Moving to Lockdown Level 3… Can we have our wedding now?

Covid-19 has in many ways impacted weddings in South Africa for almost 15 months. Some engaged couples or those couples waiting to renew their marriage vows have postponed their wedding more than 4 times! South Africa moves into lockdown level 3 with immediate effect. So… can we have our wedding now?

Why? President Ramaphosa addressed the nation on 15 June 2021.

Since President Ramaphosa national address about two weeks ago, the average daily new infections has doubled. In the last seven days, the recorded average daily new infections is approximately 7,500. Over the most recent 14 days, hospital admissions due to Covid are 59% higher than preceeding 14 days. The average number of daily deaths due to Covid has increased over the past 7 days. Although the recovery rate has somewhat decreased slightly from an average of 95% to just above 92%, the recovery rate is still reasonably high in South Africa.

coronavirus in south africa wedding

We have endured two devastating waves of the Coronavirus in South Africa, and are currently experiencing the third wave. 

Furthermore, the President informed that with exception of Northern Cape, all provinces are experiencing a rise in infections. Other provinces are approaching the third wave, whilst others are in the third wave.  Covid cases continue to rise in Limpopo, Free State, KwaZulu Natal, Gauteng.  Gauteng is currently the worst hit by Covid cases and account for nearly two thirds over past two weeks. Moreso, now in Gauteng, the numbers are steeper and faster than in previous waves. With a few days, new daily cases in Gauteng will surpass the second wave. Private hospitals are near capacity. So we have to act quickly and decisively. The virus is spread through human behaviour.

President Cyril Ramaphosa

President Cyril Ramaphosa

Our freedom has been restricted by Coronavirus, however we also know that these restrictions have been effective in containing the spread of the virus. He pressed on that we need to enforce compliance to save lives. 

So… Can we have our wedding now?

The short and sweet of it is that you can get married now STILL during lockdown level 3. However within the guidelines.  Should your wedding size be less than 50 people indoors or less than 100 people outdoors, then your wedding is permitted.

 This updated follows President Ramaphosa national address on 15 June 2021:

  1. Wedding size:  Gatherings of no more than 50 people indoors and no more than 100 people at outdoors gatherings are permitted. Where the venue is too small to accommodate these numbers with social distancing, then no more than 50% of the venue may be used. This applies to religious, social, political gatherings too.
  2. The curfew now starts at 22h00 and ends at 04h00. Non-essential establishments (bars, restaurants, fitness centres) must close at 21h00 to allow people to travel home.
  3. Alcohol: Sale of alcohol for off-site consumption is permitted from 10h00 – 18h00 Monday to Thursday (excludes public holidays). Alcohol sale for on-site consumption is permitted, as per licensed conditions up to 21h00. Consumption of alcohol in all public spaces, for example, beaches or parks is strictly prohibited.
  4. All health protocols (mentioned later in this article) and social distancing must be implemented and adhered to. It is a criminal offense to not adhere to these health protocols.

coronavirus in south africa wedding

The vaccination programmes have experienced some delays to date. However, vaccines have given hope during the pandemic. When comparing the infection rates of health care workers between December 2020 and now in June 2021, the rate of infection has improved. This is attributed to the success of the first phase of the vaccinations. The government sees the path to overcome this pandemic.

We remain hopeful now more than ever that certainly the Coronavirus pandemic will pass.  It is only a matter of time. Vaccinations in South Africa are gaining momentum, moving forwards nonetheless. 

Certain changes will now need to be incorporated to all Weddings in South Africa. How weddings are performed has transformed. Here are some things to think about when planning your wedding: 

Both wedding ceremony and reception are required to fully adopt these practices and protocols with immediate effect.

  • For the next coming months, it remains unchanged that face masks are compulsory for all wedding guests, bride/groom, officials, all wedding participants and suppliers.  President Ramaphosa iterated that face masks must cover nose and mouth.
  • It is the responsibility of owners of public buildings, venues, shops, restaurants, taxi etc. to ensure people wear face masks in these areas, and the appropriate social distancing measures are adhered to. Everyone needs to be responsible to take necessary action to protect ourselves and others. To limit the risk to ourselves and others. 
Bride Bridal Wedding High-quality Face Mask

Bride Bridal Wedding quality Face Mask

The new wedding trend is personalised (and colour coded) wedding guest face masks. Click here for some wedding face mask ideas.
And here’s a few more things to consider when planning your wedding…
  • Social distancing impacts the ways in which dancing, live bands, DJs, karaoke  are performed.  Different themed music areas throughout the wedding venue may surface. For example, the outside veranda with the drummer, DJ inside, saxophonist in another area.  The dance floor will be larger to accommodate better social distancing.  New technology can be implemented such as the Silent Disco to keep the party going in a safe distance.
  • Food offering and drinks at weddings will always play a big part of the celebration. However the way drinks and food are presented to guests has shifted.  Food styles may move away from buffet style, and towards an ala carte menu or set menu plated options. If buffet is still an option, then it will  be set up differently, such as smaller food stations to avoid long lines.  Each food station of the buffet operated may be serviced by a Chef or servers, with gloves and face masks.

The goal is still to provide a delicious culinary experience for wedding guests, however obviously now with consideration that less hands are involved in plating and preparing.

  • Candy stations at weddings will have to individually wrap sweets, rather than scatter layouts of sweets and candies. Or alternatively the sweets could be served on dessert sampler plates to each guest.
And of course…
  • Table settings are adjusted. Instead of 10 seats at a round table, 5 or 6 seats around the 10 seater round table is the new norm.  Tables may also be distanced from one another by some metres. To encourage chair social distancing, consider some high-end trendy cocktail tables at your ceremony, instead of the traditional pew style chair.  Or if each guest has their own chair, simply adjust the distance between chairs.

Fewer wedding chairs are being used and more guests standing during the ceremony. Be considerate, scatter some bean bags or couches on the external ceremony perimeter, so guests don’t get tired of standing too long.

The wedding ceremony may become somewhat slightly shorter to consider the guest’s seating comfort.
Wedding Trending Seating Areas

Wedding Seating Areas

  • The way photoprop trucks operate now is impacted.  Guests may not be able to share photo props as easily in the small space of a photo truck. But it is still possible!  Simply open up the garden space and innovate new ways to incorporate the photo-props into wedding photos. Grab your wedding photo props here.
  • Wedding cakes could still be as decorative and large as before.  Perhaps this time guests will be dished up their own cake slices, instead of helping themselves from the cake table in a communal manner.  Another preference could be gourmet cupcakes, which could limit food sharing and food handling.
Wedding Cake with Cupcakes

Wedding Cake surrounded by Delicious Cupcakes

  • Gathering size is impacted by the number of people permitted at weddings. As mentioned above, 50 people indoors and 100 people outdoors.  Check with your venue. Does venue staffing, chef, photographer, pastor etc. add to your permitted venue gathering size?
Remember to:
  • Notify guests during the invitation stage that if any guest is unwell leading up to your wedding time, to let the bride or groom know. Remember to be accommodating to guests who may be unwell and not able to attend the wedding. Limit your exposure to people generally 2 weeks prior to your wedding, to avoid the 10 day quarantine if in contact with a Covid positive person.

If you discover a few days before your wedding that a guest does test positive for Corona OR a guest has been in contact with a person who has tested positive for Covid, then make plans to screen your wedding virtually Ask your videographer to virtually stream your wedding. Be inclusive during these times.

Virtual Wedding

  • Wedding Traditions can be adjusted to incorporate and respect the Covid rules. For example, the wedding garter or bouquet toss or rugby garter toss game may take on another approach, to incorporate social distancing.
Wedding Rugby Toss Game

Wedding Rugby Toss Game

  • Hen’s party or bachelor stag nights planned at nightclubs (not yet open) or at a restaurant may have limitations of their own. Consider your pre-celebratory festivities carefully before sending out invitations. Many couples are now opting for a weekend getaway with loved ones at a rental home.
  • Sanitisation stations are a legal requirement.
Find ways to dress up the wedding sanitisation stations with some quirky signs. Click here to view some awesome Wedding Covid-19 related signboards. 

Welcome kindly use provided hand sanitiser courtesy of the new Mr and Mrs

Be innovative
  • Many weddings celebrate with alcohol. Try prevent thick lines of queues at the bar, by implementing simple tactics such as increasing the number of bar attendants, or having a few small bar stations setup throughout the venue. Bars may also build in some trendy sneeze guards, so we may see bars redesigning their bar areas.
  • Another option is to offer guests bottled beverage stations on ice on tables or in the venue when replenishing their thirst. Click here to view some pretty awesome corona labelled groom/bestman/groomsman drinks. 

Personalised Customised Wedding Groomsman Gift

  • Signage is now more necessary than ever.  Couples can be supremely creative with their décor.  For example, signage with Covid cautious messages, placed near bathroom sinks to encourage sanitising and social distancing is trending at weddings. Click here for some wedding signage ideas.  

Love is Infectious

  • Wedding Guest Gift Favours for wedding guests are the perfect dual-gift idea.  Firstly, makes sure guests santitise regularly at the wedding and secondly, personalised wedding gift favour.
Click here for some pretty awesome personalised sanitiser wedding guest favour ideas: 
Personalised Wedding Gift Favour Hand Sanitiser

Personalised Wedding Gift Favour Hand Sanitiser

  • Lighting will play a larger role than ever before.  Some couples are expecting less guests, but at the same time want to make the reception room feel full and whole.  A great way to achieve this is by spreading out large chandeliers, increasing the number of accent walls, and placing spotlights on tables.

Wedding Lighting

  • Photographers will need longer lenses and consider shooting outdoors. This way making photography from a distance absolutely possible.
  • Honeymoon destination: International honeymoons will be possible once the global travel gateway opens fully. In the interim, consider a local honeymoon in South Africa. There are no inter-provincial travel regulations currently, and there are some absolutely beautiful honeymoon getaways in South Africa.  This way too, you’ll be contributing to igniting South Africa’s hospitality sector, post-impact from Corona.
Wedding suppliers are now more flexible, which is a great benefit to engaged couples: 
  1. Wedding venues offer great small group packages.
  2. The Most Popular Online Wedding Shop has a PART-SALE ON!  Some wedding goodies are up to 80% discounted! This period is a beautiful time to take advantage of sales! Click here to see the SALE!
Most wedding mindsets have somewhat changed due to the pandemic:
  1. Many couples aren’t asking for the traditional gift registry. “I don’t see a need for high-end dinnerware.” (Katie, Durban, 24 years old). Many couples are encouraging guests to contribute to their honeymoon fund (click here to see the ideal honeymoon fund treasure box), or to their favourite charity organisation.
  2. Local weddings are lekker and happening.
  3. More couples are choosing to splurge less on lavish, over-the-top weddings in 2021. Simple but elegant decor is currently sought by couples.
  4. Weekday weddings are popular now, as brides and grooms try fit in their postponed Big Day with busy wedding venues.

And…

  1. Micro weddings are the new trend. This brings about a relaxed, informal vibe and experience of an intimate wedding.  Less formal styles are going strong.  Barefoot, sandals, sneakers and slippers are in. And check out these new glitter bridal shoes to fit the trend by clicking here.
  2. Outdoor wedding venues are popular, replacing the choice of indoor wedding venues. This accommodates the 100 guests, instead of 50 people. Outdoor wedding venues in the forest setting and beach weddings have become equally sought after during the pandemic (but just remember now that alcohol will not be permitted at beaches or parks).
  3. Officiants and wedding vendors are more flexible.
  4. Smaller bridal bouquets are replacing the previously cascading flower arrangements held by Bride and Bridesmaids. HOWEVER, larger and cascading flower arrangements along the wedding isle is trending.

And here’s what engaged couples are after: 

  1. Brides and grooms are splashing out on entertainment (live bands, dj, singers, magicians, cartoonist artist and generally artists of all kinds) to lift the wedding into a positive vibe during the pandemic.
  2. Covid rebooted the level of importance placed on relationships and those we love dearly. Personalised wedding gifts and customised items are at the top of the wedding list. Check out personalised ideas here. 

the future of weddings

In summary: 

Yes most certainly, wedding ceremonies and wedding receptions are still permitted. However, with some adjusted measures.

The measures mostly impacting weddings during lockdown level 3 are gathering size, curfew times and alcohol sale times.

Also noticing that wedding mindsets have adjusted. Weddings have transformed and above noted a few things to think about when planning your wedding during the pandemic.

*Now, visit the The Wedding Shop *