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Prudence Takle, July 17 2020

Wedding Guests: Etiquette Tips If Your Friends Are Getting Married In The Coronavirus Pandemic

COVID-19 has hit the wedding world for 6. Especially in Melbourne, Australia. We’ve had all kinds of restrictions on guest numbers, square meter space allowances, indoor/outdoor protocols – it’s been a lot to keep up with. While some couples have postponed their weddings for a later date, there are others who simply cannot wait to get married.

If you’ve been invited to a 2020 wedding or even one in 2021, you may have doubts about whether that wedding is going ahead thanks to the coronavirus pandemic.

And pending the restrictions, you may wonder what the guest list will look like.

Let me tell you, the couple getting married are wondering the same thing!

For couples facing restrictions that don’t line-up with their guest list numbers, or with how they saw their wedding being celebrated, it’s really conflicting. It can take time to know where their heart lies.

Here are some tips on etiquette to follow if you know someone who is getting married during the coronavirus pandemic. Hopefully they help!

1. Stop Asking What’s Happening or What They’re Going to Do

Couples in this situation are mulling this over every second of every day. Or they are simply shutting it out because they don’t want to deal with it. 

Plus, they’re having to communicate with suppliers who they have booked for their wedding date. With money involved and a frenzy on securing backup dates, those conversations can be exhausting!

 Bottom line… If you haven’t been told what is happening, wait until you are. If you are one of the lucky ones to get an invite you will be told ASAP. If you’re not, be at peace with not knowing and expect an email update closer to the date.

2. Think of Ways You Can Still Make Wedding Planning Fun For Them

Fair to say no one is hitting the strip clubs right now! A hens/bachelor party is probably off the table.

Think of a way you can still create a fuss of them from afar. Maybe you get in cahoots with their partner to surprise them with a Zoom, or faux invite them to join you for a trivia event and nek minute there’s penis paraphernalia all over the screen and a tray of donuts at their door via UberEats!

Planning a wedding in a pandemic doesn’t have all the usual excitement. Anything you can think of to bring back the spark, do it! You will seriously make their day.

3. Be OK About Last Minute Information

As a guest you might want to book accommodation, get an outfit organised, purchase a gift. Not knowing for sure what’s happening somewhat puts that on hold.Without getting into a frenzy about it, sending a plethora of group chat messages and calls to get some direction, you can decide to take the stress off the situation.You can do that by doing one of two things:

a) Leave it to the last minute – do nothing and see what happens. If you end up wearing the dress you wore to your cousins wedding, or staying in the local caravan park or cheap motel, so be it!

b) Plan for plans to fail – in the event restrictions come in days or a week before the wedding and you can’t get a refund on the accommodation, or the gift. Think about how you can re-purpose the expense to make it meaningful. Maybe it’s a child-free night away at the Sofitel for the first time in 2 years? Maybe you just take your best friend and have a little girl time. Save the gift for later, or send it anyway!

For sure your friends who are getting married don’t want you to be in a position where you lose money, but they also don’t want you to be in a spot where you miss out if things do go ahead. Don’t put them in a position to feel responsible for how things go one way or another.

4. Be Gracious

If you get uninvited, don’t take it personally. If they invited your mutual best friend but not you, don’t feel like it's a sign they don't like you.

Likewise, be glad if you get a secondary invite – i.e. you know some people couldn’t come because of work or travel so you were next in line. It’s lovely they have included you in this intimate affair. If it was up to them they wouldn’t have had to pick and choose in the first place!

The best thing you can do is shift the focus from being invited or not to them and the commitment they’re making. It’s all about building them up, being excited for them and encouraging them in the decision they’re making to get married despite the circumstances!

5.     Take on A Responsibility

If they ask you to do something for them on their wedding day, say yes and make it epic! They might ask you to do a reading via Zoom, to FaceTime them for a wedding morning meditation session, to pre-record some music or make a playlist.

There are still jobs to be done and I’m sure they would love your support. I also think, it’s such an honour that they want to feel like you've made your mark on their wedding day even if you can’t be there.

6. Send Them A Message On The Day

No doubt they won’t be able to respond but a message, whether it’s a meme or something meaningful is the ultimate sign that you’re thinking of them and cheering them on all the way. 

7.     Join Them In Celebration

If it ends up that they have had to uninvite a tonne of friends and family, there’s a chance they’ll give you an opportunity to be apart of their celebration.

They might live stream the ceremony or go live on Instagram from their lounge room at night. Tune in and show your support by taking screen shots, sharing it on social media (if they don’t mind!). 

Take selfies. Follow the dress code or make up your own based on the kind of people they are. Animal onesies anyone?

If they ask you to toast to them or enjoy their favourite foods, embrace it. Think about ways you can make their day extra special by doing something that’s so them! Honour them in a way only you know how.

8.     Keep Your Distance

This whole time, the government has been saying weddings are a risk “due to the nature of the celebration”. At a wedding we hug, we dance together, we sing ‘The Voice’ so hard we spit across the dance floor, aunty Beth gets sloppy drunk and plants a smooch on the crease of your mouth instead of your cheek! This is the Australian wedding culture.

As hard as it is, on this very special day, welled up with all kinds of emotions, keep your distance. Do not hug the bride and groom (yes, talking to you mother-of-the-groom!) Don’t start a food fight with the half-eaten cake on your plate. Don’t close talk even if you can’t hear the person you speaking with. Don’t start a conga line.

Keep you hands and bodily fluids to yourself until after the event paaaalease!

9. Put Health and Safety First

If you have been invited and you are unsure about attending, be honest (politely!).

Being at an event like a wedding during a pandemic may give you anxiety. You may have your own health complications which puts you more at risk. Or you might be feeling a tickle in your throat and an uncomfortable drip of snot from your nose.

The couple invited you because they care about you. Your health and well-being is important as is the health and well-being of all of their guests.

Don’t make the couple choose whether you come or not. “Hey, my throat is killing me and I have had a headache for days. Do you think I’m alright to come to your wedding?” – that’s not the kind of text to send.

Be clear in your communication that you won’t be attending the wedding. You don’t even necessarily have to go into the complexity behind why. But make sure you shift the focus back to it being their day and your excitement towards celebrating them as a married couple when all is well.

10. Still Get A Gift

Some people aren’t going to like this one, I’m OK with that. But when it comes to if you get them a gift now or later, I say now. While they may have every intention of throwing a bigger party down the track, sometimes life has other plans – a baby might be due, a new house may be bought, you just never know! Mark the occasion like you normally would with a suitable gift.

If you’re not sure, maybe you can make a small donation (or collective with friends) to a charity or cause you know they support.

For your friends who are planning their wedding during the COVID-19 crisis, they’re experiencing wedding stress x1000. Unless you have a vaccine or crystal ball, you can’t solve their woes but hopefully this guide gives you some ideas as to how you can be a good wedding guest and friend even from afar.

Regardless of circumstances, it’s still their day. Help make it incredible in ways they never imagined.

Good luck to everyone out there who is due to get married in 2020 or 2021. I hope to see dance floors circled with people doing Zorba’s dance sooner rather than later.

x Prue

Written by

Prudence Takle

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