In April, California’s Governor Newsom outlined the state’s next steps in moving towards COVID-19 pandemic recovery. And most recently, the CDC released updated guidelines stating that fully vaccinated people no longer need to wear masks in most indoor and outdoor settings. With more than 20 million vaccine doses administered and hospitalizations continuing to steadily decline, the governor announced plans to fully reopen the economy on June 15, 2021. For us in California, this is welcome news–especially for those businesses in our very hard-hit wedding and hospitality industry.
With this latest development, it appears that in California at least, couples will finally be able to hold mask-less and non-socially distant weddings and events–indoors and out–as long as all wedding guests show proof of full vaccination or a negative COVID test to keep everyone safe. Could it really be that a “near-normal” wedding will in fact be possible in 2021?
With high levels of optimism for summer and fall weddings in California, many of our 2021 couples are looking for ways to communicate these rules to loved ones and guests. Since not everyone agrees on the rules issued by the CDC, state and local governments, it might feel like stepping over a line to dictate how your guests should behave on your big day.
Here we walk you through some basic communication etiquette pointers so you can feel confident letting your guests know your COVID safety rules and vaccine requirement, as well as any requirements for vaccinations or testing in preparation for your big day.
Ask Guests to Get Fully Vaccinated
As of the beginning of May, over 30% of the US population has been fully vaccinated, with those numbers continuing to climb every day. All adults over the age of 16 are now eligible for the COVID vaccine, so by summer 2021, it’s reasonable to ask guests if they have been or will consider getting fully vaccinated prior to attending your wedding.
Ask Guests to Get Tested
If full vaccination isn’t an option, asking your guests to get tested–usually 48-72 hours before attending your wedding–is the next best thing. Many drugstores now offer in-store testing if you’re asking guests to handle testing themselves. However, you might consider arranging for Rapid testing on-site (either administered by a professional or testing kits that guests administer themselves) for your non-vaccinated guests either at welcome events prior to your wedding or on the big day itself.
Inform Guests of Your COVID Vaccine Requirement
If you are going to require on-site testing, proof of a negative test, or a full vaccine requirement to attend the wedding, you’ll need to make that clear to guests in advance. You’ll also need to communicate in advance what happens if a guest tests positive or fails to provide the requisite information. Make sure you’ve consulted your wedding venue about their rules to ensure you are adhering to all recommended safety protocols, as well as any you would like to add yourselves and share these with guests.
Post Your COVID Safety Rules to Your Wedding Website
Your wedding website is a great communication resource to share vaccine and/or testing requirements for guests ahead of your nuptials. Use your wedding website to post your approach, COVID safety rules, and all information relevant to guests.
Share Your COVID Vaccine Requirement on Your Wedding Invitations
Your wedding invitation (or Save the Date if you’re in the early stages of planning your wedding) allows you to include key information about your wedding weekend, including hotel room blocks, registry info, dress codes, and other important details such as your COVID safety requirements.
In your details insert, include a line on COVID safety with your accommodation and transportation information that directs guests to your wedding website. Here is sample wording for reference:
“For the COVID safety rules of our wedding, as well as important wedding day, accommodation, and travel information, please visit [insert your wedding website URL].”
For guests who may not be internet savvy, consider printing your COVID safety rules and including this information as a separate insert with your invitation. Here is sample wording for reference:
“We are so excited to see you on our big day! In order to keep everyone safe, we’re kindly requesting [or our venue is requiring] that all guests comply with the following COVID health and safety rules in order to safely attend our wedding:
- Proof of full COVID-19 vaccination–if you have been fully vaccinated at least 14 days prior to the wedding, please bring your vaccination card (or photo of it) and a photo ID to our check-in desk at the wedding.
- Proof of negative COVID test–if you haven’t been vaccinated, please have a COVID test done within 48 hours (or timeframe required by the venue) before the wedding. Please bring your results with you, as well as a photo ID to our check-in desk at the wedding.
- We truly hope that everyone will comply with these rules but understand if you can’t. In the interest of ensuring the safety of all guests, vendors, and venue employees, unfortunately, no guest will be admitted to our celebration without proof of a negative test or full vaccination.
Lastly, you can add a COVID vaccination/testing RSVP line to your RSVP card or a separate COVID RSVP card. This will allow you to make note of who will be vaccinated by the time of your event and book sufficient quantities of Rapid tests for guests who won’t be. Here is sample wording for reference:
I am/We are fully vaccinated
YES ___ Please be prepared to provide your records at the wedding check-in desk as proof
*NO ___ *Prefer Not to Say ___
*Note, in the interest of everyone’s safety, we will provide Rapid tests for these guests at [insert location, e.g. Welcome Party, our wedding check-in desk, etc.].
Pre-Wedding Vaccine Requirement Communication
There’s a good chance your guests are not actively checking your wedding website unless you tell them, so this step will also require a BCC’d email, text thread(s), and/or a round of calls to direct them to this spot. Here is sample wording for reference:
“As we’re sure you can imagine, we are closely monitoring COVID and how it will impact our wedding plans. We are thrilled that we are one step closer to celebrating with you, and your health and safety continue to be our priority.
As such, we are asking all guests who are attending our wedding in person to please be fully vaccinated prior to the wedding. If vaccination is not possible (and we understand it may not be), we ask that you please take a COVID test 48-72 hours prior to our wedding. Please bring a copy of your COVID vaccination card or a photograph of it, and/or a copy of your negative test result to the wedding check-in desk. For those who cannot access a test beforehand, we will be providing Rapid COVID tests at [insert location, e.g. the Welcome Party, our wedding check-in desk, etc.]
We apologize for any convenience this may cause, as we respectfully remind you that no guest will be admitted to our celebration without proof of a negative test or full vaccination.
Let Us Help You Stay Up-to-Date and Communicate Regularly
COVID-19 regulations and guidelines are changing rapidly and also vary by location. Before putting your safety plan and vaccine requirement into place, make sure you check the federal, state, and local regulations applicable at the time of your event. This ensures you and all guests have the most up-to-date information and can plan accordingly. While we know communicating safety plans can feel overwhelming, by following these guidelines, you can clearly and effectively communicate your safety requirements for the benefit of all those attending your wedding.
At HauteFêtes, we are committed to helping our couples navigate the ins and outs of appropriate etiquette for weddings during COVID-19 and beyond. Contact us today to learn more about how we help you manage guest communication and expectations as part of our full-service wedding planning package.