- Couples and guests have a lot of questions about hosting/attending weddings during the pandemic.
- It’s not rude to RSVP “no” to a wedding because you’re worried about your safety amid the pandemic.
- Couples should consider making a COVID-19 safety plan so guests and vendors know what to expect.
Planning a wedding has never been easy — and that was before a global pandemic made it even harder.
Below are my answers to the questions about planning and attending weddings during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic that you may have (understandably) been too afraid to ask.
Is it rude not to attend a wedding? And how do I politely decline an invite?
It’s not rude — and I’ve spoken to many guests who tie themselves into knots trying to decide how they want to RSVP to an upcoming wedding.
Keep the “Golden Rule” in mind: If this was your $30,000 investment that someone you cared about was opting out of, how would you want the person to tell you? Much of that answer will depend on your relationship with the people getting married.
The closer you are to the couple, the more human I recommend you make this conversation — for example, consider making a phone call if you’re a member of the wedding party or a loved one.
Try to give the person on the other end of the conversation grace to feel how they’re feeling. This news might be a shock to them or bring up their own insecurities about the event they are trying to will into the world.
Because of this, I also encourage couples to clearly articulate the boundaries of their event by creating a COVID-19 safety policy for the big day. It should be shared with guests and vendors so they know what they’re getting into if they go to your wedding.
What do I do if my loved one won’t go to our wedding?
If you’re in this situation, take a beat to feel your emotions. Then try your best to center the conversation on your loved one.
Think: What does this person need from you in this moment? They may just need acknowledgment along the lines of, “Thank you so much for telling me. I understand and really value that you trusted me enough to share how you are feeling.”
Showing up in this way again and again isn’t easy, so I recommend keeping this first interaction short and sweet. You can always regroup with the person later about other ways you all can celebrate the start of your marriage.
I recommend this same advice if someone asks to, say, wear a mask even though they may not be legally required wherever you’re hosting the wedding. Take it as a win that this person feels safe enough with you to share this with you. Next, be a good host and don’t make them feel weird about it.
How do I ask unvaccinated guests not to attend in person?
If setting what I call a “vaccine boundary” is of value to you and your partner, establish it and communicate it. Just remember that you cannot control how others react to that boundary.
If you’re having trouble coming up with the right words, I have some free communication templates for talking to wedding guests that may help. In some cases, you can offer an alternative like viewing the wedding from a livestream.
How do I ask unvaccinated vendors not to show up in person?
These conversations can be more complex because there’s a good chance you’ve signed a legal contract or exchanged money with a vendor.
As such, if you ask if they’re vaccinated and you don’t like their reply, it’s not going to be as straightforward as uninviting your Aunt Myrtle.
It’s best to be direct and try to ask the questions you need answers to before signing a contract, when possible. But I encourage you not to let fear hold you back from open and honest communication.
In fact, in my experience, wedding vendors are much more willing to talk about health and safety than guests because vendors have spent nearly two years having their safety not prioritized by their clients.
What if I’m unvaccinated and now not invited to a wedding of someone I care about?
If you are a guest, I encourage you to respect the couple’s authority in this situation. This is a private event that they are responsible for and, as such, it is on them to make the event legal and safe.
In order to do this, there’s a good chance they are only able to invite people who are vaccinated to attend in person.
What do I do about inviting kids under 12 to my wedding? Or bringing kids under 12 to someone else’s?
At the time of publication, kids under the age of 12 aren’t able to get vaccinated against COVID-19, which can make it hard to know what to do when it comes to potentially bringing or inviting them to a wedding.
If there are young children who you really want at your wedding, prioritize them and use the tools we know work — vaccination, masking, and testing — to help keep them safe.
I have elaborated on a few different situations with children here, but they all come back to clearly communicating boundaries so guests, parents, and hosts know what to expect.
Just remember to lead with empathy and communicate clearly.
Is there a polite way to check vaccination status?
Currently, most couples I know who are setting a vaccine boundary for their wedding are going on the honor system and not asking for proof from vaccinated guests.
This approach may change over time, but I encourage you not to get hung up on whether it’s polite to ask.
Everyone knows why you’re asking — just like they know why they need to prove that they’re older than 21 to order a cocktail. Anyone who takes issue with this isn’t respecting you or your partner, and I would ask why they’re making your wedding about them and not you.
How do I ever keep track of what’s legal?
This one is extremely challenging as guidelines keep changing, different locations have different rules, and staying up to date can require a lot of research.
Just keep in mind that your venue is likely having as much trouble as you are keeping tabs on what’s legal.
You should feel free to politely ask your venue staff for further information, especially since they may have their own rules that exceed county or state regulations.
Here’s one way to go about it:
Hi there! We wanted to check in with your team about our [insert your wedding date]. We’re doing this because we want to do all we can to host a legal and safe wedding at your venue.
We will, of course, abide by all legal mandates (i.e. [include the legal mandates for the area of the venue, if you know them]).
That said, is there anything else we need to know about hosting our wedding at your venue? Put another way, does your venue have its own guidance that we need to follow to host our wedding? If yes, would you please explain what we need to provide and by when?
Why won’t vendors give me my money back? And why am I getting hit with rescheduling fees?
Weddings can cost thousands of dollars and even though the pandemic is not your fault, you may very likely not receive refunds if you cancel services.
Many vendors don’t offer refunds because the inventory they sell is days of the week (e.g. Saturdays in the summer).
Rescheduling fees are in place to protect vendors when they sell the same couple more than one piece of inventory. At this point, some vendors have sold the same customer two or three days but they’ve only been compensated for one date at a rate set more than two years ago. This is why you’re likely going to hit a rescheduling fee.
As for why so many wedding deposits are nonrefundable, it’s not because your wedding vendor is Scrooge McDuck diving into a vault of gold coins. Deposits are the money that wedding vendors live on. Your deposit bought the date off their calendar while your balance buys a vendor’s labor for the actual wedding day.
Rather than rage, I encourage you to approach any conversation you have with a vendor about money from a place of “How do we retain value from our contract with you?” For example, maybe adapting some of the services or resources you’d ordered for a now-canceled reception for something else, like a small dinner.
You’ll be surprised at how creative vendors have gotten because they want to serve you.