While it's undoubtedly thrilling that we'll soon return to the kind of raucous weddings that were common before Covid-19, many guests are still cautious or even uncomfortable at the thought of attending a large gathering. If you're due to attend a wedding in the coming weeks or months, you probably have questions about Covid wedding etiquette around mask-wearing, mingling, dancing, hugging and more, and, as always, we're here to help! Our tips for guests should help you feel prepped and ready to party, so let's dive in!
But first, a note on the term "post-Covid wedding":
Of course, an end to the Covid-19 pandemic is not yet in sight. As we continue to live with the virus, we're still required to self-isolate when we have Covid-19 symptoms, wear masks in healthcare settings, indoor retail and on public transport, and do whatever possible to keep ourselves and others safe. What we mean by "post-Covid wedding" is a wedding with no government-issued restrictions around guest numbers, entertainment, seating arrangements, curfews etc. In Ireland, these kinds of weddings can take place from October 22nd 2021.
Dos and Don’ts of Attending a Post-Covid Wedding:
1. DO familiarise yourself with restrictions
Whether you're feeling quietly anxious or boundlessly enthusiastic about attending a large wedding, it's a good idea to read up on the restrictions that are in place (if any!), so you know what to expect, and, of course, adhere to them. In Ireland, there are still restrictions around guest numbers, mask-wearing, seating and curfews until October 22nd, when these restrictions will be lifted - our features on Covid restrictions in Ireland will help you stay up to date.
2. DON'T be afraid to ask questions
In the past, we always warned wedding guests not to bother the couple with questions about small details of their day, but Covid has forced us to change our opinion on this! It's fine to ask questions about how the day will play out, if the answers will make you feel more comfortable - you might, for example, be relieved to hear that much of the wedding day is taking place outdoors, or that all of the guests are vaccinated. Just try not to overwhelm the couple. Keep your query to one or two key points, if possible. If not, arrange a call to chat through everything with them.
3. DON’T be late
It's always important to be punctual when attending a wedding, but, these days, arriving early has added benefits - it gives you time to familiarise yourself with the space, scope out any outdoor spaces at the venue, where you can spend time if you’re being extra cautious, and do any hand sanitising or temperature checking (which may or may not be required) at your own pace.
4. DO remember to bring a mask (and style it with your look!)
From October 22nd, mask wearing is no longer essential at private indoor events in Ireland, but couples may still suggest that you wear them, so it's good to bring one along. A mask is often an afterthought at a wedding, but we recommend giving it as much attention as you would your shoes or other accessories! A full dress rehearsal with your mask before the wedding is a good idea, as it'll help you smooth out any sartorial issues. For example, long earrings can get tangled in string-style masks, so you may find that one with elastic will work better with your look.
5. DO respect the couple's decisions
We're entering a new and tricky phase of the pandemic in which the couple are suddenly required to make calls on Covid safety protocol, so, naturally, their decisions will ruffle a few feathers. Some guests will be frustrated to see a full and heaving, pre Covid-style dancefloor, others may be annoyed that they've been asked to wear a mask at the ceremony when it isn't strictly required. You don't have to grant all of the couple's requests if you're really not happy to, but try to be understanding, and remember that the couple planned their day with their guests' comfort in mind.
6. DON’T be afraid to opt out of certain elements of the day
After everything we've experienced over the past 18 months, some aspects of a post-Covid wedding are bound to make us feel a little apprehensive - dancing on the dancefloor, mingling indoors, crowding around the bar waiting to get served, queuing up in a receiving line to congratulate the couple, huddling together for group photographs etc. If you’re not comfortable with any of these elements, it's totally fine to sit them out - the couple probably won't notice, and, if they do, they should understand. Just make sure you've got a plan for any portions of the day you intend to skip, e.g. instead of hitting the dancefloor, you could retreat to an outdoor area for chats, or offer to man the guest book for the couple!
7. DON’T worry if things are a little awkward at first
For most people attending a wedding these days, it's their first big event for almost two years, so conversation may not flow seamlessly. Luckily, there are loads of things to talk about at a wedding, from the style to the speeches. Don’t put too much pressure on yourself and you should soon get into the swing of things.
8. DO ask before you hug
Officially, hugs and kisses are back on the menu at weddings in Ireland as of October 22nd, but not everyone will be happy to switch back into pre-Covid mode. Asking for permission isn’t as awkward as you may think - simply ask, “Are you OK with hugging?” If you really want to play it safe, you can always avoid close contact entirely and go in for an elbow touch.
9. DO know the dancefloor rules
Dancing may be permitted at weddings again, but health experts (and the Irish government) have advised couples and guests that dancefloors still represent a greater transmission risk. With that in mind, it's a good idea to remain spaced out from fellow guests as much as possible, and avoid singing along to the music. Talking loudly to be heard over the music carries a greater risk too, so, if you find yourself chatting on or near the dancefloor, it's best to move the conversation to a quieter area, or outside.
10. DO respect the boundaries of other guests
Many guests are just dying to get back to the dancefloor, which is great, so long as you don’t make things awkward for guests who aren’t quite there yet. Don’t pull other guests up onto the dancefloor or put anyone on the spot - let everyone enjoy the wedding in their own way.
11. DON’T forget the pre-Covid rules
Most of the pre- Covid wedding etiquette still applies, so, if you haven't attended a wedding in a while, we recommend reading this feature by way of a refresher course! It’s still important to obey the dress code, take care not to get in the way of the photographers or videographers, drink responsibly, and leave any gripes with fellow guests at the door!