We had all hoped that Covid19 would do what many other viruses do—dissipate during the summer. Maybe return in the fall and winter as a seasonal flu. Well, life is not what we hope or wish or dream of. Viruses will do what they do without regard to our plans. As I heard my parents say most of my life, “The best laid plans…….”
So, you have worked, dreamed, and planned for a wedding for a long time. Now, due to concerns about infections and spread, governmental mandates and orders, those dreams are not realistic or safe. So, how can you make you wedding beautiful and unique?
Going forward we can anticipate that weddings, ceremonies, and all related events, will be quite different from what we had in 2019 and prior. So, what is our new normal and how can we make this normal special?
In North Carolina, the wedding ceremony is the only legally protected aspect of the wedding day. It is considered a religious ceremony (even a secular ceremony reflects the couple’s beliefs and values), therefore protected under the First Amendment. Faith traditions all around the world have ceremonies to recognize and solemnize a relationship between two people to form a marriage. Other aspects of the wedding day are cultural traditions and not specific to any faith. Therefore, the various aspects of the reception and cocktail hour are not protected in the same fashion as the ceremony. Here are things we recommend for ceremonies.
We encourage having someone sign in the guests in attendance, even taking temps and providing hand sanitizer to each guest as they enter the ceremony area. This will help with contact tracing in the event you need to notify guests of an infection. If you include the guest book at this location, provide enough pens that each guest uses a new pen and then used pens go into a separate container.
Even though you can have as many people attend your wedding ceremony as you want, there are many considerations in the planning. While considering how many guests you invite to the ceremony, remember that for safety of all in attendance, you need to consider how much space you really have and how you can safely distance everyone. One way to do this is to simply set all seats minimum of 6 feet apart. This will put everyone at a safe distance from others. Another option is to have assigned seating for the ceremony. Each family unit can then be seated in a group with appropriate physical space between family units. This arrangement will not require as much physical space as universal distancing. Once you know how much space you have and how much you will need, then you can determine your guest list for the ceremony.
We all want to have all those we love present with us on major celebrations like weddings. Expecting all grandparents, uncles, and aunts from all over the country, families with new babies and young children to attend in person, can set them up for risk of infection. Honor your desire to have them present by including them virtually. There are many ways to bring extended family, distant friends, and those most at risk into the ceremony. When you send invitations, offer virtual attendance on your RSVP so you know who would love to participate in that way and who will be able to physically attend. This will also allow you to increase the spacing between those who are physically present, protecting everyone.
Some professionals offer live streaming of the ceremony. They bring a strong solid internet service with them and have a lot of professional experience with video and broadcasting. This can be offered through a videographer or someone offering this service as a stand-alone.
Other couples set up their laptops and a camera aimed at the ceremony area. Zoom, Google Meet, Skype, You Tube, or Facebook can be used and only invited guests have access. Others use Facebook Live so that anyone who wants can see the ceremony. They assign a friend to supervise the computer and connection, allowing folks into the application.
Once you decide how many guests you can have and still keep everyone physically distanced and safe, you can then see what you need to do for your wedding party. Having your closest friends celebrate with you on your wedding day, supporting you as attendants is something most couples dream of and really want to be able to do. With government mandates on gathering sizes involved, we recommend that you keep your wedding party smaller. This allows you to still have your parties prior to the wedding. On your wedding day it also prevents overcrowding the dressing areas.
During the ceremony, a smaller wedding party is easier to spread out across the ceremony site. This protects everyone. Ask your venue, planner, or a friend to mark off the ceremony site—officiant in the center and then 6 ft in each direction. Place a marker of some sort at each place for the wedding party to stand. You as a couple should stand 6 feet in front of the officiant.
Physically distancing the wedding party and guests in this way will show everyone that you are concerned for their well-being and want to protect them. Another way to show concern and offer protection is to require masking of all guests and the wedding party (at least up to the time of the processional and after the recessional). Provide custom printed masks so everyone feels included and encouraged to wear them. Masks can be handed out at the entry point when everyone checks in. That is a perfect time to set the tone.
Masks are going to be a part of our lives for a while yet. Lead by example—-have masks made for each of you. We see really cool wedding masks for men and women to match their wedding attire. We have also seen couples have masks custom made for the wedding party. When you wear masks during the time before and after the ceremony (or even during the ceremony) you are setting a great example of expectations for everyone around you.
For the professionals working with you to make this day as super special as possible, again, you set the tone for the day. Your expectations for guests and wedding party can be applied to your wedding professionals. Let them know that you expect them to wear masks at all times, except when eating or drinking, and to maintain appropriate physical distance. Ask the venue property manager, your planner as well as all other professionals working with you to help you by reminding guests to follow your wishes when they notice someone not doing so. It may be helpful to have a couple of friends who will take on the responsibility of reminding folks-so you can relax and enjoy your wedding ceremony.
Once you determine the safety precautions you are putting in place, and those being required of guests and professionals, use your invitations and website to educate. Let people know what to expect when they come to your wedding ceremony. This reduces the surprises as well as letting them know how seriously you take their safety and wellbeing. Remind them that if they have any questions or concerns, to reach out to you. You can also ask your dj to make a general announcement prior to the ceremony, even have your officiant incorporate your safety guidelines into their unplugged announcement at the beginning of your ceremony. The use of signs at the entry area as well as the guest book help reinforce the seriousness with which you take safety.
Our goal is to help you have the safest yet most beautiful and personal wedding ceremony possible. Reach out to us for any concerns or issues you may have. Also, we would love to hear your ideas and suggestions for ways to make your wedding ceremony all you have dreamed of during the trying times of a worldwide pandemic! Email us info@TriadWeddingOfficiant.com with your thoughts and ideas. Contact us for help in making your ceremony all you wish it to be.