Understanding Washington's COVID-19 Guidelines (and what they mean for your wedding)
Updated: Jan 31
Last Updated: Jan 30
NOTE: If you’re planning a wedding in Oregon, you’ll want to read our Oregon-specific breakdown.
COVID-19 guidelines are constantly changing, but when it comes to how those affect your wedding, you can count on us to break those down for you.
In this blog, we simplify how Washington State’s Roadmap to Recovery impacts your wedding and we’ll add updates when wedding COVID-19 requirements change. Be sure to check back to this page from time to time!
SUMMARY OF MOST RECENT UPDATES:
Puget Sound and West Regions in Phase 2!
Dancing is permitted!
Receptions now allowed for Phase 1 outdoor weddings
Guest count limits do NOT include vendor staff
Since our last update to this blog on Jan. 15, we’ve also included more details of the differences between Phase 1 and Phase 2 weddings.
WEDDINGS AND PHASES
Washington State is assigning “Phases” to regions that include multiple counties, based on the COVID-19 metrics for that region (AKA how many tests are positive and how many cases there are).
Phase 1 has the most restrictions and still allows for weddings, but Phase 2 allows for much more (more on this down below).
You’ll want to know what region your wedding venue is, as the Phase for that region will determine what you can and can’t do at your wedding. You can check the most up-to-date metrics and Phase of each region here.
And GOOD NEWS: The Puget Sound and West Regions have moved to Phase 2! (Skip to Phase 2 restrictions)
The tricky part is, Phases can change every two weeks when metrics are reevaluated. A region’s Phase changing in the two weeks leading up to your wedding could mean some adjustments, which is why we highly recommend having a planner to help you through this and make those last-minute changes if needed.
We know what you’re thinking, but we want to tell you that it's possible to make last minute changes without cancelling. We’ve done it before, and we will continue to find a unique solution for you.
Also, we believe things are changing for the better and that 2021 holds hope for weddings (and you can read why on our blog).
We have read and reread all the documents Governor Inslee has published that depicted all the restrictions for your wedding. All we write below is summarized from the following documents:
Open Air and Outdoor Seating Requirements (for outdoor seating)
Healthy Washington Roadmap to Recovery (description of COVID-19 metrics and up-to-date Phases)
To sum it up, COVID-19 requirements for weddings differ depending on:
the Phase of your venue’s region
if you have indoor or outdoor wedding,
and your wedding venue’s own requirements (which can be additional to the state requirements).
Here is a quick overview of the differences, but we'll go on to explain more about the restrictions in each phase and category.
It's a common misconception that state requirements only apply to venues. But Governor Inslee’s restrictions apply to weddings no matter the location: “privately owned property, business establishments, non-profit establishments, establishments owned by religious or faith-based organizations and publicly owned property.”
Now for the nitty-gritty: what exactly you can and can’t you do on your wedding day based on the Phase.
WEDDINGS IN PHASE 1
For an indoor venue, your guest count can be no more than 30 people or 25% capacity of the venue, whichever is less. In our last update, we mentioned that this guest count includes vendors, but this (thankfully!) is not true. If you don’t want to have less than 30 people, make sure to pick a venue that can support at least 120 people at full capacity.
While 30 people can be at your wedding, make sure to let guests know that groups can’t exceed 10 people and 2 households.
Unfortunately during Phase 1, receptions before or after an indoor wedding are prohibited. If you want to have a wedding reception in a Phase 1 region, you will need to have an outdoor wedding.
A solo vocalist or musician is allowed during the ceremony if you want to walk down the aisle to live music, but the musician or vocalist must be at least 20 feet away from the audience.
With an outdoor wedding, you can have a maximum of 30 people, not including vendors. Same group rules apply as indoor weddings.
Receptions are allowed! There are, of course, restrictions that apply, such as ensuring guests wear face coverings and social distance. In the Wedding COVID-19 Restrictions document from Governor Inslee, there is a list of general practices for vendors and wedding hosts to follow.
Make sure to arrange your tables based on state guidelines. Table sizes are limited to 6 people from a maximum of 2 households and all tables must be spaced 6 feet from any other table. This will be the same for receptions in Phase 2 also.
The area where people are sitting and eating must also follow the state’s Open-air Seating Guidance. There are many options for setting up your outdoor reception area, such as having tents or canopies but to sum it up: less walls = less restrictions.
Food & Drink:
You can have food and drink, but there are various eating and drinking requirements. Your caterer or venue should be aware of these in order to operate, but have a conversation with your vendors so you’re on the same page.
At weddings, it is common to have a buffet or grazing table. The state says that buffets and salad bars are permitted, but must follow Department of Health guidance (i.e. dividers between food and people, no-self serve, etc.)
Live Music & Entertainment:
It’s our dream come true-- dancing is allowed! The dance floor will look different that you might’ve seen before, because people can only dance in groups of 6 from the same group as their table, and all groups must dance 6 feet apart. Having guidelines on the floor will help with this.
Masks are also required for anyone on the dance floor.
Live musicians are also permitted, but must be spaced 20 feet from the audience and wear masks or have a divider. They also must follow all the guidelines for theater and performance arts, as required by the state. The entertainment portion of your reception must also be limited to 2 hours.
WEDDINGS IN PHASE 2
Phase 2 is definitely more supportive of weddings, and it is our hope that we will start to see more and more regions hit Phase 2 by March.
The guest count for indoor weddings increases significantly in Phase 2. It allows for 200 people or 25% of the venue capacity, not including vendors. Remember to pay attention to the venues max capacity!
The group limits also increase to a maximum of 15 people, but still from a max of 2 households.
Hurray, you can have an indoor reception! You will need to follow your venue’s guidelines and have your guests wear face coverings and social distance.
Seating is the same as Phase 1 outdoor weddings. Table sizes are limited to 6 people from a maximum of 2 households and all tables must be spaced 6 feet from any other table.
If your wedding is indoors, it's good to consider what the air flow will be like. The state recommends to open any windows and utilize fans if possible.
Food and Drink:
Food service must follow eating and drinking requirements for Phase 2. They are more or less the same as Phase 1.
Music and Entertainment:
Again, all must wear face coverings in the dancing/entertainment area. Dancing is still limited to groups with distancing between them, and live solo musicians or vocalists are allowed, but no choirs, bands or ensembles are allowed to perform inside. The dancing/entertainment time is still limited to 2 hours, but extends in Phase 2 outdoor weddings.
If your wedding is outdoors, then the max number of guests you can have is 200. Group limits of 15 from 2 households still apply. An outdoor wedding in a Phase 2 region allows for the most friends and family!
Receptions are a go, just make sure to follow your venue’s guidelines and as always, have your guests wear face coverings and social distance.
Nothing new here. Table sizes are still limited to 6 people from a maximum of 2 households and all tables must be spaced 6 feet from any other table.
Nothing new here either. Food service must follow eating and drinking requirements
Music and Entertainment:
Dancing guidelines remain the same, but the time is extended to 3 hours with an outdoor wedding. Bands, choirs and ensembles are allowed here, but they must still follow entertainment guidelines.
YPB IS HERE TO HELP
We are staying on top of these changes and as always, it’s our job to make planning your wedding less stressful. If the COVID guidelines are impacting your wedding and you’re having trouble navigating them, reach out to us!
We executed 30+ weddings under these guidelines, we have experience figuring out the best solution and we will walk you through all of your options. You can reach us at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
For now, keep the faith. The vaccine is rolling out (though far too slow) and we are still very hopeful for a wonderful 2021 wedding season.
Your Perfect Bridesmaid