In Sickness and in Health: COVID-Era Weddings

Those who have a date set for this year must take a COVID-conscious approach, says Andre Wells, an event designer based in Washington, D.C. This includes having protective equipment stations, multiple hand-washing sites, plenty of room to practice responsible social distancing — and even people to take temperatures when guests arrive.

“COVID affects everything about events,” Wells says. “They’re about gathering, hugging, dancing. You have to really, really think about it and get creative.”

Like many event planners, Wells has seen a substantial drop in business since March. Not only are people afraid to gather, but most hotels and venues are closed, he says.

“We plan for the future, that’s what we do,” he says. “Many of us do large weddings and large events. Right now, I don’t know how you can make that happen.”

While some may put off their nuptials until the pandemic is over, or better under control, some local officials say they’ve seen an increase in marriage license applications. NPR reported in April that one city in Virginia and another in Arkansas reported spikes in licenses over 2019.

Wells is helping to plan a 300-person wedding that will be held at the Union Station transit station in October, but the save-the-dates noted that given the pandemic, the date could change. The unknowns outnumber the knowns right now, Wells says, and couples opting to keep their fast-approaching dates should be ready for last-minute changes.

Lynne Goldberg, a wedding and event specialist based in New York and Boca Raton, FL, says traditional planning practices are being thrown out the window. Rather than focusing on band-booking and cake-cutting, couples should take precautions with spaced-out line dancing and even a “social distancing concierge” to circle the room and ensure guests are being safe.

“Dances like the hora that require close contact are not happening right now,” says Goldberg, who has made several videos on COVID-19 weddings. “People are not bringing in 12-piece bands. The key is to try to ensure everyone is as safe as possible.”

Goldberg also recommends holding outdoor weddings, as the virus is more easily transmitted indoors, along with keeping the guest list small.

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