Q: I’m getting married next year. Do I need to postpone?
A: In general, no. Every state (and in some instances, counties and/or towns and cities) have their own set of rules and guidelines, but to our knowledge, social gatherings that involve professional event staff are still permitted, with restrictions in place. So while it may not be entirely necessary to postpone, you will want to consider the option if you are not open to hosting an event following the guidelines set forth for your location.
Q: Are dance floors allowed in _______________?
A: It depends on where you are getting married. In Massachusetts, for example, no dance floors are permitted, but you can still have your first dance as a couple, and do the parent dances. In general, in the New England states an emphasis has been placed on social distancing and mask wearing, so it’s likely that even if you have a dance floor at your wedding, guests will still need to keep a distance from one another and wear a mask when not seated and eating.
Q: Can I still have a cocktail hour?
A: In general, yes, but not as we’re used to having them. For example, in most states, the guidelines mandate that guests be seated while eating and/or drinking. Because cocktail hours are generally built around the concept of mingling and being social, they seem to be the perfect setting for the spread of the virus. So if you are planning a cocktail hour, try to create multiple seating areas and lounges so that your guests can keep in smaller groups, distanced apart from one another. Scrap the cocktail tables and exchange them for smaller tables with a few chairs. Also remember that walk-up bar service may not be permitted, so cocktails may need to be served by a professional catering team.
Q: How many people can I have at my wedding?
A: This answer depends on where your wedding is being held. For state-specific guidelines, be sure to visit our COVID Wedding Resource Page. Keep in mind that in most states, your wedding vendor team counts towards the maximum count. Most states are restricting the number to lower counts for couples who are hosting the event at a private residence.
Q: What happens if I don’t follow the guidelines?
A: Not following the guidelines not only puts you and your loved ones at risk, but it also puts the wedding and live event industry at risk: there have been documented cases of social events and weddings that have contributed to the spread of the virus because the guidelines were not observed. Our industry has already lost nearly a year of revenue and business and can’t stay in business without a clear path forward – having safe events, that observe the guidelines, help the entire industry get back on its feet. Beyond that, there are financial risks if you do not follow the guidelines: venues may keep your security deposit, your vendors likely will have every right to remove themselves from an unsafe environment and not issue a refund, and in most places, there are fines associated with not observing the guidelines.
Q: If I can prove all of my guests have tested negative, do I still have to follow the guidelines.
A: Yes. Asking your guests to get tested is a great idea to help everyone feel more comfortable and minimize the risk at your event, but it does not exclude you from the guidelines.
Q: What other kinds of restrictions do I need to know about?
A: Most of the guidelines for weddings and social events relate the guest count limits and food and beverage service. Some states also have restrictions on live music performances indoors. Nearly every state has guidelines in place for travel restrictions, requiring visitors from out of the area to either quarantine for a set period of time or provide proof of a recent negative test. Please research these requirements and be sure to communicate them to your guests to avoid any last minute surprises.
Q: I was planning my wedding based on the guidelines, and then they changed. Now what?
A: In most cases, you will probably need to adjust your plans (again). We are seeing some states offer leniency for weddings being planned based on a newly-outdated set of regulations, but again, it depends on the state. The best thing to do if this applies to you is to check with the state where your wedding is being held.
Q: If you were in my position, what would you do?
A: Honestly, I don’t think there’s a wedding professional out there who can answer this question. Every couple is unique, and making the decision to postpone or dramatically downsize your wedding is not an easy one to make. So far this year, we’ve worked with couples who have had intimate ceremonies with plans to celebrate with their full guest list at a later date, couples who have downsized their wedding completely, and other couples who have postponed everything. There simply isn’t a right or wrong way of planning around COVID. Some questions you’ll want to ask yourselves as you consider your options: who are the guests that absolutely need to be present with you on your day, and does that count outnumber the limit? What do your vendor agreements say about postponing? In general, my advice is that if your wedding is more than three months out, continuing planning as normal and re-evaluate once you’re three months away from the wedding. With three months out, we’ll likely have a more clear vision of what will – and won’t – be permitted, and you will still have time to edit your invitations before they are printed. Keep in mind, however, the longer you wait, the higher your risk of having a more difficult time rebooking dates with your vendors so make sure you communicate your plans with your entire vendor team so everyone can be on the same page.