Planning a 2021 Wedding? Here’s what you need to know
Very soon (starting May 21) we expect counties to be eligible to move in to “Lower Risk” category by virtue of the percentage of their population who is currently vaccinated. A county who reaches 65% is eligible to move up even if other criteria are not met. What is the benefit of being in lower risk – besides a reduced risk of catching a deadly virus? Higher capacity will be allowed at your wedding venue.
For a full list of current county risk levels look here for the county where your wedding will take place, click here.
How many people can you invite to your wedding?
Good question! Where are you getting married? Your max capacity is based on the type of venue. A private residence will have the SMALLEST capacity, regardless of county risk level. So plan on getting married at a venue vs. an Airbnb or any place designated as a private residence.
Outdoors is best for safety and for being able to host a larger group. You may be able to invite everyone you have on your list if your county reaches lower risk level by your wedding date and it is an outdoor venue.
Any county reaching 65% partial vaccination rates will be moved to Lower Risk, effective May 21, 2021 Benton, Deschutes, Hood River, Lincoln and Washington County are in Lower Risk due to vaccination rates. Once the state reaches 70% partial vaccination rates the Governor is expected to begin fully reopening the state.
See The Oregon Coronavirus Information Page for exact info on where your county is at this time.
Vaccinations and your wedding
Expect current social distancing and masking policies to continue for non-vaccinated people indoors. For outdoors, social distancing must still be observed but masks are not required in many outdoor spaces, check with your venue for their specific policy and follow it! Inform your guests to have a mask, and have extra disposable masks available for them to use if they forget or lose theirs. As of 5/18/21 all businesses and places of worship may set their own policies regarding maskless fully vaccinated guests, vendors, and employees. Everyone MUST show proof of being fully vaccinated (defined as 1 dose of Johnson and Johnson or 2 doses of Pfizer or Moderna, plus 2 weeks past your final dose) to be inside any place of business without a mask. Your word is not good enough! Check with your venue for their masking policy. It is not illegal, it does not violate anyone’s rights and a wedding is not a space for anyone to come to pick a fight.
All Oregonians and every person in America 12+ is eligible for a vaccination. It is easy to get vaccinated and appointments may no longer be required at most locations. Find more information HERE: https://covidvaccine.oregon.gov/
If you do not want to wear a mask at your wedding and you want your guests to be maskless then get vaccinated and inform your guests to do the same and bring proof! You should also ask all of your vendors if they are vaccinated and inform them they must show proof of vaccination or wear a mask to your wedding.
If you know one of your guests will potentially be a problem at your wedding because they don’t want to wear a mask, and will not be vaccinated, it is on YOU to inform them of your venue and vendor policies regarding masks. They will need to be masked, or show proof. If they do not your venue and vendors have every right to ask you to eject them from your wedding, the same way they would ask you to remove anyone violating any venue rule and regulation. If they refuse, you risk an unpleasant situation and the possible early end to your celebration – the same as would happen if somebody is caught smoking inside your venue or if a minor is caught with alcohol.
A little work ahead of time is key. It is your wedding day so make sure you designate a trusted individual in your family or wedding party who can be designated as the go to person if there is a problem. Have these talks before your wedding. Inform your guests on your wedding website. Ask if they are fully vaccinated on your RSVP form. If you’ve already printed but not mailed your invites, add a link to a google form where you can add a question about vaccinations – remind them to bring proof or plan to wear a mask. Have extra masks available for anyone who forgets to bring theirs, or for anyone who doesn’t have proof of a vaccination on them at your wedding. If you know somebody will be a problem don’t invite them unless you have somebody you trust to have a talk with them before your wedding day.
Tips for planning an Oregon Wedding Spring – Summer 2021:
- Hire a wedding expert to help you plan.
- All social distancing guidelines apply at any venue and on private property, unless individuals can prove they are fully vaccinated.
- Capacity rules will remain in effect until the state reaches 70% vaccination rates. Plan on there being changed capacity guidelines through the summer, as we don’t know exactly when we will reach that goal. The target is by the end of June.
- 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 for all non-vaccinated guests. Verification will be required, you should provide masks for anyone who doesn’t have proof, or a mask.
- If you are planning an at home wedding do not plan on being allowed more than 6-12 guests max at any point this Spring. 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 or risk serious OSHA fines.
- In normal times, venues and vedors will not tolerate non-compliance with a lot of rules at your event. Just as they uphold rules regarding noise levels, legal drinking ages, smoking, and the use of legal or non-legal drugs, this year, your guests will be asked to comply with masking and social distancing rules, or verify they are fully vaccinated – if they refuse to comply, they will be asked to leave. Any venue has the right to end an event in progress for non-compliance – this is true for all of their site rules. Vendors have the right to leave an event that is not in compliance. TAKE THESE GUIDLINES SERIOUSLY WHILE PLANNING OR YOU WILL LOSE OUT! If you have guests whom you know are likely to be a problem, it is your responsibility to make sure they understand they must comply or your wedding day will be ruined. I know this can be a difficult conversation to have with some people! Have a parent or other trusted loved one advocate on your behalf or don’t invite anyone you feel will be a problem.
- There may be quarantine and travel restrictions if you have anyone coming from other areas who are not fully vaccinated, 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.
- Most venues in Portland are open at this time but at limited capacity – capacities are expected to continue to increase until we are back to normal (expected sometime this summer). Even if your wedding will be held in a county in the moderate or lower risk classifications, capacity is limited and based on overall square feet.
- Face coverings will be required in any public indoor space or any outdoor space where you cannot keep socially distant, unless you have proof you are fully vaccinated.
- Buffets and family style are not your best options for service style, caterers are offering buffets that are compliant! A food cart is a good solution if you do not want plated.
- Your best bet is to serve plated only. 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 only option 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 6 people and 2 households indoors, or 8 people and 2 households outdoors.
- 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.
- 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.
More General Tips for Planning During COVID 19:
- Post all of your current links, details, and invite information on your wedding website.
- Ask your vendors if they are fully vaccinated or if they will be by your wedding date. Let them know masks will be required of them and their staff without proof of vaccination. Also ask if they have updated vaccination policies, if so what are they?
- Send out a digital RSVP using google forms where you can ask guests if they are going to be fully vaccinated (let them know here they must show proof or still wear a mask). This information will help you seat vaccinated friends and family together and keep unvaccinated guests, or guests who have extreme risks and prefer being distanced, at socially distanced tables by household.
- 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 – this is where you should talk about vaccinations, masks, seating arrangements, and what is expected of them at your wedding, as well as what you are doing with their safety in mind.
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 late summer 2021. We will update this page with just facts we know, as they become available.