How to Serve Food Safely at a Covid-era Wedding

A wedding guest reaching for a cocktail glass from a server at a wedding.

The COVID-19 pandemic is dragging into its sixth month in the United States, and sadly it doesn’t appear to be going away any time soon. There’s no question that this virus will leave a lasting impact on our culture; even once stay-at-home orders and restrictions end, many of us will feel some lingering anxiety whenever we’re in a crowd. This means that things like concerts, school events, and even weddings will undergo some major changes.

How are you supposed to serve your wedding guests AND keep them safe and healthy? It’s actually not as difficult as it may seem. All you need to do is make a few changes that will protect yourself, you vendors, and your loved ones from any unwanted germs. Here are a few tips, straight from the CDC, to help you safely serve food at your wedding.

Be Strict with Your Guest List

It can be difficult to ask someone not to attend your wedding—especially if they are someone you care for very much. But unfortunately, someone with the sniffles or a little cough could wreak real havoc on your entire wedding! If you want to avoid an outbreak, you must ask all loved ones to stay home if they (or anyone with whom they have close contact) is experiencing COVID symptoms.

This is particularly true if you are serving food at your wedding. When guests eat, they generally don’t wear masks, which means there is a slightly greater risk of spreading the virus during the meal. For this reason, you should make sure everyone in attendance is feeling well—and keep a list of all your guests for contact tracing purposes, just in case.

Opt for Outdoor Seating

A wedding reception with tables and chairs set up in a courtyard.

The COVID-19 virus spreads through aerosol droplets that travel when an infected person is talking, singing, laughing, etc. This is why it’s very important to have a well-ventilated space for your wedding reception! Your guests will inevitably talk and mingle with one another, so you need to have a reception space with lots of airflow.

In fact, the best possible place to host your reception is outside. Set up some tables (six feet apart, of course) on the lawn and make sure you seat guests with others from their household. Just like that, you’ll minimize the risk of spreading anything during dinner.

Skip the Buffet

Someone working in a food truck at a weddding reception.

Buffet-style dinners are very common at weddings. Unfortunately, they’re also a major risk for your guests. Too often, buffet set-ups require multiple guests to handle one serving utensil—and if anyone is carrying the virus, they could infect someone else by touching the serving spoons.

You can solve this problem by opting for plated dinners or having one designated person (perhaps a catering employee) serving all the food. Additionally, do your best to limit the number of people around the food prep area. The more people there are in the kitchen, the greater the risk that someone could contaminate the food!

Keep Hands Clean

Finally, hand washing has been the main weapon against COVID-19 since it first appeared in humans. Washing your hands for 20 seconds with soap and water can help dramatically slow the virus’s spread, which means it is an essential tool for anyone attending your wedding.

Make sure to remind all your guests to wash their hands before enjoying their food. You might also want to set up “sanitizing stations,” where guests can clean their hands quickly. Offer hand sanitizer (use a sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol) and single-use towels so everyone can clean up! Put these stations at the entrance to your reception and around commonly-touched items like trash bins. This will ensure that all your guests are germ-free all day long.

It may feel like the end of COVID-19 is still ages away. However, these little changes are hugely helpful in the battle to beat this virus! If we all work together to keep each other safe, eventually we’ll be able to return to our normal work days, school days, parties, and weddings.

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