When planning a wedding, couples are often advised to consider not what could go right, but rather, what could go wrong. But when Hannah, 21, originally set her date for May 2020, planning a wedding while also preparing for the coronavirus wasn't even on her when-to-worry radar. With a member of her bridal party traveling from Italy, a country with one of the highest number of reported coronavirus cases, Hannah has come to accept that the rising travel bans may very well keep friends and family apart.
"We'll have him on a WhatsApp video call for the entire ceremony and reception," she tells Bustle. "And then we will have a huge party whenever he can get here.”
With wedding season swiftly approaching, couples and planners are coming together to brainstorm preventative solutions to bring loved ones together, while also prioritizing the health of immunocompromised and elderly relatives and guests, the two demographics disproportionately at risk of getting infected. Per the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC), the primary way coronavirus is spreading is through respiratory droplets, which are formed when someone coughs or sneezes. Since these droplets are the main reason infections spread quickly, the CDC recommends avoiding close contact during the crisis.
We have added mini hand sanitizers to all the welcome bags, along with vitamin C packets.
According to Jamie Chang, wedding planner and owner of Mango Muse Events, keeping a respectful distance is key. "There's inevitably a lot of touching at weddings; lots of hugs and kisses because it's a celebration," she tells Bustle. Chang suggests instituting a "No Unnecessary Touching" rule, which can extend to handshake greetings, hugs, or dance moves that require skin-to-skin contact.
JoAnn Gregoli, an event producer and owner of Elegant Occasions by JoAnn Gregoli, advises asking guests to be mindful of germs — but providing extra provisions as a precaution. "We have ceremonies taking place shortly, and we are setting up hand sanitizer stations throughout the event, so people can keep their hands clean," Gregoli tells Bustle. "We have added mini hand sanitizers to all welcome bags, along with vitamin C packets."
When it comes to food distribution, planners are forgoing buffets for plated meals, in order to halt to spread of germs. Gregoli's events will only allow servers wearing gloves to handle food stations, ensuring that they're the only people who come into contact with serving spoons. This is for both their safety, as well as the guests', she explains.
Chang recommends asking guests to stay home if they're feeling sick or showing symptoms of COVID-19, the disease caused by coronavirus, in order to prevent the spread of illness. Current symptoms include mild to severe respiratory illness, fever, cough, and shortness of breath, Dr. Andres Romero, M.D., an infectious disease specialist at Providence Saint John's Health Center in Santa Monica, California, previously told Bustle. "Alternatively, the couple could proceed with a private ceremony," Christa DeHuff, wedding planner at A Central Park Wedding, tells Bustle. "So friends and family do not feel pressured to travel."
If a couple chooses to forego their reception and instead celebrate privately together, Dehuff suggests following Hannah's example and live-streaming the ceremony to family and friends back home.
"Just because the coronavirus is here, doesn't mean you can't celebrate your wedding," Chang says. "All it takes is a little extra planning."
If you think you’re showing symptoms of coronavirus, which include fever, shortness of breath, and coughing, call NHS 111 in the UK or visit the CDC website in the U.S. for up-to-date information and resources. You can find all Bustle’s coverage of coronavirus here, and UK-specific updates on coronavirus here.
Jamie Chang, wedding planner and owner of Mango Muse Events
JoAnn Gregoli, an event producer and owner of Elegant Occasions by JoAnn Gregoli
Christa DeHuff, wedding planner at A Central Park Wedding, tells Bustle