policies, rescheduling guide, and resources
I know it must be incredibly stressful planning your wedding during a freaking pandemic. I understand there is a lot at play – emotions, logistics, and potentially even finances. I want you to know that I’ve got your back, and I’ll do whatever I can to help you. Keeping you, your guests, and my teammates safe, healthy and happy is my top priority.
I’ve put together this guide to help you navigate all of this. It includes information about rescheduling your wedding, governmental regulations for weddings, my policies for sessions and weddings, and links to helpful resources. I am aiming to be flexible and easy to work with, but I must also stress my responsibility for safe and legal business practices during the pandemic. Please read this in detail and check back often since it includes the most up-to-date information that I’ve received from government agencies.
Don’t hesitate to email me (firstname.lastname@example.org) if you have a question, thoughts, comments, or concerns. I'm here for you!
Disclaimer: Given the ever-changing global situation and government guidelines, I may alter or update any information on this page without prior notice. The information here is intended for informational purposes only, and should not be considered a binding legal agreement. This is a fluid situation and may change based upon governmental directives, CDC recommendations, and legal advice. Last updated 6/29/2020.
My Policies for Weddings
My Policies for Engagement Sessions
My Policies for Rescheduling your Wedding
Governmental Requirements for Weddings in Washington
- General Rules and Definitions
- Weddings on Private Property
- Capacity Outdoors and Indoors
- Physical Distancing
- Reception Tables
- Ceremony Seating
- Symptom Screening
- Additional Tips and Good Ideas
- A Note on Following the Above Rules
Will you still photograph our wedding?
If it’s legal and safe, yes.
I cannot participate in a wedding that does not comply with the governmental guidelines at the time of the wedding (see Governmental Requirements below). Since I attend a number of weddings each year, my risk is high. I need to be especially careful and strict about distancing, mask wearing, and other precautions. I hope you understand that this is also to protect you, your guests and my future couples and their guests too. If you choose to carry on with a non-compliant event, your payments will not be refunded due to voluntary cancelation of services.
How will wedding photography work during the pandemic?
Social Distancing: I will choose lenses that let me stay further away. For the most part, this is in line with my normal photography style. I will need to maintain a minimum of 6’ distance from all guests. This might mean I can’t get to certain spots where I would normally photograph. Let’s discuss your ceremony and reception layouts to make sure I’ll be able to move around the space to get you the best photos possible. Some aspects of the wedding may be photographed differently than usual. Examples: Dance party dancing - I will not be able to photographing from the middle of the dance floor. Getting ready - To avoid tight spaces, we may move some parts of this to more open areas or outside. Cocktail hour and speeches - Unless there is ample room, I probably won't have space to walk between tables or walk through the crowd. I'll need to stay on the perimeter.
Face Masks: I will wear a mask during weddings.
Hire a Planner: I HIGHLY recommend hiring a wedding planner/coordinator if you haven’t already. They can help you plan a legal and safe event, and they have creative ideas for reimagining weddings during this weird time. A few planners who have been especially helpful through this: Rebecca Grant at New Creations Wedding Design and Coordination, BreeAnn at Pink Blossom Events, Grace at Smiling Rose Planning, and for elopements Erika at The Greatest Adventure Weddings and Elopements.
Waiver: I will be sending you an addendum to your contract with a Covid-19 Liability Waiver. Please don't be alarmed. This is to protect both of us from liability if we have unknown germs.
Staying Healthy: If I were to start exhibiting symptoms of Covid-19 or have to self-quarantine and your event is within 14 days you will have the option to cancel your booking and receive a refund or I will have an associate photographer work at your event in my place.
Turnaround Times: My 2021 turnaround times may be delayed due to the high volume of weddings that are rescheduled to a consolidated timeframe.
Availability: Initially, session availability may be limited.
Locations: For now, sessions will take place outdoors only. Outdoor locations may also be limited, as some locations are closed or don’t allow for social distancing.
Social Distancing: I won’t shake your hand or hug you when we meet. For now, we’ll stick to waves and smiles. I won't touch you, and I will keep a minimum of 6 ft distance during sessions at all times. I will choose lenses that let me stay a little further away. For the most part, this is in line with my normal photography style.
Posing: Photography sessions will be no-contact posing, which means I will guide you from a safe distance on how to pose.
Face Masks: I will wear a mask during sessions. Businesses are now required to turn away customers not wearing masks, for photography sessions this means: You'll need to wear a mask while we're together except for when I am actively taking your photo. Please bring a mask with you to wear as we walk between locations.
Health Checks: Please be courteous of everyone's health. If anyone in your household is feeling sick or has a fever 14 days prior to your session, we will need to reschedule. Reschedule fees will be waived. Before you leave home, be sure to check temperatures of everyone coming to your session—including yourself—as an extra layer of precaution. Likewise, if I become sick or exposed to Covid-19, I will contact you as soon as possible to reschedule.
If you are a current client, I've emailed you the link to my 2020/2021 calendar. I'm keeping this up-to-date, so please check there for the latest info on available dates. A few things to know:
Fees: There is no rescheduling fee. Your retainer will be applied to your new wedding date.
Associate Photographer: If you need to postpone the wedding because of Covid-19 to a new wedding date that I am not available for, we'll talk about the option of having my (amazing!) associate photographer cover your wedding in my place. In that case, I would continue to help manage your pre and post wedding correspondence, and I will also handle the editing and image/album delivery to match my style.
Refunds: If neither myself nor my associate is available on your new wedding date, you may receive a refund of your retainer minus the cost of any services already rendered (i.e. engagement session, time spent on email correspondence and planning). This option will not be available beyond the first reschedule of your wedding. Otherwise, your retainer is non-refundable but may be used toward other photography services within the next three years.
Legality: I cannot legally photograph a wedding that does not comply with the governmental guidelines at the time of the event. If you choose to carry on with a non-compliant event, your payments will not be refunded due to voluntary cancelation of services.
Cancelations: If you choose to cancel your wedding instead of rescheduling, your non-refundable retainer may be used toward other photography services within the next three years.
The June 19th Memorandum for Weddings and Funerals in phase 1, 2, and 3 allows weddings to proceed as long as:
1. They follow the Phase 1, 2, and 3 Religious and Faith-based Organization COVID-19 Requirements
2. If food is served, the wedding complies with the guidance for Dine-in Restaurants and Taverns (this is the phase two guidance. In later phases, you’ll still need to follow this guidance document from phase 2, but check the WA state Coronavirus website to see if any requirements have been relaxed as a result of your county moving to a higher phase.)
3. Weddings conduct only those activities that are allowed under their county’s phase status.
Below is a basic summary of these rules as they apply to different aspects of a wedding as well as some clarification given by Washington State Wedding and Event Association, the State Department of Health, and the Washington Hospitality Association:
General Wedding Rules and Definitions
- Wedding services are defined as the wedding ceremony and receptions that are at the same location and on the same day.
- Wedding services do not include engagement parties, bridal/groom/couples’ showers, bachelorette/bachelor parties, or rehearsal dinners. These other gatherings are not permitted beyond what is outlined for each Phase.
- Ceremony and reception must be at the same location.
- Ceremony and reception must be on the same day.
-If you are already married, you cannot have a wedding/reception event under these wedding rules. The spirit of these guidelines is to make special exceptions for important life events (wedding ceremonies and funerals), so if you're already married you can't have other events like receptions, vow renewals, etc. under this guidance (you'll need to follow the regular phase guidance for gatherings).
- These rules apply to both religious and non-religious weddings.
- This guidance for weddings supersedes the general gathering rules for each phase, so if you're having a wedding, you still need to follow the wedding rules no matter the phase (even if those wedding rules are more strict). This is because the state is making a special exception for you to have a wedding right now, but that means you have to follow the extra guidelines.
Weddings on Private Property
- Privately run events on private properties are still considered wedding venues and all of the wedding guidelines must still be followed.
- The hosts of the wedding are responsible for making sure these rules are followed.
- The caterer and the venue will be responsible for following the restaurant regulations for anything related to food service.
- The host will be responsible for ensuring the venue (private property) is set up following the wedding guidelines.
Capacity Outdoors and Indoors
- Phase 1 allows outdoor weddings only and has a capacity of 100 (with 6' distancing).
- Phase 2 allows for 25% capacity up to 200, as long as the 6’ distancing restriction can be met (including room flip situations).
-Phase 3 allows for 50% capacity up to 400, as long as the 6’ distancing restriction can be met (including room flip situations).
- In case of rain, the 6’ distancing restriction must still be met.
- Tents with sides are considered indoors
- Tents without side curtains are still considered outdoors, but physical distancing must still be maintained.
- Outdoor wedding capacity is determined by being able to maintain 6’ physical distancing between each household. This will require measuring the space to make sure everything and everyone fits with distancing.
- Vendors are included in this count toward the total capacity.
- Capacity of outdoor events is limited by how many people can be there while maintaining 6’ distance between each household.
- Rain plans also need to allow for distancing.
- Physical distancing must be maintained for the duration of the event (if the space needs to be flipped from ceremony to reception, the space where the guests go in the meantime also needs to be large enough to accommodate them while maintaining distance.
- Face masks are required both indoors and outdoors during the ceremony and reception. During dinner, while seated, a face mask may be removed.
- From the wedding guidelines: Masks must be worn by everyone before, during, and after the ceremony. The only times masks may be off is while actively eating/drinking at your table.
- From the new order stating masks must be worn in public: Per the health order, a private event is considered public when it is accessible to businesses (photographers, caterers, DJs, etc). So masks are still required even on private property.
- Masks must be worn by vendors and guests if physical distancing won't be possible for the entirety of the event.
- Photographers are allowed to work at weddings but must maintain 6’ distancing at all times (no touching to adjust dress/hair/posing), and they must wear a mask.
- Mask rules for guests still apply during formal photos.
- In photos, the couple getting married can be considered from the same household so they do not need to wear masks when just the two of them are being photographed and they are physically distanced from everyone else.
- In photos, the wedding party and other guests must wear masks if they are within 6’ of each other and the couple (assuming they are not from the same household.
- Photo opportunities should ideally be arranged in a way to minimize being within 6' of each other.
- Photobooths are allowed but limited to household groups only.
- Shared props are not allowed.
- Booths must be staffed and cannot be operated by the guests (guests cannot touch the machine, push buttons, etc.)
- Tables must be placed far enough apart when measured from occupied chair to occupied chair, to ensure guests seated at a table are a minimum of 6’ away from guests at adjacent tables, or there must be a physical barrier or wall separating booths or tables.
- Tables are limited to people from the same household only. The wedding party cannot be seated together except for members who are from the same household.
- Phase 2: Tables are limited to 5 people and these 5 people must be from the same household. If there are more than 5 people from one household, they need to separate into multiple tables.
- Phase 3: Tables are limited to 10 people and these 10 people must be from the same household. If there are more than 10 people from one household, they need to be separated into multiple tables.
- Assigned seating at the reception is the best way to be sure these requirements are being met.
- While not directly stated in the guidelines, the intent is for people to remain seated for the duration of the event (ceremony, cocktail hour, reception.
- Same seating requirements as for tables: households seated together only and must be distanced from other households.
- Assigned seating at the ceremony is the best way to be sure these requirements are being met.
- Guidance for restaurants/taverns must be followed.
- If the hosts are self-catering or food is being dropped off, the restaurant/tavern guidance must still be followed and responsibility falls to the host instead of the caterers.
- There must be space for a line to form (with 6’ distancing) at the bar.
- There may be no direct physical contact between servers and guests.
- Anything to be consumed may not be presented to the guest in a communal container or plate.
- Open dancing is not allowed until phase 4 since this falls under taverns/bars/nightclubs.
- Dancing can only happen if the 6’ distance can be maintained.
- Essentially you can dance with the person you came with, so it will be couples-only dancing.
- Individual singing is allowed if the singer wears a mask.
- Choirs are not allowed.
- Live music is only allowed if physical distancing requirements can be met and instruments can be played while wearing masks.
- DJs are allowed to work at weddings, but they are not allowed to sing and must follow distancing requirements.
- Microphones can not be shared unless they can be sanitized between each use.
- COVID-19 safety information and requirements, such as CDC, DOH, OSHA posters shall be visibly posted (indoor and outdoor).
- Need to have ingress/egress signage.
- Need to have signage wherever lines may form (bar, bathroom, etc.).
- Should have signage telling guests that they are assuming risk by being there so the hosts aren't liable if someone gets sick.
- Bathroom access needs to be controlled and limited to no more than 2 people at a time (signage needed). People waiting to use the restroom must maintain at least 6’ of distance between each person (signage needed).
- Bathrooms must be cleaned and disinfected frequently, ideally after each use.
- Hand sanitizer should be available at entry for vendors and guests.
- No-touch hand sanitizing stations need to be available throughout the event. Alcohol content must be at least 60%.
-You must establish a housekeeping schedule that includes frequent cleaning and sanitizing with a particular emphasis on commonly touched services.
-Ensure that tissues and trash cans are placed throughout the location (indoor and
- Inform all vendors and guests that they must self-screen for signs and symptoms of COVID-19 before arriving at the location. Request employees, members, and visitors to take their temperature before attending. Any individual with a temperature of 100.4°F may not attend the wedding. Any individual with a household member who has been diagnosed with COVID-19 or with symptoms of COVID-19 (including a fever above 100.4°F) may not attend the wedding.
- It is strongly encouraged for hosts to keep a log of all guests and vendors, and to retain that log for at least two weeks. If an outbreak occurs, this information
may be critical to help save lives.
More Tips and Good Ideas:
- Send "Know Before You Go" info to all of your guests so there are no surprises about the rules and expectations.
- For cocktail hour, have guest pre-order drinks so they are already at their tables and they don't have to line up at the bar.
- Have a contingency plan in place ahead of the wedding day in case guests refuse to comply.
- Avoid repurposing items (chairs!, flowers, decor) from ceremony to reception. If you don't have enough chairs, make sure that the same chair goes with the same guest from ceremony to reception.
- Since photographers need space to move around the event while maintaining physical distancing, think about this while planning the setup of the space (can the photographer maintain distance while photographing moments like: walking down the aisle, speeches, getting ready etc.)
A Note on Following the Above Rules:
These probably weren't the requirements you wanted to have for your wedding day.
It is very important however that we don't try to skirt any of these rules. The first outbreak of covid traced back to a wedding will probably be the last wedding the state will allow until there’s a vaccine. Not following the rules puts other couple’s future weddings at risk as well as the livelihood of wedding vendors.