Rebecca Wilson,Senior Catering & Event Sales Manager
Something that everyone has had to navigate during the global pandemic is how to safely go on with our day-to-day lives while maintaining safety for ourselves and those around us. This has made event and wedding planning even more challenging than before! No one wants to make compromises when it comes to the most important day of their life and who they wish to share that time with. Throughout this year, I’ve learned a lot while working with multiple brides to make their wedding day special and safe.
It’s All About the Venue
When looking for venues there are many things to consider. Does this venue provide enough space for all guests to maintain social distancing guidelines? Does this venue have outdoor locations for guests to go, weather permitting? During this time, I recommend looking for venues that have both indoor and outdoor locations. If the weather is nice, your guests will be able to go in and out of the venue. This makes adhering to local and state guidelines much easier to manage, as guests are not confined to a single area within the venue.
At Shaker Village, we have several options for any guest count up to 150. For small, intimate events, we have historical spaces that could accommodate 50 people or under that are surrounded by beautiful scenery and nature. This will allow your guests to enjoy the starry night sky while staying warm next to a cozy fire. If your guest count exceeds that number, we have our Meadow View Barn. The barn is the perfect location for a large gathering. Originally utilized as a tobacco barn, Shaker Village has transformed this space into an ideal place to hold a reception. From this location, you can observe and bask in a gorgeous sunset. We also have the West Lot location, a great space that feels like a retreat. You and your wedding group can rent this space and stay in the West Lot building from Friday to Sunday.
Check In With Vendors (Especially Catering Vendors)
When times are uncertain it is very important to check in with your vendors more frequently. I recommend doing this often to stay up-to-date with any changes that your vendors may make due to the pandemic, especially your caterers. Food handling has not been an easy task to tackle during this time and your catering team may have changed the way they serve and handle food. I would suggest investing in a plated meal as well as service staff. This is to eliminate people coming together for a buffet line, while also limiting several points of touch. If you would like to do a buffet, work with your catering vendor to ensure that the buffet will be served in a safe manner and limit the touch points for your guests.
At Shaker Village, we pride ourselves on cleanliness and the customer service of our restaurant and catering staff. Our events team has made accommodations to ensure that you and your guests remain safe. At Shaker Village we have a committed service staff that ensures the timeliness of the service for your event, especially since we are serving plated meals at this time.
To Mask Or Not To Mask
You will set the precedent of mask wearing at your event. If you and your wedding party are wearing masks on the dance floor and anytime other than when you are eating and drinking then the guests will follow suit. Messaging and visual cues help to reinforce that you are following current guidelines at your event. Hand sanitizer stations with disposable masks can be stationed throughout. Having a greeter that informs guests of the safety rules can explicitly convey how you expect your guests to behave. Decorative signs can reinforce your priorities such as “Spread the love, not germs!”
At Shaker Village, the safety of our guests is our top priority. All of our employees will be in masks. We have made changes to our catering services. For example, we have switched to strictly serving plated meals to ensure limited touch. Each of our catered meals comes with a friendly team of staff ready to provide the best and safest customer service to you and your guests.
Make Multiple Guest Lists
With changes to maximum capacities and new mandates, your guest list will likely vary over the course of your planning. You should begin by creating a full guest list. This includes everyone that you would want to invite. Based on that list, you should make a second guest list of 50%. This prepares you to make quick changes if the maximum capacity of your venue changes due to new mandates and guidelines. If you choose not to continue with your current date, and want to postpone to allow additional guests, then reference your contract and talk with your venue about their policy.
Here at Shaker Village, we are currently offering full refunds of deposits if your wedding needs to be cancelled due to COVID-19 or new mandates, or moving deposits to a new date that is available.
Hire a Wedding Coordinator or Day-of-Coordinator
I cannot stress enough that no matter how elaborate or intimate your wedding is, the entire planning process is complex and could be made easier by hiring a coordinator. A professional coordinator will also be apprised of all COVID-19 mandates, regulations and guidelines.
At Shaker Village, we do not require a coordinator, but recommend it as much as possible. The Event Sales Catering and Events Manager that you book with will ensure everything on the Shaker Village property will be ready to go on your big day. Our staff has knowledge of the policies and procedures at the Village that we will be using to make you and your guests feel safe. However, a coordinator can assist with the set-up and breakdown of all décor and help your dream wedding come to life!
With things continually changing it is important to be flexible. Things may take longer to plan and timelines may be a little foggy. The plan can change very quickly and the team you have assembled will do everything they can to ensure your wedding day is perfect. With all the negativity surrounding the virus, something positive is that we can recognize and prioritize the things that matter most to us and that same philosophy applies to your wedding day. Couples should make a list and discuss the most important things they want to experience on their wedding day. Whether the ceremony is the experience you value the most or having your first dance with your new partner. Make sure you emphasize these things on your day because these are the memories you will look back on and cherish the most.
No one said planning a wedding in the middle of a global pandemic was easy, but it is doable and can still be the best day of your life!
If you are in need of a venue, please reach out to the team at Shaker Village.