How To Manage Your Covid Wedding Guest List By Chris Jensen Studios

As a Winnipeg Wedding Photographer who has pretty much seen it all, 2020 was an eye opener for all of us. The beginning of the year started great, things were promising, the year was booked solid and I just came back from shooting another wedding in Calgary and the Calgary Zoo (which was amazing by the way). Then someone said something about some virus or flu coming out of China and the sh*t hit the wall and everything shut down.

If you’re dealing with wedding drama as a result of COVID-19, you’re far from alone in your struggle to create (or recreate) your special day. Couples getting married in 2021 are faced with a wide array of guidelines and regulations that soon-to-be spouses before they never had to deal with. 

COVID-related restrictions placed on the wedding industry include the requirement to wear masks and have temperatures being taken in order to enter certain venues, vendors submitting negative test results within a certain time frame of the wedding, quarantines for guests traveling from high-risk areas, and social distancing of table.

As a result of all of these rules, regulations, and guidelines, couples are opting to downsize their wedding guest list. While it might seem less than ideal to have to cut down on the friends and family members you have at your wedding, downsizing does come with its share of upsides. For starters, you save money.

Some couples spend the extra money upgrading their decor, hiring a planner, upgrading a wedding album or a having a special more expensive bottle behind the bar.

Things can add up on a big elaborate wedding, but when the guest list is paired down to 20-50 people, giving everyone an upgraded experience can be much more tolerable. Besides, you can always throw a much bigger and more relaxed party later without all the formalities that comes with a traditional wedding.

I had the pleasure of photographing weddings in 2020 during the middle of the pandemic when guest lists were 5-50 people and I found that my couples could focus their time and attention on all of their wedding guests giving them a much nicer experience on your wedding day, rather than the running around to each person and only spending a few short minutes with them.

These smaller weddings makes your guests much more comfortable and honoured to be there given the state of affairs we find ourselves in these days.

Here are a few tips to help manage your covid wedding guest list. If you have any questions, contact me anytime.

Speak With Your Vendors First

This is the first step you need to do before you start changing any dates and informing friends and family members. As my couples wedding photographer, I can help them with any and all of these issues by helping contact the vendors on their behalf and giving our couple the dates that each one is free for according to their requests. Your Wedding Planner can also do this.

I work a lot with one of the very best Wedding Planners in our city, Tricia Bachewich of Tricia Bachewich Events and I can tell you personally that having a very experienced Wedding Planner like Tricia working with you will relieve most if not all of the your stress from re-planning your wedding. She will look after everything for you so wedding day is perfect.

Determine Your VIP List

These are the people you absolutely need to be there, no matter what. I would contact them as soon as possible to make sure they are available and will be able to attend your wedding. Let your invited guests know exactly what is happening and why you may have to cut the guest list down due to the pandemic. Letting them know ahead of time will go along way for you just letting them know and that you are considering everyone’s safety on your wedding day.

You also have to take into account that some of them may or may not be able to travel to your location due to travel restrictions or mandatory isolation rules upon arrival. Some guests may not even feel comfortable to attend due to the pandemic.

Start Early

By letting your vendors and guests know you are considering moving your wedding date, they can make and change plans and your vendors will be better able to possibly accommodate the new date. The good ones book very fast, so the sooner they know the better.

I would suggest giving them your top 3 dates you are considering in order of preference. From there, they would be able to let you know what days they are free and what days would work better for them.

Don’t change your date and leave your vendors that you truly want there, out of the conversation and just expect them to be free. The good ones may not be and you will be left with a lot of disappointment.

Cut Out Anyone You Don’t Speak To Regularly

This one may not be as easy as it sounds. However it is one of the most cut and dry tactics for limiting your guests list. I would only invite the ones you have had more recent and more often conversations with. Leave out the long lost cousins you never see or hear from, the next door neighbour who babysat you once when you were 3, but your parents were invited to her cousins, next door neighbour’s cat’s 1st birthday does not need to make the list either.

College or university buddies you have not hear from in ages need not make the list either. In the age and time we are living in, most or all will completely understand. If they were in the same situation as you are in, you wouldn’t make the list either and some will be happy not have made the list at this current point in time.

Eliminate The Plus Ones

In order to keep your guest list to a minimum and have only those who mean the most to you, you will need to eliminate most plus ones. Most of your guests will completely understand. If they don’t well then you have made room for someone who truly deserves to be there.

Ask Your Guests To Attend Virtually

There are many ways you can incorporate your wedding virtually for everyone to watch and take part in. Your wedding planner can totally help with that. Make sure your guests know how to make a toast when speeches are being made and how to request a certain song by the DJ. These little details can go along way to create amazing and unforgettable moments on your wedding day.

Zoom, Google Hangout and Skype are always popular options for virtually attending a covid wedding.

A fun idea for the true virtual experience for guests who cannot be there, is to create a Signature Drink for your wedding and toasts, send the cocktail kits to those who cannot attend with the recipe on how to make the drink and celebrate and toast virtually.

In fact another great idea for your cake cutting would be to have your cake decorator create mini cakes for your guests to enjoy at their home while sharing the virtual experience with you. How cool and memorable would this be? You could even hire your wedding decorator to create individual place settings delivered to your guests door for an ultimate wedding experience while they enjoy their special signature cocktail and mini cake.

We have an amazing team of vendors that have worked together for years and are easily some of the very best in our city of Winnipeg, Manitoba Canada.

We put together the best of the best vendors this year and our Wedding Cake Decorator, Chocolate Zen Bakery could easily do this for our couples. We are very lucky to have two of the best Wedding Decor companies on our team creating a one of a kind experience for our couples. Simply Perfect Decor & Luxe Linens

Think Of How You Share Photos

By now, most couples have grappled with the heartbreak of postponing their weddings, and your loved ones likely know and share in your disappointment. If you’ve had to trim your guest list due to COVID-19, there are considerations to bear in mind, including social media posts.

Since it’s a special day for you, the couple, your original guest list will want to celebrate regardless. A thoughtful way to approach this step is by sharing images from your wedding day first with all your guests before distributing them further across social media accounts. That way, even though you’ve had to scale back on your guest list, those chosen recipients will still feel as if they were part of your day. 

On social media, consider the types of imagery you’re sharing to avoid further emotional bruising. There is no quicker way to create fear of missing out than to post photos of your most special day for the world (and all your guests that couldn’t attend) to see. Of course, celebrate your love and your partner, but limit the number… especially those photos including guests in attendance.

For my couples, I have created one of a kind slideshows to be played for all the guests, virtual and the ones there for them to see and enjoy. It is always a huge hit and really brings everyone together.

Plan a Big Celebration At A Later Date

For some couples, the idea of not having certain friends and family at their wedding is devastating. If you’re still looking to tie the knot now but you do so in an elopement or a micro wedding, consider hosting a wedding reception party in the future. We love the option of celebrating your first wedding anniversary with a giant party surrounded with your loved ones.

Benefits Of Trimming Your Wedding Guest List

Trimming your guest list is less than ideal. We get it. While you may be mourning what your wedding was once supposed to be, going smaller does have its upsides.

Micro weddings–while small–can still be extravagant. Use the money you save on guests to upgrade an area of your wedding experience. Whether you’ve been eyeing a photographer out of your budget or can’t get enough of the luxury glassware.

You can choose to put the money you’re saving back into your micro wedding. With a smaller guest list, you are also given more quality time to b present  with each guest.

While there’s nothing wrong with a wedding of over 100, it can be hard to take the time to talk to each guest or get photos with them. Plus, it will have everyone else feeling safer and more relaxed so that they can spend the day celebrating rather than worrying about getting sick. 

From the smaller weddings I was fortunate enough to shoot last year, I found them to be so incredibly special, relaxed, and focused on what truly matters: you and your marriage. 

I’ve found that couples have been able to relax and enjoy more time with the people that are there. The whole vibe has just been so much more chilled out, and they’ve been able to savor every moment.

There are also some budget benefits–although you can go as big or small with a micro wedding as you want. There’s no reason you can’t have all the amazing details like stunning flowers and pay more for your photography because you’re saving money on the food bill, etc.

A few of my couples told me that they couldn’t believe how much money they saved. The said they could actually afford to buy a house, and 4 of them did, and one couple is in the middle of building their dream house because of the money they saved.

While turning folks away from your wedding day will never be fun, it may be necessary in these trying times. I hope these tips gave you the confidence to make those tough decisions a little easier.

Leave a Reply