It was almost easier to plan a wedding in the pre-vaccine days of COVID, when there were specific restrictions. The CDC is not mandating quotas on guests or activities now, but advising hosts to follow safety guidelines. That makes planning a wedding today a guessing game: Will my guests be comfortable indoors? How many should I invite? Should we encourage dancing?
Although COVID variants are dashing our “vanquish the virus” dreams, the vaccine has allowed some return to normal life. But even vaccinated individuals need to be careful—breakthrough cases of COVID following weddings are being reported in our area. Here are some safety reminders for hosts and guests from the New Jersey COVID-19 Information Hub.
Outdoor venues are still encouraged. The virus is less likely to spread in an outdoor setting. If you do plan an indoor simcha, keep windows open to increase ventilation or place central air conditioning or heating on continuous circulation. Keep the numbers of guests down; smaller gatherings are less likely to be a catalyst for virus spread. Now you have a good excuse not to invite every third cousin once removed.
New Jersey guidelines recommend that people wear masks when not eating and drinking. This has been difficult since masks were first recommended, but try modeling proper mask wearing technique. Show your guests that masks are not chin guards. Here’s another smart but difficult recommendation: Ask guests to limit contact with people outside their households for 14 days in advance of your simcha. But don’t expect your non-remote employed guests to ask for a two-week leave of absence. And keep a list of all guests who attend in case one later tests positive and you are called by a contact tracer.
New Jersey guidelines state that you should avoid direct contact with anyone outside your household. No hugs. Practice your socially distanced air kisses. This is especially hard when there is dancing at a wedding. Ladies, keep the circle going without holding hands. An added benefit is an easier route around photographers on ladders. Men, you really can follow without hands on shoulders. And wash your hands frequently, especially before eating.
We’ve come a long way since weddings had a maximum of 10 people total, but COVID still poses a challenge to hosts and guests. Use common sense and enjoy the simcha safely.
By Bracha Schwartz