How COVID-19 Is Going To Change Weddings For The Long Run

It’s no secret: coronavirus is one giant happiness cockblock. It’s stealing jobs, lives, and security right out from under our noses. It’s messing with some of the most longed-for and looked-forward-to events, like graduations, proms, and weddings. While there’s a lot of uncertainty surrounding the future of ~the best day of your life,~ I like to think it’s better to be informed than in the dark and luckily, The Knot released its report on the future of weddings, which shed some much-needed light on WTF is going on and WTF is going to happen to the wedding industry as a result of the pandemic.

According to The Knot, “Most engaged couples whose weddings have been impacted by COVID-19 are not canceling their weddings (92% globally, 93% in the U.S.), and are rescheduling for either later this year, 2021, or not making any changes at this time. With a strong desire to celebrate their weddings as they had originally planned, 94% of couples in the US and 87% globally do not plan to reduce their overall guest count, and 95% in the U.S. and 90% globally do not anticipate lowering their budget.”

What does this mean? Couples still want to party, they still want to shell out tons of money to do it, and they don’t really want to limit their guest counts. So, let’s figure out how can we make all of this happen. First, however, I want to say: Brides, this sucks. Majorly. I’m not here to sugarcoat or undermine it—odds are you’re getting that enough from estranged aunts and strangers on Facebook. What I am here to do is inform you and help you think of creative solutions you’re excited about that will make past brides pissed off that they didn’t think of the ideas first.

Guests Will Party In Shifts

“If and when the CDC and federal government do relax social distancing restrictions, there may be limitations in the number of people permitted to be in the same room,” Jeffra Trumpower, Sr. Creative Director at WeddingWire tells Betches. The problem is, literally no one wants to limit their guest count. The solution the wedding industry is going to start implementing is called a “shift wedding.” Basically, you get to have the same party, in the same venue, with the same vendor team, and everyone you want (and were forced to invite) can still attend, but you’ll just celebrate in shifts, with sanitation measures being taken between each. 

How to make it not suck: Personally, I think the idea of shift weddings is genius. First, you can have an outdoor ceremony (yup, outdoor venues are expected to be on a rise) where everyone can attend and stand/sit far away from each other (or maybe you have the ceremony separately, just include your closest friends and family, or you had a “minimony” on Zoom prior to the celebration), then, you move into shifts. The first shift is, naturally, the older folks. Grandparents, parents’ friends, etc. Yes, this will be the most boring part, but on the plus side, you’ll actually get a chance to eat because it will be a good excuse to stop talking to strangers for a few minutes.

Once that shift is over, you can move on to your B-tier group of friends. Think of this as your pregame for your actual party with your ride-or-dies. You’ll get some drinks, chat about old times, and ease into the event. Then, finally, your faves (say, your top 50) come in and tear sh*t up. It’s like having your own pregame at your wedding, and honestly, it sounds kinda awesome.

Sanitation Guidelines

Whenever events are allowed to happen again, you can bet your honeymoon fund that sanitation requirements will be increased, even after COVID-19 has calmed down. This means staff will most likely be wearing masks and gloves and some (if not all) guests will as well. Things like hand sanitizer stations and washing areas will become a staple in events and cleaning between each “shift” or event will be even more rigorous. While it might not be something you originally envisioned, experts say the guidelines are here to stay for a while, so plan accordingly.

While weddings may look a bit different in the near future, the wedding professional community is incredibly dedicated to ensuring couples are able to celebrate their love with those nearest and dearest to them, while still being safe and healthy,” said Emily Clarke, founder of Emily Clarke Events

How to make it not suck: “Putting a personalized touch to these measures will go a long way in normalizing the incorporation into weddings and keeping the positive, fun spirit of a wedding intact,” explained Clarke. “For instance, create personalized hand-sanitizing wipes in petite packages with guests’ names on them so people can sanitize as soon as they sit down for dinner.”

Another idea I’m obsessed with is having caterers walking around with personalized hand sanitizer on silver trays (just like they would with drinks at cocktail hour) or create a cute sanitization station.

Finally, utilizing gloves and masks can actually be low-key cute. Back in the olden days, gloves were seen as an elegant fashion accessory, and some brides still rock them today. Distribute gloves in your wedding colors (or all white or black) to guests and get some masks personalized for any high-risk or elderly guests to wear if they need. This could be a great time to incorporate your interests or hobbies as a couple, so don’t be afraid to do something silly, like your dog’s face on the mask.

Virtual Components

As someone whose maid of honor couldn’t attend her wedding because she had just given birth, important people missing out on big days has been a part of wedding history since forever. Sh*t happens, things come up. The exciting aspect surrounding the uptick in virtual options is that people who wouldn’t have been able to make it in the first place (or for whom it would have be risky to do so) now have options that are thought-out and coordinated to be a part of your event, inside of just a shaky FaceTime, which is how my MOH watched my wedding.

How to make it not suck: The good news is, the wedding industry is full of the most creative people in the world, and their job is to create beautiful events. From sending at-risk guests personalized favors, food, and links to having a roaming Zoom party bot that can mingle with guests at the event (disclosure: I don’t know what a “Zoom party bot” is, but experts says they’ll be utilized and I’m picturing some sort of DJ Roomba-like robot with a screen zooming around and allowing home guests to interact) — the ways to incorporate social distancing don’t have to be a bummer. “We will get creative to make sure our couples’ weddings are as special as they can be, even in the midst of a pandemic,” insists Jove Meyer, the owner and creative director of Jove Meyer Events.

Catering And Entertaining

Caterers will likely focus on plated dinners, instead of buffets or family-style meals, so there is less interaction with food and guests,” says Meyer. While traditional buffets might be out for a while, that doesn’t mean you have to completely forego your stations or hors d’oeuvres. Likely, it will just look different. If you long for a buffet, chances are your venue will instead have more, smaller stations and call different tables to get their food one at a time as opposed to a long, close-knit line. 

Adhering to cleanliness codes and thinking outside-the-box with food prep and display isn’t a new concept for caterers, “but one that is certainly being amplified and enhanced starting now,” Christie Altendorf of D’Amico Catering told The Knot. “New levels of safety are being discussed every day to proactively protect our guests and staff. While what we know is rapidly evolving, I think it’s safe to expect, as live gatherings return, there will be several measures put in place that we’ve never had to consider before.” 

While that might seem like bad news, it actually isn’t. “I believe we’re going to see many new serving styles conceptualized,” Altendorf insisted. Which means you might be at the front of what will soon be the hottest new wedding trend. Another aspect to consider is your dance floor. Classic, packed floors won’t make as much sense now, but that doesn’t mean the party will stop. Instead, things like satellite bars and floors will expand the range of the celebration.

How to make it not suck: Basically, your party space just got bigger and more interesting. Now, instead of one bar, multiple bars will be the norm. Instead of one small space to dance, multiple dance floors or levels will be incorporated. Instead of people either doing the “Cha Cha Slide” or sitting at their seats looking bored, having other entertainment to allow guests to spread out will be implemented. Weddings are about to become even more of an experience than just a glorified prom. Now more than ever, the rule book is getting thrown out and you can make your day entirely your own.

Non-Saturday Events

With venues being snatched up or already booked by couples, finding a new date can be a struggle, especially if you were planning on a Saturday event. In order to ensure your full vendor team is available, non-Saturday or even (gasp) non-weekend events are going to become more of the norm. Of those moving their dates, 8% of couples are switching to Thursday, 40% to Friday, and 33% to Sunday. On the plus side, if you always dreamed of getting married on a specific date (such as your dating anniversary or the date of your first kiss) but it fell on a weekday, people won’t bat an eye anymore.

How to make it not suck: The plus side is after everyone’s been stuck inside with literally NOTHING to do for God knows how long, most guests will relish being invited to an event where they can wear heels and talk to someone other than their S.O. or their plants. Monday wedding? Count me in. Wednesday wedding? F*ck yeah, I’m there. While these days weren’t usually chosen for nuptials, anyone who still has a job has tons of vacation days and everyone else just wants something to do. Don’t stress about the day of the week, because trust me, I’d crawl through glass rn to attend a weekday wedding.

After all this is over, weddings aren’t going to look the same, but that doesn’t mean they’re going to be worse. In fact, there will be plenty of ways to make your event even better than it was going to be.

Images: Kendra Allen / Unsplash; Giphy (3)