When it comes to weddings, we’ve come a HELL of a long way since March and April. Less than six months ago, we were crossing out every special occasion in our planners for the foreseeable future, hunkering down at home, and limiting the extent of our socialization to comments in passing with our roommates, but the wedding world has come alive as of late. Thanks to slightly loosening state restrictions and the rise of scaled-back celebrations like elopements, microweddings, and minimonies, couples are getting their “I Dos” done and happily moving on with their lives. At present, love is not canceled, but that can all change if soon-to-be-weds start going rogue and cases start spiking.
Earlier this month AP unmasked a disturbing reality about COVID weddings, writing, “No-mask weddings, no social distancing and dance floors prohibited in many states have been the talk of online groups for vendors around the country.” And when we consider that these vendors are pretty much living on Purell and a prayer as they return to the soirees that used to fill their calendars and pay their bills, it hits as especially inconsiderate. We get it, couples want their weddings to be as close to their pre-pandemic dreams as possible, but the fact of the matter is the risk of a wedding-related outbreak should necessitate some simple precautions like mask-wearing, maintaining six feet distance, ditching the dance floor, etc. While we get that you probably never pictured getting married surrounded by a sea of masked faces when you were seven years old planning your wedding, you probably didn’t plan for a global pandemic either.
In an effort to curb all the potential bride Karening before it becomes a thing, we chatted with a number of wedding professionals (including a photographer who was a corona bride herself) on the subject of mask-wearing and common sense safety during these (say it with us) unprecedented times. It’s the year 2020, folks, and the official wedding mood involves a mask, so here’s how you can embrace the novelty of these nuptials and have a great day.
Set Up Expectations
Whether you’re eloping, having a microwedding, or exchanging vows with a minimony, the best way to make everyone comfortable is to be transparent about expectations. This can be done easily through a “what to expect” insert included in your invitations. Betches co-founder and coronabride Sami sent something to her own wedding guests to give them a heads up on the ground rules for her upcoming wedding, including the steps she and her fiancé would be taking to keep everyone healthy and happy.
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ok so the #1 question we’ve gotten from microwedding brides lately is “how do I invite my guests while letting them know we need to be extra safe?” (2020 is so weird). so we’re giving you a sneak peek at what @sami’s including in her microwedding invitations. DM us with your invites, custom masks, or any other social-distance-safe wedding touches and we’ll share on our story!
In addition to being transparent with your guests, you should be open and honest with your vendors, too, about what you’re envisioning for your wedding photos, overall experience, and flow of the day. Nicole DeTone, the face of Nicole DeTone Photography, says that now, more than ever, it’s critical to discuss expectations before the wedding day. She and her second shooter will always wear masks and remain six feet away, but if her couple wants to omit face coverings for their (keyword: their) portrait sessions of the day, she’s okay with it—there just needs to be a plan in place to ensure safety for everyone.
“If my couples prefer no masks for group photos, I recommend going over the plan with their wedding party and family members beforehand to make sure they’re comfortable taking photos without masks,” she explains. “It goes both ways, too: I’ve had some awkward situations where family members were asked by the couple to either not be in the photo or, reluctantly, have them join without their masks.”
For DeTone, it’s imperative that brides and grooms discuss the dynamics with their photographer and planner, so that everyone is in the know about any people who are uncomfortable wearing masks or, conversely, who feel good about getting together for a group shot. That way, it’s much easier to plan certain poses, the number of people in a photo, and the location of portraits. Working together to plan out these “photo pods” can be a major relief.
Gift The Goods
We won’t lie, in the earlier part of this pandemic, we were quick to shake our heads at the mere suggestion of wedding or bridal masks. In our defense, at the time, having ANY kind of wedding was a bad, bad call and there was a critical shortage of personal protective equipment (PPE) for the people who needed it the most, our health care workers on the frontlines. So, yeah, we weren’t exactly pro-bedazzled facewear, especially when the costs were kind of hard to justify. Now, though, things have changed, and it’s hard to imagine a wedding without any sort of masks in sight.
Shameless plug, I ordered a pair of Plum Pretty Sugar’s face masks earlier in the pandemic, and they are so comfortable and so pretty. They also just came out with a white embroidered mask for brides. And they’re just $30 ($20 for two, for the bridesmaids), which is definitely a lot easier on the wallet than the hundred-dollar bedazzled ones out there.
Now that things are much better on the shortage front (we seriously have so many cool masks to buy from both big and small businesses), and weddings are cautiously ramping up, we’re all for mask wearing at the main event. Our take: If you have to wear a mask on your best day ever, then it might as well be pretty. Claire Pettibone, the LA couturier responsible for some of the most stunning gowns on the planet, first felt a little conflicted about making something beautiful for this ugly virus. But her dissonance was quickly resolved when she realized that she could contribute to the cause, donating a mask for each one sold, and make brides feel comfortable on the day they need to most.
“Brides have been ordering our masks for themselves, and even more, for their wedding party and guests. We’ve also had a lot of people purchasing them as gifts,” she reports. “Most brides planning a wedding right now have very limited guest lists, and depending on where they live the regulations may be different, but of course, keeping family and friends safe is a top priority, so outfitting their guests with attractive masks is something to consider.”
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Our Slate fabric (bottom of these 3), sold out in less than a week! Sets will now be your choice: all Taupe, all Ivory, or a combination of the two. For every mask sold, we are donating one to healthcare and front line workers. Your purchase enables our Los Angeles based team to keep working while helping our community. Thank you for supporting our small business!💕 #clairepettibone #lovemask #facemask #bridalstyle #handmade #fineartwedding #fineartbride #smallbusiness #smallbusinesslove #localbusiness #smallbusinessowner
Claire says that most of her brides are choosing her classic solid ivory with lace butterflies option to wear themselves, but looking at her printed floral patterns for their guests. And since adding new child sizes for the flower girls and ring bearers to rock, she’s gearing up to go all in for the entire group—grooms included.
“We recently added a child size, and had a wedding where we outfitted all of the kids with custom plain ivory masks for the boys and butterflies for the girls, while the adult guests wore a variety of the prints,” describes Pettibone. “We’ve just had some requests for men’s, so that’s something we have in the works. Our masks are really well-made and comfortable, plus the adjustable silk ties have a more formal look, so they do work well for weddings.”
If You Mask Them, They Will Come…
All it takes to have uniform classy photos is consistency in the masks your MVPs are wearing. Jennifer Larsen, lead photographer at her namesake, Jennifer Larsen Photography, put her camera down for the day to have her own minimony last month, and she couldn’t be happier with the way she made masks work. In her opinion, there’s nothing wrong with leaning into the COVID circumstances. Just because masks are necessary for safety reasons, doesn’t mean they have to be ugly!
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“We provided our guests with white masks that read ‘Quarantined for Life: Jen and Ryan are Married!’ in rose gold foil,” she recalls. “We wanted to make the masks less of a burden and more like a party favor that would bring a little joy and commemorate this season. I love the way they came out, and so did our guests!” Perhaps because Larsen is a photographer herself, she had total confidence in her own photographer to document the day like she wanted; nevertheless, being able to trust in her photographer was such a key to her staying calm.
Lean On Your Photographers
We promise, a few masked moments aren’t going to read as a documentary of the pandemic, but if you’re truly concerned that your photos and video will be plagued by the state of affairs more than they already are, then opt for your couple portraits and those with close family to be done sans masks—in wide, open-air spaces. For Larsen, being flexible and inventive can be what turns a COVID-curated group shot into an avant-garde, glossy mag kind of vision.
“For situations where you’d like to take a group photo, but still keep distance, I think getting creative with your setup makes the photo feel a lot less awkward. Group people together by couples/households, and space them out in clusters to create balance on either side of the bride and groom,” she says. “You can incorporate some chairs, to improvise a dynamic sitting and standing, staggered look, and it will feel like an intentional, creative choice rather than an awkward restriction. You can even try mixing in some fun cheering or stoic expressions to change it up from a typical ‘just smile at the camera’ shot to a more spacious Vanity Fair-esque portrait!”
You’re The F*cking Bride, But You’re Not Above The Rules
As Alexis Alvaraz, a wedding planner from Chicago, tells AP, “There’s just so much emotional baggage that has come with weddings this year that the idea of masks at their weddings is the last straw… but there is danger in that.” That’s especially true if people aren’t following state mandates and CDC codes of conduct. That’s why vendors, especially wedding planners and caterers, are doing even more to help couples navigate the nuances of wedding safety. Dance floor be damned, there’s a way to do it.
Emily DeLoach, Co-Founder and Executive Director of Sincerely Yours Events in Savannah, GA, has seen DJs and bands doing really cool things to make sure the guests have a good time, but safely. “I’ve worked with DJs and bands who have made QR codes that guests can scan at the event to submit song and announcement requests without having to have contact with their booth,” relays DeLoach. “This has been effective and fun, really engaging the crowd, curating perfect dance floor vibes, and getting loving announcements made to help bring the whole crew together!”
An outdoor silent disco? We’re down.
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This couple had a socially-distant silent disco at their microwedding as a fun alternative to regular dancing. Congrats Laura and Will! 🥂 “Obviously a reimagined ceremony during Coronavirus! But we were able to pull off a mini wedding with 40 family & friends in Will’s parents backyard on Cape Cod! I converted to Judaism during our engagement and Will and his two brother’s built the chuppah in the days leading up to the wedding. It was an epic evening with heartfelt speeches that ended with a silent disco with two channels – one of wedding classics and another live DJ’d by a friend with our favorite EDM mixes.” @theshensation 📷: @nicoleellengowan
And when it comes to food and drink, very easy ways to cross contaminate, caterers like Main Course Catering + Marketplace in New Paltz, NY, are adopting new ways to wow their couples. During the planning process, the Captain of Catering, Hogan Popkess, says that he and his team have conversations with clients about some of the options they have for events, including glass dome coverings on passed hors d’oeuvres trays, exclusively-served plates instead of displayed or family-style options. When it comes to masks, MCC’s staff is coming dressed in in-house made masks that match the ties they wear with the uniforms, plus black disposable gloves, so they look sleek while still being safe—if you care about that sort of thing.
Popkess also says of masks, “Some of our clients prefer everyone to have masks on the entire event unless of course they are seated and eating. Others have been comfortable without masks for the duration of the event. Our staff wears them the entire event as well as gloves to ensure our own safety and also make everyone feel comfortable.” He acknowledges, “The tables are turned when you enter a client’s home and you are a stranger. We have to keep our staff safe while also respecting the safety of the client and their guests.”
Following The Rules Can Be A Legit Piece Of Cake
Jen Larsen and her handsome hubby made sure that their wedding cake could be done safely for their July “I Dos.”
“We served cake after the ceremony, and that boiled down to little things like having hand sanitizer readily available for our guests, having a dedicated server to carefully cut and plate each slice, and pre-rolling individual sets of disposable utensils, etc.” she remembers. “I tried to think through any areas that would make guests feel uncomfortable or would be a high germ-spreading point of contact.”
The bottom line is that planning a wedding safely requires more thought and planning than before (as if planning a wedding wasn’t hard enough). But it can be done, and the extra effort of keeping yourself, your loved ones, and your vendors safe is well worth it.
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There’s a lot to be upset about when it comes to this pandemic, like how states have to fight with the federal government for necessary supplies and people have to fight with each other at the grocery store for toilet paper. If you want something else to get mad about, I’ve found something that may rile you up. During my routine midnight scrolling through alerts, I stumbled upon a story about Haute Couture Wedding Masks, aka quarantine wedding masks, for brides and grooms, and I cannot stop thinking about it. This is no joke—bridal face masks exist, and the name makes me cringe already. In my self-isolationist cabin fever haze, I decided to investigate what these masks were all about, and what I found was a bit troubling.
The masks are made by a national bridal store chain called Winnie Couture, whose HQ is in Beverly Hills. The company has nine additional locations across the United States. When you visit the bridal shop’s website, there’s a section called “Our Response To COVID-19” and features two initatives: one is called “Masks For Heroes” and the other is Haute Mask by Winnie Couture. More on the latter in a sec. As far as the Masks for Heroes, Winnie Couture is currently participating in the #millionmaskchallenge, for which their team is sewing washable/reusable masks (with filter pockets) for healthcare providers and essential workers. The good news: They’ve made 1,200 masks so far and are making an additional 2,500 to donate to the medical community and senior citizens. This is commendable and selfless work, and I’m here for it. If they had stopped right there, I wouldn’t have needed to go on this rant.
But let’s get to the not-good news, and the reason we’re here: the Haute Mask by Winnie Couture section. The website describes this line as “protective wedding masks for brides and grooms that offer style and safety for engaged couples across the globe,” and stress that 100% of proceeds from sales of the masks go to Direct Relief, a non-profit organization that is providing personal protective equipment and essential medical items to U.S. and international health workers responding to Coronavirus (COVID-19).
Winnie Couture L’AMOUR Mask For Brides
With the proceeds going to charity, what’s the problem? Let’s start with the easiest one: the masks are expensive AF. Described as “handmade, dreamy, and timeless”, they retail for $239 and $389 for the ladies, and $129 and $259 for the men. Considering not only the loss of non-refundable wedding deposits that couples who postponed their wedding may be dealing with, but also how many people have been laid off from their jobs due to COVID-19, who has this kind of cash to spare right now?! No one. “Omg, you know what hun? We should TOTALLY get expensive-ass bedazzled masks so we can always remember how COVID-19 f*cked up our wedding plans.” – said no one ever, I hope.
But even more problematic is the claim that these are “protective wedding masks for brides and grooms, offering style and safety”. Let’s break this down. In terms of protection and safety—yes, these masks could technically make for an adequate cloth face covering for the general public (the company uses 100% organic cotton lining for the masks) because they abide by CDC guidelines. However, there’s a big caveat: they are not really practical. The CDC advises that cloth face covering should be able to be “laundered and machine dried without damage or change to shape,” and I have a feeling that these hand-crafted beaded masks would not hold up in a washing machine. And it’s not as if you could pop over to your dry cleaner to get them laundered (hint: because we’re in lockdown). (As an aside, the masks contain a sewn-in filter pocket, though the filter is not included.) The best-case scenario is you buy this as a glorified fashion accessory, which is in and of itself kind of tone-deaf given that we’re having a national crisis over the lack of adequate PPE for healthcare workers. The other scenario is that you spend nearly $400 to be protected one time. Neither option is ideal.
While these masks could theoretically offer some safety for, say, non-healthcare workers running errands or going outside, there’s still a problem with stating that these are “protective masks for brides and grooms.” That’s because no one in their right mind is going forward with their in-person wedding plans right now, especially when government agencies and the CDC are advising everyone to stay at home unless absolutely necessary, practice social distancing, and even the White House is urging people to avoid gatherings with 10 people or more. Sure, brides and grooms could wear this for their Zoom weddings, but it doesn’t totally seem like that’s what Winnie Couture had in mind. The website says, “We not only hope to protect engaged couples on their special day, but also, those affected by COVID-19 around the globe.” You know the best way to protect engaged couples on their wedding day? Have them stay the f*ck home. If you click on the page to actually purchase one of these masks, the webpage says, “We strive to provide protective masks for weddings around the world during the current state.” One more time for the people in back: there should be no weddings around the world during the current pandemic.
I wasn’t the only one to take issue with these wedding masks. I spoke to Dr. Sidney Chiu, an ER physician on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic, who had some choice words for Winnie Couture. As a dad with two little girls at home who is now juggling intense overtime at the hospital, he took one look at these masks, then, after a long pause, said, “is this a joke? Do people not know how serious this pandemic is? People are dying and this encourages reckless behavior.” Specifically, he expressed concerns that these masks would give people a false sense of security and they would congregate for extended periods of time. “Weddings are long affairs, people would be absentmindedly touching their face and in close proximity to one another, so you’re essentially creating a breeding ground for COVID-19. Do you really want that on your hands?”
Given that these masks are super expensive, impractical, and maybe even irresponsible, I had to ask: would anyone actually wear these? To get a bride’s perspective, I chatted with my cousin Steph who recently made the difficult decision to nix her destination nuptials in Mexico because of the pandemic. “I guess they’d make for a really expensive gag gift,” she said, adding, “But honestly, you’d have to read the room first.” Tbh, if you have upwards of $200 to spend on a joke, even if the proceeds are going to charity, you’d probably be better off just donating it directly.
Steph also thought that, even if well-intentioned, the masks were irrelevant to IRL circumstances: “I feel the smartest and safest thing to do is to cancel/postpone your wedding like we did, and these masks appear to promote the opposite of that—it’s like they’re encouraging weddings to proceed.”
Even though the proceeds from the Haute Masks are going to a good cause, that doesn’t make the concept as a whole any less tone-deaf. What’s ironic is that compared to the Haute Masks, their other COVID-19 initiative, Masks for Heroes, is genuinely commendable. Maybe I’m just cynical, but I suspect Winnie Couture knows that coming out with a line of high-end face masks for brides and grooms (who shouldn’t be having a wedding right now anyway) is a bad look, and the Haute Masks are just a publicity play… which I suppose has worked, given that I’m writing about it.
The bottom line is that, “for everyone’s safety, particularly in this climate, you should definitely NOT be having a wedding now,” advises Dr. Chiu. But hey, if you’re somehow still living for these and/or have cash to burn and want a bougie souvenir to commemorate the pandemic à la “I survived COVID-19 and all I got was this lousy mask”, then what the hell, get a matching set for you and your hubby to be (they ship across the U.S. and worldwide). And I guess you can sleep better at night by telling yourself 100% of the profits are going to Direct Relief.
Images: zef art / Shutterstock.com; Winnie Couture