Best Practices for Wedding & Event Professionals, during the Pandemic

By: Simone Sant-Ghuran, Founder & Editor-in-Chief, Trinidad Weddings

Nowadays, more than ever, event/wedding planners have to not only manage event flow but simultaneously, manage the “risk of the event” – by facilitating safe, social interaction. In light of recent events and numerous local enquiries from wedding and event professionals, we’ve decided to put together this article to give some basic information that may help you and your clients going forward, with planning during the pandemic.

Pre-event planning

Transparency is going to be the new “buzz word” when planning events during a pandemic. It’s crucial that even before the event/wedding, guests receive health and safety information (e.g. mask requirements for entry, hand washing upon arrival etc.) and other event guidelines via email, at the time of their RSVP.

Guests will also want to know the number of overall guests that will be attending and whether the event will be indoor or outdoor, in order for them to make a more informed decision, as to whether to attend.

  • As an event/wedding planner, it’s also important to communicate with your vendor team about:

o   Handling all food (including the cake), beverage and rental items with gloves

o   Appearing on-site with masks

o   Sticking to the transportation/set-up time schedule, in order to limit the number of persons on-site for event set-up or dismount.

  • Any member/sub-contractor of the vendor team should have a temperature check prior to each shift and should be required to stay at home if they show any symptoms.
  • Event hosts should organise appropriate signage in key areas, to remind guests and vendors about sanitisation and social distancing.
  • Venues’ ventilation systems should be working at optimal levels or better yet, event hosts should encourage more outdoor events or the circulation of outdoor air at their events.

Guest arrival
All guests attending any type of event or wedding, should be required to check in upon arrival at a “Wellness Table.” Here, they should be required to be temperature-checked, sanitize their hands (sanitiser must be at least 60% alcohol), provide their names (to help with contact tracing, if required in the future) and possibly, even sign a waiver that they are symptom-free and agree to the event’s health and safety protocols.

One idea may be to provide coloured wristbands for guests upon entry, for them to determine their preference for personal space – for e.g. a red band equals no contact; yellow indicates an elbow bump is “ok” and green means they are comfortable having more interaction.

Seating

No matter what type of event, guests must be responsibly socially distanced, with tables or guests spaced six feet apart. Planners must ensure that these “new” floorplans can fit the venue. A general rule is that 60-inch tables should have six to seven people each.

Catering & Bar partners

  • To minimise contact and interaction, events are moving away from buffet service or any type of self-serve options (e.g. salad bar or drink stations/fountains) and more towards plated-style meals.
  • Hors d’oeuvres will still be passed on trays but should be done/packaged in such a way as to avoid the touching of food, from other guests. A possible solution is to give each guest a pre-plated hors d’oeuvres plate.
  • Apart from wearing of gloves, caterers and bar service providers should be encouraged to have acrylic food shields/bar shields, for their display or service areas.
  • The catering team must also have scheduled station sanitation times.
  • Condiments and salt and pepper shakers should be available upon request and provided in single serve portions, as opposed to communal dispensers on the table.
  • If bar service is going to be executed, the line for the bar should be marked with floor indicators (in the case of a wedding, these can even be personalised, with the couples’ monogram, for example), giving guests an idea of where to stand, to maintain social distance.
  • In lieu of full bar service, a safer option could be having “bottle service” to pods (i.e. groups of people/families who socialise together in-person, and follow safety protocols, such as mask-wearing and social distancing)
  • For guests who are attending virtually, the host/sponsor can deliver “meal kits,” if budget allows.

Dancing
Dancing will be one of the most challenging aspects for event planners to organize. Event planners can allow limited dancing in specified areas ( e.g. multiple dance floors, if space permits). Dancing should maintain social distancing or be limited to “pods.”

Restrooms
Communal restroom use should ensure social distancing and avoid crowding of the space. Hand sanitiser, wipes, tissues and disinfecting sprays should be available in rest rooms.

Event Duration
During the course of the event, the event host/planner could have “sanitation stewards” – designated staff that cleans common areas (e.g. faucets, doorknobs, counter tops, railings, payment terminals) and restrooms, re-stocks sanitation items (wipes, spray and sanitiser) and ensures safety protocols are followed.

 Post-event
Just as important as pre-event preparation, is post-event sanitisation conducted by a professional cleaning company that is equipped and experienced in this area, with approved disinfectants against COVID-19. Of particular importance, is sanitisation of the more “common” areas such as bathrooms, which multiple guests would have used, during the course of the event.

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