Protecting Your Wedding Guests From COVID-19
by Raj Desai | 4/15/2020
Although we don’t know everything about COVID-19, what we do know is that it’s not going anywhere anytime soon. Many public health and government officials are (overly) optimistic about an 18-month timeline for developing a vaccine. Additionally, efforts for determining therapies, like testing antibodies in human breastmilk, are underway. And while any advance made to heal and vaccinate the public from COVID-19 is positive, that may not do much good for your wedding that’s taking place before a vaccine or therapy is available for widespread public use.
This puts you in a position that brides before you have never had to deal with – how do you protect your wedding guests from spreading COVID-19? Should you cancel your summer or fall wedding? Public health expert Amesh Adalja, researcher at Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security, states that since “it’s going to be everywhere soon…it may not be very impactful to cancel (your wedding).” Keep your wedding on the books and consider looking into these other options instead.
Have A Serious Convo With Your Venue
The burden of protecting your guests isn’t yours to bear alone – have a call with your planner and venue coordinator to determine what your venue is prepared to do to ensure the safety of you and all of your guests. Here are some key points to talk about:
Will they have a lot of soap on hand? What about providing hand sanitizer stations? Are they going to have staff wipe down and disinfect commonly touched areas and surfaces like restrooms (hourly or every 30-minutes) and door handles? Can they have multiple signs displayed prominently to remind people to wash their hands, sanitize regularly, and to cover their mouths with their elbow or with tissues when sneezing?
Logistics Of Guests
If you’ve already planned guest seating for tables at your wedding reception, you’ll know that you typically have an option for 8-10 guests that can be seated at a round table. What will that mean in the era of social distancing? Maybe that number drops from 8 or 10 to 5. Now what does that mean for the total number of tables at your reception or sangeet? Will you be adding more tables to fit in all of your guests? Or are the tables you planned for that are now seating 5 instead of 10 at max capacity for your venue, meaning you’ll have to change your guest count?
How about seating during the rest of your events? Keep in mind that you’ll want seats spread out then, too. Talk to your venue, planner, and decorator on what that can look like.
Other Aspects Of Event Set-Up To Discuss
Social distancing is going to affect a lot of things that you wouldn’t have given a second thought to previously. Does your dance floor need to be bigger so that your guests can spread out? What safety measures does your venue recommend for your open bar or for cocktail hour? How about having a venue staff-member open main doors or for all guests (or simply have them propped open) to minimize how many people touch common surfaces?
While You’re At It, Talk To Your Guests, Too
Be in constant communication with your guests about your commitment to ensuring their well-being. That means telling them that if they have any flu-like symptoms in a 14-day window leading up to your event, they shouldn’t come. And if you’re able to work out a livestream option with your videographer, have the link accessible to your guests on your wedding website. Also include some ‘best practice’ tips for guests on your site, like limiting touching (shaking hands/hugging – which, by the way, you and your partner need to *also* do when interacting with guests) and bringing their own bottles of hand sanitizer along.
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After two weeks of quarantine and social isolation at home with my family I could not pass by the topic of pandemic virus. . Let it be my input to the collection of art about coronavirus that put all people around the world at their homes. . Stay safe. Stay healthy. Be creative. . Coronavirus is not as strong as the humankind and will end soon??
In Fact, Reconsider Your Guest List Altogether
It’s time to bring in the parents for a serious conversation about trimming down the guest list. Given that you’ll have to cut down on number of guests per reception table and space seating out for your Sangeet and ceremony, it’s time to be realistic about the essential people who make the cut on your guest list. Now’s not the time for, “She invited us to her kid’s wedding 10 years ago so we have to invite her to yours.” What’s more important, stroking the ego of a random Aunty and Uncle or prioritizing everyone’s health? Maybe this doesn’t mean that they aren’t invited anymore – but that they join in on the celebration digitally via your ceremony’s livestream.
Move The Party Outdoors
An open-air venue is ideal to reduce the transmission of COVID-19 and gives your guests plenty of space to spread out from one another. If you already have a venue selected, talk to them about options for shifting your indoor events outside. And if you’re having events at home, like your Mehndi, think about renting a tent in case of rain.
Forget The Buffet & Live Stations
I don’t think I’ve EVER been to an Indian wedding that didn’t serve dinner or snacks at cocktail hour buffet-style, but now is the time to switch things up. Buffets are generally not the most hygienic way of serving food anyways, and if you think about all of your wedding guests lining up in close proximity and touching the same utensils to serve themselves? It’s the perfect way to spread disease. This also means saying goodbye to those live stations you had planned.
Talk to your caterer about alternatives to serving buffet style while keeping the cost low. How about family style at each table where guests are provided fresh serving utensils for food? Or a plated buffet where pre-plated entrees are set on a table so guests can walk through a line to pick up their meal? How about a variation of hand service, where servers present pre-plated meals to guests seated at their table?
If you go the plated route and are serving meat, keep in mind that you’ll have to know which or how many guests will be eating vegetarian and non-vegetarian. Or you can keep things simple and keep it all vegetarian.
You’ll also have to communicate with your caterer to make sure that they’ll have the staff available to accommodate these changes, as Indian restaurants that cater (usually no serving staff) are different from full-service catering companies who can handle these changes. You may also want to consider going with the in-house catering service from your venue which can end up saving you money on the outside catering fee.
Consider Your Other Vendors
We’ve talked about your venue and the food, but what about your other vendors? Take the time to speak with each vendor about what a COVID-19 event means for them. Will your DJ be sanitizing the mic in between each person who uses it? Is your photobooth company going to nix the props? Will your photographer come up with creative ways to take photos with your loved ones that look good while keeping you physically apart? What steps will the hairstylist and makeup artist take to keep themselves and your bridal party healthy?
For The Super Detail Oriented
We’re not ones to advocate adding more purchases to your already lengthy list of wedding expenses. But if you’re extremely anxious about helping your guests stay healthy and you have the room in your budget, consider having mini bottles of sanitizer and Kleenexes or handkerchiefs available for each family attending or individual guest.
Through the lens of this pandemic and the possibility of rolling waves of outbreaks for who knows how long, a lot of the choices you make for your wedding are going to look different. But there’s no need to panic or feel overwhelmed. Instead, loop in all of the professionals you’ve hired to help you make smart decisions on how to keep you and your loved ones healthy.
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