Summary List Placement
Completing an RSVP, purchasing a gift on the registry, and wearing formal or cocktail attire are the usual items on a wedding guest’s to-do list.
But in the era of COVID-19, some couples, like Justice Amick and her fiance, Kyle Williams, stand on a firm decision: no vaccine, no invite. They require their estimated 190 guests to show proof of vaccination to attend their October 2022 wedding.
“I’m immunocompromised, so for my personal safety, everybody that I’m around, they need to be vaccinated just to protect myself,” Amick told Insider. “And secondly, we believe in science, and scientists are telling us that getting vaccinated protects you from something that could kill you. It’s still ravaging the world around us as we speak.”
The Indianapolis, Indiana couple has been together for eight years since they met in high school. Amick said she’s dreamed of her big day since she was young, envisioning herself walking down the aisle in an extravagant princess gown.
When their wedding was pushed back due to the pandemic, the couple was adamant about taking extra safety precautions this time around. And the process has been stressful. Amick told Insider some of her family and friends are hesitant to receive the vaccine, citing a difference in political views and, at times, baseless claims from ex-president Donald Trump.
“From our experience, it’s been more of our people that we know who are conservative, Republican who says that the government is lying and that you don’t need that,” Amick said.
She continued: “A lot of the time, the response is ‘Well, it’s my choice to get a vaccine.’ And that’s perfectly fine. It is your choice to get a vaccine, but from our standpoint and how we see it, you must not be a caring human being if you’re not going to get vaccinated. Because getting vaccinated doesn’t hurt you, and it doesn’t hurt anybody else, it’s just beneficial for everybody.”
Other brides-to-bes have received pushback on their vaccine requirement
Daphne Williams is set to have her September wedding in British Columbia, Canada, where the province has eased its COVID-19 restrictions. Williams told Insider that her 50 guests must get vaccinated because high-risk people will be attending and avoid having a super spreader event. However, some of her fiance’s family members have refused to get the vaccine.
“We kind of thought everybody would be into it, but some of his family and such are from more of like a ‘screw the government’ kind of place. And they recently said they’re not getting the vaccine unless we have to for travel,” Williams said. “Then they also are a little bit fearful of the vaccine itself, and they want everybody to be the guinea pigs before they are.
“It’s your autonomy to decide if you want to get vaccinated or not,” Williams continued. “But it’s our decision that we will only allow people who have at least had their first vaccine” to attend. She added that some guests might end up getting before the ceremony; others might decide it’s not worth it and not come at all.
For other couples like Ileana Paules-Bronet and Matt Kugler, most of their network accepted the rule of taking the vaccine to attend their October wedding. But after Paules-Bronet shared her wedding requirement on Tik Tok, the backlash was swift as she was met with personal attacks from people online who are anti-COVID-19 vaccine, she said.
“It’s a complete projection because we know our families, and, and we know our friends and most of the people that we are friends with and associate with have similar views as us,” Paules-Bronet said.
More couples are having the vaccine conversation, a wedding expert says
With the COVID-19 vaccine becoming more politicized, a wedding expert told Insider that enforcing the shot is not only a complex planning topic; it’s a necessary discussion.
“More couples are engaging in these conversations than people think,” Elisabeth Kramer, a wedding planner based in Portland, Oregon, told Insider. “I can’t think of a better gift you can give these people than a set of expectations about what they’re getting into.”
“While it may not be the couple’s responsibility to ensure the safety of their guests, certainly nobody wants to look back at their wedding as the event that led to someone getting a severe case of COVID or worse. This may be one of the reasons that some couples are deciding to require their guests to be fully vaccinated,” Dr. Amira Roess, an epidemiologist and professor at George Mason University, told Insider.
“Weddings are often logistically challenging enough without having to consider COVID safety precautions,” Roess added.
Leah Weinburg, a New York wedding planner and owner of ColorPop Events, told Insider that brides should be upfront about the safety precautions for their wedding.
“It’s the communication from the beginning is really important so once couples have decided that they want to, that that’s going to be a requirement. As soon as they know that’s a requirement; they should communicate it to the guests, whether it’s in a mass email, on the website, letting everybody know by word of mouth, ” Weinburg said.