Are you requiring wedding guests to be vaccinated? (Invitation wording examples!)


Guest post by Miranda Antoinette
Photo of the author wearing one of her own clothing designs

I am so excited to be getting married next June, and being a person who loves to plan thoroughly and early, my plans are well underway. Being in the process of finalizing guest list, writing invitations, and editing my wedding website over and over again, a big piece of wording I have really focused on is how to ask (or in my case tell in the clearest and most polite way possible) my guests to be vaccinated.

I have many reasons for this rule, but baseline, it really is going to make the day itself joyful and less stressful overall. I'm lucky and either know or have good reason to believe my guests are vaccinated already. But I still struggled with the best way to say it, when to say it, where to say it, etc.

So I want to share what I've done and some thoughts from conversations with friends in the hopes that it may normalize the vaccination question and help other folx who are planning a vaccinated wedding!

Where to tell guests about wedding covid vaccination rules

I decided that the best way for me to tell guests we're requiring vaccines for attendance was at the top of my RSVP page on my wedding website. It's not immediately in anyone's face the second they receive their invitation, but it's the first thing they see when they go to RSVP. It's also among some other important info on how to RSVP so as not to make it the "biggest deal".

In general, I tried to use language around all my possible grievance-inducers (like limited plus ones and limited kids) that thanked guests for doing said thing rather than apologizing or asking.

Overall, I tried to go positive, assume the best of people, and emphasize that they're actively making our day even better.

Here's the wording I used about vaccines:

At the time of our wedding, we will be living in a post-pandemic world, and the bride and groom are committed to keeping it that way. You are one of many loved ones joining us. Thank you for making our big, beautiful party safe, carefree, and revelatory for everyone by being fully vaccinated and keeping up with any boosters that may or may not be recommended over this next year.

If you are traveling Internationally and/or to an area with a known variant against which your vaccine is not proven 80% effective, please only attend if you will have been in a safe area again for at least 2 weeks prior to coming to Seattle.  As of now, vaccines are approved for 12 and older, and we expect that they will be approved for our few named younger guests as well before summer of 2022.

If you are not vaccinated, please RSVP "I am not coming" (we'll miss you) or reach out to us directly before you RSVP. Having everyone safely vaccinated is very important to us. Stay safe, and we are so excited to party!!!

For my peace of mind and for clarity, I also made the language on our RSVP form reflect the need for vaccines. The first question of attendance has only two answers:

  • Vaccinated and attending
    or
  • Not coming

I feel fairly confident that this will not be an issue for my guest list. However, I know this is not the case universally.

Delayed wedding sign available here

How to talk to guests who decline to get the covid vaccine

I have friends getting married this winter who want to ask guests to be vaccinated, but one spouse-to-be has a big chunk of family who "Can't be bothered" to get vaccinated. Which sucks and is causing the couple a lot of stress, because it makes them afraid to even ask. But they're working on an email to address it. We came up with a few possibilities of things that might help if you're in a similar situation:

  • Emphasize that getting vaccinated means no one needs to look silly in a mask (use some humor with that!).
  • Frame getting vaccinated as something that, even if they don't want to do it for themselves, they are doing for other guests who can't be vaccinated due to allergies or age (bringing up the well-being of children if they're attending can be really helpful).
  • Be vulnerable and honest (which I know is not always the solution based on family dynamic) and let them know why it's important to you on your special day that they do this for you and how much it will make your wedding day joyful and low(er) stress.
  • Be respectful but matter-of-fact by giving them an out if they need it that acknowledges that if they choose not to vaccinate, they choose not to attend, and that while you will miss them, this is the best solution.
  • Make declining an invitation judgement-free and nothing more than declining, so that no one feels they need to out themselves and specify that they aren't attending because of the vaccination requirement.

If there are people who won't vaccinate but who need to be there or you'd like to encourage but don't want to require, just communicate to other guests who this might impact – there are plenty of guests (like me!) who would just like to be aware of general vaccination rates for the large event they are attending.

Addressing vaccination with your wedding guests is not an easy conversation, but I hope this post helps some people attempting that journey! Most important is deciding what's going to make you feel the safest, most joyful, most responsible, and most inclusive on your wedding day. Give grace to your guests that, overall, they want what's best for you, and you can ask for it.

  1. I do like that your wording focuses on 'vaccinated & attending', or merely 'not attending'.

    I know that in the upcoming months, I have to have similar versions of this conversation, regarding annual group travel plans, and then family Thanksgiving and Christmas plans, as well as our annual (not in 2020, but hopefully in 2021) friend group Christmas party.

    I know there will be unvaccinated persons in all of those groups, and I'm not willing to either compromise my health, or, contribute to someone getting sick. I worry that the pushbacks will be with hurt feelings, feeling judged, feeling excluded, etc., and all due to, usually, 'personal preferences' over vaccinations.

    For the travel plans & family gathering plans, since I am not solely in charge of these events, merely an ongoing participant, I know if someone who isn't vaccinated insists on attending, then my spouse & I will not be, and that itself will cause endless angst & pressure tactics from the hosts, etc.

    I hope everyone will respond kindly to your well-worded requests, Miranda!

  2. Wow! There are many reasons someone may not be vaccinated, including health concerns that are not really any of your business. I am vaccinated because my job requires it, but in no way shape or form would I consider asking people their health status to be appropriate, nor would I answer such a question.

    • I don't think the privacy issue is fair to apply here. Coronavirus is highly contagious and weddings have been proven to be hot spots for transmission. The simple fact is that if you are not vaccinated, you are a liability to and from others who are likewise not vaccinated (and if someone's not vaccinated for health reasons, the couple needs to honestly be able to assure them that they'll be surrounded by those who have been innnoculated by vaccination or past infection).

      A couple has every right to not want any sickness or deaths attached to their special day. They are taking a risk in a post-pandemic world by throwing a wedding, and guests in attendance should respect that, particularly since vaccines mitigate this risk to basically a non-inssue. If people don't want to respect the wishes of the couple, why even go?

      If it were my wedding, I'd rather have a family member upset at me for not attending, versus that same family member possibly getting a loved one sick (and considering that many of the people I know who aren't vaccinated for less-than-legitimate reasons have also been vocal about conspiracy theories, getting sick from parties and large events, and subsequently later posting on FB/Insta that they are asking for prayers for their sick elderly grandparents who THEY THEMSELVES infected, it speaks for itself).

      Socially, it's a no-win situation, but it makes sense for health reasons, which is the safest and reassuring option.

      • Vaccinated people can still be infected with and pass on Covid. If there are wedding guests who cannot be vaccinated for health reasons and who are at greater risk from Covid, they are still at risk even if surrounded by vaccinated people (the risk is lower, but nevertheless they're rolling the dice).

        If the unvaccinated guests aren't in a vulnerable group and have made a health decision for themselves regarding vaccination, that's a different scenario and is their choice. They aren't risking the vaccinated guests (after all, that's the whole reason to be vaccinated: to come into contact with coronavirus and be protected from it) so their medical decision is their business.

        Every group of guests will have different needs and the couple have to act accordingly, but it's wrong to make sweeping statements about no one being allowed to attend any weddings if they aren't vaccinated, or to have a false sense of security that if everyone is vaccinated no one can become infected or fall ill (the vaccines aren't 100% effective).

  3. While it's true vaccinated peole are protected, if my elderly parents and immune compromised sister are attending I want them to be the safest possible. I understand getting vaccinated isn't 100% effective, but when 95% of the people who get covid are getting it because they are not vaccinated that motivates me to provide the safestscenerio for them.

    If its your special night you don't want to be thinking about who is vaccinated and not vaccinated at your affair. It's supposed to be the best time of your life, make it the safest as well for both you and your guest.

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