Wedding season in 2020 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 and push the big day to a later date. Or pare 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 towards the future.
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 in late March and April, wedding cancellation announcements and wedding postponement cards are a necessity to keep their guests in the loop on their plans.
And now, as they choose a new date, many can consider sending online change the dates or virtual wedding invitations to their guests, in case unforeseen circumstances cause another necessary date-push. Online alternatives to the 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.
Covid-safe wedding ideas
There are many different ways your big day can pan out in light of Covid-19 restrictions. You might find yourself paring back your celebration to just a few close family members, opting for a Zoom wedding, or ruling out a big ceremony for a lowkey elopement. 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 wording suggestions to relay your wedding plans or change the date updates 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.
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: 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.
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.
Example micro wedding wording:
While our larger wedding has been postponed, we’re grateful to still be able to get married on our original date! My dear sister, Lauren, has offered to host a very small get together in her backyard so that we can celebrate with our closest friends after the ceremony. There will be plenty of outdoor space for socializing at a safe distance. We’ll have beer, wine and champagne, along with plenty of food. And of course, there will be cake! Please bring a mask. We hope to see you then!
“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 livestream 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.
Since March, 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 for the couple—that way, a small in-person gathering can feel much larger, while still staying as safe as possible.
These virtual 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 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).
Example of formal livestream wedding wording:
You are joyfully invited to the livestream of the nuptial mass uniting Elizabeth Joy and Peter Thomas in the sacrament of holy matrimony. Saturday, January 30, 2021 at four o’clock in the afternoon eastern standard time. View more details at elizabethandpeter.com
Example of casual livestream wedding wording:
Andrew and Joanne Are Getting Married! Wednesday, December 23 at 1:00pm EST. If you would rather not attend the ceremony physically, but would still like to witness it virtually, we are happy to add you to our live stream Facebook page. See you on the internet!
3. Let people know you got married
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 announcement can also 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.)
Example wording for a casual wedding announcement:
Alexa and John joyfully announce their marriage, December 26, 2020
Four years, three cats, and one pandemic later. We are thrilled to announce that we were married in a small (socially distant) ceremony and are now officially husband and wife. Thank you for your love and support, now and in the years to come.
All our love,
Alexa and John
PS: When this shit-storm pandemic blows over, we’re gonna have a legit party and you’re gonna to be invited!
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 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.
Example save the date wording:
Sarah & William
SATURDAY, MARCH 5, 2022
NEW YORK, NY
INVITATION TO FOLLOW
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 are as follows: 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 because of Covid-19. But, by using an online save the date you can easily notify your guests of any more last-minute changes via email. When in doubt, overcommunicate. 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.
Example wording for an updated save the date:
SAME TIME, SAME PLACE, NEW DATE
Formal Invitations to Follow