Bride and groom in medical masks

How to Have a Social Distancing Wedding Ceremony

Many couples have spent months, or even years, planning their wedding. But with the uncertainty of the coronavirus pandemic they’re having to change their plans or even postpone their big day. The good news is that many states are slowly starting to reopen stores, hair salons, restaurants, etc. So, having a traditional wedding is still possible—you may just need to adjust your original plans to practice safe social distancing.

Before you decide to change your plans, check with your vendors on their cancellation policy and be sure that they’re willing to change up your orders. Ask if your officiant is still available because if you want the marriage to be legal you need to have one present. Double check your state laws—most states don’t require the officiant to be there in person. They may be able to legally marry you via Skype or Zoom!

The most important thing to do is talk to your partner. Gather your thoughts and priorities together. Is the date non-negotiable to you? Is it a deal-breaker to lose the must-have venue or adjust the number of guests that can attend? Try to focus on how your wedding can be now instead of how it should have been.

Front lawn wedding ceremon

Courtesy: Trent Nelson/The Salt Lake Tribune/AP &

If you decide to keep your original wedding date for a special or sentimental reason, here are three ceremony options to keep you and your guests safe:

  • Have a safe in-person ceremony at a distance
  • Have a virtual ceremony
  • Have a mix of both

All three options allow your loved ones to share in the bliss between you and your spouse on your big day. Here’s a breakdown of how you can make each scenario work for your wedding.

How to Have a Safe In-person Ceremony at a Distance

There are a number of ways to stay within the social distancing guidelines while still having a wedding ceremony. Before you make any official plans, check your state or county’s current recommendation about the number of people that are allowed to gather. From there, determine how you’re going to pull off your ceremony from a safe distance. Here are a few examples of how you can have the best in-person ceremony:

Drive-thru wedding reception Bride and groom host drive-thru wedding reception


Plan A Drive-thru Wedding!

Get married on the front porch, lawn or balcony of your apartment complex. Have your friends and family drive parade-style through the streets of your neighborhood. Ask them ahead of time to make signs and honk their horns when you kiss your groom! Safely hand out bubbles to blow or balloons to release as they drive by and wish you well on your wedding day. Use an outdoor speaker and dance on the street for your first dance. As a thank-you to your neighbors for enduring the fun-filled street ceremony, drop off pieces of cake or cookies on their doorstep.

Empty church for COVID wedding

Courtesy: Win McNamee/Getty Images &

Get Married At An Empty Venue

If getting married at your church is still important to you, see if they’ll do a ceremony with empty pews. If you’re getting married at a venue, see if they have an open field where you can get married and space your guests out.

Still want your bridesmaids and groomsmen to be there? Have them get ready and dressed at home. After they walk down the aisle, separately of course, have them space out at the end. To ease any guests that are concerned about the spread of germs, provide masks and hand sanitizer for each of them at the beginning of the ceremony. Then, have a reception in the parking lot! Break out music from the car stereo, have food delivered and keep cake in a cooler.

Wedding in the park


Invite Only The Officiant And Witnesses Needed To Get Married

If all you desire on your wedding day is to marry the one you love and nothing else matters, this is a great option. Get married at the courthouse or the park for a very intimate wedding. Sign and send off the marriage certificate and enjoy newlywed bliss!

How to Have a Virtual Ceremony

Having a virtual ceremony is the best option for couples that want all of their family and friends to attend their wedding, especially if they live far away. Send out a new wedding invitation via email or set up a Facebook event to give your guests the details of your virtual wedding. Have everyone log into the meeting about 15 minutes early to make sure they can see and hear everything clearly. Ask your guests to dress up for the event. The women will love it, they don’t have to worry about what shoes to wear!

There are several video platforms to choose from: Zoom, House Party, Skype, just to name a few. Be sure to give detailed instructions to your elderly relatives and guests—they may not know how to attend a video chat. You may want to do a trial run with them before the actual ceremony.

Recorded Zoom wedding ceremony


You can also live stream your ceremony on Facebook or Instagram if setting up a virtual meeting is too much work. If you don’t like the idea of doing a live ceremony, record a private ceremony with just your officiant and witnesses and then edit and post the video on social media!

The good thing about a virtual wedding is that you can have it anywhere! Light up your living room with candles surrounding you, play music from an outdoor speaker at the park, or pick a spot that’s meaningful to you and your soon-to-be spouse. If you’re planning to video conference or live stream, make sure you have a strong WIFI connection.

Since you’re saving money by not having a traditional wedding, consider sending your family and friends a wedding favor or have food/cake delivered to their door. They’ll appreciate the special gesture and feel like they’re part of your wedding day.

Married on the front porch

Courtesy: Anne-Marie Caruso/ Today Network &

How to Mix a Virtual and In-person Ceremony

Can’t choose between a virtual or in-person ceremony? Have your (wedding) cake and eat it too—do both! One option is to have the actual ceremony in person with just your parents and then set up a Zoom reception. Let the best man and maid of honor give their speeches and have guests take turns toasting you. Play a virtual rendition of “The Newlywed Game” with all of your other married friends.

If you’re looking for a more traditional reception, do the reverse. Have a quick ceremony via Zoom and invite as many people as you want. Then, have just immediate family members come over for a party in your backyard. Space out lawn chairs and play yard games like cornhole or horseshoe. Fire up the grill and turn up some music. Just be mindful of the neighbors!

These two options are literally the best of both worlds because you don’t have to miss out on seeing the people you truly want at your wedding. Just make it work however you want!

Social distance wedding at the beach


No matter what you choose for your wedding, remember that you can always plan a simple ceremony now and have a larger reception or party at a later date. The important thing is that you get to say “I do” to the love of your life and your journey to married life begins!