The New Wedding Guest Rules for 2021 Weddings

As celebrations change, so does wedding etiquette. It’s tricky enough to throw a party that’s fun for your grandparents and your college friends. Add to that the stress of planning an event that mixes alcohol and avoiding public health risks — it’s a bit of an uphill battle. Even with increased vaccine availability, you’ll want to take precautions. To adapt to our new reality as swiftly as possible, let’s all get on the same page about what to expect from weddings in 2021. Here, 7 new wedding guest rules for 2021 weddings.

1. Follow The Couple’s Lead

Your family members probably approach group settings with varying levels of caution. That said, this is not the time to take a stand — if the couple wants guests to take a covid test beforehand, that’s their prerogative. Temperature taking at the door? It’ll only take a second. Many couples want to show they care about the health of their guests, as well as the sensibilities of guests who might otherwise consider a wedding a risky move.

2. To Hug or Not to Hug

It’s still a knee-jerk reaction to go in for a big hug, especially if you’re seeing family members for the first time in a year (or more). In case someone hasn’t had their vaccine, it’s best to ask first if they’re comfortable hugging. The newly vaccinated might want a good squeeze, while the rest might still prefer to bump elbows.

Some couples are opting for color-coded wristbands or drinking straws to avoid asking awkward questions. Green for hugs, yellow for elbow bumps, and red if you would prefer to remain socially distanced. Grab your wristband and think of it as a conversation starter.

3. Embrace The New Ceremony & Reception Details

A lot of couples are having custom masks for their guests. If that’s the case, wear theirs—even if you brought your own. Matching, neutral masks create a cohesive style and make a big difference for a group photo. Follow the bride and groom’s (or the bride and bride’s, or the groom and groom’s) cues: If they have donned their masks, make sure to wear yours as well.

Also, there will most likely be some new additions to the reception setup. If you see a hand sanitizer station, make sure to use it before you sidle up to the bar.

4. Understand that Venues Have to Follow New Rules (But They Want You to Have a Good Time!)

Like every other business that wants to re-open, wedding venues have boxes to check —not to mention a staff they need to keep healthy. Venues may impose rules about dance floors, indoor occupancy, and the numbers of people allowed in the bathroom. Remember: They didn’t make these rules up. In order to stay open, they have to comply with regulations handed down by insurance companies and liquor license boards. Wedding venues want to keep their clients happy, but they also can’t afford to be caught breaking the rules.

5. RSVPs: Now More Important than Ever

Wedding trends point to smaller gatherings in our future. If you’re on the invite list, chances are that you’re a big deal to the couple. Show them you feel the same way, even if it means sending a prompt decline. Final headcounts impact a huge array of details, including the seating layout and the number of masks provided.

If you simply don’t want to go due to concerns regarding travel and health, you should feel perfectly free to not attend. The couple most likely shares your concerns and wouldn’t want you to feel pressured.

6. Small Parties Mean Missteps are Harder to Miss

With the size of weddings shrinking, it’s easier to feel distracted when someone is texting or scrolling through memes during the ceremony. Leave the iPads and the video games at home. You made a very short guest list! Show you care by giving the festivities your full attention.

7. Keep The Couple Top of Mind

Wedding logistics easily overwhelmed couples before the pandemic. Today, they have the added stress of uncertainty surrounding their health-conscious choices: Did they do the right thing by not having a DJ? Will guests not want to wear the provided wristbands or masks? Yes, there are dozens of questions and countless opinions but if nothing else, know this: One of the best gifts you can give is your happy cooperation. Smile for the camera, even if you’re smiling behind a mask or two.