How to Plan a (Somewhat Normal) Wedding in COVID Times
After two years of the pandemic, couples are gearing up for a relatively normal wedding season. Hear how local professionals and couples are celebrating with the virus still in play.
When you’re planning your wedding, there’s a seemingly never-ending list of things to do. Now, couples and wedding planners have one more thing to add to their list of concerns: COVID considerations. Should you require guests to be masked, vaccinated and socially distant? How should you communicate that to them?
Shayne Souleret, wedding planner and owner of Soirée by Souleret, contemplates these questions along with her clients.
“People are feeling more comfortable that the wedding will happen, which is fantastic to feel that level of normalcy again,” Souleret says, “but some clients are still taking additional safety measures at the events.”
Many of her clients have decided to require that guests provide proof of vaccination or a negative COVID test within 72 hours of their wedding and include these requirements with their invitations.
“The response has been pretty favorable,” she says. “I think now more than ever, people understand [the safety precautions].”
Casey Pacifico and Chris Hall were married at St. Bernard Parish in Mt. Lebanon on May 29, 2021, and decided to add a section on their wedding website on The Knot to keep guests informed of safety precautions, which allowed them to give regular updates as conditions changed. They provided a link to the website along with their invitations.
“I think that was really helpful for a lot of guests because they weren’t kept in the dark, and they knew we were taking it seriously,” Casey says. “We wanted everyone to be comfortable and just made sure that we were always being transparent. … That’s a tip I would give to other brides, too. The more transparent you are, the better, because it’ll be obviously less stressful on you and your significant other.”
At the time of their wedding, vaccine distribution was still in its early phases, and many of their guests weren’t yet eligible or able to receive a vaccine.
As an alternative, they required guests to wear masks and developed a color-coded wristband system for guests to indicate their level of comfort with risk, something many couples are adopting. Guests who were comfortable interacting closely with others wore green wristbands, while guests who preferred to stay socially distant wore red ones.
The Halls provided guests with a form to choose which color wristband they would like along with their meal options and seated people with the same wristbands together.
“We wanted to give our guests the option to identify their comfortability in a way that was not awkward for people,” Casey says. “I felt like our guests really liked that … because they liked that they had that option.”
They included their full guest count on their wedding website as well to help guests make the most informed decision possible.
“It did get pretty emotional when we were talking about our closest relatives, our loved ones … because we really felt like we were potentially jeopardizing their safety if they attended our wedding,” Chris says.
Casey and Chris said that communicating their stresses and concerns with each other was essential to having a successful wedding. At times, they took breaks from planning altogether to give themselves time to enjoy their engagement.
“At one point, it was just like, ‘Oh my gosh, this is too much,’” Chris says. “We ended up just booking a hotel room in the city, and we were like, ‘Alright, we’re not thinking about our wedding for this whole weekend. We just need to relax.’”
They also started exercising together to relieve stress in a healthy way.
“Making sure you take your time and separate yourself a little bit is important,” Casey says, “because it can be really consuming and stressful, and you just need those things where you just enjoy one another. I still truly believe that couples who’ve gotten married these past few years … if they can accomplish this together, they can pretty much take on anything. It’s my new mantra.”
Souleret tries to remind couples that their wedding is only one day, and the stress of planning won’t last forever.
“Yes, I’m a wedding planner,” Souleret says, “and yes, this is what I do for a living, but at the end of the day, it’s a party. It’s really about your relationship. … I’m a mom. I’m a wife. I know that there’s so much to look forward to [and] that the wedding is just the start of it all.”