As COVID-19 restrictions loosen in the state of Minnesota and across the country, many couples are looking hopefully toward the rest of summer and fall. If you’re planning on hosting your wedding this year, you’re likely wondering how to do it safely and in accordance with proper social distancing guidelines, without diminishing the joy of the celebration you’d originally planned.

While it’s true that your 2020 wedding will likely look quite different to your pre-coronavirus plans, it doesn’t have to be any less festive! By trimming some guests here and mixing up some table layouts there, you can adjust your plans and create a beautifully intimate, romantic day that celebrates your love—and really, isn’t that what a wedding is all about?

Here are five easy tweaks you can make to ensure your wedding is as safe as it is successful:

Trim that guest list

As much as it might pain you to cross Great-Aunt Margaret or your brother’s college roommate from the guest list, the truth is that for post-COVID weddings, the fewer guests the better. In Minnesota, it is not recommended to gather in large groups, especially indoors (see our next tip for more on this) so trimming the guest list down to only the absolutely essential family and very close friends is a must.

The good news? There’s no one on your list who hasn’t been affected by COVID-19, which means there’s (hopefully) no one who won’t understand the need to pare down your list. If the notion of cutting guests makes you uncomfortable, consider having a very small ceremony or elopement on your planned wedding date, followed by a larger reception at a later time when gathering in groups is safer. That way, you’re not cutting guests out of your big day—you’re simply rescheduling their involvement!

Move the action outside

Another solution to the guest list problem is to pivot to a fully outdoor celebration. Minnesota’s state regulations and guidelines currently discourage groups of more than 10 to gather inside. Just remember that gatherings taking place at indoor/outdoor venues with on-site food and beverage have a limit of indoor/outdoor capacity of 25%, up to 250 people—and regardless of your venue, you should still be wearing masks and practicing social distancing, keeping a six-foot space between you and the nearest person.

All of which is to say: Get outside! One of the best parts of hosting an event at Earle Brown is the opportunity to enjoy our beautiful outdoor gardens and picturesque walking paths, which lend themselves perfectly to social distancing!

Ask your venue about outdoor ceremony and reception options. In these times, most venues and planners are happy to be flexible with your plans.

Consider offering masks & gloves

Okay, hear us out: Normally, we wouldn’t recommend taking on the expense of outfitting your guests with custom accessories, but 2020 had been far from normal! Because masks, and to a lesser extent, gloves are now expected when we go out into the world, why not use it as an excuse to have a little fun?

If you have a little extra wiggle room in your budget after trimming your guest list, consider spending it on personalized masks in your wedding colors, with your monogram, or a pattern that complements your overall wedding style and decor. Splurge on gloves to match if you’re feeling fancy, or ask guests to wear formal gloves as part of your dress code for a retro, safety-conscious touch!

Ditch the buffet

The age of the buffet may well be over. In a post-coronavirus world, venues, caterers, planners and guests are turning a critical eye toward the safety of self-serve buffet meals. Germs can easily transfer from a person’s nose, mouth or hands to the food in a buffet line, potentially infecting everyone who comes into contact with that dish.

Instead, serve a plated meal, and opt for individual servings of things like butter (small pats at each setting as opposed to a communal dish) and water (no pitcher for the table here!) to keep things as safe as possible. You might also consider a change in table layouts: Instead of small, closely-seated tables, consider larger tables that allow for fewer people but with more space between them.

If your budget doesn’t allow for a plated meal, ask your caterer or venue about having masked and gloved staff serve the buffet, rather than have guests serve themselves. You might also arrange to have serving staff or venue team members at either end of the buffet providing each guest with a pump of hand sanitizer as they enter and exit the line.

Double check your venue’s safety protocols

In all likelihood, your wedding venue has already reached out to you regarding their health and safety protocols regarding COVID-19, but it’s important to double check as your wedding date nears to ensure all your bases are covered. Confirm that your venue has a practice in place for regularly cleaning and disinfecting all areas and equipment, and that your caterer understands how to prevent germs from spreading during their work, including all food and beverage health and safety rules. Ask your venue about adding hand sanitizer stations throughout your ceremony and reception spaces.

You may also want to consider adding an extra layer of protections yourself. Why not place a travel-sized bottle of sanitizer at each ceremony seat alongside the program? Or have masked and gloved waitstaff pass silver trays of mini hand sanitizer bottles as guests arrive at the reception? The possibilities are endless, and each increases the safety of your wedding.

We’re here to help

If you’re planning a wedding at Earle Brown, our knowledgeable staff is happy to work with you to accommodate all health, safety and proper social distancing guidelines to keep your big day worry-free.

With our gorgeous outdoor spaces, stringent adherence to cleanliness and hygiene, and our years of experience planning and executing weddings of all sizes, Earle Brown has the flexibility and know-how to make your perfect wedding extraordinary, no matter what. Contact us to learn more about our dedication to your safety during these unique times.