Weddings during Covid-19 Lockdown | Restrictions have eased

Covid-19 has in many ways impacted weddings in South Africa for almost two years.  South Africa moves into lockdown level 2 with immediate effect, as of Monday, 13 September 2021. Restrictions on wedding in South Africa ease. Most exciting, the number of guests is larger.

President Ramaphosa addressed the nation on 12 September 2021. 

The national address some 2 weeks ago informed that South Africa was in a 3rd peak. The prediction was that the 3rd wave would be more severe and last longer.

In hindsight, this has proven correct. Whilst the 3rd wave is not yet over, we have seen a sustained decline in infections across the country, over the past few weeks. Average daily infections is 29% lower than preceding days and 48% lower than the 7 days before that.

Weddings during Covid in South Africa

President Cyril Ramaphosa iterated that based on scientific and medical evidence thus far, few people who are vaccinated against Covid-19 are becoming severely ill. Most importantly, those who are vaccinated, are far less likely to die of the disease.
South Africa is fast becoming a vaccination site, a number of South Africans are getting vaccinated. Over a quarter of South Africans have received at least 1 vaccination dose and 7 million people are fully vaccinated. More than 1 in 5 adults in Western Cape are vaccinated.
14.6 million doses have been administered. 1 million vaccination doses every 4-5 days. The government confirms that they have secured vaccinations to vaccinate our entire adult population.
This 3rd wave peaked in Gauteng earlier, and declined faster than any other province. Now with a marked decline across all provinces. Two provinces that stand out are Northern Cape and Free State where a number of infections has been relatively high for some months. Therefore government is focusing efforts on these 2 provinces to understand what is driving infections and what measures are needed to take.
1. Increasing pace of vaccination to reach those most vulnerable to serious illness
2. 18 years and older are eligible for vaccination
3. Focus on 60 years older and with comorbidities
Vaccination statistics indicate that more women than men, are going forward for the vaccination. The government is spreading the message in all languages, to ensure that all people understand that these vaccines are safe, effective and free.
Many people around the world are vaccinated. Our continent is still right at the bottom of the vaccination experience, but beginning to pick up momentum, against all odds faced. There are about 3,000 public and private vaccination sites across the country.
President Ramaphosa affirms that vaccines ARE THE MOST potent weapon to fight this pandemic. The sooner we are all vaccinated, the sooner we can open up all operations of our economy with ease.

He informs that an overall decline of daily infections of Covid means we can gradually ease restrictions.  Priority to prevent resurgence and vaccinate our population.

Yes, weddings continue to be permitted, with eased restrictions.

Ramaphosa informs that the Committee recommends easing of restrictions on movement of people and also on gatherings, and these have been discussed at lengths with several individuals.

South Africa moves from adjusted level 3 and replaced on adjusted level 2 from effect on Monday, 13 September 2021. This means:

1. Wedding size:  Gatherings of no more than 250 people indoors and no more than 500 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.
2. The curfew hours are adjusted and now start at 23h00 and end at 04h00. Non-essential establishments (bars, restaurants, fitness centres) must close at 22h00 to allow employees and patrons to travel home. Adjust your wedding agenda to incorporate a longer-lasting wedding reception, when compared to previous curfew times.

3. Alcohol: Sale of alcohol for off-site consumption is permitted from 10h00 – 18h00 Monday to Friday. Alcohol sale for on-site consumption is permitted, as per licensed conditions up to 22h00. Alcohol consumption continues to be prohibited in public spaces.
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.
5. Inter-provincial travel may continue to resume (for leisure too). Your wedding guests can travel to attend your wedding in person, in South Africa, with no inter-provincial restriction.

These measures will be reviewed in 2 weeks time, depending on the state of the pandemic then. 

President Ramaphosa informs that vaccination passports can be used as evidence of vaccination for various purposes and events. So people can demonstrate they have been vaccinated. Department of Health is looking at mechanisms, perhaps electronically through mobile or another form of demonstration.

Covid-19 vaccination passport

Covid-19 vaccination passport

He indicates that more vaccines are now needed, especially before December 2021. This will lessen the pressure of a potential 4th wave in December 2021. The day WILL COME when we can gather again and travel without restrictions.
How soon this day arrives, depends upon one thing, how quickly we can vaccinated. We have overcome 3 waves of infections because of our collective resolve and adherence to basic health precautions. Our mission must be to vaccinate as many people as we can. So we can move on with our lives. 

MOST IMPORTANTLY!! President Ramaphosa informs that ALL gatherings must ensure good ventilation, everyone wears face masks and social distances.  Windows must stay open.  There must a constant air flow.

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 now, applicable for weddings during 2021 and 2022 at least: 

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

  • For the next coming months, it remains certain 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 the 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 IMPORTANT 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, 250 people indoors and 500 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 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 Vendors are in full support of Brides and Grooms during this time:
  1. Most wedding venues are offering great all inclusive wedding packages. 
  2. The Most Popular Online Wedding Shop has a great SALE ON now for Everything Needed Before, During, After Your Wedding!  Some wedding goodies are up to 80% discounted! This period is a fantastic time to take advantage of wedding sales! Click here to see the SALE!

In summary: 

Yes certainly, wedding ceremonies and wedding receptions continue to be permitted. However, with some adjusted and eased measures.

The measures mostly impacting weddings during this current lockdown level 2 are gathering size, curfew times and alcohol sale times. Keeping up with the current health protocols of social distance, masks, sanitisers – which are mandatory.

The future of weddings has adapted and transformed, due to the Coronavirus. Above is a great summary of how these will look.

So GO AHEAD and create and live out your wedding plans and agendas!

*LOOK AT THE WEDDING SALE!  At The Wedding Shop *

Weddings are permitted