How to Host a Socially Distant Wedding

Wedding season may have been postponed for many this year, but it certainly wasn’t canceled. As couples begin to move forward with their wedding plans, here are some tips for hosting a safe and fun celebration.

covid 19 wedding social distancing
Photo: Jess Sinatra Photography

Streamline Your Guest List

Narrowing down your wedding guest list is one of the biggest challenges you'll face in the early phases of planning your wedding, and all too often, it can spiral out of control. But thanks to COVID-19, some states have a limit on how many people can gather, which can make it easier to make those hard decisions (and stick to them!) about who gets an invite. Even if your state doesn't have an official limit, it's a good idea to trim your guest list to include just your nearest and dearest. 

Embrace Technology

If your inner circle is larger than you can possibly include in person right now, add a Zoom option so that your additional loved ones can celebrate with you from afar. This is also a great option for those who don't feel comfortable traveling or gathering right now so that they can still be a part of your big day.

Zoom wedding
Photo: Heidi Roland Photography

Mask Up

When you first envisioned your wedding day, we're sure face masks were not a part of that picture... but now is the time to embrace it! Masks have come a long way from the surgical disposables. With so many pretty options out there, it's become yet another fun accessory you get to shop for. You can also order custom-printed disposables for your guests. 

face mask for wedding
Mask by ForYourParty via Etsy 

Sanitizing Stations

Keep clean in style by creating cute sanitizing stations throughout your wedding! Making it a part of your décor helps it feel like a natural part of your wedding while attracting your guests' attention.

wedding sanitizing station
Photo: Mulberry Market Design


You can also grab a mini bottle for each guest that doubles as a super-useful favor.

olika hand sanitizer
Hand sanitizer spray by Olika

Shorten the Day

The risk of exposure only grows the longer you spend together, so consider a condensed wedding-day timeline that will help you fit in a full celebration in less time. Personalize your wedding ceremony so that every word is meaningful to you. Skip the cocktail hour, which encourages guests to mix and mingle while eating and drinking (and therefore removing their masks). Instead, head straight to the reception for dinner and dancing.

Seating Plan

For your ceremony, add some signage or space out the seats for appropriate distancing. For your reception, your seating plan actually just got a lot easier. Instead of trying to fit all of your various groups into set tables of 10, you can now mix and match table sizes and seat guests only with members from their own households. If you have single guests coming, ask them who they’d feel most comfortable sitting with. If you need to seat guests of mixed households together, consider skipping seats between guests and not seating guests directly across from one another.

outdoor wedding
Photo: Vanessa Tivadar Photography

Healthy Dining

Skip the buffet or family-style meals; safe eating is about reducing shared touch points. A plated meal from the kitchen is your best option.


Can't imaging your wedding without dancing? You don't have to — you'll just need to get a little creative. Choose a venue that has a supersized dance floor so that there's plenty of space for social distancing. Or if your venue has flexibility, you can set up some satellite dance floors, which gives guests separate zones for safe dancing. If everyone is coupled up, play more slow songs over fast party tunes. Of course, there's no need to skip your first dance — and if your parents are in your bubble, there’s also no need to skip the father/daughter or mother/son dances. Also, consider embracing less traditional wedding entertainment ideas, like party games.

Fake the Cake

Keeping your cake on display all night long as everyone takes a peek doesn’t sound quite so appetizing these days. Instead, consider a fake-out cake (decorated foam tiers that resemble a cake), or simply bring out a mini cake for your cake-cutting. Then, serve your guests sheet cake from the kitchen. 

mini wedding cake
Photo: Heidi Roland Photography

Modify the Traditions

Not a fan of "old-fashioned" traditions, like the bouquet toss or garter toss? COVID-19 is a good excuse to skip them; they encourage too many guests to congregate together. Instead, give your bouquet to the longest-married couple, to your parents, or to anyone else you choose. Another tradition that's fallen out of fashion in recent years is the receiving line, and 2020 is no time to bring it back. Instead, give a speech at your reception to thank and welcome your guests, and visit each table throughout the night to greet your guests (air hugs!) while maintaining social distance.

Air hugs at wedding
Photo: Jess Sinatra Photography

Go Outside

With the weather getting colder, it’s harder — but not impossible — to take parts of your big day outdoors. It’s just going to require some heat! Rent patio heaters or set up some fire pits on your reception venue's patio. You can also rent clear igloos, which give space for small groups to gather while protected from the elements. After all, what could be better than ending your night under the stars surrounded by your loved ones?