The coronavirus pandemic has changed the way many people look at wedding invitations. While they want to be supportive of a couple, and celebrate with friends and family, they may be unsure whether to R.S.V.P. yes or just stay home. Before booking a flight, renting a car, or slapping down a credit card for a hotel stay, here are a few important questions to consider.
Where am I going and how will I get there?
“Most people will ask themselves, ‘Can I get there by car?,’ which we’re finding is one of the safer ways to travel because you can sanitize it, roll down the windows for fresh air, and it contains people you know,” said Jove Meyer, the owner of Jove Meyer Events in Brooklyn. “The other things people should ask: ‘Does the area I’m going to have a high or low number of cases? And will I have to sleep over?’ These are important points to consider and depending upon your comfort level will affect your answer.” One more thing to consider: Some states may require you to quarantine for 14 days upon arrival or after returning home.
Will social distancing and wearing masks be observed?
Rules and regulations differ by state, and how a couple executes them can fluctuate as well. If guidelines aren’t found on the couples website or included in the invitation, call and ask the couple directly. “Our clients are wearing masks 100 percent of the time while inside, but once outside, they are observing social distancing and wearing masks at their comfort level,” said Emily Clarke, the owner of Emily Clarke Events in Dallas. She has been personalizing temperature checks and hand-sanitizer stations, and customizing masks for her clients. Ms. Clarke suggested that even though most couples will supply these items for guests, it’s always smart to bring an extra set of masks, wipes and gloves as backup.
How many guests are attending and will they be tested for Covid-19?
For some invitees knowing whether there will be 25 or 80 guests in attendance may be a deciding factor. For others it’s about the health of those around you. “Some couples are making it a policy that every guest and vendor they hired need to be tested and require a negative result within 48 to 72 hours in order to attend the wedding,” said Mr. Meyer, who added that most event planners have been tasked with receiving and organizing everyone’s emailed or screenshot test results. “Some couples who can afford it are offering to pay for this,” he said. “Those who are not mean it’s up to the guest to cover the expense.”
Is the wedding outside?
“With all the talk of outdoor events being healthier or lower risk environments, it’s completely reasonable to ask if the entire wedding will be outdoors,” said José Rolón, the owner of José Rolón Events in Brooklyn. “And if it rains, will the couple have a backup plan? If so, what will that look like?” For many brides and grooms this might mean opting for tents just in case the weather turns unfavorable.
How will reception seating be arranged?
If you’ve always feared being put at the singles’ table, or sitting among strangers, fear no more. In some cases you may be able to request who you eat with. “Many couples are letting guests say where they want to sit,” said Jason Mitchell Kahn, the owner of JMK and Co., a wedding event company in Manhattan. “This also prevents the chaos of people finding their seat that night and not feeling comfortable with where they’ve been assigned.”
How will food be served?
Buffets, family-style portions, or preset tables are no longer the favored option. “You want as few people touching your food, and for food to be served as fresh and as individually as possible,” Ms. Clarke said. She suggested having one waiter assigned to a table for the entire evening and that food be individually plated with silverware prewrapped inside a napkin. “The fear is, the longer food or tableware is exposed, the more people could have touched it,” she said. “And all the wait staff should be masked, gloved and be ready to answer any questions about the food safety preparation.”
How will the wedding be structured?
“Insight to the flow of the wedding will eliminate a lot of questions guests might have,” Mr. Rolón said. “Ask if the couple are willing to share a floor plan and structure of the evening. These will show seating arrangements at the ceremony and at dinner, how big the dance floor will be — if there is one — and the size of the main space. Visual markers are really helpful to guests and give them another level of security.” Understanding the timing for different activities throughout the wedding, Mr. Rolón added, also might give guests a peek into what time they should arrive or how long they should stay.
How long do I want to stay?
“Anything goes right now,” Mr. Meyer said, noting that some guests might stay for dinner, while others who are older or are compromised health-wise might leave right after the ceremony. “Letting your host know ahead of time that you might depart early, or that once the dancing starts you’ll probably go, is really helpful, too,” he said.
The Coronavirus Outbreak ›
Frequently Asked Questions
Updated August 24, 2020
What are the symptoms of coronavirus?
- In the beginning, the coronavirus seemed like it was primarily a respiratory illness — many patients had fever and chills, were weak and tired, and coughed a lot. Those who seemed sickest had pneumonia or acute respiratory distress syndrome — which caused their blood oxygen levels to plummet — and received supplemental oxygen. In severe cases, they were placed on ventilators to help them breathe. By now, doctors have identified many more symptoms and syndromes. (And some people don’t show many symptoms at all.) In April, the C.D.C. added to the list of early signs sore throat, fever, chills and muscle aches. Gastrointestinal upset, such as diarrhea and nausea, has also been observed. Another telltale sign of infection may be a sudden, profound diminution of one’s sense of smell and taste. Teenagers and young adults in some cases have developed painful red and purple lesions on their fingers and toes — nicknamed “Covid toe” — but few other serious symptoms.
Why does standing six feet away from others help?
- The coronavirus spreads primarily through droplets from your mouth and nose, especially when you cough or sneeze. The C.D.C., one of the organizations using that measure, bases its recommendation of six feet on the idea that most large droplets that people expel when they cough or sneeze will fall to the ground within six feet. But six feet has never been a magic number that guarantees complete protection. Sneezes, for instance, can launch droplets a lot farther than six feet, according to a recent study. It’s a rule of thumb: You should be safest standing six feet apart outside, especially when it’s windy. But keep a mask on at all times, even when you think you’re far enough apart.
I have antibodies. Am I now immune?
- As of right now, that seems likely, for at least several months. There have been frightening accounts of people suffering what seems to be a second bout of Covid-19. But experts say these patients may have a drawn-out course of infection, with the virus taking a slow toll weeks to months after initial exposure. People infected with the coronavirus typically produce immune molecules called antibodies, which are protective proteins made in response to an infection. These antibodies may last in the body only two to three months, which may seem worrisome, but that’s perfectly normal after an acute infection subsides, said Dr. Michael Mina, an immunologist at Harvard University. It may be possible to get the coronavirus again, but it’s highly unlikely that it would be possible in a short window of time from initial infection or make people sicker the second time.
I’m a small-business owner. Can I get relief?
- The stimulus bills enacted in March offer help for the millions of American small businesses. Those eligible for aid are businesses and nonprofit organizations with fewer than 500 workers, including sole proprietorships, independent contractors and freelancers. Some larger companies in some industries are also eligible. The help being offered, which is being managed by the Small Business Administration, includes the Paycheck Protection Program and the Economic Injury Disaster Loan program. But lots of folks have not yet seen payouts. Even those who have received help are confused: The rules are draconian, and some are stuck sitting on money they don’t know how to use. Many small-business owners are getting less than they expected or not hearing anything at all.
What are my rights if I am worried about going back to work?
Will there be a band, DJ or dancing?
While some couples choose to have a single DJ tucked away in a corner, others are intent on having entertainment. “Those having a band are ensuring guest’s safety with Plexiglas screens that divide the band from everyone else,” Mr. Kahn said. “A good question to ask your host is, ‘If there is dancing, will social distancing be observed, and if so, who will help monitor that?’ Often when guests consume alcohol and are working up a sweat, masks come off and social distancing gets ignored.”
What if I’m asked to sign something?
Some event spaces and hotels, looking to protect their guests and themselves, may ask you to sign a liability waiver in the event you contract the coronavirus. The Kimpton Brice Hotel in Savannah, Ga., for example, hands out a one-page waiver before an event that stipulates you understand the coronavirus is highly contagious, that you accept all risks and dangers you might be putting yourself and others in, and you relinquish your legal rights upon signing. Just because a hotel requests your signature doesn’t mean you have to give it. First ask that a copy be sent to you in advance so you can decide if you agree with their legalities and expectations they have for you. “Then call and ask the hotel how they intend to run the event,” Mr. Rolón said. “It’s your right to know what actionable things they’ve put in place to ensure your protection.”