How to Include Loved Ones in a Socially Distanced Wedding

May 11, 2020

Skyler Rivera

planning tips

Planning your wedding day can be so stressful- and if you’re planning a wedding day affected by COVID-19, you might be wondering how to include your loved ones while maintaining social distancing on your wedding day. Tackling this decision making in these uncertain times can be tricky. If you’re struggling with missing loved ones during your socially distanced wedding, you’re not alone. Couples across the globe wedding planning in the face of COVID-19, safer-at-home orders, and bans are making the tough decision to go through with a smaller wedding than anticipated, or postpone. If you’re unsure of what the current guidelines are, be sure to check out the Center for Disease Control’s site here and check your local regulations. We know how frustrating it is, after so much time and energy went into planning the perfect day, to be forced into making changes. 

We are so, so sorry for all of you put in this uncontrollable situation. It’s completely normal to feel confused, and have a sense of loss for those plans you made together. Remember to take a breath, focus on the now, and why you are getting married. No matter what happens now, you get to marry the love of your life-the details might look a little different, but in the end, that’s what this is all about. Order your favorite take-out, grab a couple of beers, and play your favorite music while you make these new decisions. You’re getting married in the middle of a time that will surely land in the history books. As hard as it is right now, you’ll make it out of this with the most incredible story to pass on.

 For couples who choose to keep that original date with a smaller guest count, here are a few ways to feel closer to those loved ones who couldn’t be there in person for your wedding.

Invite Loved Ones Virtually

Abbotsford Wisconsin couple shares speeches with family and friends watching their socially distanced wedding through a live stream.

Live Streaming your ceremony is a great way to let people see the event who couldn’t be there. Email new invites with where and how to stream your I do’s. If you’re planning on using a platform like Zoom, you can have guests register in advance, and have a link ready to share for them to join. Otherwise, tell them to hang out on Facebook until a designated in-person guest starts going live- their cue that you and your sweetheart are about to make this thing official!

Switch up your Wedding Timeline

When you were initially planning out the timeline for your big day, you probably had significant gaps between things like your ceremony, first dance, cake cutting, speeches, and send off. If you’re thinking of incorporating loved ones who can’t be present, a great way to have them there is to adjust the timeline so they can see it too! After your I do’s, you can move right into a first dance or cake cutting with everyone on the live stream. 

If your venue has room in the parking lots, here’s a few ideas to keep up social distancing and see the people you love. Move your cake cutting/first dance out into the lot! Ask guests that are immunocompromised, or otherwise unable to attend to grab a spot in the lot to see a part of your wedding day. This way, they can be there while you two share those sweet moments. You can also assign a time for your send-off for all those waiting outside. You and your sweetheart can drive away together, you can be greeted by drive-by signs/horns and waving from everyone who would’ve wanted to cheer you on if they could have. This is such a great way to allow friends to celebrate you in person while keeping that social distance.

Ask for Love Notes from Loved Ones beforehand

Here’s a great replacement for a guest book. Instead ask guests to virtually submit a love note or well wishes for you two. There are a few ways to do this. You can use a service to collect answers like SurveyMonkey. You can also have an in-person guest send out an email asking for them, and record the responses. Another great way is just posting on social media for them to drop a comment. You can read them together at the end of the night, and feel a little closer to everyone.

Pour a Glass with Family and Friends

Pick a time for virtual speeches! If you still have a few people present who would like to give toasts, share with those on the live stream! Everyone can pour a glass from their home and cheer with you. If you’re on a Zoom call, maybe those who aren’t there physically can still give a toast virtually!

Incorporate Loved One’s Momentos

Sit down together and brainstorm different ways to include momentos to those who can’t attend. On my wedding day, my grandma gave me a penny to put in my shoe for good luck. Something as simple as that can remind you they were there with you through it all. Maybe Grandpa has some handkerchief you can borrow, or Grandma has a brooch you can add to your bouquet. Little momentos like that can mean a lot when those we’re closest to can’t be there physically.

Include a Family Recipe

When you sit down for dinner, why not you include a family favorite. Does your uncle make killer tailgate sandwiches for every holiday? Or maybe there’s a pecan pie recipe you’ve passed down for decades. How cute would it be to carve a chunk of your family’s pecan pie alongside your cake to feel a little closer?

Ask Loved One’s for Favorite Songs

Ask those streaming the ceremony virtually what song they would’ve wanted to hear at your reception! Add these to a playlist to listen to during dinner (or a late-night dance session). It can be so fun to have your Aunt’s favorite throwback jam followed by your grandparent’s first dance song playing in the background, all while you’re enjoying that first meal together. 

Throw that Dream Reception Later

Summer wedding reception at Hidden Meadow Barn in Pepin Wisconsin photographed by Skyler and Vhan Photography

Now that you’ve gotten married, why not plan for that big dream day later on? Besides, who doesn’t love a reason to bust out their wedding dress again? You can break out that epic playlist (because you KNOW your crew will love the music on it already!), enjoy some excellent food, and take some fantastic photos, all while squeezing the people you love a little tighter. 

Remember, no matter what you do, this day is about you. Incorporate little joys however you can on your wedding day. Give yourself the space to enjoy some time soaking in that just-married feeling with your new spouse. Happy wedding planning!

Want to check out more wedding planning tips? Keep an eye on our blog for new info! Planning on eloping on your original date? Reach out here, and let’s plan the perfect day for you and your sweetheart.

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