How to plan a wedding during Covid-19

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Wedding season has looked very different than usual. With the onset of the coronavirus pandemic in March—and ongoing uncertainty surrounding when it would end—countless couples made the tough decision to cancel their nuptials or postpone their wedding to a later date. Or scale back their big celebrations to a dramatic degree. But there’s good news! Several vaccines for Covid-19 will become more widely available over the course of 2021. Meaning, engaged couples can finally start making their wedding plans again, with a little more certainty about the future.

Covid wedding ideas

A big lesson many couples learned in 2020 was the importance of good communication. Especially for those who had to act fast to change their celebration plans, wedding cancellation announcements and change the date cards are a necessity to keep their guests in the loop on their plans. 

Online alternatives to traditional paper invites allow couples to easily follow up with their guests. You can send over new information or instructions, and keep all communications in one organized place, all with just a click of a button. That makes things a lot easier (and less stressful) for everyone involved, especially if last-minute changes prove necessary. 

There are many different ways your big day can pan out despite Covid-19. You might find yourself scaling back your celebration to just a few close family members, opting to plan a Zoom wedding, or ruling out a big ceremony for a small wedding at home. In every instance, communication is key. Whether you’re working on your own, or you have a wedding planner to help you along the way. Here are a few ways you can safely have a wedding during Covid (or gracefully postpone your plans), with corresponding Covid wedding invitation wording suggestions to relay your wedding plans (or changes) to your guests. 

1. Invite people to a micro wedding

How to get married during the Coronavirus pandemic is a personal choice. But for many brides, they’re turning to the micro wedding. If you really don’t want to cancel your wedding you can consider reimagining your big day as a small wedding with just family and maybe a few friends. Or, if restrictions are extra tight, all you need is a photographer (who can also be your witness). Services like New York City-based Eloping Is Fun can help you plan a pared-back wedding that still feels special, and many wedding planners have quickly become well-versed in micro celebrations, as they’ve gained in popularity over the past few years. 

Photos courtesy of Rebecca Burt Photography


With any in-person celebration, make sure you have quarantine and testing measures in place to keep everyone safe; keeping your guest list intimate (or “quaran-tiny”) is key. Overcommunicate to let guests know what you’re comfortable with, such as no hugs. Space out seating as much as possible so that households or quarantine pods are at least six feet apart from one another. You can also share your wedding colors ahead of time and ask that guests wear masks to coordinate. Or space out hand sanitizer so it’s in easy reach. If you’re hosting a backyard wedding, you’ll also want to make sure bathrooms are clean and easily accessible. Consider putting out a full basket of hand towels so that guests don’t have to share them when washing their hands, or opt for paper towels instead. 

With the money you’re saving by having fewer guests, you can splurge on extra-special elements. Think of a fancier catered meal or customized favors. If you’re opting for an elopement, consider having a “destination wedding” at a scenic venue. If you live in the southwest, for instance, desert elopements in particular are trending on Pinterest

Reiterate to your guests that there is no pressure to attend by including a blurb in your wedding invitation along these lines:  “No need to explain if you are not comfortable! We love you and will celebrate with you sometime in the future.” For those who can’t attend, send a photo wedding announcement card after the ceremony.

If you’re downsizing your larger wedding plans, it’s also possible that you’ll have to dramatically trim your initial guest list. Discuss guidelines with your partner to determine who should be there for the day (e.g. only your immediate family members or just a few close friends each), and as soon as possible, send out cancellation notes or postponement cards to the rest.

How to uninvite wedding guests due to Covid can feel tricky. Reiterate how much you regret that your plans have had to change. And let guests know that you look forward to celebrating with them in the future. Perhaps, at a larger reception down the line. Because of these unforeseen circumstances, guests should be understanding, so don’t stress too much. For closer friends and family members who don’t make the cut, a phone call can also help you relay the information as gently as possible.

2. Invite people to watch virtually via a livestream wedding

Virtual Vows” wedding invitation by Paperless Post.


If you’re inviting a small group in person, can still include your wider circle by adding a live stream component via Zoom. You can always ask a tech-savvy relative (like a cousin or sibling) to be your camera person and set up the streaming link. Or there are plenty of options for hiring out help in this vein. 

Many companies have popped up (or pivoted from more traditional event-hosting services) to provide camera crews for Zoom weddings. So you won’t have to worry about the technical component of how to plan a wedding during the Coronavirus pandemic. Some even offer virtual hosting and DJ services, so they can make your loved ones feel like they’re part of your big day—and so the couple doesn’t have to worry about yet another component to plan and coordinate. You can also open up the virtual “floor” for people to share a few words with the couple—that way, a small in-person gathering can feel much larger, while still staying as safe as possible.

Online wedding invitations allow you to set the time and date and include a link to the video call that will capture your ceremony (and speeches!). During Covid-19, we’ve seen almost half of Paperless Post weddings go virtual! Virtual wedding invitations are being sent on average one month before the event date to an average of 150 guests. 

To make the day feel special for everyone, ask your guests to still get dressed up or even to dress according to the theme. A great thing about a virtual wedding component is that your guest list isn’t restricted by geography—you can invite people from all over the world to witness the ceremony. Since Zoom or other video-hosting sites may be unfamiliar to some guests, give instructions. Make sure guests download any necessary software ahead of time, sign on early, and mute themselves (unless they’re giving a toast at some point or other). 

3. Let people know you got married

Quadrata” and “Licensed to Wed” wedding announcements by Paperless Post.


Perhaps the changing state of the world made you realize that you don’t want to wait to get married—even if that means eloping with just one witness or your closest family members, without any big fanfare. After all, Pinterest predicts that low-key weddings are quickly becoming the next big thing. And with timelines for Covid safety constantly shifting, couples may prefer to get married and forget the stress of party planning during a pandemic. Opting instead for a super-intimate backyard affair with just a few family members. If that’s the case for you, get the deal sealed and send an online wedding announcement to let friends and extended family know. 

This wedding announcement can still be followed by a save the date. (Especially if you plan to have a post-Covid wedding reception later down the line, as many couples are planning to host.) 

4. Save the date for next year

Herrgarde” change the date card by Paperless Post.


Now that vaccines are rolling out, couples can feel more confident as they plan weddings for late summer and fall 2021 and beyond—so they can book their venues and send out their save the dates. An online option makes it easy to change the date in the months or weeks leading up to the event. Which, as 2020 taught us, is sometimes necessary. It’s best to take some planning precautions for weddings held in 2021. (Since there isn’t yet a total consensus on when big events will be deemed safe again.)

Keep your guests posted on your plans if they evolve. Reiterate that there’s no pressure to attend given the uncertainty of everything. If you’re sending in advance, suggest that guests hold off on making non-refundable travel plans until closer to the actual date.

5. Invite guests with an online invitation

Sage” change the date card by Paperless Post.


If you’ve sent out your save the date (or multiple), you might feel like you’re finally ready to send out your official invitations. Using an online wedding invitation gives you space and flexibility to follow up with new information as the date approaches, in case you need to shift the date yet again, or if you need to share any specific safety guidelines with your guests. Paperless Post’s Personal Design Services can also help turn an existing printed invite into an online template for people that already have the printed invitation but need to update guests.

Many couples have had to cancel or postpone their wedding or date shift at the last minute because of changing safety guidelines. The best guidance on when to send out your save the dates during Covid-19 is, well, it depends. If you’re sending them out for the first time, about nine months ahead of time is ideal. If you have to change your date once, send out Save the New Date notifications about six months in advance, if possible. And if you have to make another change, send your Save the New Date Again notices about five months in advance.

Of course, there’s still a level of uncertainty related to Covid-19. But, by using an online save the date or wedding invitation, you can notify your guests of any more last-minute changes via email. When in doubt, over-communicate. And sooner or later you’ll be able to have the wedding of your dreams. Even if it looks a little (or a lot) different than you’d imagined it would.



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