What Governor Cooper’s COVID Mass Gathering Guidelines for NC Mean for 2020 Fall Weddings
On September 1, 2020, Governor Cooper launched phase 2.5 of his three phase plan for NC. This phase of cornavirus recovery will launch Friday, September 4 and will last until October 2. Today, we’re sharing what that means for engaged couples planning 2020 fall weddings. We’ll also share how NC wedding vendors are operating under these COVID mass gathering guidelines for NC.
At Heart of NC Weddings, we’ve been tracking the progress of what Governor Cooper is allowing. We’ve also been in touch with dozens of NC wedding venues and vendors to hear how they are coping and safely allowing weddings during this time. We are sharing the facts, and will continue to update this post as restrictions ease in the coming weeks and months.
Planning Your Fall 2020 NC Wedding with Phase 2.5 Mass Gatherings Rules
As of September 4, 2020, Governor Roy Cooper announced that we will enter Phase 2.5 in North Carolina. This new phase will last until October 2nd. Engaged couples will be eager to know that there has been an easing in restrictions for weddings. This is the FIRST movement we have had on mass gatherings in North Carolina since May. Baby steps, but we’ll take it!
NC Wedding Ceremony Guidelines
There have never been restrictions on your ceremony guest count, although ceremonies do still require social distancing and mask rules. Please note that if you don’t restrict your ceremony guest list and plan to host a reception afterwards, you may have to designate ceremony invite list versus reception invite list. Some couples are offering to-go meals for ceremony guests who don’t get to attend the reception.
NC Wedding Reception Guidelines, Phase 2.5
Mass gathering limits will be raised from 10 to 25 people indoors and from 25 to 50 people outside.
In application, 25 people indoors and 50 people outdoor can absolutely become a 75 person wedding. The key is to not allow guests to flow from one area to another. If your guests are assigned to a space, and do not inter-mingle with the other group, you are following the rules. We’ve talked to venues who hand out wrist bands, and each group goes to their own space for the reception portion of the evening. The key to legality and safety is true separation.
Is My Venue (or Back Yard) Exempt?
Please note, these mass gathering rules apply to every type of establishment in North Carolina. So if you are hosting your wedding in a restaurant, or on a farm, which are allowed to be open at 50% capacity, you must defer to the mass gathering guidelines.
This goes for private, home weddings as well.
Is Dancing Allowed?
There is no guideline for dancing. The limits only involve guest count. So, yes dancing is allowed. However, mask and social distancing guidelines do apply.
What Would YOU Do?
Our recommendation is to plan for fall weddings including September through December, based on these guidelines, because we do not know if the guidelines will be eased in October. If you are not following the rules, all of your contracted wedding vendors might not be comfortable coming onsite for your wedding. They have to look out for their business and the application of their insurance. So we recommend an open dialogue and playing it safe with the rules.
So we say, go ahead and pare down your guest list according to how these rules fit in with your venue. You can always keep a list of your priority 25-50 guests that you would invite should the guidelines ease up more next month.
COVID Safety First
By all means, please do prepare for safety! It is not your venue or your planner’s responsibility to act as a police. Work with your vendors to prepare an environment that promotes safety. The last thing anyone wants is to have coronavirus spread at their wedding.
- make sure your guests know in advance that they should only come if they are certain they have not been exposed to covid, and that you are taking it seriously
- have your DJ make announcements reminding guest to mask up
- hand out masks upon entry to the event
- work with your caterer for a pre-plated meal and table service
- set up sanitizer stations
- abide by the NC guidelines
COVID Causes Mayhem for NC Weddings in 2020
2020 was to be a record-breaking year for weddings. (Gosh, who wouldn’t want 2020 as their anniversary date?) But COVID-19, has caused a wrench in the plans of thousands of US couples. And here in North Carolina, we’ve been a hot spot for the novel coronavirus, prompting Governor Cooper to enact strict limits on mass gatherings. Logically, this does include weddings. But, these limits have been to the dismay of betrothed couples and event professionals. Our NC event industry has been getting very creative with how to host weddings safely during this time. For couples and wedding pros, the uncertain climate and regularly changing rules mean having to prep a Plan A, B, and C for your wedding. That’s not easy! But, we’ve got your back.
More resources on COVID wedding planning:
- If you prefer to just wait it out and have your big dream party, we get it. Here’s how to Reschedule your Wedding
- How to Love Big While Celebrating… Small(er)
- How to Virtually Plan Your Wedding from the couch
- Planning a Virtual Bachelorette Party
- Keeping Your Relationship in Check during the Pandemic
- and last but not least, a roundup of COVID Related Elopement Packages and Wedding Deals
If you’re NEWLY engaged and planning a NC Wedding for Fall 2020 or anytime in 2021, please note that a lot of venues have re-booked weddings and have more limited availability.
Resources for Newly-Engaged Folks During COVID: