It’s making wedding planning a nightmare. The unexpected crisis—and, yet, no one could’ve prepared for the current state of weddings. Now, with uncertainty surrounding social gatherings for the foreseeable future, couples are being forced to make a decision: postpone their planned celebrations or pivot to marry in a new, “socially distant” way.
The current situation has made us embrace the era of the socially distant wedding. The specific challenges of planning a wedding mid-pandemic are ever-changing as rules and regulations are modified. Ontario has no criteria or plans to bring the province beyond Stage 3. For the remainder of 2020, and possibly even 2021, weddings and events will continue to ‘look’ and ‘feel’ differently.
This is the time to pivot whatever original daydreams you may have had into a version that will work with our current pandemic climate.
If you want to celebrate now or in the near future, it’s time to accept this as a fact and accommodate accordingly. Couples have to be okay with this and begin to plan with a more intimate and more personable encounter in mind. Flexibility is key for couples—with their wedding vision and, also, with their guest list at this time. Be open to change.
In response to that, here are some creative ideas and solutions as you move forward—you may even find some silver lining in their suggestions!
1-Provide Face Masks
First and foremost, a socially distant wedding begins with attendees wearing face masks. While some guests may choose to bring their own, why not make them readily available?! That way, no one has an excuse for not wearing one. If you are extending the invitation beyond your close and immediate family, you may want to consider conducting temperature checks and ordering custom masks for each guest.
2-Institute a “Comfort” Band System
Aside from on-site rapid COVID-19 testing and seating guests by family or pod, a new party trend is colour coding wristbands that outwardly express comfort levels. This system allows guests to, quite literally, read the room. Here is a breakdown of suggested colors and their meaning.
Red or Pink: “Kindly keep your social distance, but I am smiling behind my mask!”
Blue or Yellow: “I am comfortable in a group, but no hugging, please!”
Green or White: “I have antibodies—time to celebrate!”
3- Plan For Unique Seating Arrangements
Even with a smaller guest list be intentional with seating arrangements. For your ceremony, move to soft seating where families are on sofas and banquettes that seat two to three people at a time, keeping the groupings socially distanced. For the reception, place households together with no more than six people at a table. This way, families are amongst their loved ones and will feel more comfortable during the festivities.
4- Create Safe Spaces For Guests
Just as it’s important to advise guests of any suggested safety measures, it’s important to give them room to heed your advice. Get creative and clearly define safe spaces for all your guests. Hire a chalk artist to create floral markers six feet apart to designate where guests could safely stand. Or get a magician who can perform close magic at tables.
5- Consider a Plated Menu
The way dinner is served can contribute to the overall atmosphere and pacing at the reception, and it can also be adjusted to influence the behavior of guests. Plated meals are the simplest and most effective way to avoid issues when it comes to the wedding meal. Self-service is no longer an option.
6- Limit Trips to the Bar
The bar is one of the most populated spots at a wedding. Reduce contact by being creative with the beverage planning. Consider table-side beverage service by an attendant who is assigned to service a single table, reducing contact. If you don’t have the budget for extra beverage staff, another option can be sealed carafes in various shapes, which can add a little personality to the tables.
7- Throw Your Own Concert
Many social distancing regulations involve the congregation of guests—and, well, that’s exactly what dance floors are made for. In Ontario dancing is not allowed. As an alternative to the tradition gathering, have the couple dance to their song and then let the band throw a concert! Seat everyone in groups of two to four strategically throughout the space, then let them enjoy the show while dancing in their seats or in their designated area like you would any concert.
Lastly, while some social distancing practices may be awkward—that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t welcome the new, especially when gathering your nearest and dearest. This is the best time to be creative to establish your own style of celebration that we haven’t seen in a long time. Don’t miss the moment!”