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How To Gather With Friends And Family At Weddings And Events

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TOPLINE The coronavirus pandemic may undo the way we tie the knot for years to come, giving rise to micro-weddings, “minimonies” and postponements. All event organizers should monitor state and local guidelines and guests should stay 6 feet apart. 

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  • Consult state and local guidelines on attendee limits for indoor and outdoor social gatherings.
  • Organizers should “continually assess” the situation, including the total number of guests, the level of virus transmission in the local area and the layout of the venue, when deciding whether the event should be postponed, canceled, or the guest list significantly reduced, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
  • The bigger the gathering, the higher the risk. “For a wedding or a funeral, unfortunately, those are going to be high-risk events right now and probably until we have a safe and effective vaccine, or at least until we get the transmission of this virus under much better control,” says Crystal Watson, senior scholar at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security.
  • Stay at least 6 feet away from other guests, as social distancing is key in any group setting. 
  • Place hand sanitizer on every table. 
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  • Postpone the big celebration in favor of a “minimony”—a mini ceremony with an officiant and one or two witnesses present. 
  • Consider a micro-wedding of no more than 20 guests. These budget-friendly options can still include the special touches typically associated with bigger affairs.
  • “A micro-wedding offers couples the opportunity to have all the best of a traditional wedding without the stress and cost associated with hosting a big fat wedding. You can still have a beautiful venue, flowers, cake, the bridal gown and snazzy suit, gorgeous decor and a tasty dinner if those are the elements that say ‘wedding’ to you — but just with a smaller group of people,” says Kelly Story, wedding coordinator and owner of Storybrook Events, which has offered micro-weddings at a farm in Jonesborough, Tennessee since 2018.
  • Interview vendors in advance about their safety protocols and add necessary safety requirements to your vendor contract. 
  • Don’t skimp on a photographer. Those who are unable to attend will be thrilled to see your day captured in amazing photographs. 
  • Accent floral arrangement centerpieces with mini hand sanitizers by adding custom labels for them from a company such as StickerGiant or Vistaprint.  
  • Skip the buffet, use disposable dinnerware and bottled or pre-poured beverages. Buffets tend to create long lines and crowds, which increases potential for virus transmission.
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Elopements never go out of style. “Many couples are opting for A Little White Chapel’s famous drive-thru wedding tunnel, because they needn’t even leave their car to get hitched,” says Charolette Richards, the self-described “Wedding Queen of the West” and owner of the iconic Las Vegas drive-thru tunnel of love. “Many arrive on horseback or motorcycles, incorporating the couple’s favorite pastimes. It’s also outdoors which allows for more space between guests.” Richards has officiated thousands of weddings over the past 50 years. 

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When choosing a venue, make sure there is enough space for guests to socially distance, says Adette Contreras, cofounder of Tinsel Experiential Design. If it does not have the layout to accommodate six feet of separation between people, find another space (or trim the guest list further). 

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Contreras highlights another advantage of hosting an intimate event: “Smaller gatherings can be more intimate and provide opportunities for meaningful conversations with family and friends.”

“Don’t let the pandemic steal your joy!” says Story. “You never know, your Covid-era wedding may be more perfect and magical than you ever dreamed. Keeping your wedding small may turn out to be exactly what you wanted after all.”

Tanya Klich, Forbes Staff, Lifestyle

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