Wedding Planning 101
We've come a long way since March 13 but we're no where near out of the woods just yet. WithRead More
If there’s anything we’ve learned from 2020, it’s that love between two people is something that cannot and will not be quarantined. Recalling the first month of this unprecedented pandemic, from mid-March and on, we’ve seen so many of you making the very difficult decision to postpone your wedding plans in hopes that this quarantine would only last a few more months. Each week after that saw new reports from Governor Murphy, pushing off the possibility of a large indoor New Jersey wedding farther and farther into the future. So many 2020 couples became disheartened that their Big Day would ever safely arrive.
Now as we enter the fall, brides and grooms are definitely walking down the aisle again. Unfortunately for COVID-19, couples everywhere are implementing elements into their weddings that satisfy the state’s regulations and put their own health concerns at ease. So here, with the help of For Your Party (they’ve created a line of health and wellness favors that will keep your Big Day germ-free) is a comprehensive guide on how to properly organize your New Jersey COVID wedding to be as safe and beautiful as you’d always imagined—whether it’s a micro wedding for 10 or a large party for 200.
(And just for a quick refresher: As of today, New Jersey outdoor weddings are allowed for up to 500, socially distanced. Indoor receptions follow indoor dining guidelines and are allowed for up to 25% capacity of the room. For more specifics and suggestions by the state, click HERE.)
PRO TIP 1: Please consider all areas of possible congregation to limit clusters of guests in one spot. Good news! This spreads the party out!
PRO TIP 2: Take into account all of the times guests may need to interact with venue staff, musicians, catering crew, baristas and more—and LIMIT THEM. Your venue’s staff most likely has already designed the best layouts that work for their venue. If you have any concerns, talk to them.
PRO TIP 3: Just because you may be having an “intimate” wedding, or micro wedding, it does NOT have to mean casual. Custom details in combination with how you design your space will be the best representation of your Big Day vibe. Micro doesn’t mean plain and boring!
This guide starts out with invitations because there are some ultra-smart additions you could include into your wedding suite that pre-COVID brides didn’t even have to consider. Many of you will have built a wedding website that houses all of your details, so this is a great place to house the upcoming additions as well. We are recommend that somewhere visible on your site you include a note for your guests about tracking their symptoms to ensure every attendee is feeling healthy enough to celebrate. As a more consistent reminder, you can even use invites with a reminder to consider their wellness before your Big Day.
Here’s a really fun and creative idea: Include two different custom coasters in your invitation sent to your guests—one for your guests to pen out their best wishes for the couple, and the second for any songs they may want to request for the deejay or band to play. Prepare either a shadow box or an acrylic tray to collect each of these coasters at your Welcome Area, limiting the spreading of germs before the wedding even begins. Eliminating the traditional “guest book” sign-in will be crucial, as this is another hot spot for congregation—not to mention the use of the same pens. These coasters will be a special treat for you to read later on.
With a lot of ceremonies and receptions moving outdoors to comply with state regulations, be sure to keep your guests’ comfort at top of mind. If you’re planning a warmer occasion, provide your guests with individual fans, and rather than a confining tent, you can also consider rented large umbrellas to shade your seating arrangements. If your wedding will be a bit chillier, consider renting heat lamps to keep your guests comfortable. The use of candelabras, twinkle lights and different-sized candle groupings will add a small amount of additional heat. Guests may also appreciate a small individual blanket or a rolled-up pashmina to avoid the natural instinct of grouping together to find warmth. Use any and all outdoor spaces you can find. The views and the natural elements will add to the romance of the day.
When it comes to seating, this may seem a bit daunting, but there are actually some feasible solutions. First, some find it fabulous that they now have a reason to NOT invite those awkward third cousins or semi-friends. It’s your civic duty to keep that guest list small!
We suggest round tables to encourage the smaller-sized groups to be chatting it up, seeing everything safely. Deciding who sits where should be relatively easy, with immediate families and those who have quarantined together (couples, roommates) sitting together. It’s OK to have different sized tables. These types of seatings will likely put your guests more at ease.
Any event planner will tell you that they’d like a little lounge area to be integrated into the space. That usually includes rented vintage rugs, velvet loveseats or couches, rustic crates and so on, but 2020’s lounge area could use a few tweaks to be as safe as they can possibly be. Don’t ditch the chic lounge area, just change it up: Swap your couches for armchairs to limit close proximity seating. Consider additional seating options to include tall, modern chairs without armrests and pair these with chicly tall bar tables. There should not be much “lounging” anyways, so the limit of lounge furniture will encourage people to return to the other safe, designated areas, like their table.
If you’re thinking you’ll want a photobooth, think about changing it up to a photo rig in which guests aren’t jammed into one common box. There are plenty of ways you can still incorporate this trend, so don’t give up hope on a Bieber-esque, black and white stack of fun photos of family and friends!
When it comes to customizing favors to match your big day and also keep you protected, there are now so many options. While donning face masks was probably not on your original agenda when dreaming up a wedding, For Your Party has taken that into consideration with their fun offerings, making hygiene a little less “sterile” looking. For the ultimate 2020 wedding, you’ll be personalizing: disposable face masks (available in adult and kid sizes), 2-ounce bottles of hand sanitizer, beautiful signage to signify where the sanitation favors can be accessed and individual disinfectant hand wipes. To fully capitalize on your aesthetic, you’ll want to customize other favorites, including cocktail napkins, guest hand towels for the restrooms, cups for your signature beverages and the popular matchbooks.
When ordering your health and wellness favors, you should consider ordering double the amount you’ve considered for a level of thought and organization that would make even Marie Kondo proud. Other than the two-ounce bottles of hand sanitizers, your guests may want to switch out their masks post-meal and it’s quite possible your attendees may require (or sneak) more than one disinfectant hand wipe from your stations. Regardless of the situation, you’ll want to find yourself with extra rather than empty-handed. Find yourself with extras in masks, sanitizers or wipes? Time to either use them up yourselves, or send them off as souvenirs to out-of-town loved ones you wish could have been present the day of.
Out of all of the changes weddings may see, the bar, buffets and sweets table may be the ones that will look the most different. Eating and drinking in general should be adjusted to ensure there is minimal hand-to-hand contact with the venue staff. Buffets may or may not be allowed—and if allowed, guests will not be able to touch the utensils; instead wait staff will be serving at each station. Some venues are opting to only serve tableside. Consult with your specific venue to see how they’re following the guidelines.
You can also ask your caterer to pre-package foods to eliminate the touching of serving tools, buffet handles and more. If you’re hosting a shorter-length wedding, cake boxes are perfect for providing your guests with a pre-sliced piece of your wedding cake. If not cake, they are also ideal for any and all sweet packages on the way out, being food-safe and thick enough to not crumble in your hands.
Bars should be eliminated completely if you’re able—they’re not allowed indoors in New Jersey with the current guidelines; waitstaff will bring your drinks to your table. For outdoors, we are not suggesting that you should host a spirit-less, dry reception. Venues are either allowing bars with bartenders or orders taken tableside. And for your home receptions, we suggest you provide tables with their own selection of your favorite beers, wines, and harder alcohols, eliminating a trip to the bar, saving a bartender hundreds of interactions with strangers. Or create your own DIY bar.
Another idea to help with the ordering of drinks are these creative Yes + No coasters below and signage for tables, designed to fit into a standard place card holder, ready to signify the waitstaff when they are in need of a refill or attention. If this idea reminds you of a Brazillian meat restaurant, you’re getting the right idea! You only summon a waiter or server when you’re in need of a drink, saving staff the unnecessary trips to ask the very question your card is already answering.
Another wonderful benefit of your smaller party size, you’ll find, is that you have more time to converse with the people who made the cut. Let’s think back about all of the brides who couldn’t have possibly enjoyed both her wedding and arranging enough time to say “hello” to each of her 300+ guests. But you won’t be able to control how long your guests will feel comfortable staying, or if they will feel ultra-safe interrupting you if you’re in the process of chatting with another member of your guests to alert you that they’re heading out. With that in mind, you can have Thank You Gift Bags situated at the exit. These bags can store anything from your customized favors, a little “Thank You” tag attached, and of course, the beloved desserts you chose for your crew. The guest’s coasters provided for you at your welcome station will come in handy when writing your personalized “Thank You” cards for post-honeymoon duties.
Always remember, if you’re unsure of what the regulations for New Jersey are in regards to gatherings, consult with the state’s Covid website here….or join our Private Facebook group to be notified of the latest changes and explanations. We also consistently updates the New Jersey Bride site and will keep you up with the latest rules while planning.