COVID Vaccine Wedding Etiquette

COVID bride

On August 16, 2021, The City of New Orleans announced new COVID restrictions at all indoor venues must now require proof of vaccine or a negative PCR test before they can enter. Proof of vaccination can be the original or digital photo of the CDC Vaccination card or physical or electronic test results from a PCR COVID-19 test indicating negative results within the past 72 hours.  While this has obvious implications for those planning a wedding soon in the Crescent City, it doesn’t have to be a reason to postpone.  There are ways to keep your guests and your service staff safe while you pull off an unforgettable affair.

New Orleans caterer Messina’s Catering & Events has implemented new protocols into their event planning in order to comply with the City of New Orleans rules as well as to keep their staff and guests safe.  For instance, everyone — regardless of vaccination status — must wear a mask indoors.  Plus, catering menus are increasingly shifting from sit-down affairs and buffets to individual-service portioning and miniature takes on culinary favorites to minimize the amount of handling menu items require when making their way from the chef’s hand to the guest’s plate.  These new trends don’t dampen an event, if anything they create additional flair!

What is vaccine etiquette?

With this pandemic comes a whole new set of experiences and dilemmas.  This gives rise to some tricky etiquette questions surrounding how to and whether to require proof of vaccine before attending a group event.  They key to addressing this sensitive subject for your event is to establish expectations for guests in advance in the most respectful and appropriate way possible.  Much of the way in which your request will be received comes in the way it’s worded.  Consider using language such as “We are taking these safety measures to be mindful of our guests’ health, safety, and comfort levels, especially elderly family members and children in attendance who do not yet qualify for vaccination.”  And if desired, attest that you are merely following the City of New Orleans’ requirements.

Unfortunately, the new Delta variant of COVID-19 is much more transmissible and deadlier, so vaccination etiquette most likely won’t be going away anytime soon, and will continue to be an important part of event planning.

bride and groom dancing with COVID masks on

What can you do to put everyone at ease about your big day?                                 

First of all, you can politely ask all of your guests to be fully vaccinated to attend.  You can even put it on the RSVP much like you would when asking for a meal preference.  At the end of the RSVP card, for instance, you can ask whether “I am/we are fully vaccinated” with the answers “yes,” “no,” or “prefer not to say” as options.  If someone marks “prefer not to say” as their answer, let them know you will be providing rapid tests for unvaccinated, untested guests before they will be allowed to enter the venue (assuming this complies with current city/venue guidelines). Be sure to include your vaccination requirements on the Save the Date as well as the official invitation as well.

A new trend is to create what’s called a COVID insert as a part of your invitation.  This insert should include all the COVID information requirements for your event.  Similarly, if you have a wedding website, be sure all the same COVID requirements for your event are posted there, along with important information about travel and accommodations.

In addition to asking for proof of vaccination or negative test results, you can also do a temperature check before guests can enter the venue.  If you do this, make sure you take everyone’s temperatures, not just the unvaccinated.  This helps avoid the awkwardness of people feeling like they’ve been singled out.

What are some of the questions you should never ask of your guests?

According to Brides.com, what you don’t ask is as important as what you do ask.  They recommend never asking a guest why they aren’t getting the vaccine.  It’s not a good idea to pry into someone’s personal choices and beliefs.  You shouldn’t ask if someone has a pre-existing condition, or where guests stand politically on the issue of vaccines.  It’s also important to not ask guests to sit near individuals they don’t know.  Consider open-seating options and smaller tables to allow guests to choose their tablemates.

COVID wedding

Remember, it’s your special day

While establishing your vaccine preferences in advance of the wedding and keeping guests safe at your wedding are important, you don’t want COVID to be the topic of discussion during the event.  Therefore, set clear preferences in advance, and make sure the process of enforcing those guidelines, whether it be checking for proof of vaccine or taking temperature checks, is executed smoothly.  This will keep the focus on your special day vs on COVID.

COVID bride and groom

A full-service New Orleans caterer like Messina’s can help you plan the perfect, COVID-friendly wedding that’s as beautiful and fun as it is safe.  Since its founding in 1961 Messina’s has grown to one of the leading New Orleans caterers.  Check them out on The Knot and Wedding Wire to read what other brides have to say.  Messina’s serves as a preferred caterer at many of the most prominent New Orleans venues as well as exclusively services some of the city’s most unique wedding including the New Orleans Lakefront Airport, The Rooftop on Basin, Batture Bistro + Bar, and Chateau LeMoyne.  They continue to practice proven COVID safety protocols in all of these venues. Learn more by visiting Messinascatering.com.