9 COVID Wedding and elopement tips [March 2021 update]

Well, this year has not been what we planned. But, you still want to marry that one person. That is awesome. Here are a few ideas about how to get married in the age of the Coronavirus that will help you do it with your sanity, pocket book, relationship and health in advance. COVID Weddings are unique and we can make them truly personable and joyous. If this time is making you think about alternative wedding styles, I also have a guide to help you plan to elope in Washington State.

Bride holds kn-95 mask during COVID-19 wedding

Some wedding venues or elopement locations aren’t taking reservations

It’s important to note that not all venues are currently open. Most privately owned venues are trying to find ways to remain open in some capacity during the pandemic. So reach out to the venues and many will be trying to find some way to work with you. But, a lot of the public spaces simply are not available. For instance, many of the rentable spaces in Washington State Parks are not taking reservations at this time.

Keep your COVID wedding small

Many states have rules on how many people can attend weddings. Here in Washington State, the whole state is in Phase 3 of opening up. The current regulations are as such:

Wedding and funeral ceremonies and indoor receptions, and wakes are permitted and must follow appropriate venue requirements. If food or drinks are served, eating and drinking establishment requirements outlined above apply.

That obviously changes and depends on your exact jurisdiction. Knowing the current rules is really important for weddings in the age of the Coronavirus.

But, I’d encourage you to think about the wedding in a completely new light. There has been a push in the wedding blogs for “microweddings” or elopements and anytime you have to downsize your wedding, it is easy in our society that values the biggest and grandest events to feel that society is saying your wedding isn’t a real wedding. That’s fucking bullshit (sorry Mom, I’ll add to the swear jar). But it really is. I hate to say it, but if you have a small wedding, you will be asked “oh, and are you going to have a big party later?” You are under ABSOLUTELY NO OBLIGATION to say yes. Your wedding is yours whether there are 5 people there (the minimum for a legal wedding in WA) or more. 

And if you’re reading this thinking, “I kinda do want that bigger wedding.” That’s totally awesome! Let’s do it, just later. 

Stay outside

I know we are headed into winter. Which, unless you’re in California, is not the warmest and driest time of year. This is another reason to keep things small. It’s easier to get just a couple people to be outdoors in a celebration, but the more who attend, the harder it is to get people to maintain social distance.

But, with that plan of being outdoors, there are times when it’s just not going to be possible. Have an honest conversation about what alternatives exist in case of bad weather and how to ensure you can keep everyone safe.

The hardest part for the weddings that I’ve attended is keeping all of the safeguards you have in place as either the weather changes (or it got cold at night) or as people just got used to being close to each other. The longer they’re together, the more people will relax one little aspect of the safety plan, then another and another. So be aware of how to encourage people to stay vigilant throughout the event.

Bride with bridesmaids wearing kn-95 mask at COVID-19 wedding

Make it easy to be clean

People are at the wedding to celebrate you. In that celebration, people are generally going to take the easiest routes to following guidelines. So, every little bit you can do to help make staying safe and sane to be the easiest option helps. Having hand sanitizers, extra masks and spacing out chairs (actually following the 6’ guideline) can go a long way to make the wedding better for everyone. Or, just have everyone come by boat.

Tell everyone the rules

I know it feels a little pushy, but it’s OK. Put up big signs. Have the officiant remind people about rules like keeping masks on except while eating or point out where the hand sanitizer is. Make it so obvious about how to follow these rules that a toddler could follow them.

Less gifts at the wedding

Whether it’s because you Marie Condo-ed your closet at the beginning of quarantine or just that you want to control the items entering your home, it’s a good time to encourage gifts of money, donations or to have them sent directly to your home. It’s just safer for everyone to have fewer spots that will be touched by all guest.

In the same vein, you might want to think about an online guest book instead of a physical one. I have seen some guest books where the pens were cleaned after each use, but that was a lot of work. 

whole wedding party, including flower girls, wears masks at COVID-19 wedding

No more buffets

I’m seriously wondering if buffets will ever come back. Also birthday candles. But, that’s OK. Catering companies are now totally used to making individual dinners and helping out. I would suggest doing your homework to find companies who also use reclicable or compostable plates and wear. Serving everything for the individual will increase waste, so it’s something else to keep in mind.

Think about the safety of everyone involved

I know that I take COVID seriously and so does just about every other vendor I know. We have to take this seriously because there are a few things at balance here. On one hand, this is our job. So as much as we want to photograph your day, we also need to keep ourselves healthy so that we can safetly show up at the next wedding. Many event professionals have fewer events than normal, so we all really need to make sure we stay healthy to be able to attend the next one. 

Secondly and even more importantly, I do have a family too. Please be safe around me so I can keep them safe too. My adorable daughter thanks you.

End it early

Like I mentioned before, the longer people are together, the more they will revert to their normal ways of living and celebrating. So, to keep everyone safe, I’d suggest holding a celebration that ends earlier or is just shorter in general. If it’s still light or there are fewer drinks in people, they are going to better prepared to keep themselves safe. It might even be a fun idea to send people home with a bottle of wine from the wedding to celebrate together, but apart.

Bride with wedding ring puts on KN95 mask at COVID-19 wedding

Be safe. Wear a mask. Wash your hands. Love your loved ones. We’ve got this.

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