Yes, you can require your wedding guests to be vaccinated

Yes, you can require your wedding guests to be vaccinated
Rob Griffith

One industry that has seen a lot of changes as a result of the COVID pandemic is the wedding planning industry. This has caused no end of problems for couples planning to tie the knot ever since this entire mess began well over a year ago. Many couples who had to cancel their big day last summer learned that the wedding planners who had made the arrangements were not offering refunds, causing some to lose tens of thousands of dollars. But now that people are reemerging from isolation and more weddings are in the works, a new question has come up. Will the bride and groom allow unvaccinated people to attend the ceremony and the reception? Will the church allow everyone in without masks? These are all questions that planners are having to grapple with and sort out with their clients. (CBS Minnesota)

Allie Messimer and Kevin Field were engaged in the spring of 2019 with a wedding set for fall of 2020, when the pandemic first changed their plans.

“We were engaged much longer than we expected,” Messimer admitted…

“We really want to ensure that our wedding is fun but also safe,” she said.

They’ve updated their website to show their wedding will be a vaccinated only event. One hundred guests will have to show proof for entry.

The couple that was interviewed for this report believes that “the majority” of their friends and family are vaccinated already. But they also knew there might need to be “some ancillary conversations” with a few of the people they wanted to invite. You can easily imagine what that conversation sounded like. We were about to mail out your invitation, but I wanted to mention that you’ll need to bring your CDC vax card to the church and to the reception.

The wedding planner that the couple hired says that approximately one third of their clients are currently requiring proof of vaccination from both guests and vendors. Also, at least a third of the churches where ceremonies are being performed are back to requiring face masks and social distancing in the pews, limiting the number of people who can fit in to attend the ceremony. That’s causing a number of headaches for both the happy couple and the planners.

You may find yourself wondering… wait. Can they do that? Could they even do it in Florida?

The answer in all cases appears to be yes. This isn’t some government mandate restricting the liberties of citizens that we’re talking about here. The courts have essentially nothing to do with it. Weddings are strictly private affairs. Many brides insist that no other women wear white on their wedding day and refuse entrance to those who ignore the rule. That’s not something the government could get away with, but the bride and (to a much lesser extent, usually) the groom can set the rules as they see fit. If they want everyone to show an immunity passport before being allowed inside, they can clearly do it.

Legal questions aside, this story brings up the possibility of yet another awkward confrontation between the two camps when it comes to vaccine hesitancy. The people you would expect to see on a couple’s wedding invitation list should uniformly be either family members or close friends (plus their dates, if applicable). What if some number of them are unsure about the safety or efficacy of the vaccines and don’t want to take the plunge? Will wedding plans erupt into a schism inside of families and groups of close friends?

I’d like to think that if I were unvaccinated (I am vaccinated, by the way), I would just respect the couple’s wishes and send them a present by mail, promising to get together with them after this whole pandemic and vaccinations issue has been sorted out. After all, it’s their big day. They should be able to have it play out as they wish. But I’ve seen far more trivial things divide families in the past. This situation may wind up producing even more collateral damage.

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David Strom 5:21 PM on March 31, 2023