By Fallon Anawalt
Just when we thought we were coming out on the other side of the pandemic, the Delta Variant crashed the party.
When I got married in 2016, I thought the lack of event planning options in the small town of Joplin, Missouri was stressful. Back then, the idea of social distancing and wearing masks to stay safe from an airborne virus was the stuff of dystopian, science fiction movies. But only a half-decade later, these are only a fraction of things event planners must consider to keep guests safe on your big day.
The experience of planning my own wedding spawned the “a-ha moment” that led me to start my own event planning business, Athena Event Consulting and Decor. The goal was to be a forward-thinking company, providing creative and compassionate solutions. 2020 reinforced that vision and has allowed us to think outside the box to stay ahead of the curve.
Throughout the pandemic, we have prepped and adapted our procedures and processes while being mindful of CDC guidelines to maximize health and safety. With the demand for big weddings increasing as states re-open to total capacity, couples are asking more questions about COVID-19 safety. How can they balance hosting the wedding of their dreams with safeguards to make everyone feel comfortable? Here are some fresh ideas to help plan your wedding during a pandemic to keep guests and family safe.
Weddings are highly emotional, and it’s hard for friends and family to resist hugs or handshakes. Some people feel comfortable being up close and personal in crowds, while others like to keep appropriate personal space. Social distancing has been a constant recommendation from the CDC since the beginning of COVID-19, and it just takes a sprinkle of creativity to satisfy everyone.
Setting up tables and other seating six feet apart can help adhere to safety guidelines. You can arrange seating in captivating patterns to give the ceremony and reception a visual charm. Dining tables can also be assigned to individual households to keep immediate families together.
A wedding without dancing is like a stack of pancakes without syrup. One way to add extra pizzazz, create fun memories, and spread out the crowd is to hire a “silent DJ.” Guests are assigned a pair of sanitized wireless headphones tuned to the same channel. Everyone can hear the music from anywhere in the venue within range of the transmitter. This can even work with speeches!
COVID-safe weddings have seen a swift rise in the popularity of color-coded comfort bands. These bands are worn on the wrist, with each color assigned a “comfort level.” For example, green bands could mean the wearer is OK with hugs and close contact with other guests. Yellow bands could suggest mingling is acceptable, but no hugs. Finally, pink could signify the wearer is high-risk, and social distancing is required.
These bands can be displayed near the venue’s entrance with a sign detailing what each color means. This is a quick way to gauge your interactions with other guests by simply looking at their comfort band.
Masks among guests have become a standard during COVID, and most people will bring their own. Some guests, however, may accidentally leave their mask at home or misplace it throughout the wedding. Having extra, disposable masks on hand for those in need is always a great idea. If you really want to add some extra magic, you can provide wedding-themed masks emblazoned with the couple’s names, the wedding date, and/or social media hashtags.
Keep hand sanitizer available in several areas around the venue. Travel-sized hand sanitizer is perfect for leaving on the dining tables at each guest’s place setting, and disposable paper towels in restrooms are recommended. Small cleaning crews should be available to sanitize surfaces throughout the day continuously.
Plated Meals and Bar Service
Buffet-style dinners have been popular for decades and are easy to plan. However, social distancing guidelines can be followed better by serving meals to each guest on single plates. Table service can also create an elevated dining experience, with delightful food plating and drinks delivered from the bar.
COVID-19 could be here for a while, and we have to keep adapting to the ever-changing landscape. This “new normal” can cause different discomfort levels across the board, especially if you are at high risk. Don’t be afraid to ask your event or wedding planner questions so they can help make your experience as comfortable for everyone as possible. Here’s to your wedding day being the magical fairytale you have always imagined.
Fallon Anawalt is an entrepreneur and business owner with a strong background in event planning, marketing, advertising, and consulting. Her business, Athena Companies, provides marketing, advertising, event rentals, and full-service planning for events. The company comprises three divisions, each specializing in a focused industry. Anawalt currently resides as the President of Athena Companies. When she isn’t working on her business, she is an avid equestrian.