We’ve all heard it a million times: things are different right now. The way we expected events to go either aren’t happening as planned or are cancelled and it doesn’t look like things will be going back to normal soon enough. It seems that until we get a vaccine, life is going to feel like it’s in limbo.
My poor bride got thrown around trying to plan her wedding – my heart goes out to her. Planning a wedding is quite a task to begin with but throw in a pandemic and its completely nuts! She’s going to be picking up the pieces for months from old deposits to confused guests to half-finished plans. I was desperate to give her a day to forget about the nonsense and enjoy the whole reason for the wedding to begin with: A celebration of her and her life with her fiance!
Planning her shower was also a hot mess, but we pulled through brilliantly (if I do say so myself, thanks team!) so I wanted to share what went right!
1. Keep a Tight Guest List, but be Realistic
Starting out with the obvious here as many states have gathering maximums. That said, inviting extra people as a courtesy didn’t do us any disfavors. Great Aunt Jill who lives a plane ride away won’t be able to come, but she’ll appreciate the invite. Overall we invited just under 50 people and ended up with just under 30 (state max was 50).
2. Ask for Emailed RSVPs, but Don’t Rely on Them
When we sent out the original invites, we knew things could change on a dime. Typically you offer a phone number to contact or an email for an RSVP, but if you have email addresses then you can send out updates much more easily.
A lot of people are going to wait on their RSVP to see what happens in the world – I was shocked just how few RSVPs I received. There are two things you can do to help with this.
A. In your update email, encourage friends and family to spread the news and your email address for questions. This can get a little iffy if your guest list is super tight and many people weren’t invited, but in my case everyone requested was invited and still kept numbers under 50.
B. Make good use of postcards. Invites and envelopes are tedious and expensive and people will understand a quick postcard update. Bonus if you can personalize it! I did this using Google Sheets and Adobe Illustrator through the use of variables. Check out my tutorial here!
3. Make Expectations Clear
Some people really downplay the pandemic, some people are very cautious. If you’re reading this article my guess is you’re probably the latter, so let your guests know. In your original invite and any updates, let people know how you are planning to handle the shower. For us, we told people that masks are optional, that we’d have hand sanitizer readily available, that we would be disinfecting everything before the shower, and the food would be prepared with copious hand-washing, masks, and gloves. This will help ease a few worried guests’ nerves and maybe convince them to come.
4. Make the Food and Wrap Everything
We always planned to make the food for budget reasons, but I’m so glad we did because food regulations tightened up significantly the week of the shower and most take-outs could no longer provide!
Some of the food took FOREVER but it was well worth it! Here’s what was on our menu:
- Pre-wrapped cheese and crackers
- Snack bags of chips
- Pre-made fruit cups
- Anything you find pre-packaged in a BJs or Walmart
- Individually wrapped sandwiches – we made the fillings the day before then filled and wrapped the sandwiches in saran wrap the morning of
- Fruit cups
- Vegetable cups with dip at the bottom – I saw this pre-covid and thought it was super cute! more time-consuming, but really pretty.
- Individual trifles – we made dirt cups which everyone loves and are so easy! You can find the recipe here.
- Individually packaged cupcakes – this is on the list because we did it, but the containers were terrible and kept popping open (I will not link the containers, they were terrible). If I were to do this again, I might opt for a nice lemon cake and blueberry trifle instead of the cupcakes (though they were delicious!)
To stay in the Easy Options category, BJs and similar grocery stores offer inexpensive sandwich platters even now! I still would opt to take the sandwiches out and wrap them… but that’s what we promised the guests as far as sanitation.
5. Social Distance
Our tables went from 8 per table to 4. Honestly, it left room for prettier place-settings anyway! Some people will choose to move chairs, totally up to them, but offer the option to sit pretty far apart.
6. Plan Socially Distant Games
This part was way more difficult than I thought it would be! My bride was a physically fit, active, competitive one so I had a bunch of great games planned! Like, ring toss (guests v bride), bridal Jenga, and maybe even toilet paper wedding gowns (is that insensitive after resource hoarding??)
All that had to go out the window because no guests should be required to use something that other guests have touched.
Here’s what we came up with:
People are really reserved about this one but they LOVE it. It’s basically a poll-based game. On a projector, you show questions with a timer and A, B, C, D options for answers. People download the app on their phone, enter the game pin, then answer on their phone. Points are added up in real time between each question and it’s a blast! I find that it helped to make a comment about how most school-students should already have this app because it’s technically an educational app helped people feel more comfortable about downloading it.
Plain old bingo is great because everyone has their own cards and pieces to place, so no cross-contamination. Plus, everyone knows it!
Any Slideshow Game
We did “Finish the 80’s Song” as per the bride’s interests. Make a slideshow of questions (I like Google Sheets) and project the questions. Each guest has his/her own answer card and pencil. After each question, give everyone a minute to answer, then read the answer and go with the honor system of people checking their own work. Alternatively, if you don’t have a projector, just read the questions out loud.
I wouldn’t do any more than three games, people need time to chat and mingle.
Additional Things to Do
Most of these are pretty hands-off. The markers for signing the pillowcase were iffy, but there’s lots of hand sanitizer around. The pencils here were communal but everyone had the option of going back to their table for their own pencil if they wanted.
Guys, I cannot describe how nervous I was for this shower – that no one would show up, that the venue would suddenly cancel, that people would think I was ridiculous for having it at all! But it went really, really well. Everyone who came had a blast and the bride loved it which is all that really mattered to me!
Are you planning an event coming up? How are you going to handle the elephant in the room?