Like a lot of people our age (north of 60), over the years we’ve gotten to know a lot of people.  We get invited to a lot of weddings.  We know we aren’t always on the A list and sometimes might even be on the D list, but we always consider it an honor to be invited and always attend if possible.  We look forward to weddings…it’s fun to dress up and dance…we rarely get to do that anymore.

But, honestly, except for noticing our “will not attend” RSVP, there are very few folks who would terribly miss us if we were unable to attend.


Quite frankly I’m afraid to go to any large gatherings.  I am terrified my husband, who has lungs like swiss-cheese, will not survive if he becomes infected.  I don’t want to risk either of our lives for an evening of dinner and dancing after watching two young people who barely remember me exchange vows.  But I was raised with good manners.  I’ve given enough parties to know it’s rude to not go without a valid reason.

But is it equally rude to say “I don’t want to come to your wedding for fear I’ll catch a disease”?  Is that the same as saying “I’m afraid you or your guests might have bad cooties”??!!  Is it okay to call and ask if social distancing will be done?  Or will I look like the odd duck when I show up in pearls, a face shield and an N-95?

I don’t think Miss Manners has ever had to cover this scenario.  I’m not an etiquette coach but I’m old and I’m a wedding coordinator.  At times such as these, I think you fall back on common sense and grace.  When in doubt, kindness is always good etiquette.

Your “Save the Dates” probably went out long ago and your invitations are probably printed.   You can (and should) keep people updated on your website about how you are managing the COVID upheaval.  But remember, it’s older people like me who are most concerned about the virus and we aren’t accustomed to looking at a couple’s website…it’s a pretty new concept for us.  So personally, I would also include in your invitations a small printed note that gives your guests some information so they can make informed decisions.

Let me give you a couple real-life examples:

“Dear Family and Friends,

When we sent out our “Save the Date” cards, little did we know that a tiny little virus would enter our world and turn it upside down.

COVID is real and it is serious, especially for those in high-risk categories or those whose loved ones are high-risk.  Our venue and our caterers will be taking extra precautions and we do ask that everyone wear masks when not eating, drinking or having pictures taken.

However, as hard as we will try, these precautions may not be enough.  While most cases of COVID infection pass fairly easily, we know some of you are at high risk of becoming seriously ill if infected.  More than anything we want you to stay healthy!  We promise we will not be offended if you choose safety over celebration.   It is far more important to us to have you healthy, in our lives and part of our story for years to come than to have you risk your health for just one day.

Our ceremony site is spacious and outdoors but the reception venue is indoors and a safe social distance will be difficult to maintain.  We would love to have you present when we make our vows but will understand if safety concerns interfere with your desire to attend the reception.  Please feel free to write “Ceremony Only” on the response card.  Knowing you will be there will warm our hearts.

If you feel traveling or attending put you at risk and you shouldn’t participate,, please be assured we completely understand.  We want you to make the safe decision.  We will be recording the ceremony and hope you will celebrate with us no matter where you are.  Please provide your email address on the Response Card and we will send you a link and instructions.  More than anything else, we ask that you keep us in your heart on our most important day.

Stay safe & healthy.  We love you. Sue and George”

I’m sure guests LOVED what Jamie K from New Hampshire posted on their wedding website in March for their May wedding.

“We are aware that the Coronavirus and the concerns surrounding it are a very serious matter, and could potentially effect our wedding day. As of today, March 14th, our wedding remains as planned – if this changes, we will certainly let everyone know.

Locally, the schools have shut down until at least April and the cruiseline we were planning our honeymoon on has announced a 30 day suspension as of yesterday, so naturally, we are a little worried as for what the future holds right now!

Our wedding is still two months away, so a lot may change by then, but with so much uncertainty, we want everyone to feel comfortable knowing that we completely understand anyone who cannot attend due the current circumstances, especially for elderly guests, those flying in and those with compromised health in general. PLEASE DO NOT PUT YOURSELVES AT RISK FOR OUR WEDDING – if you feel you are at risk in anyway, please do to not feel obligated to come. Although it saddens us that there is a potential for many guests not to be able to make it to our wedding day, in no way do we want to compromise anyone’s wellbeing.

We are trying our best to keep a positive and open mind about everything and what’s to come! So, fingers crossed it all works out the way it’s supposed to.”

These heartfelt words will mean so much to your invited friends and family.  We are all in positions we never expected and have no clear roadmap on how to proceed   So shine a little light on the path…it could save a life.

Photo by Katy O’Dell Photography

By “The Anonymous Guest”