During the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, many couples turned to Zoom and other virtual video platforms so they could still get married in front of loved ones. But as the pandemic continues, a lot of couples are now back to holding weddings in-person. With a little bit of distance between guests.
"I definitely think it’s going to be a thought on everybody’s mind whether: do you keep smaller numbers or do you have the large numbers you originally wanted and you just space the chairs? Do you have to have more tables and more people per table?" said Braden Sutton, a wedding planner, day-of coordinator and ordained minister with JBS Weddings and Events in Georgia.
He, like other wedding planners across the country, saw soon-to-be wed couples panic when the pandemic first erupted in the spring.
"Of course they want the big wedding they planned but they don't know what to do because they don't want to cut people off of the list and they don't want to hurt anybody’s feelings," said Sutton.
Six months into the pandemic, Sutton says more couples are turning to socially-distanced weddings, making accommodations at their venues and sometimes shortening their guest lists to still have an in-person celebration as safely as possible.
"Because we’ve all seen a few things on social media about large numbers of COVID cases happening at weddings and other gatherings, nobody wants that to be their wedding. Definitely it's possible, just play it smart," said Sutton.
Courtney Saxon and Kayla Zachery began planning their Georgia wedding nearly a year ago.
"And honestly, in the beginning I think we both were like, 'Oh, everything will be fine by November we’re not going to have to worry about it,'" said Saxon.
They soon realized, if they wanted to keep their wedding date, they'd need to make a few adjustments. Chairs at the ceremony will be spaced and fewer people will be seated at each table.
"Ideally what will happen is everyone will sit as a family unit. So if you live together, of course you're already around one another. We're just trying to keep everyone essentially around people they came with," said Saxon.
They'll also have hand sanitizing stations at food tables and all entrances, plus a video live stream of the event for those guests who can't attend in person. While the wedding won't look exactly how they envisioned, the two have a positive outlook for their special day.
"To me, the most important thing is that at the end of the day I get to marry my best friend. That's really all I care about. It doesn't matter if everything goes exactly as I hoped or we planned because no matter if you get married in a pandemic or not, things are bound and determined to go wrong," said Saxon.
"What do they have to do to make sure they're safe, guests are safe and another part is just the venue what they require," said Sutton.
Sutton is also planning his own wedding which is supposed to take place in March. He believes most couples will be planning socially-distanced weddings through the end of 2021.