"Remember that while how we celebrate may have changed, the reasons why we celebrate have not."
As vaccines roll out and restrictions loosen, we are seeing a return to wedding planning in a big way. If you are a bride, groom, or wedding business helping to host a 2021 wedding reception, there is still a lot to consider as things may not be back to “normal” for some time. But the good news is, weddings will continue and you can celebrate love even if the way we celebrate looks a little different.
We talked to the two of the founding members of the Minnesota Events Coalition (Christie Altendorf, Senior Event Planner & Marketing Manager of D’amico Catering, and Maari Cedar James, President of Chowgirls Catering) about what protocols we should expect to follow for 2021 weddings based on the current guidelines set by the State of Minnesota.*
*This content in this article is accurate based on available information as of May 5, 2021. Please stay up to date on the current MN Department of Health Guidelines here.
THE GUEST LIST
The first thing that’s on a couple’s mind when looking to host a 2021 wedding reception is, “How many people can I invite?” Maari says that you can have “Up to 50% of the capacity of a venue, while still accounting for 6′ distancing between groups/pods/tables of six,” So, you’ll want to check with the venues to determine what their capacity limits are and choose your guest list count from there.
Now you may find that when you host a 2021 wedding reception, some of your guests may have conflicting opinions about enforcing these restrictions. In order to get ahead of this, Christie says that “Educating guests is key. I highly recommend that couples start this process far in advance of their wedding by communicating expectations through their invitation, wedding websites, social media, or informative emails.” She says that this way, the couple knows that they have already set the tone for safety. If you have guests that cannot attend, Maari suggests having them tune in virtually, “Working with your venue and/or favorite AV vendor to curate live streaming for your event is a fantastic way to keep vulnerable guests safe.”
Another way Christie suggests you can get all your guests on board is with curated signage. “There are many design inspired ways to get the message of health and safety to guests – signage from your graphic designer, monogrammed individual hand sanitizers or masks and presenting food and beverage in creative ways that reduce the amount of interaction with catering and bar staff,” she says. One final piece of advice is that couples should “Remember that this is their day, and they should absolutely feel comfortable asking guests to adjust their interactions during the wedding if needed.”
HOW TO HANDLE DRINKS + EATS
When it comes to serving food, Maari says that “Food may be served to guests at their seats and, for self-service at buffets, provided guidance is followed. Refer to eating and drinking guidance in both indoor and outdoor event guidance, as well as restaurant guidance for food service recommendations and requirements.”
Something you may not have considered is that your cocktail hour between the ceremony and reception will be altered as well. “Guests must be masked, and must be seated to eat or drink, at which point masks can be removed if actively eating or drinking,” Maari says of the current restrictions.
Because of the airborne spread of COVID-19, dancing is still currently discouraged at weddings, but guests can still hit the dancefloor if they gather in groups of no more than six and remain 6’ apart.
At the end of the day, you are still hosting the most amazing day of your life and it can be done safely! “The best advice I have for couples who are celebrating in 2021 is to remember that while how we celebrate may have changed, the reasons why we celebrate have not. No mask, no hand sanitizer, no seating requirements can diminish the joy and elation that you will have on your wedding day. We are currently living within a pivotal point in human history and while that can definitely feel inconvenient or frustrating, the reality is that your big day will not only be a beautiful one, it will also be one for the history books,” Christie suggests. Maari’s advice is “The more clearly you are able to convey your top priorities to your vendor team, the more likely they are to be able to help you achieve your vision. Take their advice.”
So, there is a way to host a 2021 wedding reception despite the many changes. Just remember at the end of the day why you are celebrating! Guidelines change frequently, so be sure to stay up to date on all the current restrictions here.