Our Aisle Planner team has worked hard to share with couples what planning, postponement, and rescheduling their wedding might look like. But, the more we did, the more we heard from wedding professionals that guests weren’t sure what to expect, making their decision for attending much more difficult. Here's what you should know before you attend a wedding in the upcoming months.

Did You Make the Cut?

Couples have been agonizing over local ordinances, having the wedding of their dreams, and the safety of their family and friends. You're likely to be caught in the middle of a volley of last-minute changes, cancellations, and postponements. Local guidelines might be allowing for 50% occupancy for the wedding reception this week and a day later drop to 25%. When faced with slashing their guest counts, for many couples counting immediate family on both sides, their wedding party and their significant others may fill the list. Be gracious, wish them well, and see if they're live-streaming the wedding ceremony so you can be there for them virtually.

What You Know Before You Go

If you're invited to a wedding over the next few months, we hope the couple is working to convey as much information as possible. Check to see if the couple has set up a wedding website. This tool can be used to convey local guidelines on social gatherings and requirements regarding masks, ceremony seating, and dancing. The website may also provide you information on hotel rooms. We recommend checking with the hotel website directly to see what safety protocols they have in place.

Your decision to attend or not attend is something couples are learning to understand and deal with. While it might be painful for them, most realize that health issues, financial challenges, and uncertainty in traveling all play into the decision making process.

Socially Distant Ceremony Seating

If ceremonies are held in a house of worship, there might be a lot of dos and don’ts to follow. Inside you'll be expected to wear a mask. You’ll see that fonts of Holy Water at the entrance to the church are dry, with containers of hand sanitizer in its place.  Pews will be roped off to ensure that guests are seated every other pew to promote six-foot separation, and potentially assigned seating.

Outside ceremonies might give a little more latitude with mask-wearing once you're seated. But expect that you might find chairs arranged in groups of two, three, or four for families to sit together. Please try not to rearrange the furniture; they've been spaced out for a reason.

Smile for the Camera

If you're part of the wedding party or immediate family, you might be included in some of the family photos. You may find that smaller groupings of families who live together are easier for the photographer to manage and stay socially distant. We’re seeing that moving group photo sessions outdoors enables better distancing and the ability to remove masks more safely. The big thing is to hang tight, listen to the directions of the photographer and the couple, and be mindful of people who are not comfortable with some of the crowding.

Have a Cocktail

More and more venues are taking advantage of outdoor spaces for cocktail receptions whenever possible. Enjoy the fresh air, and feel free to spread out a bit.

Local ordinances around butler passed hors d‘oeuvres and food displays vary widely. In some cases, the server might be offering you foods and placing them on your plate to avoid too many people handling utensils. In other areas, we heard of wedding guests being seated, and then each served a plated assortment of hors d’oeuvres. Whatever option the venue provides, be aware that their staff is doing their best to follow safety protocol and keep you and themselves healthy. Regardless of your beliefs about mask-wearing, know that it’s probably a new part of their uniform, like it or not. You’re likely to see bars created with social distancing markers on the floor and some protection or distancing measures to separate you from the bartender. Keep your distance, and speak up so the bartender can hear you.

The Reception

For the reception, you'll see tables set with fewer guests, or at a minimum, you’ll see tables more spread out to allow for six-foot distancing. While you're welcome to remove your mask for dinner, most venues still require masks as you enter and move about the ballroom.

Because of these regulations, dancing has become a big no-no. And that's one of the reasons many couples have chosen to postpone. In some areas of the country, we’ve seen dancefloors with social distancing makers to keep everyone spread out. We’ve seen line dancing to promote distancing and face-to-face dancing. And some resourceful professionals have even designed smaller "dance squares" spread across the room where couples or families can safely dance together.

Here’s the Truth

While regional guidelines call for specific protocols, how diligently those are enforced comes down to the beliefs of the couple and their families. Some are choosing to have smaller, socially distant weddings and following protocols to a T. Unfortunately, others know the requirements, have great plans in place, and allow things to slide a bit as people get more comfortable together. You’ll need to make decisions and practices that work for you and your situation, whether that's sending your regrets or choosing not to remove your mask except to eat and drink. The choice to get on the dance floor or stand next to your table and dance is totally up to you and your comfort level.

Hero photo courtesy of Chris J Evans Photography