We are officially more than a year into the COVID-19 pandemic, and it’s safe to say we’ve all learned so much over the past 12+ months. For me, that has largely included how to plan weddings and events (and plan them well!) around the pandemic restrictions. As I have navigated the process with my couples, I continue to return back to the same takeaways: that safety and comfort of your guests is paramount, restrictions can change on a dime, and flexibility is key. Today, I wanted to share how I have encouraged couples to embrace all three in Colorado as we continue to navigate the COVID-19 wedding planning process together!
Hold onto Invitation Plans Loosely:
In the past, the top suggestion I always made to couples was to mail their wedding invitations to their guests 12 weeks in advance if their group was largely visiting from out of town (which is almost always the case) and 6-8 weeks before their celebration if their guests were more local. Now, my biggest suggestion is to press pause on mailing your invitations until much closer to your wedding day. Guidelines are constantly changing, and what’s impossible one moment might become possible a few days or a couple weeks down the line. Every moment truly matters!
To keep guests in the loop, think about keeping your “A List” in the know. This is the group of immediate family members, and perhaps a few friends, whose presence is most important to you. The idea is even if your celebration becomes an intimate wedding, they’ll be there! It is completely fine to notify these guests in advance, especially as many will want to begin making travel plans.
The core group to hold off on officially inviting is your “B List”. This group typically consists of mostly friends, perhaps a few coworkers, and extended family members. This crew is the core group who might have to join over Zoom if the local guidelines won’t permit wedding guest counts to rise to the point where everyone can be invited and included. Or that might not feel as compelled to travel, but still would like to show their support.
Because you will be holding off on sending your wedding invitations, the very best thing to do is to keep your wedding website updated! That way guests aren’t left wondering why their invitations have yet to arrive. Plus, you can also share what you will be doing on your wedding day to keep the safety and comfort levels of your guests at the forefront.
Be Open to Menu Changes:
One of the biggest things COVID-19 has asked weddings to change is how meals are served to guests. There is a desire to keep guests socially distant and sitting, particularly while they are eating and not wearing masks. Plus, it’s also important for everyone to have fewer interactions with the food. So, many buffets are currently on hold because they don’t meet all of the safety criteria.
While a buffet might not be an option for your wedding day, there are still plenty of other ways your catering team can serve your guests their meals. Plated dinners are the safest option because every course is served to them while they’re seated. Stations are an option too because, unlike buffets where guests serve themselves, they are manned by members of the catering team who serve each item. And, don’t forget about food trucks!
The key thing to keep in mind is what I mentioned at the start – flexibility. Not only will you want to be flexible with how your meals are served, but you will also want to have some flexibility within your wedding budget. There is a difference, price-wise, between buffets and plated dinners, and you will want to be able to move forward with an option without feeling uncomfortable about paying more per person.
I will say that because so many weddings are outdoors in Colorado, this hasn’t caused any major snafus for my couples, but when assisting you with your selection, you may find that I need to get multiple quotes - one for a plated meal, one for buffet, one for stations. This helps us to budget accordingly AND be prepared for whatever restrictions are in place.
Dancing Might be an Option:
Just like restrictions have been carefully considered and put into place for how catering teams can serve wedding menus, the same idea also comes into play with whether or not guests are allowed to gather on the dance floor. Because dancing can be difficult to do socially distant, some weddings have not been permitted to have a dance floor. But, the space definitely does not go to waste.
I’ve put would-be dance floors to great use in order to add additional tables to keep guests who have not quarantined together further apart from neighboring tables. Plus, we’ve also added lounge seating, which works wonderfully when pods are appropriate!
After spending so much time apart, we’ve found couples and guests aren’t bothered that they can’t dance together. It’s all about catching up and chatting, which is something we have all missed.
What question would you love for us to answer about how to plan a wedding during a pandemic? We’re happy to help!