Montana Weddings in a COVID World
The last few months have been a whirlwind, frustrating, upsetting, scary, maddening; just to name a few of the emotions myself and many others in the wedding industry have been experiencing. But the main heartbreak is our couples that have had the let downs and disappointments of canceling, rescheduling or reconfiguring their weddings. I have to say, so many couples have taken this with such grace and understanding. For such an emotional and exiting time to be taken away.
LOOKING AT MONTANA WEDDINGS
So what have weddings looked like this season so far? Well, most people have opted to reschedule to a later date. In our market, the venues and vendors have worked very hard to be fair to everyone involved. Any deposits and fees have been moved with the date and final payments have been pushed out for convenience. When a wedding has been rescheduled there is the usual moving of the vendors, but there is also sending out Change the Date cards, updating the website and making sure all your guests are aware of the date change.
Some have rescheduled but still had a ceremony. What? Yes! I had a couple in May who was scheduled to have a 140 person wedding. Because of the travel restrictions, social distancing measures and closures they opted to have an intimate ceremony which consisted of the couple, pastor, photographer and myself. It was such a difficult decision and I know their parents were just heartbroken as well as other family members and friends. But they are going to move forward with a big 1 year anniversary party with a vow renewal.
WHAT IF I WANT TO CONTINUE ON THIS YEAR?
If you haven’t rescheduled, you may have ended up having a smaller wedding. At the time of this writing we are limited to groups of 50. This number includes staff, vendors and guests. So couples may have had to make some tough decisions to cut their guest list and or their vendor list. Of course cutting the vendor list sometimes means you are going to lose some money. With a 50 person wedding, means we are really looking at about 40 guests and 10 vendors.
There is a way to have more than 50 people at your planned wedding but it takes a lot of planning and coordination along with people cooperating. Basically you can have two or three groups of 50 but they aren’t allowed to cross into one another’s group. Not usually very easy for a wedding! So what are some things to expect if you do go through with your wedding this summer or fall?
MONTANA GUIDELINES FOR WEDDINGS
· Social distancing - I know, I know, not the easiest thing to do at a wedding. But much easier if you are outdoors (which luckily here in Montana, most weddings are outdoors).
· Tent – Raise those sides! The more air that goes through the better!
· Masks – No one can force another person to wear a mask, but it is highly recommended for your safety and the safety of others when you can’t social distance.
· Disinfectant – Make sure you wipe down areas such as the bar, rest rooms, welcome table. Any place that a lot of people are around.
· The Bar – No self serve is allowed in certain counties so you will need to hire a bartender.
· Food – Self serve buffets and family style are a no no. You can have a buffet if it’s being served by the catering staff. And you can do plated.
· Cake/Desserts – No more self serve where everyone gets their own. Catering or event staff must cut cake and serve to guests. This includes individual desserts as well.
· Bouquet/Garter toss – This may be a thing of the past. During this time, it’s not permitted.
· Tables – In most places you are going to have to limit the number of people at each table to 4. This means you will have to make sure you rent more tables, chairs, and linens.
· Ceremony seating – For outdoor weddings seats will be spaced out a little bit more, with the back rows spaced out to 6 feet for those who must social distance.
· Clean up – You are going to want to make sure you have a sanitizing station for hand washing, disinfectant and masks for your guests. Make sure high traffic areas are whipped down at a minimum once an hour…unless you see it really getting hit…then make sure someone is there to keep things as sanitary as possible.
With a little planning and awareness for those around you, you can pull off a safe, fun wedding for you and your guests. We have been very fortunate in Montana to have the lowest numbers in the lower 48 states. We would really like to keep it that way!