COVID may be running rampant, but couples still are getting engaged every day. Weddings aren’t completely off the table, it’s simply important to stay up to date with changing guidelines and precautions to ensure a safe, fun wedding and reception for couples and their guests.

Jeremy Kovac, owner of Timber Creek Event Center in St. Joseph, said his venue has been proactive in taking basic COVID precautions during weddings this season.

Staff at the venue is providing sanitation stations at all high-touch surface areas and entry and exit points, he said. Outdoor furnished patio space also is available for guests to safely socially distance.

“We do provide masks for guests but they are not a requirement,” he said.

And, of course, it is up to guests to decide to decline an invitation if they are symptomatic, awaiting test results or have been exposed to a positive case.

Wi-Fi is available all the way out to the patio in case the wedding party decides to livestream the ceremony or reception. Several weddings have livestreamed for their older guests who are more vulnerable and not fully comfortable attending in person.

Some older guests have opted to attend the ceremony and skip the reception, which was livestreamed, providing a virtual experience for guests to enjoy from the comfort of their homes.

Most weddings in the last year have had plenty of extra space to socially distance, Kovac said.

His staff currently recommends against food lines, self-serve food and open food bowls. It is safest for a caterer to serve food to guests on clean plates. Bartenders are encouraged to serve all drinks to guests from the bar, with clean cups for each drink poured.

According to The Knot, of couples that got married in 2020, about a third of them are planning a bigger, more distant celebration. For couples who are hoping to become legally bound sooner rather than later, hosting a socially distanced mini ceremony now and planning a larger wedding for the future is another option.

As always, couples are encouraged to stay up to date on all health guidelines for group gatherings in their state.