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Should You Still Attend a Wedding During the Coronavirus Outbreak?

If you’ve been invited to a wedding that’s taking place in the next few months, it’s time to figure out how to RSVP.

Iryna Mandryka/Shutterstock
Iryna Mandryka/Shutterstock

Iryna Mandryka/Shutterstock
Iryna Mandryka/Shutterstock

Many wedding guests are having to make the difficult call over whether or not to carry forward with their plans to attend the celebration of their loved ones getting married. Given the current state of affairs, including some jurisdictions banning events of varying guest counts, some couples have no choice but to postpone or cancel. But what about a wedding within your close-knit community? According to experts, it’s a tough call for anyone to make, whether or not you’re extremely close to the couple getting married.

“If you have a compromised immune system or are over the age of 60, then it’s absolutely best to stay home,” advises Danielle Rothweiler of Rothweiler Event Design in Verona, New Jersey. No matter your age, if you’re feeling unwell or even uneasy given the high-anxiety times that have quickly become our reality, it’s also okay not to go. Regardless of which of the two situations you find yourself in, it’s vital that you reach out to the couple ASAP because they will likely still be on the hook to pay for you. No matter where you stand, here is how wedding experts recommend handling the situation.

Decide today what you are going to do. 

In addition to making the play call now—even for a wedding several weeks out, it’s best to avoid asking the couple what they’re planning on doing. They're probably already in the midst of making alternative arrangements with their vendors, if they haven't already. They may not, however, and may instead decide to carry forward with their wedding plans.

Once you make a decision, stick by it. “This cannot be open-ended with the possibility of adding you back into the guest list a day or two beforehand, as a lot of preparation goes into food orders, rentals, seating assignments and other details for each guest,” says Kate Reavey, owner of Chicago Vintage Weddings, in Chicago, Illinois. “If you’re out, you’re out.”

Find out about safety measures.

Many couples are altering their wedding plans to feature certain health and safety protocols, following CDC guidelines. If you're considering attending a wedding during the COVID pandemic, find out what safety measures the couple is implemented, such as mask usage and distancing, to make sure you're comfortable with their plan. 

Check in with airlines and hotels to learn their cancellation fees.

If you made air travel arrangements to attend one or more weddings, contact the airlines to learn about their cancellation policy. Some flights may already be cancelled, for which you will be eligible for a cash refund per US Department of Transportation regulations. Many airlines are also honoring no-fee changes and cancelations for flights. 

Hotels operate under very different policies. It’s being reported that some chains are waiving cancellation fees, however others are referring to their normal rules and regulations. The best way to find out how you might be able to get your money back is to call and find out. If you’ve booked your stay as part of the couple’s hotel room block, you may be leaving them in a difficult position. “Before cancelling, find out what the consequences of your cancellation might be: Would the couple have to cover the cost of your room or lose any perks?” reminds Reavey.

If you are still planning to attend, offer your support to the couple. 

Planning a wedding under the most normal of circumstances is quite stressful and overwhelming—especially when the clock is ticking during the last couple of weeks. If you do reach out to the couple, consider asking if they need assistance with anything. “They are likely going through a lot right now, to say the least,” says Rothweiler. “Just being there as a shoulder to cry on is helpful.”

If you decide to cancel, try to still send a gift.

Wedding etiquette suggests that you should still give a gift to a couple whose wedding you’ve been invited to even if you’re not attending under completely normal circumstances. We still recommend sending a gift if at all possible. The couple will appreciate your thoughtfulness and receiving a gift may give them a bit of cheer during what is likely a particularly tough time.