Love knows no pandemic. Not even the deadly virus can stop people from falling in love — and getting married. Even if tying the knot these days means “a temperature gun awaiting the bride before she walks down the aisle.”
Love continues to flourish even if it means that “Guests’ vaccination cards and negative RT-PCR results can also double as wedding gifts.” Both are requirements for guests in today’s weddings.
“The temperature gun is like the modern ‘shotgun wedding,’” says Rita Neri, dubbed as the fairy godmother of Philippine weddings because she pioneered wedding coordination in the country three decades ago. “Even the meaning of that phrase has evolved like the virus. Even the rules in weddings and wedding coordination have mutated like the virus.”
Getting married these days, according to the premier wedding and events coordinator in the country, is both “stressful and fun, nerve-wracking and liberating.”
The rules for the ceremony and reception have changed, Rita says. The safety of the couple and their guests is foremost in rules of etiquette observed. Nothing more. Nothing less.
After all the postponements and cancellations of a wedding due to the pandemic, the bride and groom still patiently want to pursue their vows as husband and wife. That’s a picture of enduring love. The virus cannot beat that.
Here are some basic rules observed in today’s weddings, according to Rita:
After the couple has decided to get married, the wedding invite (even if only for 30 to 50 guests) is crucial.
“The wording in the invitation now boils down to etiquette. Again, to ensure the safety of everyone. The couple has to make it perfectly clear to their guests that if they are not fully vaccinated, and not RT-PCR-swabbed, they cannot attend the wedding,” Rita says.
Some couples, she adds, indicate in their invite something like this: ‘We love you and we want you to be there, but for your safety and the safety of everyone, we lovingly request that you are fully vaccinated and swabbed.’
In which case, the presentation of the vaccination card and 24-hour RT-PCR result is already a gift of the guests to the couple. In many cases, the couple will pay for the RT-PCR test of their guests.
Antigen testing at church and reception
“Again, for safety reasons, aside from the negative RT-PCR result of the guests, antigen testing is required. Couples request for that,” Rita says.
At a time when life and survival should be a concern, such a request is “not overkill.”
Thankfully, in the 12 weddings Rita has done so far since the pandemic started in March 2020, no one has tested positive either in church or at the reception. Rita and her team are ready for the eventuality, nevertheless. (She used to do 12 weddings a month pre-pandemic. She had coordinated weddings with a thousand guests before. Now, 80 is the biggest number of guests she handles.)
Priests, according to Rita, are not swab-tested because “they normally keep their distance from the couple as they are always behind the altar.” But if the couple requires them to test, it is Rita's duty to tell the priest.
How to disinvite guests
Given the time-to-time changes in ruling of the IATF about events, disinviting guests is commonplace.
“Your guests will always understand why they have to be disinvited. Just be honest with them with your reasons, whether your reason is the new government ruling or you just found out that your mother is adding one or two to your guest list. Whatever it is, be honest,” she shares.
Manage the number of guests to avoid disinviting people
Sometimes, 150 people will be allowed in a venue, that is if the venue is a ballroom that can accommodate 500 people. It’s always the MECQ rule to accommodate only up to 30 percent capacity.
“But I always tell the couple to anticipate changes in the ruling. Best to have three sets of guests: for 150 guests, 75 guests and 30 guests. Whatever suits the situation. And always at 30-percent capacity of the venue,” Rita says.
She adds that weddings in Metro Manila are very lean. Even if the government allows 30 percent capacity during MECQ, there are weddings with only 10 people in the church, or 20 at most. The most number of guests Rita handled in an outdoor reception in Tagaytay was 80.
To determine who should be kept on the list just in case the number is further lowered to just a very few guests, Rita suggests answering this question: ‘Who is the person who should witness my wedding because without him or her there, my wedding is not complete?’
Don’t forget to count the suppliers in the guest list
Waiters, wedding coordinators, photographers, videographers, no matter how lean their presence is in the wedding, are now considered part of the wedding entourage.
“So, if allowed number of guests is 30 and you have five suppliers, you can only invite 25 more to your wedding. The government rules may be disorienting and disconcerting at times, but it is always best to follow,” she advises.
The best man is the new ring bearer.
Because kids are not allowed to go out in the time of the pandemic, there are no flower girls and ring bearers in weddings now.
Lalamove your gifts for health safety
Yes, gifts now are delivered to the house of the couple via Lalamove or Grab and not to the reception. Couples also appreciate all GCash and Paymaya gifts. Giveaway gifts are personalized alcohol and face masks — printed with the names of the guests.
Group photos are discouraged
In this age of social distancing, people are careful now. They are considerate. The most is a photo of the couple with their parents, with their immediate family.
No live entertainment
Everything can be done, from bouquet throwing to cake slicing — except live entertainment. No bands. Dancing is for the couple and for the bride and father of the bride.
Observe curfew hours
A 4 p.m. church wedding should be finished by 5 p.m. Hotel reception at 6 p.m. Dinner at 7 p.m. People start to leave at 9 p.m. to observe curfew at 10 p.m. It’s always best to follow rules.
With all the new rules and restrictions now, what makes Rita still a believer in weddings?
“That, after all the postponements and cancellations of a particular wedding due to the pandemic, the bride and groom still patiently want to pursue their vows as husband and wife. That’s a picture of enduring love. The virus cannot beat that,” she ends.