On March 13, like many, we turned our computers off at the close of business not realizing we wouldn’t head back to our offices for months, some never returning due to furloughs (on the downside) or newly embraced remote work options (on the upside). Festivals and events were cancelled, and weddings were postponed. It has been almost four months since that day and though as a city, we entered Phase 2 of reopening, we are now faced with a revamped version of Phase 2. Because coronavirus cases are still climbing – on July 7, 81 new cases were documented making Louisiana the fourth-highest rate of new cases per capita in the country – for both Orleans and Jefferson parishes, and large gatherings appear to be the culprit.
With these new guidelines, we want to explore what it means for weddings and wedding-related festivities. Though as of right now, the city does not have plans to fall back into Phase 1, the city is putting new restrictions on bars, restaurants and gatherings, due to the majority of new cases being reported in people ages 18-29,.
So, what does Phase 2 mean? It’s a “safer at home” mandate for New Orleans residents and businesses. The biggest additions to the list of guidelines by the CDC includes:
- Individuals are prohibited from gathering in groups larger than 25 individuals indoors.
- Individuals are prohibited from gathering in groups larger than 100 individuals outdoors and gatherings must include one safety control officer provided per 50 people per State Fire Marshal guidelines even in outdoor parks and spaces.
These are, of course, in addition to guidelines that have already been in place, such as social distancing and maintaining at least a six foot distance from others, washing hands for at least 20 seconds, individuals over the age of 2 and without breathing problems (like the use of oxygen) wearing a face covering and live entertainment being prohibited in front of an audience in all indoor spaces and finally, outdoor live entertainment being allowed only with special event permits. (Click here to read the full list of Phase 2 guidelines.)
While the limit of 25 individuals in an indoor event is larger than the previous 10-person limit, it’s still a small number for couples desiring an indoor wedding. Though many venues have an outdoor space, there is still a mask or face covering requirement that comes along with the loosened 100-person limit. Additionally, many restaurants and bars couples often choose as venues are not allowed to operate at full staff capacity, which poses problems for the wait staff, as well as the kitchen and back-of-house staff. While this might be a good option given New Orleans’ pleasant fall temperatures, a fully outdoor wedding in the middle of the often extreme heat of July or August isn’t always the most favorable option for everyone.
If you decide to move forward with an outdoor wedding, we suggest working with your vendors to make sure it’s a bearable and enjoyable event (think open tents for shade, fans and portable spot coolers, which are essentially outdoor air conditioners), while also ensuring everyone follows CDC guidelines, as well as taking sanitary precautions to ensure safety.
Stay tuned for more updates, tips, tricks and stories from couples that have already navigated a wedding during the pandemic.