Whoa! Careful here. We don’t want to be rude, but…
Asking Wedding Guests COVID Questions
Since the coronavirus pandemic made its unwelcome appearance in our lives last year, we are in new territory. Now, we need to think about who will attend the big day in a whole new way. Beyond budgets, valuing guest safety also influences who is invited. More importantly, let’s give consideration to how they are invited. This means thinking about all guests. Loved ones with certain medical conditions may be at higher risk of contracting the virus, even if they are vaccinated. In contrast, attendees who decline the vaccine (and don’t wear a mask) pose a different set of risks – to themselves, of course. But, also to others who are more vulnerable.
In the current stage of reopening, it is unlikely that your wedding will become a super-spreader event. But a threat remains – especially for high-risk individuals. There are some sticky decisions to be made. Typically, it is considered taboo to ask about someone’s health status. Nonetheless, the coronavirus has changed the rules. This is because other people’s behavior affects the well-being of the larger community. Therefore, you can set parameters for your event. Clarify expectations, and anxiety and misunderstandings will be reduced.
Granted, conversations about COVID or the vaccine will be a touchy topic for some. Since you are asking for a reason (wedding planning), and not just to be nosy, etiquette guidelines suggest you are justified to broach the topic. Take some steps to make the conversation go smoothly. Be respectful and without judgement, and remember that the reason for the discussion is you care about each other.
Including a polite explanation of how you will be navigating COVID risks with the invitation demonstrates that this is a blanket request, not targeting anyone specifically. This will reduce the likelihood that someone will take offense, and will increase compliance. It will also provide assurance to guests who may be uncomfortable being in a larger group. A few tactics to consider:
- Require all in-person wedding guests to be vaccinated. You can explain that some attendees are more vulnerable, and therefore you are making this a priority.
- Livestream the ceremony. This creates an alternative for those who don’t attend.
- Honor system: Request that guests either vaccinate or mask-up.
- Ask unvaccinated attendees to secure a negative COVID test within 48 hours of the event.
When having individual conversations, be calm and without judgement. No matter how you decide to proceed, reduce the risk to all by keeping the number of attendees at the wedding down. Outdoor functions are also still recommended. Our article on livestreaming provides how-to help, so those who cannot attend in person can still be a part of your special day. You can also check out our COVID-19 Information for wedding couples. Finally, the professional officiants on findaJP.com are experienced, and knowledgeable about COVID safety precautions.
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Loretta Jay is the Managing Member of the Justice of the Peace Association. This is the membership organization for professional marriage officiants. All officiants’ profiles are searchable at findaJP.com, the place where Couples who Click can find their perfect JP.