With Alberta's Stage 2 relaunch strategy underway as of June 12, you may be feeling more than ready to revert back to wedding Plan A or have a huge party before the summer ends. With the gathering restrictions updated to allow 50 people for indoor receptions, 100 people for indoor seated events, and 100 people for outdoor gatherings, I'm sure we are all ready to be close to the people we've only seen from afar since March!
Before you start sending out the invitations, here are some tips to ensure you are ready and your guests stay safe.
Complete a Risk Management Assessment
Refer to your provinces' public health website for details and guidelines on current restrictions related to gatherings/events. A risk assessment of your event should be completed and take into consideration the risk of transmission and the ability to put control measures in place.
Factors such as the following should all be considered as part of the event risk assessment:
Will your guests interact closer than 2 meters?
Will close interactions be for more than 15 minutes?
Will guests frequently have contact with high-touch surfaces?
Will the gathering be indoors or outdoors?
Will the gathering include guests that are at high risk for severe illness?
Consider Control Measures you Can Put in Place and Ways you Can Reduce the Risk of Spread
As we've learned, COVID-19 spreads from person to person, most commonly through respiratory droplets, so - coughing, sneezing, laughing, singing, shouting or talking, or from touched surfaces. Here are some ways to reduce the risk of spread.
Let guests know in the invitation to stay home if they are sick: cough, fever, shortness of breath, runny nose or sore throat (even if they appear mild or resemble a cold)
Ensure everyone is aware that physical distancing should be maintained
Evaluate your venue for space – consider reducing the number of guests or change the venue to allow for physical distancing.
Outdoor events are considered lower risk than indoor events because (1) it is typically easier to maintain distancing, (2) there are less shared surfaces that are touched, and (3) air circulation limits the suspension of droplets in the air.
Stagger the time of arrivals and departures, this limits grouping at entrances or exits.
Try a separate entrance and exit door if indoors.
Have handwashing stations or ensure alcohol-based hand sanitizer is throughout your venue
Designate a person or two to frequently clean surfaces that are touched often
Explore virtual attendance for people at higher risk, such as people age 60 years or older, and those with chronic medical conditions
Creative Control Measures for Weddings and Events
You can find unique but still fun ways to limit close contact and limit high touch areas. For example:
incorporate fun/themed directional signs around the venue and signage reminding guest about physical distancing such as:
"So close, yet so far away"
"Together, but 6 feet apart"
Instead of renting a photo booth machine that is touched to operate, consider a custom backdrop where guests can use their phones to take photos. Don't forget to create a hashtag so you can see all the posted pictures.
For a wedding ceremony and reception, consider setting up cocktail tables as seating per family instead of benches, chairs and tables.
For a guest book, individual items that the guests can sign rather than a traditional book work to reduce touching. Have a dropbox for used pencils/pens if the guests don't have their own and sanitize these after use.
Favours should be separated or left on a guest place setting where multiple people do not touch them. Some COVID party favour ideas:
- Hand Sanitizer bottles with custom labels for each guest
- Engraved face masks
Food is best served plated or individually boxed – avoid buffets or food stations where food is left out. Have Cookies, cupcakes and other deserts individually wrapped if possible.
How Hiring a Planner Can Help?
Understanding and communicating a risk management plan is integral in wedding and event planning under normal circumstances, let alone under COVID.
A planner knows how to navigate through plans B, C and D. They can work through the COVID risk mitigation assessment and develop an event emergency preparedness and response plan to help keep your wedding or party safe. We can also help you come up with unique ways to be "together, but 6 feet apart"!
Further information on Alberta's Stage 2 Relaunch can be found at
For additional information on risk assessment and mitigation refer to:
Key planning recommendations for mass gatherings in the context of the current COVID-19 outbreak