What Should We Tell Our Guests About Our Wedding in the Time of the Coronavirus?

 
by Jennifer Cram - Brisbane Marriage Celebrant  (19/03/2020)  |  Categories: | Wedding Ceremony | Wedding Planning

two people reaching towards one another
                        with hands not touchingWith Government restrictions ramping up on a daily basis, concerns about flattening the curve, and worrying media reports about the effects of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) on weddings, you wouldn't be human if you weren't stressing about your wedding.

As you will know, I'm the world's biggest advocate for a Really Good Plan B (and C, and D, and E). It is all about preparing for (unexpected) changes in your plans. So, regardless of whether you are days, weeks, or months away from your special day, being proactive is much better than panicking!

Yes, while this virus and its global impact is new and unprecedented, what isn't new to the wedding industry is the practice of having good Plans B (i.e. contingency plans), in place.

So I am prepared for whatever changes will come, including if you decide to postpone your wedding, or bring it forward. You can read about what I've got in place here

Managing Your Guests

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A big source of stress will be guests contacting you to find out whether the current situation has changed your plans. Be proactive. Contact them all (email, Facebook, whatever) to let them know that if and when your plans change, you will let them know.

Communicate Understanding

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Everyone is nervous. Some of your guests might choose not to attend, even though they might have already sent an RSVP accepting your invitation. Let your guests know that you understand that they may choose to self-isolate and not come, and that you understand that and know that they still wish you well. But ask them to let you know if they choose to not to attend, so you can adjust numbers for catering, etc.

If You Need to Trim your Guest List

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With government restrictions on the size of non-essential gatherings being implemented, and allowable numbers being progressively reduced, you may find yourself in the situation where your venue has to limit your numbers, leaving you the choice of postponing or reducing your numbers. If you choose to reduce your numbers, you will have to un-invite some people. So you need rational criteria that will not feel personal to anyone un-invited. The obvious ones are family only. But, uninviting children may do the trick also. Look at your guest list, make your decision, and communicate it personally to each person un-invited. It doesn't take that much longer to copy and paste (and personalise) an email, for example. I can't stress how important it is to communicate in a way that is personal rather than in a broadcast message.

Give your guests a heads-up about social distancing measures

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Both to help guests decide whether they will or will not attend, and to make sure that no-one is surprised on the day, detail your social distancing measures to your guests in advance of your big day
  • Ask them to celebrate with you and congratulate you with waves, hand on heart, the Auslan sign for Congratulations, and other "virtual hugs" rather than with body-contact hugs and kisses. And remind them that if they want to blow kisses, to mime it, making sure that they don't touch their mouths with their own hands!
  • Tell them what hand-washing/hand sanitising facilities you will have in place
  • Ask them to wash their hands before arrival and as often as possible during your wedding
  • Remind them that 20 secs of hand washing time is important. You can personalise this and add a bit of fun, by giving alternatives to Happy Birthday.  Check out how long it takes to sing a chorus or two of Going to the Chapel, All You Need is Love, or other relevant songs. Oh, don't forget, Baby Shark takes 20 seconds up to the middle of Daddy Shark. Choose one as your Wedding Hand Washing Theme Song, send the words (and make laminated copies in large print to stick up in the bathrooms on the day.

Work with your Celebrant, Wedding Planner, Photographer, DJ, etc

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While the precise situation is new, the principles aren't. So we'll pull out all stops for you.

In particular, as your celebrant, I'll include reminders about social distancing in my housekeeping remarks to the guests before the ceremony start. And the way I do it will absolutely reflect the vibe you've planned for your day!

Should you adopt a No-Mention-on-the-Day Policy?

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Apparently some are of the opinion that the best course of action is just not to mention the situation, the virus, or social distancing. I disagree. All that will do is turn it into the big Elephant in the Room, and put another stress on people if they inadvertently do mention it. Best to be up front, deal with it, and then carry on to have a happy day.

Oh, and Wash Your Hands (Seriously!)

Jenny xxx Let's talk soon about how you
                        can have the best ceremony ever


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