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6 etiquette tips to think about if you’re planning or attending a wedding in 2021


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Weddings are a whole new terrain thanks to Covid-19. Limited guest lists, masks, social distancing – all of which adds to the stress of a day which can be difficult to organise in the most normal of times. Here are some things to think about if you’re planning a wedding over the coming weeks and months.

Some numbers guidelines have been released for having a wedding in Ireland in 2021. At the moment, 50 people can attend a socially distanced ceremony, six (not including the bride and groom) can attend the reception, or 15 if it is held outdoors. From June 7, the reception number will increase to 25, indoors or outdoors.

If Ireland’s Covid cases remain low and the vaccine rollout continues at pace, the plan is to slowly ease restrictions throughout the summer. 25 people at the reception is in line with previous Level 3 guidelines. Level 2 allows for up to 50 people at a wedding reception, and Level 1 allows for 100. While it’s unclear if the government will continue to abide by these levels, it offers a good guide for the next steps.

With that in mind, a summer 2021 wedding is likely to have some restrictions that you will need to consider for your big day. The important thing to remember is that you’re not alone; so many couples have had their weddings impacted, but your day will still be wonderful, even with a modification or two…

Ensure loved ones hear about modifications from you first

In this day of the WhatsApp group, it can be easy for misinformation to get out, so be sure you share any updates or changes strategically and as soon as they are confirmed. Covid is a rolling, ever-evolving situation, which your family and friends will understand so don’t worry if you have to share a few updates.

Understanding and empathy are important for everyone involved as every person has different comfort levels during COVID-19. The health of you, your loved ones and the staff on the day are most important, first and foremost.

Uninvite guests politely and with ease

Tricky and difficult, but it has to be done. As Ireland moves through various stages trying to defeat the virus (we are now at Stage 3, which allows for just 25 guests) and the number of guests allowed at a wedding can chop and change as a result – therefore your guestlist may too.

Whether you’re having a private wedding, micro-wedding, or live-streamed wedding, you’ll most likely need to reduce your guest list. Of course, in light of COVID-19, most attendees will understand your position and you can tactfully get the word out by saying how much you wish they could be at the wedding. You could start with something like:

In light of COVID-19, we have decided to cancel our original wedding plans. Although we hoped to celebrate with you personally, we are having an intimate ceremony with a small group to abide by social distancing guidelines. 

Our wedding serves to start our new life together, and we want to keep everyone’s health and safety at the top of our minds. 

We look forward to seeing you when it’s safe to do so and are so sorry we can’t have everyone there as we intended.

Clearly communicate safety standards to in-person guests

This is a big one given how easily Covid is spread from person-t0-person. Politely express that you’ll require masks at some of or the main portion of the day (in the church etc), encourage social distancing and explain that these standards will be enforced throughout the day.

A good idea would be to include this on your wedding invites or in an email to your newly modified guest list. You can simply say something along the lines of, social distancing, masks, and the use of hand sanitisers (a wedding favour, perhaps?) will be encouraged at our wedding. (Thank you for understanding!) You may even want to provide the masks and hand sanitiser yourself, just to be doubly safe.

Let guests bow out gracefully

Yes, this is difficult. But many may not feel comfortable gathering with others. Just as it’s hard to communicate your altered wedding plans with guests, it’s equally painful for them to have to say they can’t attend.

Taking the opportunity to give them an ‘out’ takes the pressure off, which you could do as you’re updating those you hope will attend of any new developments. Letting them know that safety is paramount and that it’s absolutely fine if they can’t attend will ease their disappointment and fear they’re letting you down, too.

Remember, there will be elements you can’t control

Reduced guest numbers, how some might feel if they cannot attend or those that don’t want to for safety reasons – in 2021, so much is out of your control, but there are elements of your wedding that you can control so focus on those and enjoying the day, with those you love around you.

Stay positive

At the end of the day, you’re marrying the one you love and whether that’s in front of 30, 50 or over 200 guests, it doesn’t get much better than that.

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