Updated: Jul 2
UPDATE - May 18, 2021
This post will no longer be updated about restrictions that have been lifted. This post will only be updated if we revert back to any phase of lockdown that limits gathering sizes beyond their current limitations.
It's no surprise that the wedding season for 2020 has been completely forked up for couples and wedding vendors alike. After an abrupt shutdown of pretty much everything in early March, it wasn't clear when weddings would be able to happen again. Throughout 2020 and 2021 we've been released different stages of different phases of the Connecticut Reopening plan, what it looks like and how it might influence weddings, which caused many couples to continue postponing their weddings until 2021, 2022 or drastically change their 2020/21 wedding plans. Governor Lamont recently released details for the final reopening phase, so it's time for an update on what the guidelines look like and how they affect weddings.
First: what we know.
Each phase to be implemented will only be triggered by reaching key data metrics from testing & hospitalizations. We are coming out of our second spike in cases and deaths and the Governor has announced a very aggressive Phase 3 reopening in light of the vaccine rollout. However, we should all stay vigilant with social distancing and masks so that we can save lives and our spring event season can try to stay on track. ❤
Wedding Specific Guidelines EFFECTIVE MARCH 19th 2021
NO STATE-IMPOSED GATHERING RESTRICTIONS - All weddings are permitted to operate at 100% capacity, however venue owners are permitted to impose a capacity limit if they so choose
Social distancing is still in effect - 6 feet for safety!
Masks are not state-mandated for outdoor weddings
Masks are not state-mandated for those who are vaccinated, but are a state-mandated requirement for the unvaccinated
Venue owners are permitted to require and enforce their own mask policy, regardless of a visitor's vaccination status
These are the previous details for 2020 Phase 2 weddings/gatherings:
Indoor weddings: limited to 25 people
Outdoor weddings: limited to 100 people
Masks are required for those in attendance
Previous phase 3 wedding/gathering rules in effect October 8th - November 5th 2020:
Indoor weddings at a venue: limited to 50% venue capacity OR 100 people, whichever is less (e.g. if your venue has a capacity of 100 people, you can only have 50 people)
Indoor weddings at a private residence: limited to 25 people
Outdoor weddings at a venue or private residence: limited to 150 people
Masks are required for those in attendance
Phase 2.1 - EFFECTIVE NOVEMBER 6th 2020 - MARCH 18th 2021
Indoor weddings at a venue: limited to 25 people
Outdoor weddings at a venue: limited to 50 people
If your wedding is at a private residence, the count is limited to 10 people regardless of if it's indoor or outdoor
Masks are required for those in attendance
Now that we're well into 2021 and it seems that the end of the pandemic is in sight, lots of people are having hope for their 2021 weddings and feeling like life will be "normal" soon. The good news for them is that we've had almost a whole year of pandemic times under our belt and the vendor teams they've hired for their weddings now have a ton of experience dealing with this in case things do start to go sideways again. No one really knows what the future holds, but we can make some educated guesses based on what has already happened in 2020 and looking at the data for cases right now.
All of what I'm about to say is speculation. I'm not an official for the state, nor am I a doctor or a scientist. These are my personal opinions and beliefs based on my observations and experiences. Couples should make their wedding decisions based on all the information available to them and the advice of their vendors as a team.
First off, let's all take a second to appreciate that our state's second wave spike was not as severe as it was in the spring of 2020. We're doing a lot more tests now than we were when the pandemic first struck, yet our hospitalizations (and deaths) per day remain lower and more stable than our first spike. We are finished Phase 2.1 and launched into an aggressive reopening on March 19th with lots of good news for backyard and venue weddings, largely thanks to the vaccine being in play now. We're also now finally seeing cases and hospitalizations drop as we head into summer right before the full CT Reopening on May 19th. However, it's important to remember that Covid-19 is not gone and we all still need to take precautions. Part of the reason that the May 19th restriction lift is happening is because of a lifting of Gov. Lamont's emergency powers, not entirely a result of data driven decision making.
THE MAIN THING TO REMEMBER is that you should still coordinate with your vendor teams to determine the "need to know" deadlines for postponements, guest count adjustments, or other wedding day alterations. It's always good to have a Plan B, even without Covid-19, and be ready to disseminate that information to your guests and get your wedding party on phone tree duty to help you out with it. ❤ The weddings that happened in 2020 happened because of a lot of extra planning, flexibility and quick-on-their-feet thinking. Hopefully 2021 won't be as crazy, but I would be remiss if I didn't suggest that we all brush up on those skills.
What couples can do to prepare
Now that we're in full Reopening mode, some of these steps may seem drastic, but it never hurts to give them a look over. The risk of Covid messing up your 2021 dream wedding is still very real for a lot of you (I know because you've been telling me it is 😉). So here are some tips to help alleviate some of your fears and help you move through planning a wedding in a pandemic.
Elope or go with a micro-wedding. With frustrations regarding the constantly changing guidelines and the uncertainty of the future because of them, tensions are high among many couples who are putting a lot at stake financially for traditional, bigger weddings. And with many larger venues choosing to close their ballrooms or being shut down for violating guidelines, it's easy to want to scrap the idea of a traditional wedding and just elope. Eloping today isn't what it used to be. There are many ways a couple can elope and it doesn't have to exclude your closest family and friends (hello micro-wedding!). If this sounds like something you want to explore, please reach out to me and we can talk about your wedding and how to make it happen.
Adjust your wedding vision for outdoors. Given that the guest counts listed above need to include all of your vendors (photographer, music, catering staff, etc) it may be hard to get everyone you want at your wedding for an indoor venue if your wedding falls during a date that is likely to still be in Phase 2.1, or even if we are able to get back into Phase 2. Moving your wedding to be outdoors is the first of a few good options to help you keep your date, your guest list and your vendor team. Plus, backyard weddings (for Phase 2 or 3 type guidelines!) are super fun and making a big splash this year!
Adjust your guest count. If moving the wedding outdoors is not an option for you, start making different lists of your guests that account for a head count of 10, 25, 50, 75, 100, etc. Be sure to include your vendors (like me, your catering staff, etc) in your headcount. If your wedding is a huge banquet hall, ask them what the maximum head count is going to be based on the capacity and start crunching your numbers with vendors and your guest list. This video from Julie Noelle Weddings has great advice for adjusting the guest count!
Video. If you do reduce your guest count, use the money you're saving there to hire a videographer so you can share a highlight video with the guests who couldn't make it, or figure out how to do a livestream of the ceremony!
Safety First! At the weddings I've been working this summer and fall there have been a lot of cute hand sanitizer and mask stations. Guests have been encouraged to wear masks as much as possible and there has been some really amazing mask fashion being sported by the bride and groom as well as the wedding party!
Use your wedding website. Get the word out to guests about what's going on, let them know when they can expect to see an update about if your date is being moved, and let guests know if you have to make tough decisions about adjusting the guests count and how to find out if they're on there or not. Guests will be understanding in these circumstances and many of them are probably feeling apprehensive about attending a large event.
Postponement. This is still a viable option for you and I'm willing to work with you. Even though we're doing really well with our recovery efforts and there's the travel advisory, I don't blame anyone who wants to play it safe and postpone. If you need help figuring out how to postpone or when to make the decision, check out this blog post with some helpful tips.
If you're one of my couples, please do not hesitate to reach out and talk to me about your wedding. I want to be proactive with you and help you find the solution so you can have an amazing wedding day!