To have and to hold – and socially distance from your guests.
As states reopen, wedding ceremonies will be a marriage of celebration and safety, experts predict. The newest iteration of COVID-19 weddings follows online weddings and video-streamed weddings. As venues reopen and couples opt for in-person celebrations, there are still precautions that should be kept in mind.
For example, the typical wedding favors – candles, sweets or mini bottles of booze – may be swapped for masks or hand sanitizer. Rows of chairs may be more disjointed to allow guests to maintain a safe space from those outside of their household. Still, some guests may choose to attend virtually.
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Pick practical mementos
Couples will put an emphasis on good, clean fun at their celebrations, predicts Jeffra Trumpower, senior creative director at WeddingWire. Consider masks that match wedding colors and bottles of sanitizer in stylish dispensers for wedding favors.
Take things outside
Kathryn Money, Brilliant Earth’s SVP of merchandising and retail expansion, sees more couples opting for outdoor venues because they "allow for fresh air and more airflow, and guests can have room to roam," she says.
While rain on your wedding day has been interpreted as a good omen, it can also dampen plans. Trumpower endorses a Plan B for couples "more than ever right now," bringing up a move indoors might decrease the number of permitted guests. She says communication with the venue and guests is key, as plans can be so tentative.
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Be mindful of social distancing
Money anticipates ad hoc seating will replace the meticulous plans of pre-pandemic weddings. During the ceremony, chairs may be placed as guests arrive, grouping families and those that have been quarantining together. The same goes for receptions, where a mix of table sizes allows for groups to stick together.
Say bye to buffets
The long lines of people and shared utensils of a self-serve dinner service isn't ideal during a pandemic. So, couples will opt for plated meals or smaller stations, Money predicts.
The Knot's Future of Weddings report mentions satellite bars and dance floors. "Not only will this serve as a health and safety precaution, but it will also allow guests to explore different entertainment experiences throughout the festivities," it says.
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Have guests come in shifts
A shift wedding is one way to increase the number of guests who can witness one's wedding day. The idea is to invite some people to the ceremony and others to the reception. The early group would leave after the wedding, with the later group filtering in during cocktail hour, Trumpower says.
Guests' preferences could also be considered when figuring out which shift to invite them to. Trumpower suggests the later hours of a reception could be "the people who want to stay up all night and party."
Have the ceremony now and the party later
Some couples are opting to tie the knot now in a micro or mini-wedding, which has about 25-50 guests and plan for a larger gathering later.
Lori Allen, star of “Say Yes to the Dress: Atlanta” and owner of the Atlanta bridal salon Bridals by Lori, says having a follow-up to a smaller ceremony has been a popular choice among her customers.
They "have it super small at their home outdoors with just their parents and their minister, or whoever was going to marry them, and they went ahead and got married," she says. "Had many brides do that, and then they planned a large reception for maybe next fall or late in the summer next year. That has happened more times than not."
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This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: COVID-19 weddings: Sanitizer favors, colorful masks and what to expect now