Across the US, brides and grooms have grown excited about hosting their weddings in 2021 and 2022, both large and small gatherings. As you look to solidify your wedding plans, you and your partner may be looking for tips and tricks to smooth the planning process through some of the uncertainty that remains from the COVID-19 pandemic and the various mutated strains (looking at you, Delta variant). Although you may still need to adapt your plans to fit varying comfort levels and state mandates, there is a light at the end of the tunnel! And, Minted is here to help guide you through it all. This article will provide practical solutions to common questions, tips, and planning advice to help ensure that your wedding vision comes to life, and planning a wedding during the ongoing pandemic is as easy and enjoyable as possible.
Understanding the Current COVID Landscape, Including The Delta Variant
Photo: erinofboston (@erinofboston)
Many states are reopened in 2021 and repealed restrictions as their citizens reached vaccination milestones. However, given that states have’ autonomy in making their own regulations, it is important to regularly check local guidelines for gatherings as updates for planning a wedding during COVID remain very fluid with the unknowns of the variants such as the Delta virus. In addition, be certain to check other trusted governmental organizations, such as the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for official guidance to inform your wedding planning decisions. Each state makes its own decisions for mass gathering restrictions, so understanding the nuances of the restrictions is critical. Examples of these include limits on attendance for outdoor venues as compared to indoor venues. Often, guest limits are more generous for open-air outdoor locations. In other instances, if your venue size is larger, you may be allowed by local guidelines to host more guests, in comparison to intimate spaces which are generally smaller in overall size. These occupancy caps are related to venue size, which means the greater the square footage for an event space is, the more opportunity exists to distance guests and easily adhere to state mandates. Though many of these restrictions were sunsetted in the summer of 2021, we have started to see and hear rumblings of re-imposing restrictions due to the Delta variant, to ensure the safety of the community.
Your wedding could very well be the first event your guests have been to in perhaps over a year. Because of this, it is critical to make them feel safe and well-informed about the celebration and the many protocols that will be in place to ensure everyone’s safety. Let your guests see that you have thought through everything when it comes to planning a wedding during covid. Over-communicate every precaution you are taking to host your event safely. Under-communicating could easily lead to questions and hesitation from your guest, and as a result a lower RSVP count.
Here are some questions that you may want to address in your wedding details on your wedding website to ease any anxiety or apprehension your guests may feel:
- How many guests do you plan to invite?
- How will the food be served? Will food be served plated in individual portions or buffet style?
- Are masks mandatory? Will you have masks for guests who forget theirs?
- Will there be bar service? Are guests required to wear a mask when ordering drinks or moving around?
- Will tables be distanced? How far apart?
- How many guests per table? This will affect your seating arrangements.
- Is there dancing, or will the event just be a sit-down dinner?
- How will cleanliness be ensured by the facility?
- Will all surfaces be washed/sanitized beforehand?
- Is the staff wearing masks?
- Will vaccinated guests as well as unvaccinated guests be allowed to attend?
- Will we be required to take a test prior to the event?
- Ensure you have guests’ contact info: Make sure you have the current contact information for your guests: phone, email, home address. By placing each contact’s info in an address collection tool, you can be sure to have all your guest’s information in the same place for batch updates. You could also need this information for contact tracing purposes, depending on your state and venue protocols. (Minted can help with our free digital address collection tool!)
- Post updates to your wedding website: Consider dedicating an entire page on your wedding website (or a section of the homepage) to updates regarding your wedding plans. You may want to add a frequently asked questions (FAQs) section or upload a timeline of the day’s activities, so you can ensure all of your guests are up-to-date with your event details and you can preempt any questions they might have. If you need a wedding website, Minted offers free wedding websites you can use to communicate all of this information and any updates.
- Manage RSVPs Digitally: Using your Minted Wedding Website, you can use digital RSVPs that allow for more flexibility. There are options to easily reset RSVPs on each of your wedding events if the event details change. We have also seen couples add questions about vaccine status their their RSVPs, depending on preference.
- Create a dedicated social media account or group chat: Some couples opt to create a private online group while they are wedding planning during COVID-19, like a Facebook group, or a private Instagram account, where guests can be kept up to date on your plans. If you have a wedding outside of the U.S., consider creating a WhatsApp group for your guests. WhatsApp is a very popular group messaging app outside of the U.S. and is particularly helpful for international travel, when your guests may not have normal access to cellular plans.
- Email your guests directly: With Minted, you can easily send an email message to any guest in your address book. Our help section provides instructions for sending an email message to your guests.
FOR COUPLES SETTING A DATE & MOVING FORWARD:
- Consider an outdoor venue or a venue that opens up, so that there is ventilation for guests that might still be apprehensive. As mentioned above, restrictions and regulations may come back prior to your event, so be sure to put yourself in the best position to host the event as-os and continually look for rules as they are related to your specific venue and state.
- Communicate to guests what safety measures you are putting in place and what they can expect from the event.
- Scale back the presence of non-guests, such as vendors and entertainers, at your wedding and during the reception. Moving to reduce staff in attendance, like a smaller band or single DJ, can help to put your guests further at ease.
- Inform guests if they should bring anything with them, like a mask or personal sanitizer, so that they can plan on bringing those in advance. Having extra sanitizer around the venue is always a good idea and can lessen cleanliness anxiety for guests.
Image source: Adri Mendez Photography (@adrimendezphotography)
- Hire a videographer to live stream the event. There could be many guests that may not be in attendance but would still like to see your nuptials. This is a great opportunity to include those loved ones in your event.
- Ask a good friend or family member to head to the reception early to ensure that all the details you’ve worked so hard to include are in place and the facility is ready for your guest’s arrival.
- If you have not already signed contracts for your event, continue to work with vendors and hotels to see understand the financial ramifications you will incur for canceling/rescheduling, should it occur. Just so you can prepare yourself if the situation changes going into your event.
- Realize that you may still have some cancellations from guests that are apprehensive. It is important to understand their position and that it is not a reflection of their feelings toward you. Make sure you fully understand the timeline for your guaranteed guest count that you will need to provide to your reception facility’s food service. The closer the guaranteed date is to the event date, the more opportunity you have for not being billed for non-attending guests.
FOR THE COUPLES WAITING TO SCHEDULE:
- Identify those things that would make you feel comfortable hosting the event and resume planning once those benchmarks are met. In some instances, couples want to wait for all guests to be vaccinated prior to holding a large social gathering, while others want to ensure their guests are comfortable traveling and attending group events again before moving forward. By deciding as a couple what those benchmarks are, you are better able to determine when it is the right time to move forward. And, it's a great practice to make these decisions together as you move toward being a married couple!
- Pull together inspiration! Creating a Pinterest board that brings all of your favorite florals, tablescapes, and stationery together in one space can help you crystallize your vision for the wedding and make it easier to have conversations with any vendor you might want to work with for your wedding.
- Pre-purchase what you can, like a wedding gown, that does not require a specific date. Many boutiques are open by appointment, subject to local laws and ordinances. Allowing yourself time to make these purchases now means you’ll both be able to check things off your to-do list and that you may be able to put more thought into special nuances or details that might get lost in a more accelerated planning process.
- Think through ‘buying now and personalizing later’ options. Many vendors are offering options for you to make layaway purchases or otherwise finish and order products, except for elements you’ll need to complete once your date and venue are confirmed. For example, Minted’s “Buy Now Personalize Later” option for Save The Dates and Invitations allows you to choose your design, customize with any photos and details you have ready, purchase your cards, but hold to print until you have your final details. Just let us know once you’re ready to make your final changes and we’ll send them your way!
FOR COUPLES THAT ELOPED OR HAD A SMALL CEREMONY IN 2020 or 2021 & NOW WANT TO CELEBRATE :
- Consider hosting an event on your now anniversary – or another meaningful date. We see that many couples are hosting one- or two-year anniversary events, representing the day they were officially married. This then allows for everyone to not only celebrate the nuptials, but the milestone one-year anniversary alongside it.
- Think about putting a fun or personal spin on the event, now that more guests are able to join. You might have more venue options because you are not constrained by ceremony locations. Schedule a walk-through and don’t overlook options you may have bypassed during the height of the pandemic.
FOR COUPLES CHANGING PRIOR PLANS:
- Many couples may have chosen to have a small ceremony on a confirmed date and a larger event later once guests are comfortable attending large-scale events again, such as fall 2021 or 2022.
- If you have already signed contracts for your event, continue to work with vendors and hotels to see what financial ramifications you will incur for canceling/rescheduling. Are there ways to simply sign a contract to push out your partnership to a later date? Do they own an alternate facility that could work? This can be a good way to mitigate the additional financial impact.
- Alert guests of the news with a change of date or postponement announcement. By sending out an adjustment or update to your initial invitation, guests can plan accordingly. Minted has a large selection of products that would work well to communicate the change in plans to your guests. Also always remember to update your website or your social media with the same information that’s being mailed!
Image source: Megbrookphotography (@megbrookephotography)
If your wedding date has not changed:
We have been monitoring the news carefully and will be taking precautions to make our wedding safe for our guests. Our wedding is happening as planned, and we look forward to celebrating with you all on [date]!
At this point, we've been advised that a [month] wedding should be safe. Please RSVP and book your accommodations as you normally would, but check first for a lenient cancellation policy, which most hotels and airlines are happy to provide in light of current events. That being said, the safety of our guests is our utmost priority. Please check our website for updates or contact us directly with any questions – our contact information is below. Thank you for your love, patience, and concern.
If you have a new, postponed wedding date:
We have been monitoring the news carefully and we have decided, out of an abundance of caution, to postpone our wedding until [date]. We cannot wait to celebrate with you then!
If you have postponed your wedding, but do not have a new date yet:
We have been monitoring the news carefully and we have decided, out of an abundance of caution, to postpone our wedding. We are still working to figure out our new date and will keep you informed as soon as we have our new plan finalized. We will be posting updates to our wedding website: [WEDDING WEBSITE URL] and also send out updates via email. Please contact us directly with any questions – our contact information is below. Thank you for your love, patience, and concern.
If you have decided to elope or have a micro wedding and want to inform your guests that there will be no formal wedding/reception at this time:
This year certainly hasn't panned out how we had expected. We've been excited about planning our wedding and dreaming of our special day celebrating with our close friends and loved ones. Unfortunately, the COVID and the variant strains of the virus have added much uncertainty to the process.
Regretfully, we have decided to cancel the invitation to our wedding. This was not an easy decision for us to make, however, the health and well-being of all of our guests is a top priority. That being said, we fully intend to hold a celebration of our love and commitment at a later date when we can all gather together safely.
Please hold us in your hearts on [WEDDING DATE] as we make our vows to each other. Though we did not envision entering married life in this manner, we plan to do so with an even greater appreciation of life & love.
We invite you to view our wedding ceremony livestream on [DATE & TIME] and celebrate with us virtually. The link to view the ceremony will be posted on our wedding website: [WEDDING WEBSITE URL]
What is Minted Doing to Help?
Minted has always been about building community around weddings. We are in this together with our engaged customers, the independent artists who create our designs, our manufacturing craftsmen, and the wedding professionals and venues who help bring your dreams to life. Our customer service team is standing by to help you, to the best of our ability, realize the wedding of your dreams.