Updated: Aug 23, 2021
If you are like everyone else with a 2020 wedding that rescheduled to 2021, I would imagine you have your original plan followed up with a plan B,C, D, & E; or at least your wedding planner does for you! Although things are looking up, we live in a world full of uncertainties right now and when you've been planning the most important day of your life (thus far) for the past 2 years, it can sometimes feel like the end of the world, thinking about not having the wedding of your dreams. But before we get all pessimistic, I
want to remind you that the purpose of your wedding is to marry your person, the love of your life, your lobster, etc., and you don't need a big fancy party to do that! As long as you are with your spouse-to-be pronouncing your commitment to one another, than absolutely nothing else matters. Whether your on plan A or Plan X, keeping the reason for the celebration at the forefront is the most important thing!
~disclaimer~ if you are not willing to change anything about your wedding celebration or follow local guidelines and restrictions, for the sake of all your family, friends, and vendors involved in your big day, please postpone your celebration indefinitely. These fun hacks won't be of any use to you if you are not willing to adjust. ~harsh truth~
I love all these ideas, even if your wedding is not being affected by COVID. They will help set your wedding apart from your friends!
So lets throw around some fun ideas & scenarios that can still allow you to have the best day ever
The Guest List
There are so many factors that go into carefully your guest list, on a normal wedding planning venture. Now let's add COVID to it, with changing regulations every 2 weeks of social gatherings limits and capacity rules, where do you even start? All your friends and families are excited about getting out of the house and seeing people, but the week prior to your wedding your state or local government decreases the social gatherings limit from 250 to 50, on your 100 person guest list - and please keep in mind this could
happen at any time leading up to your wedding. First, I want to say that I FEEL FOR YOU! and so does your wedding planner and venue and photographer and videographer and caterer. As wedding professionals, we are experiencing first hand the heart ache that is caused by not having all your friends at your wedding. But unfortunately, we also have to follow local rules and restrictions, or our business could be put in jeopardy. We want you to have the best day ever, but please be respectful of the regulations and our businesses enough to make adjustments.
Make a list of all guests - in ranking order -from those that must be there to those that could celebrate in other ways.
Make sure to put yourselves as number 1 & 2 and your officiant as number 3, because the wedding actually can't happen without it.
This should not be a list of who is the most fun, or who has the most money, but a list of who would you be absolutely devastated if they weren't there on your day.
Ideas of who to put at the top of your list: parents, siblings, bridal party, grandparents.
If I need to cut people off our list - how do we still celebrate with them?
Live stream your ceremony! Talk to your videographer and see if they have the capabilities to live stream directly.
If not, create a facebook group where you can livestream to anyone in the world!
The Seating Chart
I highly suggest slimming down your tables, and telling your guests about it. When you go to a traditional wedding, what do you? Large tables of mixed company, with about 8 or 10 guests per table. Some tables might make sense - your friend group from college, your extended family, etc. - but what about the new couple you met a few months ago that you spend every weekend in the backyard with? Or your Aunt Sally & Uncle George that can only be tolerated in small doses? Where do we put them? Condensing tables to 2 or 4 people can completely eliminate the anxiety of not only putting together a seating chart as an engaged couple, but also the anxiety of the guest having that "OMG who do I have sit with" moment, especially in times of COVID where we don't know how close Aunt Sally has been standing to people in the Wal-Mart check out lines. This might mean renting new tables & even chairs but this will help guests feel even more safe - and honestly needs to be the new norm in weddings, even post-covid, because no one wants to be sitting with "the singles table."
Cocktail hor d'oeuvres
The obvious solution instead of a self serve hor d'oeuvre table is to opt for passed hor d'oeuvres (with the extra present catering staff noted below) which is a perfectly elegant option! However, there are two other options I'd like to present to you:
Small hor d'oeuvre plates already on the center of each table - to be shared between 2 people. If you choose to change your seating chart to tables of 2 - this is a perfect solution! Have catering pre-plate each salad and place it at each place setting prior to the start of cocktail hour. With ramekins of salad dressing on each table plus a small cheese and fruit plate for two on the table - this makes for the perfect setting of the scene for the entrance of the newlyweds!
Personally packaged hor d'oeuvres - this can be anything from individual charcuterie plates that you pick up on your way through the doors, or even small boxed containers of assorted Chinese foods - how freaking awesome would that be! Take it one step further and take your guests on a international experience through all the places you've visited together as a couple or all the places you hope to visit. If each cocktail selection is pre-packed on tables around the room - your guests are safely mingling and eating to start the event.
Opt for a plated meal instead of buffet - with an unexpected drastic cut in guest count, you now have some wiggle room in your budget. The additional $300 to have more servers, is going to adjust itself with the 18 less people you have in attendance.
~Less COVID friendly option for venues where tables are more than 6 ft apart (best for smaller COVID crowds)~ Interested in making it interactive? Ever been to Rioz in Myrtle Beach, SC? Each guest gets a meat card, and when the card is on the green side, the meat is cut right at their tableside, once they flip it to red, they are done eating and ready for their plate to be cleared. Keep the meat far enough from the breathing of guests and you have a fun meal, served by professionals that is not pre-plated nor buffet style!
If you choose to have a dessert table (think cupcakes, donut walls, candy bars, etc.) I would opt to have someone at the table with gloves to serve each guest. That makes things a little less fun though right? How about pre-packed ice cream treats at are passed around the ballroom after toasts? Or a box of macrons delicately placed as your new centerpiece (to replace the cocktail plate of course) while you are enjoying your plated meal. If you haven't guessed yet - individually packaged is the name of the game.
You can still have an open bar without having a bar setup. Just like you might with an entrée, ask your guests if they will be drinking beer or wine the evening of your wedding. Provide each table a bottle or two of wine and a bucket of beer. Catering can refill each table as needed (only a few tables will need it) -plus this increases the fine dining atmosphere of smaller tables - think tableside wine service at a 5-star restaurant!
Safety & Health Precautions
Something that we'll be thinking about even after we are "safe from COVID" is health precautions when eating or being around other people. It has and will continue to be a new part of our life - so make sure to incorporate things like hand sanitizer stations into your event for a couple years to come. Other things that you should consider is the comfortability of your guests.
Create a symbol system so your guests don't have to hug or shake hands with others (bracelets, pins, etc.) This is just a respect thing but having a symbol is helpful, especially once alcohol gets involved.
Make sure there is plenty of room for guests - both during the reception but also during the ceremony! Create sections of 2-4 chairs spaced out from others, provide extra seating in both areas of ceremony and reception, allow guests to sit at their reception tables (if you can see the ceremony from there).
Provide masks for anyone who wishes to wear them (some places they are required even at private events)
Hand sanitizer, Lysol, and other disinfectants. Cornhole and yard games are not encouraged right now at gatherings, but if you want to incorporate it, provide Lysol spray for anyone who might feel more comfortable using it between games. Aside from hand sanitizer stations - make hand sanitizer favors as well or put a small sanitizer on each table. That way, anytime guests go back for their drink, they can discreetly get some sani!
Most importantly, don't take it personal if a guest declines the invitation to your wedding because they are nervous for their or a family members' health.