Is it OK to ask wedding guests to vaccinate?

A wedding is about showing how we all care about community and the individuals within it. Sometimes that means taking measures to protect the most vulnerable, even if that act of care steps on the toes of a few. Pexels

Q: How should you ask family and friends if they have had the COVID-19 vaccine so they can attend your wedding?

A: Typically we wouldn’t ask this question because it is health-related, but it is important in this time to ask because the answer will put us in a position to modify our behavior and our interactions with others.

It’s best not to ask in an accusing or demeaning manner. One approach is to reveal information about yourself and offer your position. You can say, for example, “You know, I just got my first dose of the vaccine” or “I’m fully vaccinated now” and then add, “What are your thoughts?”

This gives them the opportunity to explain where they are because many people are not vaccinated. They still may be waiting, some may not have decided yet and others don’t plan on getting it at all. But this way, when we reveal a little bit about ourselves, and then ask them for their position, it gives them the freedom to really express themselves. That’s what etiquette really is about: putting others at ease.

If the person does not respond in the manner that you’re expecting, it’s important to use the other core value of etiquette, which is respect. We have to respect other people’s positions. Don’t try to lecture them or make them feel bad, but let them know you respect their decision. There’s a difference between remaining silent and ending the conversation in a huff. You can tell the person, “Hey, I respect your position, and I’m here for you if you have any questions about my experience.”

Elaine Swann, etiquette expert and author of “Let Crazy Be Crazy.”

A: With some Americans refusing the COVID-19 vaccine, it can seem like a daunting task to make sure your wedding is not a super-spreader event and to ask people to act in accordance with that goal. However, a wedding is about community and showing how we all care about it and the individuals within it. And sometimes that means taking measures to protect the most vulnerable at your wedding, even if that act of care steps on the toes of a few.

This concepts of humility, sacrifice and selflessness form the bedrock of all marriage vows and family commitments. Besides, wedding traditions already control people’s behavior — don’t wear white to a wedding, don’t have sex before the wedding, don’t let the newlyweds see each other before the wedding — so what’s one more?

If you want all in-person guests to be vaccinated, politely explain this on your wedding site or save-the-date card. However, don’t be exclusionary; create celebratory alternatives for the nonvaccinated guests, such as a special Zoom. Or offer wedding-quarantine guidelines or even go so far as helping guests get a vaccination appointment and transportation there. (Sometimes people just need a little extra help.) A caring tone and polite message will help increase the chance of acceptance of your wedding restrictions.

Let the guests know your COVID-19 policy so they can make attendance decisions for themselves too.

Katrina Majkut, author of “The Adventures and Discoveries of a Feminist Bride: What No One Tells You Before You Say ‘I Do’.”

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