As we begin gathering again, particularly for weddings, we know there are no ways to gather without risk. We also have some good information from the CDC about managing those risks.
The CDC says: “In general, the more closely you interact with others and the longer that interaction, the higher the risk of COVID-19 spread.”
Let’s talk about how these risks might apply to a specific setting: wedding group photos during COVID-19.
These are some thoughts for couples planning their gatherings and considering family photos or wedding party group photos.
KEEPING A DISTANCE – WEDDING GROUP PHOTOS DURING COVID-19
By far the safest way to photograph people who have been social distancing from each other is to keep all groupings at a 6 ft distance from each other in the photo. (For example, taking a photo with your aunt and uncle, but your aunt and uncle are 6 ft from you)
OUTSIDE IS BEST – CONSIDER HOW YOUR PLAN YOUR WEDDING GROUP PHOTOS
Portraits outside whenever possible. This gives the best airflow, and also allows any other people waiting for photos to be spaced out.
MASKS MAKE SENSE
Bring a mask, wear a mask whenever photos are not being taken. Some individuals might feel most comfortable keeping their masks on for photos. I will not ask people to remove masks if they don’t feel comfortable doing so. Some individuals might feel comfortable removing a mask for one photo, but not for multiple photos – consider asking where their comfort would be.
INTIMACY CREEP AND SETTING YOUR BOUNDARIES FOR WEDDING GROUP PHOTOS
It feels so natural to gather. After all this time apart, it feels so right to be together in each other’s presence. That can make it even harder to set boundaries around personal space. I often see “intimacy creep” where people will begin an event by social distancing, and then, as their comfort and sense of normalcy arrive, they will start making different choices (ie hugging goodbye). Consider setting your own boundaries around personal space ahead of time, and talking with your immediate family and wedding party about that as well. When will you take a mask off? Who would you be willing to hug? How much space do you want from people during photos?
AS LITTLE TIME AS POSSIBLE, AS ORGANIZED AS POSSIBLE
All of this means – let’s make a list that is very very specific (in some cases, including who should be on the ends of groups, who needs to be 6 ft away, etc) and we will go through the list exactly as designed. This will keep the total amount of time to a minimum, which is also a way to keep interactions safer.
THINK ABOUT FEWER GROUPINGS
Limit the amount of time that you are taking photos by having fewer groupings – consider one photo with your family.
CONSIDER THE BUBBLES
- Consider focusing on photos of each family grouping (a bubble) without you in it. (for example, a photo of your aunt and her family without you and your partner, or a photo of just your parents together). You can choose to display these images side by side in an album or print grouping.
- Consider how you are combining bubbles – if your parents don’t share a bubble with your partner’s parents, then don’t mingle them for photos. Consider taking a photo with one set of parents at a time (perhaps at a distance)
IDENTIFY PEOPLE WITH GREATER EXPOSURE TO VIRUS
Are there people who traveled or work in front line jobs? Consider having them at a greater distance during photos – putting them on the end of groupings with more spacing, etc.
IDENTIFY THOSE AT GREATER RISK OF COMPLICATIONS
Consider taking photos with those who might have a greater risk of complication (older relatives, etc) so that you enter that grouping as free from contamination as possible. (ie, start with a photo with grandparents at a distance, then let grandparents leave the space before bringing in a different bubble)
And just to be clear, I am in no way offering legal or medical advice. There is no way to gather that is free from risk. Cities and states will have different regulations in regards to gatherings and masks, and individuals need to assess their own risks. Stay safe out there!