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Navigating the Current NYS COVID-19 Wedding Guidelines

Apr 13, 2021

If you’re planning to host your wedding in New York State in 2021, you may be incredibly confused and anxious over how you should be incorporating the current wedding guidelines into your planning process. What exactly are they? Will they still be in effect by the time my big day rolls around? What is my responsibility and what are my vendor’s responsibilities?

Truth be told, we don’t have a crystal ball and while we hold all the hope that as we get closer to summer, these mandates will begin to lessen, The Union Studio has put together the following tips and suggestions for our 2021 clients as they begin to make the final arrangements for their event. We truly hope this is helpful and we will continue to update this page as the mandates change.

The Simple List

Below are the main bullet point considerations that will affect someone who is planning to host a wedding in 2021. We are giving you the “cliff notes” here and We strongly recommend that you also review the original NYS issued document in addition to reviewing the below for a more detailed breakdown:

  • Guest count is limited 75% of the venue’s capacity with no more than 150 guests total indoors and 200 people outdoors. This does not include your vendors, employees, and event staff.
  • The local health department must be notified of the event details at least 5 days prior to the event.
  • All attendee’s contact information must be kept on file and confirmed at the door. This includes full names, birth dates, address, email, and phone number.
  • In order to attend, all attendees and event staff must either provide proof of a negative PCR test collected within 72 hours of the event date or a negative FDA-approved antigen test that was performed 6 hours or less before the event. The venue may allow Covid vaccinations cards that are older than 14 days as a substitute for a negative test, however, this is the venue’s choice.
  • Detailed health screening will take place at the door before entrance is allowed.
  • All attendees and staff must be masked at all times unless eating, drinking, or while giving a speech or a toast at a 12-foot distance from others.
  • All attendees must be seated while drinking or eating – including at the cocktail hour, where socially distanced standing is permitted when not consuming beverage or food.
  • 6-foot social distance should be observed except if members of the same household or party.
  • No more than 10 people can be sat at a table and it strongly suggested that they be of the same household, family or party. Each table will need its own dance “pod” that is 6 feet away from other dance “pods”. Ceremonial dances such as the First dance, Father-daughter, etc are allowed as long the dance is 6 feet away from other attendees.

So what does this mean for my wedding?

Ultimately, the realities of your event will be dictated by your particular venue and catering team’s sensitivities, as well as the current mandates at the time of your event. Since we admittedly cannot tell the future, we recommend that you make your plans based on both a detailed conversation with your venue and caterer along with the most current mandates that we know and as you get closer and (fingers crossed) as the mandates get lighter and begin to lift, you can simply peel away the plans that no longer apply. ALL of our fingers are crossed that these plans will not need to be used, but better to be prepared than panicking!

Communicate with your catering team and venue

The Union Studio has Clients who are hosting in ballrooms, private estates, barns, warehouses and lofts to name a few! The best thing to do is immediately reach out to the people who are providing your beverage, food, and/or the roof over your head. This will help to determine what responsibilities they are handling and what falls on you (us if you are a Client of The Union Studio). From there, you’ll be able to make a game plan on how to accomplish what is required of you. For example, gathering your guests information for contact tracing ahead of time, sketching out a socially distant floor plan or alerting the health department of the plans.

Set up a COVID Specific communication page on your website or send an email update.

The most important thing is to communicate to your guests about what to expect when attending your wedding. This is to make sure that all your bases are covered once they are on premise, but also to ensure that THEY feel comfortable attending. Here is some suggested language – please feel free to make it your own, add your own humor, love and personalize it to your event!

  • Greeting: We are so looking forward to celebrating our wedding with you! During this uncertain time, we want to be sure that you know that we are doing everything we can to celebrate safely and to follow current NYS guidelines. We’ve put together this page for you to go over what to expect when you attend our wedding and few things that we will need from you when you do! We will continue to update this page as mandates change so please feel free to visit it often!
  • Guest List: We are moving forward with the utmost faith that we will be able to have our intended guest count in attendance – however, should things change, we will be in touch with you as soon as we know something might shift in how many people we are allowed to host. Please be sure that any travel arrangements you make have a lenient cancellation policy.
  • Contact Tracing: We will be required to collect the full names, addresses, phone numbers, and email addresses of all that will be in attendance. Keep monitoring your emails for the confirmation of this information from us!
  • Proof of Negative test OR a vaccination: This is required by state mandate. All guests and staff must provide a negative PCR test collected within 72 hours of the event, a negative FDA-approved antigen test that was performed 6 hours or less before the event, or a vaccination card that is older than 14 days. We will also be in touch with how we will be collecting this information! Unfortunately, those who cannot provide 1 of the 3 options will not be allowed entry to the event.
  • Onsite safety protocol: A thorough health screening will take place at the door and all guests and staff musts be masked at all times unless eating, drinking or giving a speech 12 feet away from other guests. Sanitizing stations will be available through out the event.
  • Eating and drinking: The current mandates require all guests to be sat while consuming food and beverage.
  • Social distance: All tables will be 6 feet apart and you will have your own designated dancing area with the rest of the guests at your table.
  • Sign off: Again, we hope these measures will be much lighter once our wedding day comes along but we always want to be prepared! If you have any questions or concerns, please don’t hesitate to reach out. We cannot wait to celebrate with you!

Stay up to date

The Union Studio will do everything we can to keep you aware of changing mandates and how they might affect you. As they change, update communication can be issued to your guests via email and the website.

Make Plans

We want you to be as prepared as possible and not put off the preparations that might be necessary. As a final reminder here are the big-ticket items to be sure are covered.

  • Understand the amount of people you are able to host at your venue. Adjust your guest list accordingly.
  • Work with your vendors to alert the health department appropriately. Every county is different.
  • Develop a plan on how to collect contract tracing information: Does your venue use an app? Can you do it through your RSVP system? Google Form?
  • Consider if you will be assisting your guests in getting a rapid test. There are company’s who will provide this service – the average cost is $180 per person. Otherwise, a local test provider should be located and appointments made. The easiest option is to leave it up to the guests to decide how to do this.
  • Be sure there is a designated team at the door for safety check-ins and a plan in place.
  • Consider on-site signage that might be helpful reminders to guests, especially those who’ve had a few cocktails, about the protocol of eating and dancing
  • Purchase personalized PPE – get cute with it!

What’s important

At the end of the day, after all these plans are made, still the most important thing remains: This day is a celebration of your marriage. No one can mandate that away from you and though this celebration may not have the same format that was once dreamed, it will still be the best day of your life and The Union Studio is here to help you – however we can.

Wish you an amazing wedding day,

XX Amanda and The Union Studio Team

DISCLAIMER: This is an opinion piece. The Union Studio will not be held responsible for any damages resulting from actions taken based on these opinions. Readers are urged to consult their State and County’s specific guidelines and make their own educated decisions accordingly.



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