It goes without saying that your wedding is not likely going to be exactly as you pictured. In fact, it might be nothing like what you pictured.... but that doesn't mean it can't still be a ton of fun, and a memorable experience for your guests. Keep in mind:
(The goal, of course, being that you're MARRYING the love of your life, and starting the next chapter together!!! Which, no matter how you get there, is SO exciting!).
SO.... how do you ensure that your guests still have a great time, even if your plans have changed? Read on, lovely!
At the time of writing, Ontario restrictions allow you to have 100 guests outdoors for a ceremony, or 30% of the venue's capacity (i.e. a church). This may allow you to invite more guests to your ceremony than you can have at your reception, and at least have some facetime with them.
If your ceremony is at a staffed, outdoor venue, all 100 guests can stay for cocktails following the ceremony, allowing you some mingle time. Then, you could take a break for your photos, and (depending on your venue) reconvene with 50 guests indoors for your reception.
If your ceremony is indoors at a staffed venue, it may be a possibility to move up to 50 of your guests to a separate space following the ceremony for a cocktail reception.
Of course, if there's not a way to accommodate all of your guests at your ceremony, you may look into streaming as a possibility. (Check out our helpful video for some guidance on the tech aspects):
Other ways you might consider to make the experience special for your virtual guests include:
- Craft a custom background your guests can download (it could be “welcome to the wedding of”, your wedding colours, even a downloaded picture your ceremony site) to set as their video background to add a level of inclusion.
- Send them the recipe for your signature cocktail that they can enjoy during or after your ceremony.
- Work with a caterer or delivery service to send them a meal, or an individual charcuterie box.
- If you want to get super techy, make breakout rooms for your guests on Google Meet or Zoom (like you would seat them at tables).
- Consider 'reverse streaming': if there are guests who can't physically be at your event, could they be streamed in to give a speech, or a reading at a ceremony?
- Schedule a time in your itinerary where you and your partner can spend time with your online guests and say a few thank you's. Come close to the streaming device so everyone can take their screen shots of you!
It may not be possible to have all of your guests in one place at the same time for your reception. At the time of writing, staffed venues can host up to 50 guests indoors (not to exceed 30% of the capacity of the venue) or 100 outdoors (a tent with two sides completely up constitutes outdoors). Private property weddings are limited to 10 indoors and 25 outdoors. If you're unable to host all guests at once, would it be possible (consult with your vendors/venue/caterers) to essentially split the party in two? As long as the space is vacated and sanitized in between (perhaps while you do formal photos), you could conceivably host a cocktail reception or lunch for one group, then bring in a second group for dinner and speeches. Or what about an evening reception one day, and a morning brunch the next?
Regardless of the schedule you choose, be mindful of the fact that dancing is not likely permissible or safe. Though you may have always dreamed of a rockin' dancefloor, there are lots of ways to create a memorable experience for your guests, without dancing (just make sure you think about your guests' likes and dislikes, and 'play to the crowd', as it were). Consider:
- hiring a live band (singers and wind musicians must be separated by a partition) and having them put on a concert
- creating a European restaurant vibe with a 'strolling' musician going table to table
- having your DJ lead a trivia contest, bingo game, or other interactive competition
- chair dancing!
- bringing in a caricature artist, magician, slam poetry performer or comedian
- table games (card games, board games)
- asking your caterer to do table-side prep, or hiring a flair bartender
No matter what you choose, know that your guests will be understanding. Nobody lives under a rock; they know this is not the way you'd choose to do things, but you're making the best of the situation and giving everyone something positive to celebrate!
Of course, at the forefront of our minds, at all times, is the need to keep everyone safe. Please do not interpret any of the above suggestions as an invitation to break the rules, or find the loophole. Regardless of the decisions you make, please be mindful of masking and physical distancing requirements, and be respectful of the health and safety of your guests, your vendors, and yourselves! You want to remember your wedding day as the best day of your lives, NOT the day that got everyone sick!
It's tough right now, lovely. Hang in there, and contact us if we can help!