What You Need to Know About Hosting a Wedding During the Covid-19 Pandemic.

December 7, 2020

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What you need to know about hosting a wedding during the Covid-19 Pandemic.

We understand how uncertain the times ahead are and we want to continue to be a resource, and forward-thinking, to ensure the safety of your loved ones and your vendor team. We are working to stay on top of the ever-changing mandates. We appreciate your continued trust and patience with us as we navigate this together.

Over the next several months, we are scheduled to be in contact with hundreds of individuals across all of our events. While we cannot guarantee the absolute safety and health of you, your guests, and vendors, we are trying our very best to make recommendations and steps toward a healthy and safe event with these policies and recommendations.

We want you to be prepared that our interaction on the “day of” may look a little different than normal in order to protect ourselves, staff, and adhere to CDC guidelines. 

This document has been designed to provide you with the information, context, and resources necessary that will help you do your part to host a safe and fun event.

You will want to familiarize yourself with CDC and Virginia State Guidelines  – including requirements regarding face coverings, occupancy limits, social distancing, and precautions. 

CDC Guidelines 

Virginia’s State Guidelines

DC Guidelines 

Venue:

These are a few of the guidelines you can expect to be followed by your venue:

  • Post signage about admittance to the event, social distancing, and health reminders
  • Dedicated Entrances to ensure proper crowd control 
  • Communicate changes to occupancy levels for the event 
  • Ensure there is enough space for guests to social distance at least six feet if not from the same household.  This includes the ceremony and the dance floor. 
  • Ensure entrances/exits are configured to reduce bottlenecks
  • Routine cleaning and disinfecting every two hours 
  • Communicate to employees and staff to avoid close contact with guests
  • Visibly mark six feet of distance in queue lines
  • Install physical barriers and partitions at staffed kiosks, desks, and bars. 
  • Provide a place for staff to wash hands or provide hand sanitizers with 60%+ alcohol
  • Plan to close any areas used by a sick person prior to or during the event and wait 24 hours before sanitizing and cleaning the area
  • Plan to close any areas used by a sick person during the event
  • Require Masks indoors and whenever the required 6ft of social distancing is not able to take place. This includes outdoor spaces.

Event Planner:

These are a few guidelines you can expect to be followed by your Event Planner. 

  • Communicate to employees and staff to avoid close contact with guests, vendors, and the wedding party.
  • All Swoon Soiree team members will be required to sign an agreement prior to coming on-site that they have not recently had a positive Covid test, that they have not knowingly been exposed to someone with Covid, and that they are not showing any symptoms. 
  • Determine the best place for our staff to wash hands or provide hand sanitizers with 60%+ alcohol
  • Wear masks
  • Create a “home base” at the event where client, family, wedding party, and key vendors can find us
  • Cue important timeline activities from “home base”.  This includes reception activities like parent dances, toasts, welcome speech, etc.
  • Provide staff cell phone numbers to VIP’s for easy distanced communication when face to face is not necessary
  • Keep a distance when cueing the ceremony processional 
  • We plan to avoid areas with large groups or where there’s not space for us to do our job from a distance 
  • Provide each of our staff members with hand sanitizer 
  • Frequent hand washing breaks 

The Host:

These are a few of the guidelines you can expect to be responsible for.  

  • Develop an emergency response plan including actions to take if the event needs to be postponed, canceled, or stopped while in progress
  • Designate a coordinator who will be responsible for identifying COVID-19 related issues and implementing the emergency response plan at the event
     **Note: This person cannot be someone on the Swoon Soiree team***
  • Review guest list to ensure the majority of your guests are not persons in high-risk populations
  • Reduce person-to-person interactions and avoid activities in the event timeline that could cause bottlenecking or gathering of large groups.  
  • Communicate with your guests to leave the event as soon as it concludes. Determine the best places for guests to wash hands or provide hand sanitizers with 60%+ alcohol
  • Consider hiring a nurse to serve as your coordinator – they can implement the emergency response plan if a guest falls ill or has a health and safety concern.
  • Consider hiring a third-party security vendor to enforce guidelines
  • Consider using a digital guest book or hashtag 
  • Expand the size of the dance floor or eliminate the dance floor altogether
  • Avoid dances like “The Hora” or “Cha Cha Slide”
  • Avoid dance floor props i.e. glow sticks, tambourines, and glasses
  • Create an alternative to a sendoff that does not involve guests gathering close to each other
  • Consider adding styled wash stations or sleek foot pedal hand sanitizer dispensers throughout the event
  • Make an early decision on tent rentals to increase outdoor space
  • Rent a second set of chairs for the ceremony. Staff cannot guarantee that the ceremony chair will be provided to the same guest at the reception. 
  • The client is assuming full responsibility for the vendor’s legal fees if the client chooses to continue to host an event during this time, during a pandemic. 

Additional Considerations:

Ceremony:

  • Plan to space out guests
  • Encourage ushers to guide guests to their seats without contact, or do without ushers
  • Allow for extra time or “pre seating” times for immunocompromised or older guests
  • Consider a self-serve program area, a program board, or display to limit contact between program attendants and guests
  • Secure live streaming services for any guests that are unable to attend. Or those that may not feel comfortable sitting close together
  • Consider assigned seating for groups or families, create seating pods, or add space between seating (potentially circular seating arrangement to spread guests out more)
  • Consider having only the bride(s), groom(s), and officiant up at the front during the ceremony and ask the wedding party to stay seated to keep guests with their family/ household cluster.

Cocktail Hour:

Consider doing away with Cocktail Hour altogether. If you choose to keep this as part of the day’s events. Here are some recommendations.

  • Request additional servers to pass hors-d’oeuvres and cocktails- with fewer items per tray or pre-packaged hors-d’oeuvres. This will limit the chance that a guest will touch another person’s food or drink.
  • Set up more ‘pick up’ stations to avoid servers walking through crowds with open food. 
  • Items served in a way that a guest is not touching the food.  Spoons, skewers, etc. 
  • Consider adding more bars, or spread out existing bars, to eliminate lines or crowding
  • Increase square footage per guest to allow for social distancing
  • Host cocktail hour outside
  • Forego receiving line
  • Add a plexiglass shield to all bars to serve as a barrier for guests.
  • Add Hand sanitizing stations

Reception:

  • Consider more, but smaller, tables with members from the same household and social circles grouped together
  • Use the space to spread guests out 
  • Avoid family-style meals and self serve buffets. Avoid items traditionally passed at the table; bread, butter, dressing, salt, pepper, etc. This will help reduce touchpoints.
  • Request a water carafe with a lid at each table.  Remove open containers. 
  • Encourage plate covers
  • Opt for a seated, plated dinner service with guests assigned to a specific seat
  • Use smaller guest tables of 4-6 and family cluster seating assignments.
  • Consider using disposable plates and utensils
  • Do away with the dance floor altogether OR if the space permits, increase the dance floor footprint.
  • Ensure that the band is at least 10 ft away from the dance floor.  If the space is not available, consider a safety shield around the band to protect the guests. 
  • Consider having custom masks made to pass out during the dancing portion, treat them like a party favor, have fun with them!
  • More hand sanitizer stations around the dance floor
  • Cake cutting is with a fake cake that is not served to guests.  You will most likely not be wearing masks or gloves when cutting. Guests can eat from the back of the house cake served by the catering team. 
  • Forgo the formal send-off at the end of the night.  This includes sparkler exits where guests crowd each other.

Coat Check:

  • Guests may not want to check their coats, alternative options and communication may want to be considered
  • You may want to consider a contactless tagging system
  • You may need to provide proper spacing or cubbies for each coat to ensure it remains contact-free
  • Plastic bags on coats, similar to those used at dry cleaners.  

Valet:

  • Self Parking should be encouraged
  • If valet is necessary the service providers should be practicing all safety measures.  Including but not limited to wiping down door handles and key fabs. 

Communication Methods:

Website:

Put COVID-19 related messages on the home page or a visible link to a COVID-19 page.

Snail Mail:

Consider sending a card with the health and safety protocols you are taking at your event to keep guests safe.   Direct everyone to the website for more info.

Email/Text: 

It’s not too late to gather your guests’ emails and phone numbers in one place. For last-minute communications and important reminders, this is a great way to keep in touch. This will also be the most efficient way to notify your guests of an outbreak. 

Welcome Bags: 

Leverage your welcome bags, or leave a note at the front desk of the hotel for each of your guests.  The more information the guests have the better.

On-Site:

Use signs and printed items, like your programs, to communicate safety precautions and reminders with your guests

What to Expect from other Vendors:

You will need to speak with each of your vendors to see what accommodations they need – and to ensure you are aligned with their protocol and safety measures they will implement at your event.

You should expect to see all staff adhering to the guidelines by wearing face coverings, gloves, and maintaining social distance. Please don’t take offense to this, they are protecting themselves, staff, their family, and you. 

Additional time will be required for delivery and set up times.  The items will need to be properly sanitized prior to being loaded or set back up.  There needs to be proper distancing between the load in crews. 

Many vendors will need to have these extra precautions compensated for.  PPE and tiered delivery times increase hard costs and labor charges. 

Photographer/Videographer

  • Taking photos from further away
  • Less interaction with guests on the dance floor
  • More breaks for hand washing

Band/DJ + Ceremony Musicians

  • Larger space for set up to social distance from each other while performing due to increased respiration
  • Will not allow guests up on the stage, including the couple
  • Will need additional microphones and equipment for guests giving toasts
  • Additional planning to cue events without face to face contact

Tent + Equipment Rentals

  • Opt for a larger tent to better space out guests, food service, and activities
  • Opt for a larger dance floor
  • Consider heating/cooling systems or fans to circulate air
  • Set up additional hand washing stations and hand sanitizing areas
  • Rent a larger bathroom trailer to avoid long lines and more hand washing areas

Transportation

  • Decrease capacity of the vehicle to properly space out guests
  • Opt for more, but smaller shuttles for groups of the same household
  • Plan for guests to drive themselves – providing good instructions on parking

Cake/Desserts

  • Opt for a cake with just one real tier for cutting and saving – sheet cakes will be cut and served from the kitchen
  • Avoid dessert buffets – opt for pre-plated items for easy “grab and go” service
  • Pre-package dessert as a favor for guests to take with them

Stationer/Day-of Signage

  • Create COVID-19 required signage to match your invitation style and vibe of the event
  • Make your signage fun, but informative

Hair and Makeup

  • Stylists should be in masks and face shields
  • Add time to the timeline to accommodate sanitization and cleaning between services.
  • Stylists will need to be in a ‘clean’ room, away from where everyone will be gathering.  They will call over their next client when they are ready for them.

Officiant  

  • Determine how far they will need to stand, and if they are comfortable walking down the aisle.  Your officiant may prefer to wear a mask. 

Note: Please reach out for suggestions on other Vendors not listed here

This is all unprecedented territory.  All of your vendors will do their best to provide a great experience for you and your guests, while still being safe. 

The safest option is to still limit the guest count and host a majority of the event outside.   Micro weddings are very chic and can be even more meaningful and luxurious than a larger event. 

These Guidelines are for DC and Virginia Weddings.  You will need to check with your state regulations as they are all so different. 

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