Covid-19 Wedding Health and Safety: Guidelines for 2021 and Beyond

The pandemic will most likely pose a threat for the foreseeable future. What can I do to keep my wedding Covid-free?

October 14, 2021

Weddings during Covid-19 have a personality of their own -- and that’s not a bad thing. For many couples, the show must go on. Experts have weighed in, and with proper precautions and a pared-down (perhaps fully vaccinated) guest list, you can make your Covid wedding as safe as possible. (Spoiler alert: hand sanitizer and masks aren’t going anywhere.) 

As of late 2021, 66% of Americans older than 12 are fully vaccinated. Chances are, many of the people on your guest list are ready to get back to some semblance of normal life. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) stated in June of 2021 that fully vaccinated people could attend indoor events without masks and physical distancing. But since then, the Delta variant has thrown a wrench in the best laid plans. Data shows that even the fully vaccinated can pass on the variant (although the vaccinated are less likely to have a severe form of illness). Even if everyone on your guest list is fully vaccinated, it’s best to take basic health and safety measures. 

Do I Still Need to Worry About Covid-19? 

As we plan weddings for 2022 and beyond, we have to remember that vaccines haven’t solved all our problems. 

  • Fully vaccinated people can still transmit the virus.  
  • Coughing and sneezing are obvious ways to transmit the virus, but singing, shouting, and eating in close proximity can transmit infectious droplets as well. 
  • Exposure to an infected person for 15 minutes or more increases your likelihood of infection. 

Travel still poses considerable risk to the unvaccinated and people with compromised immune systems. The CDC recommends that hosts of large events consider the rate of Covid-19 infection in their community. If you know your area is a hotspot, now might be the time to plan a destination wedding to a less affected location. 

Can Children Attend Large Events?

Children ages 12 and up can get Covid-19 vaccines. Large events (especially indoor events) may not be suitable for younger children. For that reason, you may want to stipulate that your wedding is only for guests age 12 and up. 

Covid Wedding Etiquette 

It’s becoming more the norm to limit weddings and receptions to only fully vaccinated people. If an outdoor reception isn’t your style, then this approach might be right for you. 

Depending on your relationship with your guests, you might feel awkward asking about their vaccination status. You can spell out your wishes beforehand, so there aren’t any surprises down the road. 

Wedding invitations should clearly state your Covid-19 safety policy. Here are some ideas for language to include: 

  • We kindly ask that only fully vaccinated guests attend. 
  • If you haven’t received a full dose of the vaccine, please use the masks provided and take care to remain six-feet apart. 
  • Please avail yourself of Covid-19 testing before you arrive. We appreciate you taking the time to alleviate some of our health and safety concerns. 
  • We want all of our guests to be able to relax and enjoy our celebration. If you aren’t fully vaccinated or have health concerns, please take advantage of our livestream service. 

In addition to the many moving parts of planning a wedding, pandemic brides and grooms have to consider the latest advice from public health officials. In light of emerging variants, state mandates could change quickly. Consider devoting a section of your wedding website to your Covid-19 policy, and request that your guests check back for updates as your wedding date draws closer.

Covid-19 Safety and Weddings 

As more people get the vaccine, many couples are moving forward with smaller versions of the weddings they originally planned. It’s worth mentioning that live-streaming your wedding for friends and family is still the safest option. You could follow it with a small celebration for close family and friends. 

Even if you decide to have an in-person wedding, offering a livestream option is an excellent compromise for guests who can’t or won’t get a vaccine. 

Limiting your wedding to only vaccinated friends and family may cut down on your guest list, but remember that smaller weddings became the norm during the pandemic. If you don’t limit your guests list to fully vaccinated people, you’ll have to find another way to narrow the list to ensure enough space for social distancing. 

Covid-19 Wedding Precautions

If you’re not sure of your guests’ vaccination status, indoor weddings call for extra precautions. 

  • Make sure the space is well-ventilated. Open windows and window fans will help the air remain fresh and free of virus particulates. 
  • High Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) filters remove small particulates from the air, helping to stop any viruses from circulating in an enclosed space. 
  • Guests should have at least 6 feet between them when they sit down to eat. Dining side-by-side could allow for the spread of airborne pathogens. Removing masks to eat is a concern, especially for people who are immunocompromised or unvaccinated. 
  • Remind guests to wear masks indoors, or provide matching masks for a more coordinated look. (It’s always a good idea to have a supply of backup masks, just in case.)
  • Guests should also wear masks when they hit the dance floor or take group pictures. 
  • Hand sanitizer for guests, at obvious stations, will encourage clean hands. You should also make sure that there are enough bathrooms so a line doesn’t form, allowing guests easy access to handwashing.
  • Longer events present more opportunity for spread. If the ceremony is the most important part of your big day, you could simply skip the reception, opt for a smaller celebration, or postpone your celebration until public health recommendations have relaxed. 
  • Provide guests with information about where to find Covid-19 testing locations nearby your wedding location.

Outdoor Weddings: Plan for Rain 

Outdoor weddings have skyrocketed in popularity, but they require a serious Plan B in case the weather does not cooperate. Although having a wedding outside is a great way to give guests plenty of space and fresh air, rain could force your party indoors, creating a potentially overcrowded environment. Consider booking an outdoor venue with a barn, or make sure to budget for a big, sturdy tent.

Be Prepared for Declined Invitations 

Couples should keep in mind: Don’t take a declined RSVP personally. Even if a wedding has taken every public health precaution, not everyone feels safe taking even a small risk -- especially those who live with the elderly or immunocompromised. Plenty of people who would attend a wedding in years past will have lots of valid concerns even in light of careful planning. 

It can be hard to accept that some guests won’t be able to attend due to Covid-19 safety concerns. Remember that you wanted to invite them out of love, and it’s for the same reason that you’re planning a wedding with their health and safety in mind.