Hi Offbeat Bride! I’m getting married to my partner at the end of May 2021. We are hopeful that we will be able to have some sort of reception in may, but we’re also realistic about a possible “3rd wave” of covid-19. It’s just pretty impossible to predict. Will we be able to invite 4 people, 20, 50 ? If any?!
I would love to hear some ideas on wording a “you may or may not, possibly, be invited to our wedding, but we would like you to save the date, for now”-invitation.
Dear Pandemic Planners,
Navigating this new terrain of pandemic wedding planning is certainly no easy feat, raising plenty of new questions around age-old etiquette. Historically, sending a save-the-date card guaranteed that the recipient would also receive the formal invitation.
However, as 2020 weddings showed us, flexibility is paramount, and making sure that you have an open line of communication with your partner, your family, your vendors, and of course, your guests, is imperative to reducing your stress and making sure everyone is in-the-know.
With all that said, how can you make sure you are openly communicating with guests about your potential celebration, while centering respect and empathy? How the heck are you supposed to handle wedding invitation wording during covid-19?
Pandemic or no-pandemic, no one wants to feel like they are on the D-list and the first to get cut from your guest list, nor that they got invited as a backup once you received your first round of RSVPs. To navigate this tricky situation, we offer a few pieces of advice and some examples:
Avoid phrases that will confuse guests Regardless of what the subtext is or what you really mean, anything that says “save the date” or “you’re invited” or “please join us” is going to get an immediate reaction from guests of “I’m being invited to a wedding.” But in this instance, you don’t know the details of the day. So, to avoid putting your guests through a rollercoaster of emotions or confusion, lead with more subtlety and clarity than the common “big statement” wedding invitations.
Set Expectations for Communication Understandably, you want people to know about your wedding date, yet the specifics are undetermined. Say that clearly and right away, and let them know when they should expect to know more. Using online invitations that offer built-in messaging will make it easy to send follow-ups or subsequent mailings to guests. While you of course want to celebrate this momentous occasion with all of your loved ones (and they want to be there with you!) it’s important to realize we all have hectic lives (particularly right now). With that in mind, you don’t want to ask people to save the date indefinitely or start planning travel if at the end of the day they won’t be able to attend. This brings us to our third and final point:
Be Understanding and Empathetic While you want to be clear and honest, you also need to approach this with empathy and love. You can even give people the option with your initial message to opt into a virtual livestream or to let you know up front they’ll be unable to attend. With digital services like Greenvelope, you can easily include a survey asking such preferences, that may help shape your future communications and plans. And keep in mind that in addition to local health and safety restrictions, every person has their own willingness to socialize right now, and we all deserve to have those boundaries respected. Remember that you’re all in this together and offer the love and support that you hope to receive in return.
Now that we’ve set a few simple tips to help you navigate, here are some examples of wedding invitation wording during covid-19 that you can use and edit to fit your situation!
We’re getting hitched!
Carlos and Ijeoma are getting married on May 20th, 2021.
With unknown health and safety precautions, we are tentative but hopeful that we will be able to celebrate our marriage in-person. We will continue to update you as the date is closer.
Marlee and Tim are getting married
September 2nd, 2021
While we are uncertain what our wedding day will look like, we are hopeful that we will find a way to celebrate with our loved ones, whether in-person or online. Please keep up-to-date at our wedding website here.
If you know you will be unable to attend, please feel free to let us know at your earliest convenience.
Love is Patient
We’ve set the date to say “I do,” but our plans are still uncertain. We will be getting married on May 22, 2021, but what the celebration will entail will be determined by local guidelines. We hope you can join us either in-person or virtually, so please save the date and we will follow-up as we have more information.
Not even a pandemic can stop the wedding of Jen and Alex
Jen and Alex are getting married June 15th, 2021, and COVID-restrictions allowing, hope that you’ll be able to join them. While our plans are currently tentative, we will be in touch with details as they arise.
Shania Malone and Jackson Carter are getting married.
While we cannot wait until the moment where we can have the large celebration we dreamed of, we simply did not want to wait to begin our lives together and thus have formally set our date for September 17th, 2021.
However, due to ever-changing COVID restrictions and wanting to ensure the health and safety of all of our guests, vendors, and community members, we are uncertain what this year’s celebration will look like.
Whether from near or far we cannot wait to share this special moment with our loved ones. Please respond to the attached survey if you know whether you will or will not be able to attend to help us plan accordingly. We love you all so much, and we so appreciate your understanding during this time.
As always, you’ll need to adapt these wedding invitation samples to fit the specifics of your situation. Heck, even if you’re not looking for wedding invitation wording during covid-19, it can be helpful to have examples of wording to use when your date is unclear… whatever the reason may be! For some of us that could be military deployment, for others it might be health issues. The idea is just to be articulate and clear with your guests.
When I first started planning my wedding in 2019, I never imagined I’d be asking vendors about their policy regarding plagues and the end of known civilization; I didn’t think I’d have to put on a facemask or gloves just to conduct a simple interview. Someone forgot to mention those possibilities in my trusty wedding planner.
Now as I go through my checklists, I have to wonder if I’m planning a wedding or preparing for the zombie apocalypse.
Not wanting to compound my stress (too late), I realized we needed a plan if anyone wanted a chance of coming through this sane (especially me). I rolled up my sleeves, chucked the now-useless planner, and my fiance’ and I got to work on wedding planning: plague-style.
First, we realized we needed a Plan B…and a Plan C, D, E, F, all the way through Z, just in case
No way were we taking any chances on a microscopic bug without a brain. We spoke with our parents, looked over the signed contracts we already had (lucky for us we read the fine print in the first place), and we realized we were on the hook for our venue, regardless.
That meant SOMETHING was happening — with or without guests — and we decided it’d be the wedding. We were okay if only family attended the ceremony, and the beach house was big enough to meet social distancing standards. By now, everyone has collections of masks, and if the pictures featured them, so be it.
Briefly, I considered switching up the theme to zombies, but since we’d already purchased snowflakes, comic book Pop! figurines, and unicorns, I decided the original theme would have to stand. Somehow, trying to pull off a happily ever after zombie just didn’t fly.
Second, we needed to have firm discussions with everyone from here on out regarding the possibility of additional quarantines
Could we still get our cake? (Cake would be eaten — we knew that wasn’t a problem) When was the last possible moment to cancel our rentals? What measures would be taken by staff to sanitize everything? Would our officiant still attend? (Six feet apart wasn’t a problem)
We made a list of plague questions, and people laughed with us, but they also provided answers.
This possibility was a new consideration, and while contracts weren’t ready to include the apocalypse as part of the boilerplate, wheels were turning.
Third, we turned to small businesses as much as humanly possible
This was just to help them out, but from a practical standpoint. Origami flowers from Etsy made more sense than trying to hassle florists that might not be able to get in stock. My shoes were handmade (Etsy again) versus trying to wait out stores opening.
My dress was already being handmade by a friend, and the internet abounded with fabric options and sellers only too happy to send swatches for us to examine before purchase. I didn’t need to hit a bridal store or stand in line with other brides waiting for their gowns and fittings.
Fourth, we adjusted our invitations
While my sister had declared she was getting on a plane even if she was the only one aboard, we knew not everyone would feel comfortable, especially if predictions came to pass. We didn’t want anyone pressured or to feel bad for opting to sit things out in favor of their health.
We offered the alternative of watching the ceremony via Zoom. It wasn’t going to be a problem to orchestrate – after all, my brother and his family were already going to attend via Zoom since they were stationed in Japan.
We wouldn’t alienate anyone on the guest list, and we’d still allow them to participate — just without the cake (we had to draw the line somewhere, and I wasn’t shipping cupcakes across the country).
Fifth, I told myself to laugh
Of course, OF COURSE, this was happening. If I hadn’t decided to get married this year, everything would have been fine. Just like Los Angeles wouldn’t have seen record rainfall ten years ago, except my sister decided to get married. Laughing was way better than crying, and it eased the stress. Besides, we’d already agreed the wedding was going to happen, and my fiance’ was still marrying me – COVID-19 quarantine, crazy wedding planning, and all.
Maybe it isn’t a “normal” wedding planning process, but the wedding itself was never going to be normal, anyway. With the rest of the world changing its definition of normal, I decided I was okay accepting this adjustment with the rest.
Besides, it is a lot of fun to prop up my chin, look a vendor in the eyes over our masks, and ask, “So, what’s your policy for plagues?”
“Let’s see… we have the snowflake ornaments, the Funko Pop advent calendars, the snowy owl placemats, and the unicorn ornaments in this tub. And in this tub, we have hand sanitizer, hand soaps, temporal artery thermometers, sanitizing wipes, and disposable face masks…. Did you pack all of your face masks?“
Not the conversation I imagined I’d be having when packing for our wedding, but 2020 promised none of our wedding conversations followed the examples in the wedding binder. And with the news reporting climbing COVID-19 numbers, the closer we got to November 14th, that second tub became all the more necessary. If 2020 taught the two of us anything, it taught the importance of contingency plans.
Gone was the leisurely week spent getting the beach house prepped for the ceremony and reception. In its place, we discovered the aggravation of playing translator to parents attempting to understand everyone speaking through face masks. (Parents who insisted on turning their hearing aids off indoors) When they weren’t around, we devised plans to invent speakers one could imbed into face masks. (Patent pending) “Safety first,” it turns out, comes with a few necessary annoyances.
For instance, breaking out sanitizing wipes every time someone finished eating on a surface. The containers lived in every kitchen and every bedroom for daily wiped-downs. Our guests bowed out of plane trips, but several family members braved airports to join us. No way were we taking any chances on a stray virus getting through. It broke our hearts, but abandoning the scent of mulling spices for “lemon fresh” felt like a small concession to keep everyone protected.
And while everyone was a pro at attending Zoom meetings by that point, no one had set one up. A little trial, a little error, and some cursing finally yielded a functioning Zoom invite for our out-of-town guests. After which, we spent hours trying to figure out where to set the laptop during the ceremony. While the beautiful circle we wanted for our handfasting worked for those attending in-person, it created a “vision” problem for the laptop camera. Briefly, the computer spent time on our altar before getting relegated to a bookcase…and then moving to the opposite side when the Rehearsal Dinner blocked the view entirely. (Who knew technology could be so complicated?)
The Rehearsal Dinner brought up an old friend: the revenge of the face masks. Despite hearing aids dutifully in place (and switched on), parents struggled to hear. How to cope? We never saw a need for microphones with such a low guest count, and we were in the zero hour. Luckily, our officiant was an absolute saint. She felt comfortable enough to skip her mask, we left ours off, and we shuffled the parents to their “good” sides. We measured the chair distances and came out a little over six feet. The three of us were far enough from everyone else.
No, our plague wedding certainly day didn’t go as planned:
It took forever to push toothpicks through three of our appetizers, eliminating the need for people to use their hands to scoop things up.
The plastic tongs we bought only picked up one chip at a time (spoons worked better).
At the salon, we laughed as everyone admitted we only needed eye makeup due to the masks.
I forgot to give my poor fiancé the code to my laptop, and the machine decided to take a nap while I was getting changed.
We couldn’t (initially) figure out how to unmute everyone on Zoom after we shooed guests downstairs.
My brother and sister-in-law woke my poor niece up (it was 4:00 AM their time) to congratulate us, and I’m pretty sure she hates us now.
However, we’re now past the two-week mark from the wedding, and everyone’s still healthy. I married my best friend in a ceremony filled with happy tears and laughter. We shared the day with family and friends — even if some of them attended through a computer screen.
COVID-19 changed a lot this year. It made us rethink SO MANY aspects of our wedding. What it didn’t manage to accomplish was ruining how we feel for each other. That’s the one thing we took away from this experience. And I hope every other bride looking at a wedding under these circumstances thinks the same.