Previously published in ENGAGED! Issue 13, now updated with new, current information.

In these unprecedented times, how to handle what the Corona/COVID-19 virus 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 wedding.

The CDC continues to offer 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 a time of making hard decisions when it comes to weddings. If your event is not scheduled out for another 6-18 months, you are probably OK to hold off making any major decisions. In our previous version of this article at the start of the year, we talked about postponing 6-18 months out because of hard lockdowns, but now that things have opened back up, we are looking at safer options in 2021 and 2022 as you forge ahead with your planning… because love and weddings do not stop. You just have to use common sense and make wise decisions as to the health and safety of your loved ones.

We don’t know realistically when this will end. What we do know is that according to the Courier & Press in Vanderburgh County, “Weddings have been a problem… For example, 15 cases surfaced after a 150-to-200-person ceremony in the middle of September.” As someone planning a wedding, that should be an eye opening statistic! You DO NOT want your event to be the cause of family members falling ill.  So think about taking this as the perfect opportunity to cull down your guest list to only the people YOU want to be there. You don’t have to invite your fifth cousin’s boyfriend because your future mother-in-law wants him there. At the time this updated article was written, the City of Evansville’s Mayor Winnecke, reduced events within the city from 500 people to 125. Any event hosting more than 125 are required to have approval from the Evansville Health Department. This reduction in the number of people allowed at an event could change at any time with added pressure from the Vanderburgh County Health Board. All around the Tri-State we are seeing stricter measures being implemented as County and City officials grapple with the surge of the virus in our region. So plan accordingly. 

Right now, smaller is better. Take your original wedding budget and divide it by a smaller amount of people to give them a grander experience… better food, better DJ, higher quality venue… Your call! Or splurge it on yourself… nicer dress, better honeymoon. Whatever YOU want to do! Because right now, large weddings fall under what has been defined as potential “super spreader” events. For now, large events have been sidelined until we are well beyond this pandemic.

So let’s talk about ideas to maximize both public health  and family safety at your wedding: 

1. Nix the receiving line after the ceremony. The 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 and in such close contact is not a good call. Who knows what air you’re breathing!

3. Dancing in general should be reconsidered. Bride and grooms, husbands and wives, parents and children… come from the same houses. But, what happens when you start mixing households. How do you know where different households have been? Where their exposure has been? That’s where the danger lies, especially if mask wearing is lax.

4. 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.

5. Think about online services such as livestreaming (locally offered by Rose & Oak Studios) to broadcast the wedding to guests who cannot make it due to health or travel restrictions.

6. Or, you could 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 livestreaming app you can use.

7. Work with our local soap shops to give handmade soaps as favors at the tables. Small personal-sized hand sanitizers are a nice gift as well. 

8. Have extra hand sanitizer and disposable masks at the entrances and anywhere else appropriate. Encourage your guests to wear there masks as they would in any other public indoor space. Fun signage with mask graphics help!

9. 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.

10. Spread the tables out as far as feasible as well as place the settings as far apart as possible such as putting 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 guest-list starts to fall off, in all likelihood, you should have room/space to do this!

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

12. 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!).

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

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

15. Consider revamping your wedding to be an outdoor event. With plenty of outdoor venue spaces in the region, you can still have a gorgeous celebration but with fresh air! Local rental companies such as Bauer Tents and TRU Event Rentals also have several tent options and even offer space heaters for cold weather.

16. 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!

17. 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. It doesn’t mean that they love you any less, but want to err on the side of caution.  As a nation we will get through this better if we handle all of the nuances of the time we are in gracefully.

Whatever your plan, good luck, all our love, and remember 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

co-founder/managing editor

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