We know what precautions wedding vendors can take at weddings. They can stay outside, maintain their distance from clients and their guests, and keep that mask on tight. But what happens before and after festivities?
Now that weddings are happening, vendors, from caterers to photographers, are coming into contact with more people than the average Joe. They hop from venue to venue with new groups of staff and wedding guests. Their jobs might also require them to travel by airplane, stay in hotels, and cross state lines.
We asked three wedding pros how they are managing the balance between protecting their health (and the health of those around them) and doing their jobs. We talked quarantines, COVID-19 tests, travel precautions, and more. Their advice may help anyone whose paycheck relies on them being on the go.
Helen Aker, a wedding planner and director of the catering team at The Local in Charlottesville, Virginia, says she tries to keep her body in fighting shape to deal with whatever it might encounter. “I do load up on vitamins and coconut water, lots of immunity boosters,” she says. “I drink lots of water throughout the week as well.”
Andrea Adelstein, CEO of NY LUX Events, who splits her time between Montauk and New York City, says she starts boosting her health the week before a wedding. “I’ve started to drink healthy teas and natural vitamin packed waters,” she says. “During the last days leading up to traveling, I will focus on making sure I get a full night’s rest.” When traveling across the country she ships boxes so she doesn’t have to use strength lugging around bags. She also snacks on nuts and proteins to keep her body strong.
Samantha Clarke, a wedding photographer in Atlanta, has ventured as far away as Toronto and Boston for wedding and engagement sessions. “I use a double mask on planes. One N95 and a cloth one too,” she says. “I carry bottles of hand sanitizer with me always. I also wipe seats and the area on the plane before sitting there.” She also doesn’t eat or drink while on the plane, only at the airport away from other people.
All of the events Aker has done during the pandemic have been within 30 miles of her home and office. Still, she plans her routes so she doesn’t have to stop for a restroom break. “So far I have been able to make it from home base to event venues without needing to break at a rest stop,” she says. If she does have to run errands or make a stop, she looks at the people coming out of buildings. “If the customers leaving are wearing masks, I feel more comfortable venturing in,” she says. “If they’re not wearing masks, I’ll stop at the next place.”
She also always wears her masks, which she makes herself out of fabric with a pocket to insert a filter. “I purchased high-quality ultrafine particle filters designed to help filter virus and bacteria particles,” she says.
Adelstein has her outfit planned for flights. “We wear an N95 mask, glasses, and face shield,” she says. “I will wear a throwaway outfit, sweatpants, and hoodie, over my clothes, and remove them just as I come out of the airport.” A non-negotiable for her: no bathrooms on airplanes.
Self Exams and Rapid Tests
“When I get home from events, I immediately put my clothes in the wash and take as hot as I can stand shower,” she says. “I check my temperature and monitor myself for any possible symptoms.” If she has symptoms, which she luckily hasn’t, she says she will get a COVID-19 test.
Clarke also monitors her symptoms daily. “I test my temperature every morning,” she says.
Adelstein is going a step farther to make sure she isn’t a silent carrier. “We are getting rapid tested the day prior to the wedding, and testing the kitchen and waitstaff and any guest that would like,” she says.
Meetings at a Distance
When there isn’t an event, Aker tries to be uber careful when interacting with clients. “When we meet with clients we wear masks and we ask clients to wear masks,” she says. “We also sit further apart for social distancing and try to meet outdoors whenever possible.”
Adelstein’s job requires her to visit venues with clients. “We have booked large SUVs with many extra seats so people don’t sit next to each other. We also make sure there is a plexi-divider between the driver and us,” she says. “In a few cases, the clients drove in their own cars and followed us to the venues.”
Clarke goes one step farther and does all her client meetings virtually. “For meetings, I haven’t been doing any in person,” she says. “Zoom has been the easiest way to communicate with clients. And phone calls as well.”
Quarantining Between Events
Clarke quarantines both before and after events. “Before weddings, I’ve made sure to rest up and stay quarantine and isolated,” she says. “After the wedding, I’ve self-quarantined at home. No family visits, no restaurants, no social outings. I’ve decided that it’s best to stay away from others to be safe.”
When Adelstein returns to New York from out-of-state weddings, she’s made a plan with her family. “Since I am living with family right now, we have agreed that I will quarantine for five days upon arrival and then have a COVID-19 test done to confirm all is OK,” she says. (Please note, New York, like some states, also has mandated quarantines when traveling from specific areas.)
“I quarantine as much as possible after event days, keeping my time mostly at home and the office with masks on,” says Aker. “I have groceries ready for pickup so I don’t have much time in the store. I really try to take the first couple of days after events easy so I have plenty of time to recover and rebuild my strength for the next week.”
Protecting Mental Health
“It was really difficult at the beginning,” says Aker. “We had a lot of reinventing to do.” She decided to rely on her team for emotional and mental support during this difficult time. They have team meetings twice a week to check-in, both about work and life. They also vent to one another when things get hard. “It’s hard to remember everyone has feelings when you’re wrapped up in your own stresses,” she says. “It’s always nice to be able to have open communication.”
Clarke has been staying positive by giving back. “I’ve been teaching more to other fellow photographers,” she says. “It’s helped a lot to give what I know to others.” She also wakes up at 6 a.m. every morning to work out with her sister through Facetime. “It helps me feel connected, positive, and calm,” she says. “I also spend time in prayer, watching sermons, and attending online church services.”
Adelstein believes in the power of music to keep her mental health in check. “I vary the playlist based on what I need that day,” she says. “Classical on days I need to relax, dance music on days I need to get moving. Music makes me happy, changes my mood, and helps me become more creative.”