FEATURE ARTICLE: Getting Married in Unprecedented Times

In these unprecedented times, how to handle what the Corona virus situation is doing to weddings and events is not a one-size-fits-all solution. How you choose to proceed should in all likelihood involve a good amount of conversation and consideration before any major decisions are made to your event’s regard.

The CDC offers the following website to education the general public on the virus: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html – With that said, right now, it’s safe to say that we are in time of limbo. If your event is not scheduled out for another 6-18 months, you are probably OK to hold off making any major decisions. However, if your wedding is coming up in the near to moderate future, postponing is likely a wise decision. Have you called your vendors yet to have a discussion? Don’t hesitate to start those talks. The sooner you start making new arrangements, the better off you’ll be in terms of alternate dates!

We don’t know realistically when this will end. Scientists and doctors are doing their best to curb this global pandemic, but the news is showing that we are short on medical supplies and the rate of the spread is fast. Johns Hopkins Medical shared a phenomenal article called Coronavirus, Social and Physical Distancing and Self-Quarantine that dives into flattening the curve, how we do it, and what that means ( https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/conditions-and-diseases/coronavirus/coronavirus-social-distancing-and-self-quarantine )/ However, many large (and even small) cities are showing that not everyone is playing by the rules of sheltering in place and social distancing. The analogy of us all being in detention because a handful of kids can’t behave themselves has been floating around social media, and to me, it hits the nail on the head! Until we all do our part, this won’t end, and COVID-19 will continue to infect people and put not only our at-risk population but our healthcare workers in danger. So out of love for your fellow human beings, please do your part to stop the spread! Wash your hands, practice social distancing, only go out when necessary, and when you do, only send out one family member, etc!

Back to the timeline. You can follow along with what the The Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation is projecting at: http://www.healthdata.org/covid – They go so far as to break it down with projections by all resources, all beds, ICU beds, and invasive ventilators by the US, or you can take a look at just your state. So if you are wondering a ballpark when this will be over, this will give you some idea as we go along. Again, though, this is if everyone starts playing by the rules.

Considering postponing?

1. Check your marriage license expiration date. How will that play into your plan? If it expires before you can make your next reservation and move the date, will you get a new one or go ahead and get married privately, and then just make the larger gathering just a reception?

2. Start communicating with your vendors now. Most are booked throughout the year, so please be patient with them as they navigate getting you alternate dates. Bear in mind, depending on the venue or vendor, they may already be booked out until 2021.

3. Give your guests as much advance notice as possible. This could include printed cards, emails, personal notes, and/or calls or a combination of the above to make sure that everyone is in the know.

4. Need help? Bring in a planner. Most of us have a lot of other things going on besides just planning the wedding. So the burden of revamping an entire event can be time consuming and stressful. So the investment of letting a wedding planner handle the changes for you and/or be onsite to accommodate all of the necessary nuts and bolts of the day to make it a successful event will be money well spent.

Even when things start to get back normal, though, we highly suggest if your wedding is just on the cusp of coming after we come out of this pandemic that you still take precautions. So plan ahead with some of these ideas in mind to maximize public and family safety and health.

1. Nix the receiving line after the ceremony. The new concept of Social Distancing has been an eye opener to avoid passing germs and viruses among people. So discourage hugging and touching. No one wants to get sick from one another.

2. Reconsider the Dollar Dance. Again, lining people up to dance with you right up in your personal space from your closest relatives to your spouse’s third uncle, who knows what air space you’re breathing!

3. Skip buffet style serving of food. Either go with plated or if already planned as buffet style, have the caterer stay and serve out the portions (vs. letting your guests all dig in and serve themselves).

4. Think about online services such as LIVE-streaming (locally offered by Stellar Media and Rose & Oak Studios) to broadcast the wedding to guests who cannot make it due to health or travel restrictions.

5. Alternately, set up a private Facebook group for your guests and LIVE Facebook stream the ceremony and/or all festivities to include those who stayed home as well! Periscope is another online LIVE-Streaming app additionally.

6. Work with our local soap shops to give handmade soaps as your favor gift at the tables. Alternately small personal sized hand sanitizers are a nice gift as well.

7. Have extra hand sanitizer at the entrances and anywhere else appropriate.

8. Double and triple check your RSVPs as you get closer to your date because your numbers may fall off, and you’ll need to give as accurate a headcount to your venue and caterer as you can.

9. Spread the tables out as far as feasible as well we place the settings as far apart as possible, e.g. put eight people at tables meant for ten or six people at tables meant for eight, again going with that concept of Social Distancing to give each person more room. If your guestlist starts to fall off, in all likelihood, you should have room/space to do this!

10. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Think about reviewing your contracts thoroughly, and consider reviewing your venue’s cleaning procedures with them.

11. Research and consider adding a virtual guestbook, and/or recruit a bridal party member to help you collect pre-recorded speeches that you can run at the wedding (have someone else help you with this that way you can enjoy and be surprised with the rest of the guests with what is said day of just as if it were live!).

12. In lieu of water/drink pitchers or 2 liters, etc, go with individual cans or bottles.

13. NO DIPPING FOUNTAINS! I’m just going to leave that one right there….

14. Still stressed about forging ahead? Then consider adding a wedding planner to your list. This person can help you navigate the details and any changes you might have to make with ease. Let that person handle the bulk of the responsibility while you look forward to and enjoy what will be one of the biggest days of your life!

15. Lastly, be flexible. This is a very unique time that we are in, and everyone just wants to be safe and healthy. So respect family and friends’ decisions whether they can make it or not. We’re sure it doesn’t mean that they love you any less, but a lot of people like to err on the side of caution, and collectively as a nation we will get through this better if we handle all of the nuances of the time we are in gracefully.

Photo by Stellar Media

Whatever your plan, good luck, all our love, and your local wedding vendors are here to make this as seamless of a time as possible! We can’t wait to be a part of your big day!

-Nikki Davis

Engaged River Valley