Updated: May 30, 2020
The Covid-19 pandemic has changed the whole landscape of how we operate as a society, and social distancing measures may be with us for at least the foreseeable future. Many 2020 bride & grooms have already postponed their weddings until 2021.
The Government have said that “small weddings” can hopefully go ahead from the 1st June 2020. Those with 2020 weddings, who are minded not to postpone, might have to make some changes to how they organise their big day. There are likely to be restrictions on the number of guests that can attend. So, how do you plan a wedding with this in mind? Here are a few ideas on how to have a socially distanced wedding.
Communication is key
The first step when choosing to go ahead with your 2020 wedding is to communicate with your partner. Make sure it is definitely what you both want. Be as open and honest as you can. You've likely been planning this day for years, and dreaming about it for even longer than that - it's a once in a lifetime event and you have to be sure that you won't look back with regret upon your decision.
Is a specific date important to you? Is the venue you've booked already booked up for 2021? Are the number of guests that can attend a priority? These will all influence any decision you might make. Is the main thing that you want to get married as soon as possible? In this instance, you could consider an elopement or a "minimony".
There may be guests with underlying health conditions who may still feel uneasy about attending. Talk with them about this, and respect their decision if they decide not to attend. Update your guests regularly to keep them in the know. Use a wedding website and paperless invites.
Communicate with your venue and suppliers. Ask them what their postponement policy is, in case the situation changes again.
Be prepared to be flexible
Social distancing and lockdown measures could change within a short space of time. If stricter measures are re-introduced how will this impact your wedding, and how will you deal with this? Could you for instance, as horrible as it sounds, make a list of your guests in order or priority? So whatever the restrictions are at the time, you can adapt accordingly - I'm sure everyone will be understanding.
Perhaps consider having your ceremony in 2020, and moving your reception back to a later date, so more friends and family can celebrate and party with you.
Be prepared and have a Plan B ready to go at any time. See my post here for the latest advice on how Covid-19 might affect weddings for the coming months.
Make sure your venue is prepared
Speak with your venue about what measures they are putting in place to keep you, and your guests, safe on the day. Ask them to provide hand sanitiser upon entry and in all the bathrooms. Make sure they are using paper towels rather than cotton towels. How are they going to arrange the seating? Ask them about how they might organise entry and departure from the venue and the ceremony room to ensure a safe 2-metre distance is observed as per the government guidelines.
How is food service going to work in this environment of social distancing? Buffets are best to be avoided. Could your reception be held outdoors, where the risk of transmission lower? There are a number of companies that offer food truck service, this might be an alternative option to a sit-down meal, allowing people to stay 2 metres apart. Could your venue adapt their service to something akin to this?
Place signs around your venue
Place signs throughout your venue, asking people to keep two metres apart and to use hand sanitizer regularly. Ask them not to use cash at bars. You could ask your stationery supplier to make these in the same style as the rest of your bits and bobs.
To mask or not to mask?
You might want to ask your guests to wear masks to help prevent the chances of spreading the virus. You could even provide these to be handed to your guests upon arrival. This may also make your guests feel a little more at ease.
Personalised masks would be a nice touch, set one aside as a keepsake (as they are to be disposed of after use).
Stream your wedding for those who cannot attend
The internet and social media can be a wonderful thing. Find a way of streaming your ceremony so those who cannot attend can still feel part of your big day. This might be as easy as setting up a tablet on a tripod and streaming through Facebook Live. Ask your photographer if they could help with this.
Set expectations before the big day
Manage your own, and your guests, expectations of what to expect on the day.
For instance, traditional family portraits might not be possible if members are from different households. You could potentially ask your photographer about whether it would be possible to photoshop members into the same image - but bear in mind this might not be possible, or the result might not be entirely satisfactory.
If guests are wearing masks you won't have those images of everyone laughing at the best man's speech. Work through your day chronologically and write a list of all the little things that will be affected.
Keep a positive mind
"Life is what happens when you're busy making other plans" John Lennon famously said. You could not have predicted, nor can you do anything about, the disruption caused by the Covid-19 pandemic. It's okay to cry, but then try to focus on what will be, rather than what could have been. You'll be able to look back on this time in years to come and laugh.
If you're wondering how you will be affected, there is a great article from the BBC here. If you choose to postpone and your original photographer is not available for your new date, I'll do all I can to match your original wedding photography package - get in touch to see what is possible.