Spaces for Safe Celebrations
Where you choose to tie the knot has never been more important. Here’s an expert guide to finding a COVID-safe space.
We’ve all had to adapt in both significant ways and small thanks to COVID-19. We’ve altered the way we shop, how we interact and the way we celebrate life’s biggest milestones, like getting married.
Venues, in particular, have seen some of the biggest changes to ensure couples can still tie the knot during the pandemic.
“Venues that were able to withstand being shut down have adapted both administratively and physically. Many have new policies allowing greater flexibility should an event need to be canceled or postponed due to COVID-19,” says Jason Mitchell Kahn, a New York City-based wedding planner.
According to the CDC guidelines, outdoor events pose a lower risk than events held in an enclosed space. Many venues have added square footage to their outdoor areas and invested in weather protection measures, such as installing space heaters or canopies.
Some indoor spaces have been improved by updating air conditioning systems to filter the air more regularly, adds Kahn.
How to find a (safe) venue The first consideration when looking for a venue should be how it makes you feel, says Kahn.
“I always tell couples that a venue should cause a spark of excitement when viewed. It’s similar to finding a house or apartment to live in. The venue should feel special to the couple.”
Of course, aesthetics can’t be the only consideration – especially in the age of COVID.
“Safe celebrations are the number one priority. No one wants to be the person that hosted a superspreader event,” explains Valeria Miranda, associate planner at OneTouch Events, LLC.
When touring potential venues, be sure to ask questions about the location’s health and safety measures, such as:
• What are your sanitation procedures before the event?
• Can you accommodate socially distant floor plans?
• What is your mask policy?
• What is the flow of traffic for guests? Can we set up one-way exits and entrances?
• What’s the backup plan for outdoor events if there’s inclement weather?
• Do you require testing in advance or guest sign-in for contact tracing?
• Do you have a strong WIFI connection for guests attending virtually?
• How can we avoid clustering at the bar or in bathrooms?
Given the unpredictability of the world due to the coronavirus, Miranda also advises taking a close look at the language in your venue’s contract before signing on the dotted line.
“First and foremost, your contract is not iron-clad until you have signed on the dotted line. Request revisions, check the force majeure language to your satisfaction, get a lawyer if need be to make sure the language protects you as a couple, and not just the venue,” she says.
When reviewing your contract, here are some important questions to ask:
• What is their cancelation policy under unforeseen circumstances?
• What portion of your deposit do you get back, if any?
• Are there any additional fees for postponing or moving your event date?
• How far in advance does the venue notice of a date change?
• Is the deposit transferable to a new date?
• Do you require wedding insurance?
When choosing a venue when you can’t tour it in person, the questions mentioned above still apply. According to Here Comes The Guide, there are a few things you have to do to help you decide on what kind of venue you’d like:
1. Decide on what your venue must have.
2. Find a budget you’re comfortable with and try to stick to it.
3. Scroll through the thousands of venues in any state on Here Comes The Guide’s site.
4. Narrow down your list and start calling.
5. Ask any and all questions you have and ask for references.
a. Try to schedule the virtual tour during the day so you can see all the details in a natural light.
b. If the venue coordinators allow it, consider recording the tour for later comparison.
6. Rely on Google Maps.
a. Check proximity to airport and lodging facilities and make sure it checks every box on your must-have list.
7. Does it check all boxes? Are YOU happy with the site? Do you see yourself getting married there?
8. Compare the videos from your tours and make a decision. Go with your gut. If the slightest thing doesn’t sit right with you, that may not be your venue.
It’s important to take a little time with each venue, maybe sleep on it and look at them again before making a final decision.