Real Talk: After My Breakthrough COVID Case, I Decided to Require Vaccination Proof at My Wedding
When Philly planner Allie Beik got sick at the end of July, it didn’t overlap with any clients’ weddings, but it did make her rethink her approach to her own Big Day.
Back in July, we gave you the second update from Allie Beik of Polka Dot Events as she prepped for her sustainably driven Globe Dye Works wedding to fiancé Tim Davis on October 30th. And, now that the Big Day is just weeks away, we spoke with her for the final time as she puts the finishing touches on the shindig. Much has changed not only since our last chat (when she was concerned about everyone RSVP’ing “Yes!”) but also since we first shared her story in February. Back then, she admits she was “so confident” that COVID would not rear its ugly head in the fall due to the new vaccine push. But then came the Delta variant and a spike in cases, as well as Allie’s own breakthrough case, which made the couple rethink their approach to vaccine requirements. Here, she shares her new perspective — along with insight on her guest list, place cards and more.
This story is part of Philadelphia Wedding’s ongoing Real Talk series, in which real Philly couples share their unique approaches to wedding planning and marriage. If you have a unique story or experience worth sharing, we’d love to hear about it.
We decided to require proof of vaccination for our guests after I got a breakthrough case at the end of July. Initially, while we would have liked our guests to be vaccinated, we weren’t planning to put that on our website or invitations. But now, after getting it — I didn’t go to the hospital and was fine, and I didn’t have to cancel any of my clients’ weddings — I was like, nope. Nobody is giving this to our family members or friends. I put an updated banner on the website that you have to be vaccinated to come. I also put it as a question on our RSVPs. And then a few weeks later Philly put out its new proof of vaccination and mask mandates for businesses, so it would’ve become a requirement anyway.
We are collecting proof of vaccination ourselves. I think Globe and other local venues will have someone at the door, but we decided to just handle it ourselves: We’ll have a bus of people coming, and it’ll be a big backlog at the entrance. We haven’t decided yet if we’re doing a Google form, which can save photos, so guests can upload there. Or we’ll create a Google Drive folder, which I’ve done for some of my clients. We’d email or text our guests to send photos of their vaccination cards, and I would upload them.
We do have a few people who can’t come because of the COVID restrictions. But we’ve also had some people drop off due to unexpected reasons — people’s plus-ones couldn’t make it for whatever reason, or random surgeries or pregnancies, things like that. So now our guest list is looking like it will be right around 160, which is a beautiful number. [Note: When we chatted this past summer, Allie had expressed concern over her ever-increasing number of “yes” RSVPs. “In a typical year, when you invite people to a wedding, you lose about 15 to 20 percent. This is not a typical year,” she had said at the time. “People are ready to party.”]
I now know the struggle with getting all of your RSVPs. Three days past our due date, we were still missing something like 80 responses. I was blown away by how people don’t answer. Some people said they forgot. And some in New York didn’t get their save-the-dates or invitations at all. So I sent an email to our moms and Tim, and asked if they could collect them for me. All I can say is that’s the best move. The moms did work: They got me all of those answers in two days. We also had a few people request plus-ones, which I didn’t think was going to happen. We gave everyone who was in a relationship that I knew of — it didn’t matter their status — plus-ones. I thought I did a good job with that and still we had some last-minute requests. I don’t usually hear about this drama from my clients.
We are using formal place cards. Our tables are longer, seating more than 16 people. Instead of people walking around and bumping into each other trying to find a chair, we’re just going to seat them. COVID didn’t have anything to do with it, actually: I have seen my clients at other weddings deal with this. If you have a table that’s way too long, people have no idea where to sit unless you place them.
We have a kids’ table. We invited kids; most are not coming because of COVID restrictions, but we do have a few. I think we have six kids, three of whom are vaccinated because they’re over 12. For the three younger ones, they have to be masked. But Tim wants to do cornhole, Jenga, some other games — for the kids and adults.
I’m collecting all of the money for gratuity from my family. We’re doing it in cash day-of. That’s what we tell our couples to do, too: Put it in an envelope that says videographer, photographer. Typically my clients would give it to me as the coordinator to hand it off to the vendors. But my coordinator, Kim Paiz, is handling that.
My outfit has finally come together. Back in November, I had found a few jumpsuits online and showed them to my parents. Our favorite was a one-shoulder outfit inspired by a toga. It had wide pants that made it look more like a dress. At first I loved it, but then I didn’t. So I went on a Pinterest bonanza for weeks and couldn’t find anything that felt right. I eventually found a designer in Abu Dhabi, who had created a jumpsuit with a cape in the front and back. I’m really excited about it. Because there’s no way to pull the cape aside, Irina Sigal Dressmaker is cutting a slit in the cape so I can belt it. I’ll have two ways to wear the jumpsuit with my used Christian Louboutins, a vintage leather jacket and hopefully an ’80s belt from Etsy — that’s the sustainable part of my outfit.
One of the last things we’re trying to figure out are the sustainable aspects of the day-of items. There’s a lot of paper involved, especially for place cards. Our table numbers are rented and can be reused. Tim is technologically savvy, and I thought it would be great to have a QR code for the menu, but he said no: He doesn’t want people to feel like they’re at a normal restaurant. Instead, florist Papertini and Chick Invitations will do seed paper with the names on one side and the menu on the other. Our coordinator will collect them all at the end of the night, and we’ll plant them in our yard.
This story has been edited for clarity and length.
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