Wedding Wisdom Wednesday: How to Keep Guests Safe Amid Delta Surge

Local wedding pros share insight and tips for planning your wedding.

Emily Stenger
Inside Understory's event space

Like many industries, event planning has been deeply impacted by COVID-19 since the world was put on pause in early 2020. This summer, just as we thought we were making progress with the pandemic, the delta variant appeared and made everyone question the best way to move forward while keeping the safety of our community at the forefront. 

We at Wolf’s Ridge Brewing strive to set an exceptional example by promoting a safety-first initiative in all of our spaces and will continue to move forward in this fashion. Adopting a safety-first approach and abiding by the newly reissued mask mandate in Columbus will be top priority in our event spaces like our Hickory Room and at the opening of our upcoming venture, Understory, a new restaurant/bar concept that will begin operation first as a new event space in October. We have always worked in tandem with our clients on their vision of a successful event, which is even more important as we all navigate through the pandemic.

Keeping Events Flowing During Uncertain Times

The delta variant continues to put the hospitality industry in a state of unknown, with more and more events being postponed or canceled. Since the mask mandate has been reinstated in Columbus, a solid majority of wedding couples have again been put in a difficult position of deciding to move forward with their event, put it on pause or even cancel altogether. In some cases, couples have decided to host small weddings to accommodate the social distancing requirements of earlier this year and may even plan to host a larger reception to celebrate when things feel better.

Committing to a venue as cases rise is also causing some nervousness among clients. In order to book an event, clients typically must sign a contract and a credit card authorization form, and many have expressed apprehension about being held liable for cancellation fees if the delta variant continues to spread and affect everyone’s safety. This forces a lot of couples to take a look at what is really important when celebrating their big day during a pandemic and make a decision that best reflects what they want and how they can best keep their family and friends safe. 

It’s a tough position to be in, and our best advice on whether to postpone an event is case-by-case and based on the client’s comfort level. If the client is not comfortable hosting a celebration indoors, we typically encourage them to postpone. We recommend booking an alternative date early and working closely with vendors to ensure that you stay on top of any deadlines to shift events before deposit money is lost.

Precautions to Keep Event Attendees Safe

Planning a wedding during a pandemic can be stressful, but by thinking through some potential protocols to add to your big day and working with your event planner, you can host an event that feels safe and comfortable for you and your guests. 

Even before the mask mandate was reimplemented in Columbus, Wolf’s Ridge Brewing worked on a case-by-case basis with clients to ensure their private event would be executed according to their preferences, while following all state- and city-issued mandates. 

For couples struggling with decisions about hosting an event during a pandemic, there are tactics to consider to ensure safety during their celebrations. Some examples of those protocols could include:

  • Requiring masks for your guests when they are not eating or drinking
  • Asking the venue to ensure that all staff members working the event are vaccinated and wearing masks
  • Requiring guests to present vaccination cards at the door
  • Requiring guests to present a recent negative COVID-19 test at the door
  • Keeping tables 6 feet apart
  • Recommending that your guests isolate and get tested after attending the celebration

These recommendations can be added to invitations, wedding websites and other communications ahead of events, as well as made clear upon entry. 

If it is important to you to host an event with extra protocols in place for the safety of your guests, it’s important to work with a venue that will help you implement your preferred protocols. Many venues are also prepared with options that can help ease the minds of clients. For example, throughout the pandemic, if the client prefers, the staff at Wolf’s Ridge wore their masks during the entirety of the event—and will continue to do so at clients’ request. We also provided—and will continue to provide—masks and hand sanitizer for guests to use during the event, and we promote mask-wearing in the space via signage throughout the room. 

While it is challenging to enforce some protocols across the board without a government entity enforcing it, it is possible to do it on a case-by-case basis with close client communication ahead of events.

What the Delta Variant Means for the Wedding Industry

Not only are individuals booking events impacted, but businesses are also being impacted financially, and that includes those in the wedding industry. At Wolf’s Ridge, we’re finding that the revenue for this time of year is much lower than that of 2019, before the spread of COVID. In the past, we were able to use our private spaces for public events. Now, those rooms sit empty, because it is hard to promote a safe and public event indoors.

The delta variant is adding stress and anxiety to all parties involved, because the future is unclear, and we are unable to predict when events will be completely safe again. But all is not lost. We're working hard to continue to bring people together safely when we can, and we look forward to raising a glass together in celebration when we are out of the uncertainties of the pandemic.

Author Emily Stenger

Private events coordinator Emily Stenger has been working at Wolf's Ridge Brewing since 2014, only a year after it opened its doors to the public. She worked through the beginning stages of the taproom and their first event space, The Hickory Room, before being at the forefront of assisting the launch of their newest concept, Understory. Originally from Cleveland, she graduated from Ohio State University before making Columbus her home for the past decade.