Is it safe to go to a wedding after you get the vaccine?

Wedding event setup
Photo via Thewedderseventplanners/Wikimedia Commons (CC BY SA)
  • This story is regularly updated for relevance. Last updated: Aug. 2, 2021

Broad vaccination efforts across the United States have led to hundreds of thousands of doses administered each day. With each fresh vaccination, the U.S. comes one step closer to loosening restrictions and returning Americans to their normal lives. Many states have loosened or completely lifted restrictions, however, prompting questions about what activities are safe to participate in following a full vaccination. For instance, is it safe to attend a wedding after you get the vaccine?

In most states, people are allowed to attend weddings as long as the guest list isn’t too long.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced in May that weddings could resume in that state with a maximum capacity of 250 people inside or 500 outdoors. A number of other states have followed suit, with New Jersey allowing weddings and some other events to be capped at 250

The vaccines currently in distribution in the U.S. all protect against severe illness or death due to COVID-19. After getting a vaccine, it is far safer to participate in any social activities, but the vaccines don’t offer complete protection. The fact that children aged 12-15 can now get the Pfizer vaccine is also a positive development.

There is a small window of possibility that infection can still occur, a danger that is elevated by the existence of several variants, though early indications show that Moderna and Pfizer have done well against those mutations. Breakthrough infections, though, are possible in vaccinated people, but the risk of hospitalization or death is tiny.

Traveling to and from weddings is another risk factor. While this risk can be combatted through mask-wearing, physical distancing, and careful handwashing, any long-distance travel will heighten the risk of spreading COVID-19 at a large event. 

There are ways to reduce risk when it comes to attending a wedding during the pandemic. Weddings that were postponed over the last year can go as planned, so long as the people planning, as well as the people attending, remain vigilant. Several recommendations have been suggested by experts to reduce risk of transmission among guests. 

Some wedding organizers are requiring proof of a COVID-19 vaccine to ensure it is safe for guests to attend the wedding. Not even doctors agree that this is broadly necessary, however, making the issue often one of personal choice. For families and friend groups with high-risk members, this is one way to reduce risk when it comes time to tie the knot. 

But that doesn’t mean there’s an easy solution when people who will not get the vaccine still want to come to your wedding.

It is well known that the risk of transmission is higher in larger groups of people, so it is also recommended that weddings remain as small as possible. The fewer attendees, the more likely it is that the wedding will be a safe one. Additionally, ensuring that the majority—if not all—of the celebration occurs outside will drastically reduce risk to guests. 

Even if people are vaccinated, there’s still an increasing chance that somebody could catch the common cold or RSV now that the world is opening up again. And it’s possible that vaccinated people can get and then spread the coronavirus at a wedding.

Wedding organizers who are particularly concerned with safety can also require guests to mask up, practice diligent hygiene, and work to remain physically distanced. Some couples may not want masks and gaps in their wedding photos, however, complicating the typical safety recommendations. 

If proof of a vaccine is required at a wedding, the proceedings can go off with drastically reduced risk to attendees. So while it is not entirely safe to attend a wedding even after getting the vaccine, it is far safer to attend a wedding requiring vaccines than it is to attend one with no such regulations.

After you get the vaccine, is it safe to …

Sources: NBC News, New York Times, Scientific American

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