4 Unexpected Wedding Etiquette Dilemmas You’ll Face During COVID-19

Currently planning your wedding during COVID-19? Thanks to the pandemic, you may need to navigate your way through some unexpected etiquette dilemmas in the lead-up to your event.

For example: What’s the best way to enforce safety precautions like masks and social distancing? How can you plan an intimate wedding without offending your family and friends? And in the worst-case scenario, what if you need to cancel someone’s invitation before the day?

Keep reading as we unpack some of the unique wedding etiquette dilemmas you may find yourself dealing with during COVID-19, and our top tips for handling each one!

Photo via Chelsea Denise Photography

Etiquette Dilemma: How to Plan an Intimate Wedding Without Offending Family and Friends

Since the beginning of the pandemic, we’ve seen a massive shift towards elopements, minimonies and micro-weddings. Many couples are now opting to plan intimate celebrations over traditional parties – but unfortunately, this decision can leave your loved ones feeling offended if they haven’t scored an invite!

What to do about it: First, remember that you can’t please everyone. At the end of the day, this is YOUR wedding, so you should never feel guilty about the decisions you need to make.

However, if you do want to set some expectations with your loved ones, we’d suggest spreading the word early on. When friends and family ask about your wedding plans during your engagement, you can simply reply with something like “We haven’t finalised the details yet, but we’re just planning something small with our immediate families”. This way, your wider group of friends and family won’t be blindsided if they don’t receive an invitation. Read these 6 tricky questions you’ll receive after getting engaged here!

Alternatively, live streaming your ceremony is another great option if you’d like to involve more of your loved ones without compromising on the intimacy of your event. In this case, we’d suggest reaching out to your guests with a personal message explaining that you’ve decided to plan an intimate wedding due to the pandemic, but would love for them to join you virtually instead.

Read our guide on what to include on your wedding website for a virtual wedding here!

Photo via Sawyer Baird

Etiquette Dilemma: How to Tactfully Downsize Your Guest List

So, you’ve planned the party of your lifetime – but thanks to venue restrictions or safety precautions, you’re now forced to downsize your guest list and cancel a portion of your wedding invitations before the day.

What to do about it: This is such a hard one! First, see if you can cut down your guest list without having to remove any close friends or family members. Start with plus ones and kids, and see if this helps you meet the venue restrictions. 

Still need to downsize? Sit down with your partner and make a list of absolutely non-negotiable people you can’t imagine celebrating without. Once you’ve confirmed your new guest list, reaching out to your loved ones ASAP should be your next priority – it’s really important they hear any changes from you first.

We’d suggest contacting each guest individually with a sincere message explaining the situation and arranging to celebrate together at some point in the future. While this may feel awful, remember that your guests will be more than understanding considering the current circumstances. In this scenario, live streaming your ceremony can be a great option to ensure all of your loved ones have the opportunity to be involved in your special day.

Photo via People Truelove Tellers

Etiquette Dilemma: How to Enforce Safety Precautions

Depending on the restrictions in your local area and the presence of any high-risk guests, you may need to enforce certain safety precautions such as masks and social distancing. But what if your guests aren’t happy to abide by these rules at your wedding?

What to do about it: To avoid any conflict on the day, we’d recommend giving your guests a heads up in advance via your wedding invitations or wedding website. This way, if guests aren’t comfortable abiding by the rules, they can simply choose not to attend.

You can set some safety expectations by including a question on your RSVP card such as “Are you happy to wear a mask and practice social distancing?”, or by making sure any COVID-related FAQs are clearly outlined on your wedding website. 

On the day itself, you can also display signage or set-up sanitizing stations as a gentle reminder for your guests. We’d suggest having a dedicated person (such as your venue coordinator or wedding planner) who is responsible for enforcing these restrictions throughout the event, so you don’t have to worry about it. 

Photo via Sokolov Photography

Etiquette Dilemma: When Guests Don’t Feel Comfortable Attending

Some people simply might not feel comfortable attending weddings and events during the pandemic – which may lead you to receive more declined RSVPs than you originally anticipated. 

What to do about it: While it’s upsetting to think about getting married without your loved ones, try not to take it personally! It’s not that they don’t want to celebrate your marriage – they’re just trying to protect their health and safety. Some of your guests may live with elderly family members, work closely with high-risk people, or even be in a high-risk group themselves. 

To prevent any awkwardness, we’d suggest helping your loved ones bow out gracefully if needed. You can include a line on your wedding invitations or wedding website saying something like:

“During this time, we understand that some of you may not be able to attend due to personal circumstances. Please know that we completely respect your decision – your health and safety is our top priority!” 

Photo via Ariana Tennyson

Adapting To COVID-19

Planning a wedding during the pandemic can certainly be challenging, but that doesn’t mean your special day will be any less amazing. Simply keep these etiquette tips in mind to help you navigate any tricky situations with ease, so you can let your hair down and enjoy the party!



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