Planning a wedding has never been an easy feat, but the experience post-lockdown is arguably harder than ever.
From deciding who to uninvite due to coronavirus-related restrictions on numbers to knowing which hygiene products you have to supply, couples tying the knot have a whole new etiquette guide to follow.
And while there will never be one blueprint that works for everyone, these British wedding experts believe brides and grooms should now follow certain rules if they want their big day to run smoothly.
It includes sending wedding favours in the post to guests you can no longer host, providing personalised face masks and even matching the hand sanitiser to your decor.
Tatler Weddings Editor Astrid Joss – who is running Tatler Talks: Weddings, a bespoke one-to-one consultation service – suggested the key to cutting numbers without any hurt feelings is to avoid making it personal.
Here, FEMAIL reveals the wedding etiquette almost-married couples should be following post-lockdown…
Planning a wedding has never been an easy feat, but the experience post-lockdown is now harder than ever (stock photo of a couple on their special day)
HAVE TO CUT DOWN ON NUMBERS? DON’T MAKE IT PERSONAL
With no more than 30 people currently able to attend an English wedding, which includes the couple and staff at the venue, many couples will be struggling with the prospect of having to uninvite loved ones.
Weddings Editor Astrid says you should stick to Boris’ official line on the pandemic to make uninvited guests feel more comfortable.
She told FEMAIL: ‘There isn’t a right or wrong answer to this but the key is most definitely to avoid making it personal and keep the narrative entirely about COVID-19 and the existing government guidelines which has forced each and every couple getting married in the near future to cut their guest list.
Wedding etiquette YOU should follow post-lockdown
Call uninvited guests personally to tell them
Send wedding favours to guests who are no longer invited in the post
Provide personalised face masks
Encourage guests not to bring a gift on the day
Match the hand sanitiser stations to your theme
Send a note with your wedding invitations explaining the expected social distancing rules
‘Nobody is exempt from this, not even Princess Beatrice who just got married with a minimal guest list – a far cry from her original plans.
‘It’s also worth highlighting that in turn, these guidelines have forced couples to focus less on the wedding party and the guest list that goes with it and more on the ceremony.
‘Any couple now getting married under such restrictions are doing so as they simply want to be officially married. Guests should respect couples prioritising this. Soften the blow with the promise of a future party when lockdown is lifted.’
The Tatler Talks: Weddings service (www.tatler.com/article/tatler-talks-weddings) starts with a short written Q&A followed by a 45-minute individual Zoom session with Astrid and a follow-up featuring three key takeaways from your discussion.
CALL UNINVITED GUESTS PERSONALLY
Wedding planner Charlotte Ricard-Quesada, Founder of La Fête, suggested that loved ones wouldn’t be offended if they are informed personally about the decision to drop them from the guest list.
She insisted: ‘Once you know that someone on your guest list has to be given the chop, make sure to call them personally, one by one, and take the time to explain this to them.
‘Do not do a group email. After all, you care enough about these guests to have wanted them there in the first place.
‘A nice touch to soften the blow would be to create a virtual login for people to still witness the ceremony if they want.’
SEND WEDDING FAVOURS TO LOVED ONES NO LONGER INVITED
Lavinia Stewart-Brown, founder of Stewart-Brown-Events, a boutique wedding and events consultancy based in London, thinks couples should send a wedding favour (a small gift) to guests no longer invited, with the intention of asking them to a celebration at a later date.
‘If you have already had your wedding favours made, you could include this with a card explaining they have been uninvited due to circumstances but wanted them to have a little something that they would have received on the day,’ she said.
‘This will increase postage costs but is a lovely gesture to send to the people that mean something to you.
‘Also put a positive spin on it, such as mentioning a date next year where you will be having a big celebration to make up for the much smaller wedding.’
PROVIDE PERSONALISED FACE MASKS
If bride and grooms wish guests to wear face masks to their special day, this needs to be made clear prior to the ceremony – or they need to provide the items, said Tatler Weddings Editor Astrid Joss.
‘I think it would be a thoughtful touch to [provide them] as it shows an awareness of guests health and safety,’ she said. ‘This then allows guests to make their own choices leaving no room for criticism on the part of the bride and groom.
‘If the bride and groom wish guests to wear the masks they need to make this clear prior to the wedding as well as on the day. Otherwise the onus is on the guests to wear them.’
Wedding planner Lavinia,suggested couples buy personalised face masks, with either their wedding logo or initials on them.
If bride and grooms wish guests to wear face masks (pictured) to their special day, this needs to be made clear prior to the ceremony – or they need to provide the items, said Tatler Weddings Editor Astrid Joss
And even white face masks are allowed, with Astrid suggesting it is better to wear a simple protective mask rather than an intricate one.
‘Wearing a white face mask is not the same as wearing a white dress as a guest. Full stop,’ she said. ‘In fact wearing a detailed one will attract more attention to a guest’s outfit so I think it is more sensitive to wear the generic white or even plain black ones.
‘If the bride and groom feel strongly enough about the style of masks worn then it’s up to them to provide specific ones. I wouldn’t be surprised if monogrammed masks become the new thing!’
ENCOURAGE GUESTS NOT TO BRING A GIFT ON THE DAY
‘I would recommend urging your guests to purchase online gifts as opposed to bringing a gift the day of,’ wedding planner Charlotte insisted.
‘Online gift lists will reduce the need to sanitise the gifts you’re receiving. And if you’re not much into presents anyway, try exploring the idea of swapping the gift list for a honeymoon fund post-COVID.
‘In the past and still today, buying a gift for the bride and groom has never been obligatory, although heavily recommended.
‘However given today’s situation, I would say that guests who are attending should buy a gift and guests who are no longer invited can make their own decision whether to buy a gift or not.’
MATCH THE HAND SANITISER STATIONS TO YOUR THEME
While weddings now should ensure good hygiene and safety, there’s no need for it not to be done in a fashionable way, according to Lavinia of Stewart-Brown-Events.
The wedding organiser suggested that even the hand sanitiser stations used during the special day should match with your theme.
‘In the bathrooms and subtly positioned around the marquee/venue include hand sanitizer on poseur tables,’ she explained. ‘These areas should be made to look nice and stylish so they add to your wedding decor and don’t work against it.
‘They need to be obvious but not stand out like a sore thumb and this can be achieved by using beautiful florals in the public areas and in the bathrooms by using pots of sweets and mints encouraging people to see them.’
SEND A NOTE WITH YOUR WEDDING INVITATIONS EXPLAINING THE EXPECTED SOCIAL DISTANCING RULES
Tatler Weddings Editor Joss added that a great way to encourage guests to follow social distancing rules is to put a note in the details that usually accompany wedding invitations.
‘Along with the formal invitation most couples add a separate sheet referred to as “Useful Information” or “Wedding Notes”,’ she explained.
‘Within this couples can refer to the expected social distancing rules we are all subjected to whilst also informing them that hand sanitisers and face masks will be included.
‘The atmosphere of any celebration is dictated by the host so if the couples are sensitive and considerate from the outset people will feel welcomed and behave accordingly.
‘There is no need to be concerned this may offend people. It is what it is and everyone will be more than aware of current rules and expectations.
‘On the whole guests enjoy a level of direction and clarity especially as this will be almost everyone’s first experience of a COVID-19 wedding.’
Currently, coronavirus-related restrictions say ceremonies must be in a ‘COVID-secure environment’ with guests following the two-metre or ‘one metre plus’ rule.