Planning an Oregon Wedding During a Pandemic
Planning a wedding is often stressful – try planning three options for the same day, just in case! Let us help you!
Vareus Events is located in Washington County (though we work throughout Oregon) – we, like much of Oregon, are restricted to intimate or small weddings (no more than 75 people present – including vendors) at this time.
It’s not a joke when I say to get married in 2021, you either need to plan to elope (we can help and make it beautiful) or you need to have at least three potential wedding plans in play just in case:
- A backup plan to reschedule the celebration with others and an elopement if you’d like to still marry on time. An elopement is defined as 6 people – 1 officiant, 2 witnesses plus the couple, and typically a photographer (a photographer can also serve as a witness so you must have at least 5 people)
- An intimate wedding (plan about 40 key guests max for this option)
- A safe event based on the county on the date of your wedding for a full sized wedding 100-250 people depending on the venue, indoors vs. outdoors, and ability to comply with social distancing guidelines
The latest information we have from the CDC is that we should not expect to have enough of the population vaccinated to allow for anything resembling normalcy earlier than Fall or Winter of 2021. This does not mean it won’t be sooner, or that the event you’ve been hoping for will be ruined, it just means based on constantly changing conditions nobody can make any promises for where we will be on your wedding date if you are planning to marry in 2021; so be prepared or hire an expert to help prepare you.
Current Vaccination Plans published as of February, 2021, are through March 1, 2021 and in Oregon these current plans cover all healthcare workers, those who care for the highest risk populations (including in home care for a family member), most high risk essential workers, child care workers and teachers, and people 65+. The rest of the population should expect an update as plans expand. Current detailed information from The State of Oregon on our vaccination plan is available HERE: https://covidvaccine.oregon.gov/
Tips for planning an Intimate Oregon Wedding Now – Spring 2021:
- Hire a wedding expert to help you plan.
- All social distancing guidelines apply at any venue and on private property, even if you and all guests have been vaccinated.
- If you are having a church wedding, most churches are offering compliant ceremonies at this time. They will either be outside or comply with current regulations by limiting the numbers who are allowed indoors and masks will be required except at very specific moments as directed by your Clergy, ask your church for their specific plans.
- If you are planning an at home wedding do not plan on being allowed more than 6-12 guests max at any point this year. Your best bet for a wedding of any size is to use a venue that has spent the past year working on instituting safety measures.
- Caterers, planners and other vendors will not work with people planning a non-compliant event – they face serious fines and penalties in doing so and must protect all of their employees.
- Venues and vendors will not tolerate non-compliance at your event. Your guests will be asked to comply, or asked to leave. Any venue has the right to end an event in progress for non-compliance. Vendors have the right to leave an event that is not in compliance. TAKE THESE GUIDLINES SERIOUSLY WHILE PLANNING OR YOU WILL LOSE OUT!
- There may be quarantine and travel restrictions if you have anyone coming from other areas, make sure you and any traveling guests plan accordingly.
- Your best bet is an outdoor venue setting, plan on tenting for a backup rain plan vs. indoors if your numbers require it.
- You need 5 people to get married – 1 officiant, the marrying couple and 2 witnesses. A photographer can serve as a witness. If you are planning an elopement plan at least 5 people total.
- Most venues in Portland are open at this time but at limited capacity.
- Face coverings will be required in any public indoor space or any outdoor space where you cannot keep socially distant. Plan to provide safe masks for your guests just in case (they are typically available and in supply again)
- Buffets should not be considered safe even if you are self-catering at home with a small group. Many caterers are offering buffets that are compliant – I reiterate a buffet is not your best bet at this time! A food cart is a good solution if you do not want plated.
- Your best bet is to serve plated only. Those beautiful place settings you’ve imagined may not be what’s safest for your guests, chargers and napkins are fine but you likely won’t be able or want to have utensils and dishes preset. Self serve drink stations are out. Plan on grab and go bottled water or cans as a self serve option, most caterers will require a new glass for every drink and either tableside service or service at a bar with the line required to maintain social distancing.
- Assigned tables are your best bet right now. Guests don’t want to get seated with people they don’t know even at a spaced out table, instead intentionally group people by household or by pod, or seat people whom you know have all been vaccinated together. No table should have more than 8 people and 2 households. Use smaller tables for sets of 2 or 3 (they are very affordable to add to your rental contract). Think of a restaurant with various sized tables. Your layout does not have to have massive tables with 2 – 6 people or all the same shape tables. We can easily help design your table layouts.
- Utensils and plates should be served to each guest with their meal. Party Platter Charcuterie plates per table or individual serving appetizers are best for cocktail hour. Ask your caterer for great suggestions – they’ve already been doing this for a year now.
- Plan to need more servers than normal.
- You do not have to serve a meal with an elopement. Some venues allow a toast and/or cake but not a meal.
Tips for planning a Summer 2021 Wedding:
- Your safest plan for Summer 2021 will be to have 3 plans and 3 guest lists:
- Eloping with just a few people (including vendors, witnesses and yourselves – if you don’t want to do this you may need to reschedule)
- An Intimate wedding with about 50 people, including yourselves and vendors
- A larger wedding with up to 100-300 people (including vendors) depending on your venue’s ability to comply with social distancing rules and spacing.
- You may wonder why three plans? Because you absolutely may not know 1 month or even 1 week before your wedding date exactly what will be allowed in the county you plan to marry in, or how many people may back out of coming because of the pandemic.
- If things reopen that doesn’t mean we won’t slip back again, at any time, with very little notice.
- We can help you through this entire process and any and all changes needed. If you are not feeling good about the unknown, our best advice is reschedule or plan a very intimate wedding with a larger celebration, or many small celebrations down the road.
- You’ll need to know exact numbers allowed on your wedding date and sadly you may not have any idea until just a few weeks or even days before your scheduled date.
- As more people begin to get vaccinated, we also don’t know if testing or vaccination certification will become a requirement for venues or from certain vendors, in the future.
- We do not know when masks and social distancing requirements will no longer be required – plan for these orders to still be in place through the summer, at least.
- Outdoor venues are best! If your rain plan includes an outdoor tent make sure the tent complies with current regulations on your wedding date.
- We don’t expect any events beyond 250 guests (to allow for vendors) to be allowed in Oregon any time this summer; that may change. Many venues in lower risk counties were able to accommodate up to 250 with all social distancing requirements in place last summer, we expect the same this summer.
- Keep in mind, your RSVPs may not be what you expect, they will likely be lower than average again through this year. Do not be surprised if people back out last minute.
- Stick to plated service if you are having an event at a restaurant or venue (even if they offer buffet – your guests will appreciate the safety afforded by served individual plated meals)
- All seating should be thoughtful and pre-planned for your guests
- Ceremony and Table layouts should be by family or quarantine pods, with no more than 8 people at any table.
- Consider renting smaller tables to fit families or groups as opposed to mixing people from outside of the same household at the same larger table
General Tips for Planning During COVID 19:
- Create 3 guest lists for your 2021 wedding
- Order enough keepsake invitations for your immediate family and bridal party (your top 25 list) – for everybody else you will need to set up a digital invite unless you are certain they will all be invited (trust us – info, venues, important details may change up to the day before your wedding)
- Create a wedding website we recommend Zola, Minted, or create your own on a platform such as Squarespace, WordPress, or Wix.
- Trust us on the need for digital connectivity with all of your guests. We replanned an entire 2020 wedding just 10 days prior to the event date. We had to change venues, catering, and get plated exact meal selections all within 10 days, for a full sized wedding – you cannot do that by mail!
- Use customized Google forms to gather info with an easy text, email and social media link. We can do this for you – hire a planner!
- We recommend PaperlessPost or Greenvelope.com for wedding specific digital invites that look beautiful and can be turned around at the click of a button, for last minute invites and changes.
- You can make your own customized Save The Dates, and invites using Canva.com to put on your website, send by email and text, or to put on social media
- Post all of your current links, details, and invite information on your wedding website.
- Create a page on your wedding website Titled “Your Health and Safety” where you can tell your guests what you are doing with their health and safety in mind – example having assigned tables and seating them only with others they already reside or associate with, requiring masks as needed, planning an outdoor only event, having hand sanitizer at each table and throughout the event, serving plated meals, getting your vaccines.
How to plan moving forward?
Based on all of the reading, consulting with local lawmakers and their representatives, as well as experts in weddings and travel, all over the nation, we can tell you that due to economic impacts as well as COVID-19 itself, we expect weddings to continue to be impacted by COVID-19 at least until Fall of 2021, and in to 2022 is not unexpected. We will update this page with just facts we know, as they become available. Do not be surprised if like every industry the wedding industry sees permanent changes.
You have a lot to think about:
- Reschedule, possibly only to be impacted on your later date.
- All of our 2020 couples ended up getting married on time. A few had COVID compliant larger gatherings with no illness connected to any of our events. All at least eloped on time, several have rescheduled their celebration and vow renewal in front of family for this Fall.
- 2021 will be fluid. You need experts who keep on top of current regulations (they change as often as weekly by county and by situations) Hosting a wedding on time in the way that is allowed at the time is possible, if this uncertainty is not for you – you may want to reschedule for 2022. Please hire expert vendors to help you!
- Elope. This does not mean you cannot have your big wedding down the road. But if you really want to get married in 2021 you may want to avoid the stress and plan a dream elopement – Oregon is the best place to elope!
Nobody should make this choice for you, and you should not worry that you will disappoint anybody you love no matter what your choices may be. Weddings are ultimately about the union between two people – joining together to create a brand new life as one.
Our job is to make this the best day possible and one you will want to remember forever.