Updated: Aug 2, 2020
Planning a wedding can be scary. And it's especially scary now when we think about all of the new rules and regulations we might be facing as a result of our current health pandemic. This post is designed to help you navigate these uncharted waters to plan your upcoming wedding. Read on for some guidelines that will affect your wedding, as well as some suggestions on how to meet those guidelines.
First off, I want to assure you that everything will be okay. Do your research and don't believe everything you hear, as it can cause some major unnecessary panic and anxiety. I'm going to start this post off with a positive, which may combat rumors you have heard. You CAN obtain a marriage license in California. The process may vary from county to county, so be sure to read up on your county's requirements. The Governor issued an executive order that will allow couples to obtain their marriage licenses via video conference. He also mentioned that couples should be able to be officiated via video, so this is great news that we're moving in the right direction towards your fantasy wedding! You can view that information HERE. If you choose not to hold off on the wedding, this post is filled with great tips for you to help in planning your day.
Social Distancing Guidelines
One of the biggest hurdles to jump for a wedding right now are the social distancing guidelines. They are different in each county, and will be different depending on the date you choose. Because we are experiencing a "6 feet apart setback" right now, it may be hard to celebrate with the ones we love. Worry not, because I have several solutions to that for you!
*Disclaimer: these are a mix of ideas that I have come up with, as well as ideas that I have seen in the past few weeks. I am not taking ownership of all of these ideas, I simply wanted to share them with you to be of help.
Small Ceremony, Big Celebration
If your social distancing guidelines are more strict or don't let up before your wedding date, it is probably inevitable that you will have to keep your ceremony to a minimum of guests to safely accommodate those guidelines. If you are not changing your date, you will have to change your way of thinking and embrace the idea of a more intimate ceremony. The minimum amount of people that you would need in California to have a legally binding wedding ceremony would be you and your partner, an officiant, and ideally 2 witnesses (besides the officiant and yourselves). That would mean you can have a ceremony in California with a minimum of 5 people, which is well below California's maximum gathering capacities. The 2 witnesses could be parents, or they could be your photographers if it is still important to you to get the day captured. If you were planning on having a big reception to follow your ceremony, why not postpone it to a year out? That would be a great way to celebrate your marriage, and also your 1 year anniversary. And a year out from now most (if not all) of the restrictions you are facing today will be let up.
If you are in the above situation and are forced to re-think inviting guests to your wedding, an obvious alternative would be to livestream the ceremony for your friends and family to tune into at home. If the intimate ceremony above is not your thing and you would prefer to share the day with everyone in your life, this may be a good alternative for you. There are many platforms that you could use to livestream the event- some popular ones that come to mind are Zoom, Skype, Facebook Live, and Instagram Live.
Drive In Wedding
Okay, so this is probably one of the coolest ideas that I've seen and this is also a story that went viral in the wedding community. A couple's plans to get married were turned upside down by the pandemic, so what did they do? They decided to see if there was a local drive in that was open that they could invite their guests to for the big day. Family and friends from all over drove in to watch the ceremony from the safe distance of their cars. As the ceremony ended, horns were honking and everyone across the span of the drive in lot was making noise in celebration of the happily married couple. And that is something they'll never forget. Depending on where you live, there may be other alternative open-air venues that you might be able to utilize for your wedding. And if you are bringing big business to these venues, then they will be more inclined to work with you on something they normally wouldn't consider for their venue. This is the perfect time to get creative!
Colorado- Easy Elopement
Although I am a wedding planner who focuses primarily on California couples and am more in tune with the guidelines we have been issued in California, I heard a little rumor about Colorado that might make you want to run away and elope. I believe Colorado is the only state where you do not need an officiant or witnesses to sign your marriage certificate. This brings the total attendee count down to 2 (you and your partner) or 3 (if you wanted to include a photographer). This would certainly be an easier route to go if you're itching to just get married already and not have to adjust everything for guidelines. And if you're able to travel to Colorado. We will definitely see a rise in elopements all over the United States in the next year, whether it's in Colorado or your hometown.
Another constraint that brides and grooms today are facing are constraints on the reception food. If you are able to safely have your reception with your guests and you are still wanting to do it in the traditional style of serving a course, there are some "new normal" standards that you will have to consider. We are likely to see a decline in self-serve buffets, which are usually the more cost effective option (meaning the food budget might have to be expanded). Along with the decline in self-serve buffet stations will come the rise of staff-served food stations and clever take out box/grab bag alternatives so that guests are not breathing on/touching food themselves. The extra staff required to serve food and the extra take out containers will likely cost more for weddings, so please keep that in mind. The old budget that you had for your wedding may need to be re-figured to accommodate new needs.
Capacity guidelines will be different for each county. You'll want to know exactly what guidelines your county (county of your venue) is issuing so that they are taken into account when planning. Check out your county's guidelines HERE.
Sanitary precautions also must be taken to avoid the spread of viruses. All surfaces will need to be properly wiped down before the event. We can also expect venues to have more sanitizing stations available throughout the venue. You will want to check with your individual venue to see what sanitary and other precautions the venue is taking to ensure the health of you and your guests. You will also want to check with your county guidelines to see if mask or gloves are required for your guests. With the new sanitary precautions of the "new normal" in mind, I think it's also likely that we'll start to see a rise in mini hand sanitizers as wedding favors among couples.
In a time riddled with confusion and anxiety, please know that there are people out there who want to help. Your planners, your photographers, your florist, etc. You don't have to go through this tough time alone- we are all right there with you, navigating this together. I sincerely hope this post gives you some great advice and helps you decide on what direction to take your wedding. Please subscribe to my blog for all of the updates on wedding planning during this time. Talk soon!