To say that COVID-19 has thwarted many a plan would be a gross understatement. Major festivals have been cancelled, concert venues closed, and it's suggested that flying should only take place if absolutely essential — which means summer presents a very different landscape this year. And that can be especially devastating for anyone who was planning on tying the knot this season. Of course postponing your "I Do" date may be the safest option, but for those who don't want to wait — but still want to stay safe — there are a few options, which include destination wedding ideas straight from event planners who've had to creatively pivot with clients.
One such planner is Sabrina Zeile, founder Weddings By Sabrina. Zeile says that among some of the biggest current trends in weddings — due to the restrictions of Coronavirus specifically — is finding a more remote locale for ceremonies and receptions (along with, of course, scaling way back on the guest list). This may be beneficial to those who live in more congested areas, where social distancing is not logistically possible.
And besides the safety factor, getting away (even if it's just the two of you) means a built-in vacation — if only a quick drive from home. "Even if honeymoon plans were cancelled, couples can still have a romantic escape with a destination [wedding]," Zeile explains. "An adventurous getaway in nature looks incredible in photos, while being a great option for practicing safe social distancing."
Already taken care of your dress and rings but not sure of your options for actually having the main event? If a scaled down, destination wedding is something you're considering, read ahead for a few of Zeile's suggestions that will make your affair as safe as it is stunning.
Destination Wedding Idea: Do Your Research
This may sound obvious, but if you're considering heading outside your town, it's imperative to know the most up-to-date information regarding legislation and guidelines due to COVID, such as whether or not masks are enforced. Additionally, if you will be renting a private space (such as an Airbnb), don't be afraid to ask questions about the cleaning practices and maintenance.
Destination Wedding Idea: Keep It Small
To properly socially distance, your guest list should be extremely limited. "There might be 10 guests instead of 200, a two-hour party instead of a six-hour party at a venue that allows for social distancing," says Zeile. Since scaling back means that some friends or extended family members will inevitably be left out, the event planner notes that some couples have been live streaming their ceremonies, so everyone can feel a part of the festivities. And there's always the option of having a small ceremony, and then postponing the reception only, so you can have the blowout you've been hoping for when it's safer to do so.
Destination Wedding Idea: Stay Within Driving Distance
The term "destination" isn't going to include some of the same places it would have a year ago, in terms of wedding planning. Simply put: You might not want to consider any place that's not easily accessible — both for you and your guests — by car. "It's important to consider the distance from your home and logistics of travel," says Zeile. "I would suggest a drivable destination in nature, which allows for feeling relaxed while safely social distancing. Select a natural environment that resonates with you as the backdrop for your ceremony." Consider what's within a few hours of your home. For example, Joshua Tree or Palm Springs would be ideal for those who live in Los Angeles. Besides the desert, consider nearby beaches, mountains, or wooded areas that are close by — once again, doing your research to stay on top of what's open or closed.
Destination Wedding Idea: Stick To The Outdoors
Even if you're keeping the event small, it's safest to have it completely outdoors when possible. There is not yet enough information to prove that COVID isn't airborne, so staying outside is your best bet — plus it allows you spread out and be more distant. This could even mean using a backyard as a destination. "Backyard wedding ceremonies can be such a beautiful intimate experience while providing a safe environment for family members," says Zeile.
And if you don't have a nearby friend or family member whose yard you can use, you may be able to consider some rented options. "Some Airbnbs allow weddings but not all — so it's important to communicate your plans in advance," says the Joshua Tree-based wedding pro, who's currently offering an all-inclusive package at a local Airbnb. You can look for similar deals in your area.
Destination Wedding Idea: Consider Available Activities
In addition to a scenic outdoor backdrop, you can choose your destination based on the availability of what there is do there, and some venues will already have built-in options to offer. For example, Zeile mentions that Tumbleweed Sanctuary in Joshua Tree offers a whole wedding experience with a roster of activities including music, yoga, a sound bath, grazing boards, games, and stargazing — all of which can be customized.
Destination Wedding Idea: Safety, But Make It Cute
You don't have to look at safety precautions like face masks and hand sanitizer as getting in the way of your good time: Turn them into cute gifts! "Personalized hand sanitizer is a cute and practical welcome gift for guests," Zeile offers. "Elegant, hand-dyed face masks can be a beautiful gift incorporated into your tablescape design."
Destination Wedding Idea: Skip Shared Food & Drinks
As for serving food safely, Zeile recommends avoiding traditional family style or buffets where guests serve themselves, as that can encourage cross-contamination. Instead, have pre-plated food catered, or, if you must serve buffet style, have someone on hand (masked and gloved, of course) to dish out portions.