In today’s world of wedding planning, things are rapidly evolving. Brides are tossing away old wedding traditions that just don’t fit their vision. Couples are opting for weddings that veer away from long standing traditions. Couples are choosing smaller and more intimate weddings that fit their budget. And we are loving every bit of the originality! With all of these changes happening, it could be tempting to toss wedding etiquette out the window as well. After all, aren’t those just outdated rules our grandparents came up with??
In our opinion, wedding etiquette definitely still has its place in the modern wedding world. Etiquette can serve as informal guidelines and structures that help both parties. Etiquette helps both the couple and attendees show respect to one another and have a great time. In this post we are going to take a look at some helpful tips to help you navigate this new world of virtual weddings.
The Uncharted Waters of Zoom Weddings
Chances are, you are probably facing multiple wedding challenges currently. Maybe you are planning the 27th version of your wedding and are having to downsize your guest list yet again. Or maybe you are having to completely rework your wedding timeline to accommodate COVID restrictions. Maybe a virtual wedding is your first choice in all of this and you are simply wondering who to invite. We understand the struggle–this is all such new + unprecedented territory. We have gathered some etiquette expert opinions to help advise you along the way. Read on to make sure you are observing proper Zoom wedding etiquette.
So, Who Should I Invite To My Zoom Wedding Anyways?
The guest list can be a daunting part of wedding planning for all involved. You don’t want to leave anyone out and yet you don’t want to break the bank by inviting all of your hometown. **Enter the Zoom wedding** One of the most beautiful parts of a virtual wedding is that you can invite as many guests as you want. There can be up to 1,000 devices logged in to the meeting at once. You won’t have to spend hours upon hours agonizing over who makes the cut and who doesn’t. Invite ‘em all!
On the flip side of that coin, just because you have nearly unlimited logins does not mean you have to invite everyone. It is YOUR wedding day and therefore you might want only your nearest + dearest to join. We love this list that we saw on brides.com that can serve as a guide for who you don’t need to feel obligated to invite.
- MIA family members–people you haven’t spoken to in forever
- Friends you have lost touch with
- Work friends (organize a happy hour instead)
- Wedding invites from a long time ago
- Neighbors that you aren’t close with
- Friends with a bad wedding track record
- Kids of friends (make your wedding adults only)
- Plus ones you’ve never met
- Friends of parents you’ve never met
How Do I Decide Who To Invite In Person vs. Virtually?
We feel you on this one, this can be a sensitive spot. You most likely are struggling to draw the line and decide who gets an invite to the in person wedding and who will be virtual. You want ALL of your guests to feel special and included in the celebration. Perhaps the easiest way to do this is to invite only your immediate family to the in person celebration and invite the rest virtually. We have also seen couples choose 1 best man + 1 maid of honor to include in addition. Zoom wedding etiquette says that the smaller you keep your in person guest list, the easier it will be to navigate.
If your venue has a bit more leeway on the amount of guests, consider the following. Wedding etiquette experts say to think about your daily life. Do you communicate with this person regularly and keep in touch on a weekly or monthly basis? If the answer to this question is yes–then they are most likely an important person in your life. They should be at your in person wedding. Additionally, understand that people may get their feelings hurt and that is ok.
Ultimately, this day is about YOU and celebrating your beautiful marriage. If there was ever a day in your life to make decisions that honor you as an individual and you as a couple–THIS is it. Also, the current circumstances of our world have made it so people have had to shift and make massive changes. And with that comes an additional layer of grace + understanding we all need to give each other.
Navigating the Etiquette of Downsizing Your Guest List
First of all, if you are currently in this situation, we know how challenging this can be. Having to completely rethink your original wedding vision and who will be attending is no easy feat. COVID brides honestly deserve a gold star and a free trip to the spa for planning weddings during a global pandemic.
When deciding how many people to invite to your wedding 2.0, the best Zoom wedding etiquette we can give you is to defer to local and state guidelines. Plan your guest list around the current restrictions and not what you are hoping it will be when your wedding rolls around. This will help you decide whether you need to cut your list drastically or downsize by a few tables. As far as deciding who to ‘cut’, defer to the advice given above. Consider the people that are the crucial parts of your daily/weekly/monthly life. Carefully think through whom you want to be surrounded by on the most important day of your life. Who will support + uplift and surround you with love on your big day?
Communicate the Plan to Your Guests Promptly
Once you have decided on the final headcount that can be present at your wedding, it is important to communicate this to previously invited guests. You will want to communicate promptly to them that you have had a change of plans. You can choose between sending out written/email/website communication detailing the current situation. IF you have flexibility in the amount that you can have and want to leave it up to your guests, this NYT article suggests that you include RSVP boxes with 3 options. Attend in person, attend via Zoom or unable to attend. The Knot blog post walks you through more additional information surrounding this.
Perhaps the most important part in all of this Zoom wedding etiquette is to just be sincere and transparent with what is going on. Your guests will understand and will ultimately want everyone to be safe and healthy. Along with the information about the change in plans, it can be helpful to include a handwritten letter to your guests. In this letter you can explain how much their presence matters to you and how much you wish that they could be there. Lastly, this blog post shares some additional ideas for what you can do if you are having to pare down your guest list. They suggest that you send a care package, mention those guests in your speech or even pay a personal visit to them after the wedding. (Social distanced of course!)
Should I Send Separate Invites to Both Guests Lists?
The short answer to this question is: yes. Although it will initially be a bit of more work on your end, in the long run it will end up saving you stress and confusion. The first step will be to decide whether you will be sending printed or virtual invitations, such as those from Paperless Post. Then you will want to create 2 separate invitations. One for the guests that will be attending in person and one for the guests that will be in attendance virtually.
When crafting the invitations for virtual guests, be sure to make it clear that you want them to join your Zoom wedding. For more detailed information on how to word an invitation like this, check this blog post out. When creating your invites for your in person guests, these will be the more ‘traditional’ invites that have details such as when/where/what time, etc. Lastly, feel free to communicate to your guests what type of safety precautions you will be putting into place. You can let them know that tables will be social distanced and that masks will be required while inside.
How To Ensure Your Zoom Guests Feel Special
Many couples that end up deciding on a micro wedding (having both virtual and in person guests) worry that their virtual guests won’t feel as included. They want to message to their virtual guests: you matter to us as much as the people that will be standing by my side! One of the best ways to get this message across is to include your virtual guests in aspects of the virtual wedding. Have them read an important passage during the ceremony or say a toast at the end of the wedding.
Additionally, the amount of emphasis that you put on the virtual wedding will be how seriously your guests take it. Communicate to your virtual guests how important the Zoom portion of your wedding is. Invite them to dress up and host watch parties with other friends/family. Then, consider including breakout rooms as a part of your virtual wedding. Breakout rooms will give you time to connect with all of your virtual guests in a smaller and more intimate setting.