Can socially distanced events be safe, memorable and fun? Yes!
Hosting a wedding reception, corporate event or quinceañera during a pandemic isn’t ideal, but who says your event has to be anything less than spectacular? Let us put your mind at ease! We’ve helped numerous clients host memorable, socially-distanced events in our Dallas banquet halls and hope the following tips will simplify the process for you.
Tip No. 1: Keep tabs on state and local guidelines for large gatherings.
If we’ve learned anything during the pandemic, government guidelines can change at a moment’s notice. Depending on where you live, this could include mask mandates, capacity restrictions and quarantine recommendations. Check state and local health department websites for the latest updates. You can also visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website for other tips and insight.
Tip No. 2: Ask the venue about guest capacity restrictions and safety protocols.
Restrictions on guest capacity vary depending on whether your event is held indoors or outdoors and the type of venue you choose. For example, venues run by religious organizations in Texas (like churches) are allowed to operate at 100% capacity. Our Dallas event center is also allowed to operate at 100% capacity because it’s classified as a church. Other venues may be restricted to lower guest capacity, so be sure to ask.
That being said, you may not feel comfortable holding an event at 100% capacity right now. In fact, most of our clients have opted for 75% capacity or less during the pandemic.
It’s also helpful to find out what safety protocols your venue follows and requires. For example, at DFW Celebrations we require guests to wear masks as they enter and leave the building, and our staff wears masks at all times. We leave guidelines for mask-wearing during events up to the hosts.
The venue should also be able to provide a detailed list of their cleaning and sanitizing procedures upon request. Our team thoroughly cleans the facility before and after every event and frequently sanitizes high-touch surfaces during the event (tables, counters, chairs, doors, door handles, locks, restrooms, etc.). We also provide hand sanitizer stations throughout the venue.
Tip No. 3: Inform guests of your expectations upfront.
Your guests will have different opinions about social distancing protocols and masking, so sharing your wishes prior to the event is key. That way guests can decide whether or not they feel comfortable attending and what to expect once they arrive. A few guidelines to consider:
- Will there be a temperature check prior to entry?
- Will guests need to use hand sanitizer upon entry?
- When will guests be required to wear masks (upon entry, on the dance floor, whenever within 6-feet of others, at all times, etc.)?
- Will you ask guests who feel ill not to attend?
- Will hugging be allowed or off limits?
In addition, setting up signage at the event that reconfirms these wishes can help prevent any confusion on your big day.
Tip No. 4: Make it easy—and FUN—for guests to follow your wishes.
Many of our clients provide masks, individual hand sanitizer bottles and a temperature check station at their socially distanced events. Some hosts even provide personalized welcome kits upon arrival with everything the guest needs to celebrate safely—including a printed list of the host’s expectations as described above. Get creative! You can even order special masks and hand sanitizer bottles with messaging and colors of your choosing.
Tip No. 5: Modify seating options.
During the pandemic, our venue shifted to seating six people at a table instead of 10, and we also position tables further apart to promote social distancing. Seating family members or people from the same household together can also help put your guests’ minds at ease.
If the venue includes a bar area, consider Including more soft seating (sofas and benches) and cocktail tables for smaller groups of 2 to 3. That way guests can gather more safely during cocktail hour and after dinner.
Tip No. 6: Switch up food and beverage service.
Buffets, passed hors d’oeuvres and crowded bars can all increase the risk of spreading infectious disease during large gatherings. Opting for plated dinner from your catering service instead of a buffet is a good first step. You can also minimize health risks by using waiters and food servers to deliver plated appetizers and drinks directly to guests. Some of our clients have even switched to disposable plates, cups and flatware to help minimize virus spread.
Tip No. 7: Make special accommodations for guests with health risks.
A couple who recently held their wedding reception at DFW Celebrations wanted to make sure their parent with a compromised immune system could safely attend their event. We set up a special table just for her, positioned several feet away from other guests. She could still watch and enjoy the celebration, while other guests knew to keep their distance.
Tip No. 8: Consider a “comfort” band system.
Different guests have different comfort levels when it comes to how they want to interact with other guests. In a recent post on Brides.com, Lynn Easton of Easton Events recommends providing color-coded wristbands guests can wear to make their wishes known. Easton suggests the following:
- Red or Pink: “Kindly keep your social distance, but I am smiling behind my mask!”
- Blue or Yellow: “I am comfortable in a group, but no hugging, please!”
- Green or White: “I have antibodies—time to celebrate!”
Tip No. 9: Create a safe and socially-distanced dance floor.
What’s a celebration without your favorite music and dancing? If you want to allow guests to dance but keep them safe, there are many creative ways to do so. Requiring masks during dancing is one request many of our clients now ask of guests. You can also section off the dance floor to remind guests to social distance—from chalk bubbles and colorful tape on the floor to roped-off spaces, options are endless.
Need help planning a socially-distanced event in Dallas-Fort Worth?
Our friendly and knowledgeable event specialists are here to help! To speak with a member of our team, contact us today.