We're often asked about weddings after Covid, what they'll look like, and what the etiquette will be around things like mask-wearing, hugging, kissing and mingling, along with pre-Covid institutions like the receiving line outside the church or ceremony space, and group dances like conga lines and Rock the Boat! As always, we're here to help! We're guessing that you want your wedding to be relaxed and enjoyable for everyone in attendance, but how do you make that happen when anxiety around large gatherings is high? Our list of Dos and Don'ts should put you on the right track!
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.
1. DON’T put pressure on guests to attend
If you think some of your guests may not be comfortable attending a big event yet, it’s worth picking up the phone and chatting through their concerns. After this, if they still don’t want to attend, it’s only fair to accept their decision, and come up with some other ways to include them, e.g. live streaming the ceremony, or popping their wedding favours in the post.
2. DON’T pretend the pandemic isn’t happening
For most guests, a carefully-chosen reference to pandemic, and the potential awkwardness of the situation, will actually come as a huge relief. A line on the invitations ("We are so grateful for your love and support in these strange times"), or signage on the day ("We waited 540 days for our wedding, please party accordingly!") are two ways to address the elephant in the room.
3. DO put yourself in your guests' shoes
It's a good idea to do a mental walkthrough of your wedding day with anxious or vulnerable guests in mind, those with underlying health conditions, for example, or parents of young, unvaccinated children. Ask yourself what parts of the day might feel unsafe for these guests, and whether it's easy for them to opt out if they don't want to take part. This will help you adjust your plans or create alternatives for guests who might be a little on edge. For example, if you're expecting things to get rowdy on the dancefloor, ask your venue about setting up a separate space, preferably outdoors, where guests can enjoy a quiet drink and a chat.
4. DON’T be afraid to leave some traditions in the past
If you think some pre-Covid wedding elements, like family-style dining or the receiving line outside the church/ceremony space will make guests uncomfortable, it’s completely fine to ditch them. Guests don't tend to to notice elements that are "missing", and there's always an alternative that will work just as well. In the case of the two examples above, we recommend speaking to your wedding venue or caterer about how you can make your meal feel relaxed and informal (if that's what you're after!), and arranging something for outside the ceremony to keep the atmosphere light - an ice-cream or coffee van, or even a toast or a couple of speeches!
5. DO let guests know what the wedding will look like ahead of time
Usually, we advise couples to keep the details of their wedding to themselves (to avoid attracting unwanted opinions!), but in the case of a post-Covid wedding, offering information on the wedding in advance (the timeline of the wedding, which portions of the day will be outdoors etc.) can put anxious guests at ease.
6. DO embrace the outdoors
Many guests will still be more comfortable with outdoor socialising at weddings after Covid, so talk to your venue about creating a great outdoor space that can be used at various points of the day. It’s important that this area is really comfortable, so ask your venue about chairs, heaters, rain cover, etc. Think about ways to incentivise this area for guests, e.g. organising lawn games, hosting the speeches there, or booking a musician or entertainer to perform there.
7. DO make a decision on mask wearing
From October 22nd, mask wearing is no longer essential at private indoor events in Ireland, but some guests may still be more comfortable in environments where people are wearing them. If you’d like to encourage your guests to wear masks for certain portions of the day, you can do it via a line on your invitations (“Masks encouraged but not required”), the FAQ page of your wedding website, or a basket of free-to-take masks on the day (accompanying signage might read “Masks available for those who wish to use them”). Your guests will likely be grateful that you gave them some direction on this either way.
8. DO incorporate safety measures (and make them cute!)
Things like personal bottles of hand sanitiser and masks aren’t necessary at a post-Covid wedding but they let guests know that you’re still being cautious, which can help everyone relax on the day. You could include hand sanitiser, tissues and masks in your bathroom baskets or arrange a bottle of pretty, personalised hand sanitiser (available from To Have and To Hold and on Etsy) as favours. You could also set up a little safety station with accompanying signage, reading something like, “Let’s party like it’s 2021! Please sanitise your hands!”
9. DO encourage respectful mingling
The etiquette around kissing, hugging and other forms of physical contact can create awkwardness at weddings after Covid. There's not a whole lot that couples can do to avoid this, but we love the idea of colour-coded wristbands for guests with corresponding messages, as many couples in the States have done. The messages read something like, "Hi! I'm keeping my distance!", "OK with talking but not touching" and "OK with hugs and high fives!" At the very least, they'll provide a talking point!
10. DO make a plan for group photographs
Guests may not be comfortable huddling up close for photographs indoors, so it’s worth bringing this up when chatting to your photographer. They’ll know how to get the photos you want without putting anyone on the spot.