Weddings are finally starting back up after nearly a year and a half. Unfortunately, so is the second wave of COVID-19. At this point, most of us likely have a small collection of masks. However, we’re pretty tired of wearing them. Regardless, once the party starts and the alcohol starts flowing, masks are coming off anyway. Remember, some friends and family may be unable to receive the vaccine due to underlying health risks. That shouldn’t preclude them from celebrating with you. So, can something as simple as a mask keep your family and friends safe at your wedding? It might, and we have some other ideas, too!

Require Proof of Vaccine Status

Plenty of people have declared it’s against HIPAA to disclose your vaccine status. And, that’s true- it is. For your doctor. HIPAA stands for Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act. It was passed in 1996 to add a layer of privacy protection to how individual medical records are electronically stored and disclosed.

The Privacy Rule, as well as all the Administrative Simplification rules, apply to health plans, health care clearinghouses, and to any health care provider who transmits health information in electronic form in connection with transactions for which the Secretary of HHS has adopted standards under HIPAA (the “covered entities”). For help in determining whether you are covered, use CMS’s decision tool.

From the United States Department of Health and Human Services

So, as you can clearly see, you can require your friends and family to provide proof of their vaccine status. The bottom line- HIPAA applies to health care professionals, not individuals. Your goal is to keep your vulnerable guests safe at your wedding. You need to know.

Require a mask when walking inside the venue

Guests will be eating and drinking at assigned tables. So, it makes sense no one will wear a mask while sitting. This is your opportunity to use your seating chart strategically. Seat vulnerable friends and family far from anyone you think might not be vaccinated. And, make sure your guests know that the venue, like many restaurants, requires a mask to be worn correctly at all times. The only exception is when seated at their assigned table.

As we’ve learned, vaccinated people can still get COVID. The difference is that they’re most likely to be asymptomatic. That means they probably won’t even know they have it. It isn’t fully understood whether the virus can still be transmitted by vaccinated folks. Why take any chances? Requiring masks for everyone indoors is an easy way to reduce the risk.

Have an outdoor wedding

A lot of wedding venues have an outdoor area suitable, or even sought out, for weddings. If you’re averse to asking your friends and family to mask up, an outdoor wedding could be your best option. You can still be strategic with your seating chart. The difference is that there’s far less viral accumulation outside than inside. You might need to rent misters and fans to help combat the Texas Hill Country heat.. And, bonus- your friends and family may get a glimpse of some genuine Texas wildlife!

Seat fewer people per table

Pre-pandemic it was normal to seat 10 people at each table. In 2020 at the height of the pandemic, we saw as few as 4 people per table. As I’m writing today, the seating charts I’ve seen have 8 people per table. Obviously, members of the same family can sit together, especially if they all live in the same home. For this reason, your wedding seating chart may not have equally balanced tables. And that’s okay. Strategically placing your vulnerable grandparents with your fiance’s grandparents makes sense. Seating your ‘here to party’ sorority sisters on the opposite side of the room is the smart plan.

We know masks at weddings are a touchy subject. No one dreams of wedding photos with masked attendees. The celebration of your union is by far the most important reason for your wedding. However, keeping your loved ones safe is equally important.

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Wedding dream team and featured image credits

Photographer - Gracie Byrd Jones
Florist - Flor Amor
Venue - Villa Antonia
Catering - Austin Catering
Cake - Michelle's Patisserie
Photo booth - Oh Happy Day Booth
DJ - Super Jay the DJ
Transportation - Nikko's Worldwide
Getaway car - Austin Classic Limo