Being invited to a wedding is such an honour for many of us. It’s one of the special occasions we all look forward to because it means participating in a significant celebration of our loved ones.
However, the pandemic has brought us fear and anxiety about going out and being in places with other people, even our friends and relatives.
Read this guide first if you’re considering attending a wedding during this pandemic. Etiquette has taken on a new meaning at weddings since COVID-19 spread worldwide.
Thus, it’s essential to know the rules so you can focus on your health and safety and others as well.
Stay In the Loop With the Engaged Couple
With the changing policies on restrictions, social gatherings, and travels, it’s essential to communicate constantly with the engaged couple concerning logistics and other things related to their wedding.
It’s recommended that couples set up websites or perhaps a private group on social media to update guests with any changes or expectations about the wedding venue.
This is very important, especially for destination weddings. If the engaged couple hasn’t created an online communication channel yet, be proactive enough to let them know your concerns or ask them if you have questions.
You can always make a call to the engaged couple or their family to keep track of any updates or changes.
Know the Rules in Churches
Many churches have been open for regular worship and weddings as the number of COVID-19 cases goes down.
Check with the future bride and groom if specific rules or health protocols need to be observed inside the church, such as wearing masks and social distancing.
Some places of worship may ask wedding attendees to present their proof of being fully vaccinated at the point of entry.
Know the Reception Rules
Don’t wait for the engaged couple to inform you about the health protocols that need to be followed in the reception.
To be sure about what to do, you can always refer to the CDC guidelines for organizing significant events and gatherings:
- Know the risk factors. According to the CDC, several risk factors of getting and spreading COVID-19, such as the number of cases in their community, exposure during travel, and the number of people at the event.
- An outdoor reception is much better than an indoor location.
- Attendees should practice social distancing by staying six feet apart from each other. They should also wear well-fitting masks at the event.
- Follow hand hygiene and respiratory etiquette. Attendees need to frequently wash their hands with soap and water.
- Guests should also avoid singing or shouting, especially indoors.
Understand the Invitation
It’s essential to be mindful about the wedding invitations, particularly to whom it is addressed. As a precautionary measure to reduce the risk of spreading the virus, engaged couples are discouraged (sometimes even restricted by local policies) to host significant events.
That said, you should not take someone else with you unless the wedding invitation says otherwise.
For example, do note that single guests are not automatically offered a “plus one” invitation, as this is often given only to married or engaged couples.
Finally, please don’t assume that you can take your children to the wedding or the reception unless specifically mentioned in the invitation.
Understand the Risks
Even though people are wearing masks, practicing social distancing, and washing their hands frequently, there’s still a chance of contracting the virus from someone who is asymptomatic. Thus, assess your comfort level before saying “yes” to a wedding invitation.
You must also take travel into account. If it’s a destination wedding, and you don’t feel comfortable flying or having to drive too far, then let the engaged couple know.
Take it upon yourself to read about the risks of travelling during the pandemic. Then, check the CDC’s updates on the high-risk destinations before deciding to go.
Prepare Your Safety Kit
Even if the majority of the guests are vaccinated, there’s still a risk of spreading the COVID-19 virus. Thus, it is still vital to wear masks and practice hand hygiene and respiratory etiquette when attending any event, may it be a wedding or not.
It’s best to carry a safety kit for you and your family if they are also coming to the wedding. Your safety kit should include a few extra masks (especially if you have young children), a small hand sanitizer, a small bottle of alcohol, and disinfectant spray and wipes so you can sanitize surfaces like tables or chairs before using them.
Avoid touching your face unless you have washed your hands and applied hand sanitizer. Additionally, avoid touching frequently touched surfaces like door handles. If you need to touch or hold objects, sanitize your hands before and after.
Keep Your Distance
Social distancing is the best way to limit the spread of the COVID-19 virus. If you’re not comfortable being near or around people, it’s okay to step back or go somewhere that’s not crowded.
Suppose the ceremony is indoors, time your arrival, so you come right when it starts. Then, leave immediately once the ceremony is over.
If the couple is still indoors, wait for them to go outside before speaking to them and avoid joining a crowd when taking photos.
Respect Signage at the Wedding
Health reminders are commonplace in pandemic weddings. Be aware and respect signage at the wedding.
For example, if some chairs have signs that they are not for seating, don’t sit on them. If a lane or one-way traffic is being enforced, walk in the assigned direction.
If guests are instructed not to take off their masks unless they are eating or drinking, follow it.
Remember that the engaged couple took a lot of time and effort to ensure everyone’s safety during the event, so be sure to respect their wishes.
Be respectful of the vendors as well. Like you, they are also trying to make the wedding as safe as possible for everyone. Thus, always follow health protocols like wearing masks when talking to them or near them.
Avoid chatting with the crews at the bar or catering area to limit contact. This way, you can make vendors feel safe and protect yourself and other people at the event.
How to Politely Decline the Invitation
What if you’re not comfortable attending a wedding due to health and safety concerns? That’s alright. The engaged couple will surely understand and respect your decision, given the ongoing pandemic.
Just be sure to thank them for the invite and convey your wishes of celebrating another milestone sometime in the future.
Please don’t leave it until the last minute. A prompt RSVP means the couple will have more time to give your slot to someone else. Remember that they will be paying for your reservation at the reception, so it’s important not to wait until the last minute before you decline the invitation.
It would help if you also were honest about the reason why. Remember that people are generally very understanding when it comes to COVID-19, so it’s okay to tell them the reason why you are not attending.
However, please don’t make it sound like you think their wedding is unsafe when you talk to the couple. You should be clear that your reasons for not attending are personal and not a judgment on the couple’s decision to go ahead with their wedding.
Below are the ways to politely decline a wedding invitation:
Contact the Engaged Couple Personally
First, tell them how happy you are for them and how excited you are about their wedding. Then, explain to them that even though you want to, you don’t feel comfortable attending their event given the pandemic.
Whenever possible, do this through a call and not just a chat message or an email. This way, you can better explain yourself and convey your best wishes to them.
Send a Gift
Just because you can’t attend doesn’t mean you can’t show your support and love for them. You can still express your support for the engaged couple by sending them a gift.
This is a very kind gesture and a great way to show them how much you care for them even if you cannot attend their wedding day.
If you’re wondering when to send a gift if you’re not attending, it can be anytime before, during, or after the wedding.
If you’re upset that you can’t be there physically on one of the most memorable days of their lives, consider organizing a virtual celebration. It could be done after the wedding as the couple might be too busy already if you arrange it before the event.
Organize a virtual party. You might as well invite other friends or relatives who won’t be able to attend the wedding too. Send the couple a bottle of champagne or cake or any small gift and then celebrate their union from afar.
Have Confidence in Your Decision
Don’t feel guilty about not attending because you fear the possible risk of COVID-19 infection. While people might be upset about you not listening, you’re just protecting your health and well-being. Don’t let other people’s opinions make you feel guilty or sway your decision.
Being invited to a wedding is both an honour and a privilege. Out of so many people in their circle, they handpicked you to participate in their special event. If you decide to go, make sure to abide by the health protocols and observe hand hygiene, social distancing, and mask-wearing.