2022 Wedding Planning: How to Talk About COVID in a Way That Actually Works
Do you have a COVID safety policy in place for your wedding? Elisabeth Kramer shares advice on how to formulate yours and keep yourselves, your guests, and your wedding vendor team safe for 2022 weddings.
Planning a 2022 wedding? I’ve got some bad news: We still need to talk about COVID. As a professional wedding planner, I’m exhausted with this conversation. I’ve also learned a brutally important lesson during the past two years: It’s much easier to feel joy when we also feel safe.
I believe feeling joy is the main reason why we host weddings. That’s why I’ve created a gallery of more than 30 free wedding planning resources specific to planning during the pandemic. Each resource is based on the dozens of conversations I’ve had with couples about COVID and their wedding day.
Here are the highlights for you and your partner to use as you plan your weddings for 2022.
Your guests are thinking about COVID anyway.
Many couples I’ve spoken with have voiced an understandable fear that talking about COVID in relation to their wedding will “kill the mood.” I get this. And also? Your guests are already thinking about COVID.
In fact, multiple wedding guests have told me that they’ve received some piece of guest-facing correspondence such as a save-the-date or an invite, seen there’s not even a small mention of COVID, and immediately started to spiral.
Let’s not do this to the people you love. Instead, let’s give them the best gift you can give anyone whom you’re asking to attend your wedding in-person: Tell them what they’re getting into.
The exercise I recommend is to create a COVID safety policy together as a couple. Then, share that policy with your guests (here are free communication templates to help). You can start working on the policy at any point in your wedding planning with a goal of having it finalized and shared with your guests no later than 60 days before the wedding (here’s my reasoning for 60 days).
Don’t forget your vendors.
Nearly every couple I speak with forgets that guests aren’t the only people whom they’re asking to attend their wedding in-person; a couple is also asking wedding vendors to be there, too.
I get why vendors are forgotten but we can do better than this. Share that COVID safety policy with your vendors, too. Here are communication templates specific to those conversations.
Vaccine boundaries are more common than you might think.
Many 2022 couples are asking anyone who attends their wedding in-person — guest or vendor — to be fully vaccinated if it is at all possible for them to be so. I call this action “setting a vaccine boundary” and it’s not as uncommon as you might think.
The trick to setting a vaccine boundary is to clearly communicate the expectation. With guests, this often looks like including part or all of a COVID safety policy in an invite to the wedding. The templates included above will help.
Setting a vaccine boundary with vendors looks fairly similar to doing the same with guests except that, in many cases, a couple has already signed a contract with a vendor before asking if said vendor is vaccinated. If this is your situation, here’s my advice on how to navigate it.
A note about contracts:
If you haven’t signed a contract yet and asking a vendor about their vaccination status is a boundary that you and your partner have set for your wedding, I offer one way to word this question at the top of this article. Increasingly, vendors are proactively sharing their vaccination status as well. You’ll see my vaccination status listed multiple spots on my business website including as a “Vaccinated Vendor” badge in the footer of my website.
Please note that in my experience, talking to vendors about COVID — including about vaccination status and mask-wearing — is often easier than people expect and may even be easier than talking to your guests.
That’s because wedding vendors are service industry workers who have spent the past two years having the health and safety of their families and themselves often ignored by their couples. This means that any couple who is willing to acknowledge the elephant in the room stands out; it’s a direct signal to the vendor that you consider them a fellow human being worthy of a conversation about health, safety, and joy. In my experience, that’s true regardless of how the people involved may feel about masks, vaccines, and other COVID safety options.
What about kids?
As of this writing, the COVID vaccine for children 5 and older has just begun to roll out in the United States. This means that depending on when you and your partner are getting married in 2022 and if you’re inviting children, there’s a good chance that those children may be fully vaccinated. That’s good news! There’s also a chance that some kids you want to invite aren’t vaccinated or can’t be vaccinated.
Whatever the situation, my go-to advice when it comes to kids and 2022 weddings is the same as my go-to advice for kids and 2021 weddings: Talk to the person or people responsible for those children. What do they need for their kid(s) to be safe at your wedding? Are those requests something you and your partner want to address?
If not, that’s OK as long as you communicate this with the people involved. Perhaps the people we’re talking about don’t need to be at your wedding in person for it to feel like your wedding, and they can celebrate the start of your marriage in another way.
Perhaps these people do need to be at your wedding in-person for it to feel like your wedding; if so, there are likely changes you and your partner can make to the wedding that prioritize those people’s needs over other guests (such as inviting fewer people, asking people to test, requesting proof of vaccination, etc.).
Identify who these people are early, perhaps as you and your partner work on your COVID safety policy. Often, the group we’re talking about is one or two individuals, sometimes three or four.
Consider if you two want to ask for proof.
“Proof” here means “proof of vaccination and/or proof of a negative COVID test.” It’s a model that we’re increasingly growing familiar with at restaurants, bars, sports arenas, and concert venues. It can also apply to your wedding.
There are two main ways that couples go about this: They ask for proof before the wedding, or they ask for proof at the wedding.
In my opinion, asking for proof before the wedding has several logistical snarls that make it the less attractive option of the two. As such, I typically encourage couples whose boundary is proof to ask for this at the wedding or at least to provide that option for folks who may not be up to uploading proof beforehand.
It’s important to note that asking a wedding venue or vendor to handle this responsibility for you and your partner is a classic case of “scope creep.” This task was likely not on the original contract and is, in nearly all cases, labor the venue or vendor will not be compensated for.
As such, it’s often much easier for all involved for you and your partner to assign or hire someone to do the checking for you. Here’s a list of interview questions to use as you two consider what this role might look like at your wedding.
Note that “being nice” also applies to being nice to yourself. Talking about a deadly disease in relation to your wedding is a very hard thing to do. Thank you for (still) doing that very hard thing. I promise it will be worth it.
What are your plans for handling Covid safety at your wedding? Join us in the community to discuss this and other tricky wedding topics.