While COVID-19 has certainly impacted those planning a wedding, many couples have chosen to move forward with their nuptials — even if it looks a little different than expected. As they say, the show must go on!
Still, it’s important to take the necessary precautions to protect the health and safety of your guests while still keeping the party going. We’re seeing adjustments like shorter guest lists, custom masks as favors, and temperature checks as ways to limit the risk of virus spread.
Of course, you might still be wondering how you can have the wedding of your dreams while adhering to the restrictions set by your venue and your city and/or state. Social distancing doesn’t quite fit in with the typical wedding visions of packed dance floors and buffets full of sweet treats. Fortunately, the wedding industry is chockful of creatives who are natural problem-solvers.
We spoke with wedding professionals across the industry about their solutions to socially distance with style — here’s what they had to say.
Rethink the ceremony layout
The traditional ceremony is typically made up of rows and rows of chairs with little space between them. Naturally, this doesn’t fit in with social distancing guidelines, so consider trying an innovative alternative to ensure everyone is involved while keeping them safe from risk.
“Great ways to social distance ceremonies is to set up little couch sitting areas that would encourage those who are in the same household to group together,” explains Joann Gregoli of Elegant Occasions by JoAnn Gregoli. “For those who really want to keep people apart, offer a drive-in ceremony — have guests stay in their cars and observe the ceremony as you get married front and center.”
Eddie Zaratsian of Eddie Zaratsian Lifestyle & Design also suggests to consider alternative patterns. “The typical layout is usually an arrangement of chairs in row formations, but try going off-the-beaten-path by opting for circular seating or a staggered design. Guests will be able to view the altar better, and they’ll be social distancing all at once.”
In line with layout changes, you might want to consider replacing traditional furniture with larger fixtures that encourage more social distancing.
“The key to making your social distanced wedding stylish is by being intentional with your layout and customizing your design,” states Jamie Chang of Mango Muse Events. “How you set up your ceremony and reception spaces will not only dictate flow, but where and how people gather. Furniture vs. typical wedding chairs tend to be larger and take up more space which naturally encourages distancing. You’ll also want to think about choosing furniture that is larger with more singular seating (loveseats vs. sofas) once again to encourage distancing.”
Keep households together
Although many guests will have to socially distance themselves from each other, you can feel safe grouping those who live in the same household together. Keeping them in clusters ensures no one is left out, while minimizing risk as much as possible.
“Recently, we coordinated a wedding and split the group into nearby pods,” shares Nora Sheils of Bridal Bliss. “Each pod had its own tables, bar, dance floor, and service staff! The sound was the same throughout and all guests could see the happy couple for the duration of the event. They all felt a part of the festivities, but stayed in their household groups and enjoyed a chic event.”
Space out seating assignments
Fitting eight people at a standard 120 round isn’t going to fly this year. Since your headcount is likely lower than expected, build in some space at each guest table to allow people to effectively social distance. As mentioned above, try to keep households together at each table.
“Put four people at an eight-person table, with two on one side and two on the other,” encourages Jennifer Borgh of Borghinvilla Wedding Venue. “Instead of putting centerpieces in the center, they can go in the corners where the extra guests would usually sit.”
Make use of signage
While signage has always been a popular décor choice, it serves an important role in socially distanced weddings to safely guide guests to their destination.
“If you are having a small socially distanced wedding with reception seating outdoors, maybe you can create signs that say “Family of (insert name)” with an arrow pointing to their seat location,” suggests Simone Vega of Coordinated to Perfection. “This will allow guests not to huddle and linger at an enormous seating chart or seating cards that are placed on one table like we are used to.”
Healthy habits are also being encouraged, and Kylie Carlson of The Wedding Academy notes that you can create beautiful reminders to place around the reception. “Acrylic signage that gently reminds guests to wash their hands or wear a mask can be a chic way to keep hygiene at the top of mind without being overbearing. Bring in some stylish pedestals or tables to utilize as hand sanitizer stations as well!”
2020 is understandably a challenging time to be planning a wedding. Fortunately, your wedding vendors are here to help you achieve your dream wedding and provide suggestions and advice along the way. With pandemic guidelines changing over time, keep your planner and venue contact close in order to stay abreast of updates and make decisions accordingly. You can certainly have all the stylish details you want while keeping everyone safe — and, ultimately, you get to say “I do” to your partner which is what matters most!
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.
We’ve partnered with OFD Consulting to bring you this great advice from their collective of wedding professionals.