How Wedding Pros are Making Guests and Couples Feel Safe Planning Fall and Winter Weddings
While we may have caught a glimpse of what weddings looked like once upon a time – pre-pandemic – couples everywhere are still rightfully prioritizing guest comfort and safety for their upcoming celebrations. Despite vaccination numbers increasing, the Delta variant continues to be a cause for concern. The fact of the matter is that we shouldn’t turn a blind eye to COVID anytime soon, and our couples and their guests need our guidance to ensure that they feel safe during the fall and winter event season.
Common concerns among couples
Beyond the widely known health risks and preventable measures, couples are particularly worried about their event becoming a host for COVID, whether attendees are vaccinated or not.
Nora Sheils, co-founder of Rock Paper Coin and founder of Bridal Bliss notes, “The Delta Variant has thrown the wedding industry for a loop once again, and many that postponed from 2020 into 2021 are still questioning their decisions. Couples want to celebrate their day, but they want to do it in a way that is safe for all. Another concern is ever-changing mandates. Some couples have had to change plans more than 5 times, including major details like the venue or guest list, to minor details like the seating arrangements.”
Laura Maddox, owner of Magnolia Celebrates adds, “Most couples are ensuring that all of their guests are vaccinated. This seems to be the biggest concern to date. Most clients realize that another shutdown is not likely, but they are still wanting to make sure their events are not super spreader events. Foodservice safety is still a concern for most clients as well. While we know that the virus is not being spread by food in most cases, there is still a cleanliness concern for food stations that people are addressing with chef attendants or by opting for a seated/plated dinner.”
Suggestions you can make to increase comfort
The best-case scenario, of course, would be that your couples and their guests are all vaccinated accordingly. However, with mandates varying by state and booster shots now making their way into the conversation, it’s not necessarily going to be as black and white.
The decision will ultimately be up to the couple, but an increasingly popular strategy is requiring a negative COVID test on top of being vaccinated. It won’t eliminate the possibility entirely of anyone getting sick, but it can certainly minimize the odds. Luckily, more digital health app options, such as VOW Digital Health and CLEAR Health Pass, are becoming widely available, allowing guests to safely upload the appropriate documents prior to arriving.
Thomas Waters, Senior Event Coordinator and Owner of The Renaissance suggests, “We are strongly suggesting our couples start a wedding website if they don’t already have one, so they can keep their guests updated in ‘real time’ to any future potential information they will need to know in regard to mandates, postponements, and any other timely information. I also always suggest allowing us to work up some ideas on lower headcounts just in case. If my couple started with 150 guests, I will usually offer some suggestions on what the pricing and planning would be like for 125 guests, 100 guests, and 75 guests. Just breaking that barrier down with them to start a conversation about a potentially lower headcount really does help them to start accepting the new increase in cases.”
See also: What Seating Arrangements May Look Like With Social Distancing
Why couples are still decreasing their guest lists
The reality of the situation is that, regardless of how many precautions couples may set in place, COVID cases are reaching new heights. Hospitals are struggling to keep up, and we are not fully in the clear when it comes to having the peace of mind that we once had.
Waters continues: “While most of our current couples are wanting their headcounts to stay the same since headcounts are not being restricted as of this time, we are seeing the reality that guests, friends, and families are just not wanting to risk going to a public event. Surprisingly, we are seeing headcounts go down but not as much as we expected. I think each state, having differing levels of infection rates, has a comfort level on how potential wedding guests may process the theory of safety.”
All in all, wedding pros have a responsibility to their couples to encourage appropriate health measures and uphold state mandates. Couples are going to look to us for advice on keeping everyone safe, so it’s best to be prepared for those conversations and making alternate plans.
Meghan Ely is the owner of wedding PR and wedding marketing firm OFD Consulting. Ely is a sought-after speaker, adjunct professor in the field of public relations, and a self-professed royal wedding enthusiast.