre-select the types of snacks they want in their boxes.

18. Ensure that safe food practices are being used.

You want to work closely with your caterer and venue in all aspects of the meals your guests are being served, and wearing gloves while preparing food is a food service industry standard. However, it’s not always standard for them to wear gloves while setting the tables and configuring the space itself. Make sure the staff is wearing gloves at all times.

19. Utilize one-use only eco-friendly flatware/utensils.

Another way that you can increase your guests’ safety is to ask the caterer to use flatware that is one-use only. There are eco-friendly versions of these types of flatware, so speak with your caterer and venue about the options.

20. Mini or pre-sliced cakes.

Your wedding cake is an important part of your reception and should also be an integral part of your safe wedding. Instead of having one large cake, consider having personal sized mini cakes or cupcakes. Or have the caterer or baker provide pre-cut slices. The fewer hands that are involved the better, so see if your baker can have this done prior to everything arriving at the venue.

Put these tips for safe weddings to good use!

Beyond these safety measures, couples must be aware of their state’s phased reopening plans. There are guides state by state explaining how each state intends to approach reopening. Read them and familiarize yourself with those policies. These can change as circumstances change so keep an eye on this information and work to adjust your plans accordingly.

Up next, discover everything you need to know about the order of events at a wedding.

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Wedding Spot

The Wedding Spot blog is designed to help couples navigate every step of the wedding planning journey. From before the engagement to after you say “I do,” our goal is to give you the tips, ideas, and inspiration to prepare for your big day — and all that comes with it.