‘Socially Safe Weddings‘ is a phrase that has become synonymous with weddings in 2020. For better or worse it’s something we need to embrace.
Here at the Wedding Academy we’ve been busy writing a brand new module for our Courses all about planning socially safe and distanced weddings.
But it doesn’t have to be all doom and gloom. Having a socially safe wedding doesn’t mean it can’t still be the wedding your clients have been dreaming about.
In this post we’ve invited our student, Kelly Howard of All Things Pretty Weddings & Events, to show us the beauty behind a small, intimate, socially safe wedding.
We also spoke with experts across the industry for their top tips for planning socially safe weddings and here’s what they had to share.
First and foremost, wedding pros need to help clients accept the fact that their wedding plans may have changed, but that doesn’t mean they can’t have an incredible celebration.
Wendy Kidd of Each + Every Detail says: “The most important thing a couple can do to help create a socially safe wedding ceremony and/or reception is to accept that they are the ultimate authority in making decisions about what actions are being taken to make this happen.
Once they understand they’re not planning a ‘normal’ wedding and start educating themselves on the requirements from all authorities, they’ll have the knowledge to help direct their team of wedding professionals in what can and should be done.”
Include a digital option for guests
Hosting a wedding amidst a pandemic will naturally mean that some guests won’t be able to attend; however, that doesn’t mean they can’t be a part of the big day.
“Go digital and add a livestream element for any friends or family who can’t make it,” encourages Kristin Wilson of Our DJ Rocks.
“Many companies may already have the capability, so ask if it’s something you can incorporate into your big day too! It can be as easy as a private Facebook group or a live feed sent to YouTube, so even the least technologically savvy guests will still be able to watch you tie the knot.”
Adjust the floorplan
A safe event must include proper social distancing measures, which requires wedding pros to rethink the floorplan from a post-pandemic perspective.
“One of the easiest things you can for hosting a ceremony and encouraging social distancing is to reconsider the layout,” shares Eddie Zaratsian of Eddie Zaratsian Lifestyle & Design.
“The traditional setup is typically an arrangement of chairs in a row formation, but think outside the box by opting for circular seating or more of a staggered design. This will not only provide guests with a clearer view of the altar, but they’ll feel much more comfortable with the extra space.”
It’s not just for the ceremony, though; the reception is arguably more prone to physical contact, but a bit of creative planning can keep everyone safe while keeping the party going.
Nora Sheils of Rock Paper Coin and Bridal Bliss explains: “Space is key for a socially-safe reception. Consider smaller ‘pods’ making up a larger reception. A group of guests are expected to stay in their pod, in which each has its own seating, dance floor, bar, assigned bathrooms and service staff.”
Rethink your seating plan
Since crowds are too risky at this point, it helps to have a strategic and intentional plan when it comes to seating guests for the cocktail hour and reception.
“Similarly to your ceremony, you’ll want to pre-assign tables,” states Jamie Chang of Mango Muse Events.
“These will be used for both your cocktail hour and dinner, so guests are both separated and limits close congregation. In addition, you don’t want communal tables like highboy cocktail tables because, while you want your guests to be able to mingle, you don’t want them getting too close to each other for extended periods of time.”
Break up the dance floor
What’s a wedding without dancing? Although the dance floor seems like a hot spot for physical contact, there are some creative ways to work within the limitations while still ensuring guests have some time to get down.
“If your area is allowing dance floors and dancing, consider getting a larger one to accommodate having your number of guests dancing but with the proper distance,” suggests Joan Wyndrum of Blooms by the Box.
“Bars can be a popular place for gathering for any event, so consider having servers only allowed going to the bar to avoid congregating.”
Kimberly Morrill of Your Perfect Bridesmaid adds: “Use your lighting vendor to do different colored pin spotlights for dancing bubbles. Turn the whole venue into the dance floor so guests can cut a rug from a safe distance.”
Skip the handouts
With the virus being transferred through handheld items, it’s best to limit the use of handouts like programs, menus, or favors — but that doesn’t mean those features can’t be replicated in fun virtual manners.
“Paperless programs are a great way to reduce transfer and still let your guests know what to expect at your ceremony,” says Shannon Tarrant of WeddingVenueMap.com.
“Put all the information such as the wedding party, readings, and songs being played on a page on your wedding website. You can use a website like QR Code Monkey to create a custom QR code that you can print and frame. Instruct your guests to open their phone camera and point it at the QR code which will take them right to the webpage with all your ceremony information.”
…except for masks
Masks may be mandatory, but they can certainly be a fashion statement as well! In lieu of disposable surgical masks, consider offering custom masks as a useful wedding favor.
Lindsay Parrot-Masiewicz of P3 Events shares: “Have masks ready and waiting in case a guest lost one. Some companies even offer masks to match your linens! My new favorite thing is Mask Baskets! I have started offering add-on kits and signs asking guests to ‘mask up.’ Coming up with cute ways to ask is fun and guests don’t feel so managed.”
Focus on sanitization efforts
Of course, even with all of these measures in place, we still need to be mindful of keeping things clean and sanitary throughout the celebration.
“Have sanitization stations set up everywhere around the venue from the entrance to the exit,” encourages Jennifer Borgh of Borghinvilla Wedding Venue. “You can also spray sanitizer and take guests’ temperatures (and document this on a guest list for future reference).”
Lisa Krumm Anhaiser of LBL Event Rentals elaborates: “Create or have your stationer create a coordinating label to decorate hand sanitizer bottles. Use them on seated tables, cocktails, and the bar. Also, ask your venue to change air filters specifically for your event and ask for staff to clean and wipe surfaces throughout the event.”
Instead of social distancing, let’s start thinking of it as physical distancing. We can still produce the beautiful and enjoyable weddings that we always have; we just need to be mindful of the parameters required to limit the risk of viral spread.
With these safety measures in place, our clients can still have the wedding of their dreams — even if it looks a little different than they had expected.
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Meghan Ely is the owner of wedding PR and wedding marketing firm OFD Consulting. Ely is a sought-after speaker, adjunct professor in the field of public relations, and a self-professed royal wedding enthusiast.