At this point, it isn’t straightforward to say what the “new normal” for weddings will be. There will be changes to how we go about our daily lives and gatherings, including weddings. Wedding couples may no longer have cocktail hours, large groups of people dancing or kissing and shaking hands with their guests. Buffets and shared plates will be out, and spaced out receptions will be standard.

Our social interactions have changed, and it’s impossible to tell how they will continue to change over time. One thing is sure: people will fall in love and want to celebrate with a wedding – that’s a tradition that will outlive any virus or pandemic. But it’s safe to say that you shouldn’t postpone your wedding just because of COVID. That’s because it can be done more safely than ever. Postponing is a bummer, costing you time, stress, and energy, when instead, you can have a creative wedding and not have to endure the stress of postponing or canceling.

Here are a few ways we have seen to get creative with your wedding day while keeping it safe and stylish.

1. Explore different types of weddings

From a Minimony to a Multi-day wedding, there are many ways you can safely include your loved ones at our Northern California wedding venue.

This is a mini wedding ceremony with a small group of your closest friends and family. You can wear your wedding dress, order a mini cake, have your champagne toast and first dance, and take photos. Your minimony is followed by a reception at a later date (called a sequel wedding), where you can include more guests.

This is an excellent option for wedding couples who want to include fewer than 20 guests. It’s not about crossing off names off of your guest list; it’s about those who love the idea of a private, intimate wedding at our Northern California wedding venue. With the extra money you’ll save from your lower guest count, you can splurge on incredible food and entertainment. Usually, a microwedding doesn’t include a future, larger reception.

Sequel Weddings
A sequel wedding is a big celebration or reception that takes place after your minimony.  Many have a second wedding ceremony when more wedding guests are allowed to attend.  This is an excellent option for couples who want to have their minimony, but want to have an all-out reception at a later date that lets you celebrate with many guests.

Shift Wedding
This is a terrific option for guests who want to include all of their guests but keep them safely distanced. A shift wedding is where your guests come in shifts to keep the overall numbers down at the Northern California wedding venue at any one time. Between the shifts, we’ll sanitize to keep your guests safer. For instance, if you have any close friends or family who have been self-isolating, they can come for the first shift (for example, your ceremony). 

It may seem like a weird concept, but consider this: you don’t get to spend much time with all of your guests at a big wedding, and the time flies by. This way, you get to keep your festivities as planned and have more quality time with your loved ones.

Multi-day Wedding
This is an excellent option for those who want to take full advantage of our Northern California wedding venues’ location: in the heart of wine country. Multi-day weddings include festivities over three days, such as local activities, your bridal shower, your rehearsal dinner, the wedding day, and a next-day breakfast, brunch, or lunch. Just like a shift wedding, you’ll invite different guests to separate events so that guests don’t overlap and you can celebrate with everyone.

READ: Why A “Local Destination Wedding” is the Safest and Best Experience for Bay Area and Californa Wedding Couples

2. Have a Live Streaming or Virtual Viewing Option

Suppose you want to limit your in-person guests to your outdoor wedding ceremony and reception. In that case, a live streaming option is a great and affordable way to include loved ones. These services aren’t expensive, and it can save you money while allowing you to have more guests.  And as an extra bonus, you end up with a video of the entire wedding.

3. Hire a Specialty Food Truck or Have an Intimate Plated Experience

Buffet and family-style sharing was a popular option for wedding catering. But it’s no longer the safest way to serve your guests. Plated meals or served buffets are now the standard way of serving your guest because guests won’t be sharing the same spoons or getting too close to the shared food. You can still create a relaxed atmosphere that sharing food makes, but you’ll need to get creative.

We have a designated space for food trucks on our property, which is a great catering option. A food truck is a fun experience for wedding guests and is perfectly safe. There are some tricks to make the food truck experience a great one, and we’ll help you with some advice.  Many Northern California wedding venues don’t allow food trucks, so be sure to ask when searching for venues.

And instead of traditional hors d’oeuvres, ask if your caterer can switch to individually presented food, perhaps in a bowl, which your catering staff can safely serve. You can put just about anything into a bowl. How about a bowl of Yi Mein noodles served with chopsticks? Mmm!

4. Help Your Guests Stay Safe – Have a Cute Welcome Pack for Their Arrival

A small box or tote bag with:

  • a personalized bottle of hand sanitizer
  • a themed face mask
  • alcohol wipes
  • a mini bottle of champagne
  • a sweet snack
  • a welcome note
  • a seating map
  • and some safety guidelines

are just a few ways to set the atmosphere for the whole day and help your guests feel calm and ready to celebrate.

5. Create Stylish Hand Sanitizing Stations

You can create hand sanitizing stations to match the theme of your wedding. Not only is it a thoughtful and innovative touch, but it will encourage your guests to be safer.

6. Make Cute Welcome Signs

To remind your guests to keep a safe distance of 6 feet from each other, you can create a welcome sign. It can say something like, “Love is contagious, so is COVID – please maintain a social distance when you can.” This is a cute and lighthearted way to remind your guests to be safe and is socially responsible on your behalf.

7. Have an Unplugged Wedding

Phones are the ultimate germ carriers, and they are practically attached to our hands at all times. So it may be challenging to have an unplugged wedding, but it’ll be safer for everyone. Think about when someone is handing their phone away to have a picture taken, or someone is showing something on their phone. It’s a quick way to transmit germs, which you want to avoid. Let your guests know that you have a professional wedding photographer taking group and candid shots, and ask them to refrain from using their phones. You can also provide alcohol wipes so guests can wipe their phones down.

8. Create Socially Distanced Ceremony & Reception Seating

Circular and semi-circle chair seating is a great way to socially distance your guests during your ceremony, with spaced-out rows of guests around the edge and the couple in the center. Another great idea is to do small bench seating with 2-4 of the same household members. These benches can also be placed in a semi-circle or circle, with the couple in the center. This allows everyone to get a view of the ceremony but keeps everyone at a safe distance.

You can even assign ceremony seating to be the same as the reception. This keeps family units or “social bubbles” together. Avoid seating at-risk guests such as your grandparents near someone who may be in an exposed work role.

Mountain House Estate provides couples with All Seated, an event seating design platform.  With it, you can group people from the same household together and ensure the distancing desired.  With Allseated you can create guest lists, seating arrangements, and encourage a safe wedding day.

9. Find Safe and Stylish Ways to Entertain Your Wedding Guests.

Okay, so hands-on entertainment or anything shared (such as photo booth props) are out the door. But there are tons of stylish, alternative ideas you can include on your wedding day:

  • Hire an old-school ice cream truck
  • Set up an Open Air or Outdoor photo booth (ditch the props)
  • Hire a tarot card reader (the guests can point at, not touch the cards)
  • Hire circus performers, such as stilt walkers, hula hooper dancers, or magicians
  • Have table games, such as icebreaker cards or Cards Against Humanity
  • If you plan to give away wedding favors, make sure they are well packaged (such as a mini origami kit or a mini bottle of champagne)

10. Use Our Outdoor Spaces Whenever Possible.

You can have your ceremony and reception outdoors at Mountain House Estate. We have multiple outdoor ceremony sites, all with their unique style. Our couple’s favorite ceremony spot is the Oak Tree Terrace. Many Northern California wedding venues can’t offer you the option of multiple outdoors weddings locations, so be sure to check when searching for outdoor wedding venues. You may want to have your outdoor wedding ceremony at the Oak Tree Terrace, photographs all around the property at our multiple unique photoshoot areas, and outdoor wedding reception with dinner & drinks on the lawn. Our expansive outdoor patio and fire pits are an excellent place for guests to safely mingle in the evening underneath the bistro lighting and stars. 

Your wedding day will be spectacular as long as you’re flexible and positive.

We’re sure you’ll find many other innovative ways to get creative with your wedding.  And the wedding planners on our Nice List always stay current on the latest trends. Still, these are just a few ways you can set expectations for your big day and keep your guests safe and happy. Speaking of, let’s talk about some dos and don’ts for your wedding. 

DO: Set Expectations Before the Big Day

Many of your guests haven’t been to a gathering since Covid, so you should set some expectations for your wedding day. If you’re sending a paper invite or e-card, add a paper insert or section that advises guests on what to expect on your wedding day. You can mention that you’re providing a face mask, hand sanitizer, and alcohol pads. When you set expectations in advance, you’ll have less stress on your wedding day. And we recommend that you add a dash of humor to lighten the mood.  Your guests will follow your lead, so it’s important to lead them to safety.

DONT: Postpone your wedding

As uncertain and stressful as times are right now, nothing great will come out of postponing your wedding. You’ll lose your key date, have to coordinate everything with your planners and vendors, and your wedding guests might not be able to RSVP for your new date. Remember, they’ve already set aside the date for your wedding, and may have even requested a day off.  You can safely have your wedding at a Northern California wedding venue in 2021. If you postpone, you run the risk of vendors not being available and spending time and stress with the added difficulties of postponement.

DO: Consider a Weekday Wedding

A weekday wedding is a beautiful, intimate way to celebrate your love. Be open to a Monday, Thursday, or Friday wedding as other wedding couples have postponed from 2020 into 2021 and 2022, and many Northern California wedding venues are short on available dates. A weekday wedding saves you money, gives you more vendor flexibility, and ensures you can marry in your preferred season (Winter, Spring, Summer, Fall).

DO: Celebrate Your Love

However you decide to have your wedding, you’ll likely be working through the sadness of how Covid has affected your wedding planning. We understand that this shift has affected you, and we want to help you as much as possible. But think about this – the real reason you are marrying is that you are in love. You and your fiance are committed to one another, no matter what virus or pandemic occurs. Celebrating will be the same, but your ceremony and exchanging vows can take on a new level of significance and joy.  

We know you won’t take gatherings or celebrating for granted. Every word in your vows, every toast raised, words of love and gratitude and encouragement in a speech, and every moment with your loved ones will be all the more cherished. And since intimate weddings will be the new normal for a little while, we want to talk about a few reasons why we love intimate weddings. 

  1. You get to celebrate with those who matter most, not those you feel pressured to invite as wedding guests. Many couples tell us that this takes the stress away from their wedding planning and makes their celebration more memorable.
  2. As we mentioned earlier, with fewer guests, you can have more intimate conversations with your lower guest count. With a larger guest count, you’ll spread yourself thin, thanking everyone and hearing their words of encouragement. 
  3. You’ll save money, hands down. Whether you lower your guest count or switch to a weekday wedding, this means fewer meals, centerpieces, and favors – you get the point.
  4. And because you’re saving money, you have the option to save that money or splurge. Maybe you want to save up for an extravagant honeymoon, reinvest your money, purchase a home together, or splurge on your intimate wedding with a photographer or elegant florals.
  5. You’re safer and more environmentally friendly. Large social gatherings are not as safe, at the moment, as smaller gatherings; not to mention, large crowds produce a lot of waste, much more than you’d think! With fewer guests, you can practice safe social distancing and reduce your footprint.
  6. DIY wedding items take less time and are less stressful. If you’re a fan of little details, such as menus, favors, and gifts, a small wedding is much less of a task than a huge wedding. 
  7. Go all out on your honeymoon. That is if you love traveling and can do it safely. In that case, you can have a fantastic honeymoon together to start your marriage off with beautiful memories.

An intimate wedding at our Northern California wedding venue gives you the best of everything: a safe, outdoor, open-air area to accommodate all of your wedding day events, a gorgeous surrounding with tons of uniquely local activities, and flexibility to allow you to be safe, such as food trucks and 40 acres for open seating and spaced-out events. Because nothing says a one-of-a-kind experience like getting married at Mountain House Estate, contact us today to plan your wedding safely. 

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