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Planning your 2021 Oregon Wedding: with current COVID-19 Rules

Getting confused by what is allowed and what is not when it comes to current COVID-19 rules for your 2021 Oregon Wedding? Want to plan your wedding once and not have to re-schedule? Want to abide by the rules to have a safe wedding and a good time? Then this is for you!

Currently Oregon does not spell out specific wedding rules. Instead, there is information for outdoor and indoor Event Spaces, Social + At Home Gatherings, and Faith Institutions. Due to this, there are at least three different interpretations of what is allowed for your wedding depending on where your wedding is taking place. And if your wedding location does not clearly fall into one of these categories, there is a definite gray area. This article will primarily focus on rules for professional Wedding Venues, aka ‘Event Spaces.’

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Myrtle Creative Co. 2021 Oregon Wedding Planning with Current COVID-19 Rules

As an Oregon based Wedding Photographer, I have been navigating, deciphering, and trying to translate these rules for my couples in 2020 and now in 2021. With that being said, I am trying to make sense of the rules like everyone else. This article is a realistic look at what is allowed in 2021 currently from my research. For a second opinion, I highly recommend this informative article by Wedding Planner Elisabeth Kramer found here. I also plan to update this article as needed throughout the year to keep this as an ongoing resource.

Planning Mindset

I wish everyone could have their dream wedding right now but with coronavirus here to stay, I know some of you are just wanting to have a safe wedding without re-scheduling. If that is where you are at then this will be right up your alley. This article is written with the mindset of ‘Plan for the worst, hope for the best.’ Meaning that while I am writing this, it is only January 2021 and who knows what all can happen and change but given the statewide information and rules currently given, this is a realistic look at what is possible.

Quick Look at Oregon’s Risk Levels

In late November 2020 the Risk Levels were initiated in Oregon, effectively replacing the Phase levels. These four Risk Levels are Extreme, High, Moderate and Lower. As of now, in January 2021 much of the state is in the Extreme Risk level. You can find the current risk level by county here on the Oregon governor’s COVID resource website (coronavirus.oregon.gov). Highly recommend adding this to your favorites tab for easy reference.

Oregon Risk Level Spreadsheet, 11/25/20

With the current Risk Levels, each county will be assessed every two weeks with potential to change. Since things might change continuously this year it is nice to have a better idea of what is being assessed and how.

Assessment Criteria

The 8 counties with fewer than 15,000 residents are not being assessed on their positivity rates but only case counts. The other counties are based on per capita cases, total cases and test positivity rates – and will be assigned the highest risk designation possible from those three. For example if the total cases and test positivity rates are in the range of the Lower Risk Level but the per capita cases number is at the Extreme Risk Level, then that county will be categorized in the Extreme Risk Level. You can find this explained in more detail here.

“Oregon’s new criteria for assessing coronavirus risk at the county level.”

Since all three criteria will need to be low enough to decrease a county risk level, it is believed that counties will remain in the elevated risk levels for a ‘while’. Hopefully more information on this will come out as this year progresses and recommend seeking up to date information for yourself as well. To find the current risk levels by county, go here.

Myrtle Creative Co. 2021 Oregon Wedding Planning with Current COVID-19 Rules

Planning your 2021 Oregon Wedding

Planning your 2021 Oregon Wedding with the current Risk Levels, bi-weekly assessments and unknown changes can seem daunting. There can still be many changes to come and hopefully things improve. But if you are ready for your wedding day and want to make it happen safely in 2021, these are realistic options that (hopefully) work in the current state of things. As always, do confirm this information with your venue, other wedding professionals and a government official. Do not take this article as the ‘end all, be all’ but I do hope it is helpful in navigating all things Oregon 2021 Wedding Planning amidst coronavirus.

Planning Goal

The goal is to help your planning process so you can successfully get married this year without having to re-schedule. If you want to wait and see what 2022 has in store, of course that is your choice. For 2021, there is the chance that many counties remain in the Extreme Risk Level. For how long? I don’t think anyone can know right now. There is also the chance that Oregon clarifies rules for Weddings, no matter the location, similar to what Washington state has done. But until then, here is a look at successfully planning your 2021 Oregon Wedding.

Myrtle Creative Co. 2021 Oregon Wedding Planning with Current COVID-19 Rules

2021 Wedding Planning Strategy

With a ‘Plan for the worst, hope for the best’ strategy – have you thought of making your Plan A for the Extreme Risk level? Then Plan B can be if the county risk level lowers to High, etc. Now that coronavirus is here to stay, finding a way to make the best of things with this proactive approach can be the way to go for your wedding day.

Smaller the Better

The Extreme Risk Level allows a maximum of 50 people outdoors at an event venue. Getting married at a church? I’m not sure, but they do have different capacity limits listed that might apply to your wedding. Their capacity in Extreme Risk is 25% or 100 inside (whichever is smaller), and 150 outdoors. Choosing a backyard wedding at home? At-home gathering size has a maximum of 6 people in the Extreme Risk Level.

What does this mean for you?

Eloping is still an option! You need two witnesses, an ordained officiant and the two of you to legally marry in Oregon. There are still so many options for a wonderful elopement day while following the social gathering size maximum of 6. Check out this blog post on the beginning stages of planning your elopement day. I will not be focusing on Elopements on this blog but you can check out more Elopement specific blogs here.

Intimate or Micro Wedding day at an outdoor venue is still an option! Many outdoor venues and wedding vendors now have intimate or micro wedding package options available. Here at Myrtle Creative Co., we have Intimate Wedding Photography packages available as well (max of 50) and don’t hesitate to ask vendors for this even if they don’t have it listed.

Myrtle Creative Co. 2021 Oregon Wedding Planning with Current COVID-19 Rules
This means outdoor ceremony and reception for a completely outdoor wedding day.

Outdoor is Best

Outdoor events allow for larger capacity and more safety potential. Indoor events at Event Spaces are prohibited in the Extreme Risk level. Again, I am unsure, but churches do have different capacity rules which would need checked if getting married in a church. The social gathering and at home size limits remain the same in Extreme risk, but do increase for outdoor in High, Moderate and Lower risk levels.

What does this mean for you?

You will have more options by planning an outdoor event, no matter the location. If wanting to have the largest capacity options especially, outdoors is the best bet. (This means outdoor ceremony and reception for a completely outdoor wedding day.) Indoor events at event spaces are not allowed until the High Risk level which would be a Plan B. Having your wedding outdoor as your Plan A, is going to be ideal.

Myrtle Creative Co. 2021 Oregon Wedding Planning with Current COVID-19 Rules
Having hand sanitizer available at the tables can be a convenient way for your guests to sanitize as often as needed.

Social Distancing + Masks

Social Distancing and Masks are still going to be part of your 2021 wedding day in some way. Your vendors have rules they will be following and requiring you to follow as well. Do ask your caterers and hair and makeup artists what those rules look like as they might impact your day with unique processes or items needed.

What does this mean for you?

You might have masks available for guests in your wedding colors. Hand sanitizer stations and/or available at the tables will be a good idea. Allowing spaced out ceremony seating and reception seating grouped by families might be good ideas. Overall doing what you can to host a safe event for your guests and vendors.

Hopefully your venue will have most of the social distancing and other requirements laid out for you from the start. Do ask your venue, vendors and anyone hired for your wedding pertinent COVID-19 specific questions. Some venues are putting into place their own restrictions in addition to what is allowed in county that might impact your day. The last thing you want is to be surprised by some unknown rule much closer to your wedding day.

Myrtle Creative Co. 2021 Oregon Wedding Planning with Current COVID-19 Rules

Summary:

  • Plan Small from the start
    • Plan A: Extreme Risk Level allows a maximum of 50 people at an outdoor Event Space.
    • Plan B: High Risk Level allows a maximum of 75 people at an outdoor Event Space.
    • Plan C: Moderate Risk Level allows a maximum of 150 people at an outdoor Event Space.
    • Plan D: Lower Risk Level allows a maximum of 300 people at an outdoor Event Space.
  • Outdoor Wedding is the way to go
    • Plan A: Indoor Events are prohibited at the Extreme Risk Level, so outdoor will be best.
  • Include Social Distancing + Masks
    • Social distancing and masks are still part of any gathering taking place.
    • Check with your venue and vendors for any additional requirements they have in place.

Moving Forward

Due to each county being assessed every two weeks, there is a chance of the levels changing throughout the year. Some counties might fluctuate more than others but relying on a county that is currently in the Lower Risk Level to remain in that Risk Level until Summer might be just as problematic as relying on an Extreme Risk county to shift to the High Risk Level by Summer.

The truth is, we don’t really know what this Summer will look like for per capita cases, total cases and test positivity rates. And rather than repeating the same strategy of 2020 – downsizing a pre-covid planned wedding – why not save the headache, monetary losses and stress by making your Plan A be something you can do no matter what? I realize this isn’t what most want to hear but from experience, small and intimate weddings can be wonderful. From Tricia, one of our 2020 brides:

“..As a 2020 COVID bride, I can’t emphasize enough how happy we are to have made it that small and intimate and be able to live-streamed it to everyone we love AND read their comments later!! Most importantly: we all followed procedures and were SAFE!! Just perfect all around.”

Tricia, 2020 Oregon Bride

Bonus: Vendor Booking Tip

Moving forward with this Plan A mindset for your 2021 wedding, we recommend prioritizing vendors who you will want/need for your day no matter the size. Also book those vendors for the Plan A size and ask when they would need to know the final headcount if there is an option to increase size. (For example: confirming food and dessert for 50, with an option to increase once final headcount is known.)

Live streaming your wedding day and/or hiring a videographer might become a priority. Many videographers provide live-streaming packages now and having someone in charge of this means it will be done correctly and not distract from your day but be integrated seamlessly.

Myrtle Creative Co. 2021 Oregon Wedding Planning with Current COVID-19 Rules

Bonus: Outdoor Oregon Wedding Venues

There are many gorgeous professional outdoor wedding venues to choose from for your Intimate Oregon Wedding such as:

I hope this article does not deter you from your 2021 Wedding Planning as you never know what the future may hold and small weddings can be so wonderful. And the great news is you can still marry the love of your life in 2021 and make it an amazing day!

If you have decided that 2022 is the year for your wedding – due to so many 2020 weddings being re-scheduled for 2021, vendors (such as ourselves) are currently booking 2022 dates as well. Do not delay when booking your prioritized vendors for 2022 before those dates get filled.

Have any questions, corrections, input or more – do let me know in the comments below. Stay safe and happy planning!


Myrtle Creative Co. is your Intimate Wedding and Elopement Photographer for love + adventure. Ann Marie provides custom planning assistance, vendor referrals, itinerary creation and so much more so you can have the day of your dreams. Reach out today for your Wedding Photography needs!

  1. Wow! This post is so informative!! Oregon is beautiful and we are considering eloping there!

  2. Maaike Mayor says:

    I’m not in Oregon but this post is so reassuring for anyone who’s planning to get married in this area! This is truly helpful, great job 🙂

  3. Silvia says:

    So useful and specific ❤️ Well done!

  4. Connor B says:

    This is such excellent and well-researched information for anyone getting married during the pandemic in Oregon. But also good tips for anyone getting married in 2021 period! Thanks for doing the difficult work of compiling this information. It’s so hard to know the rules month to month!

  5. Julia says:

    Wow! What a great guide! COVID guidelines can be so confusing. This really breaks everything down and makes it so much more manageable. Nice Job!

  6. Andrea says:

    The bonus outdoor venues are so such a great touch for this already very informative blog about covid and how affects the industry and clients trying to plan a wedding. If nice you took the time to compile all this information together for your clients.

  7. Heather says:

    Thank you so much for putting this together! These COVID times can be extremely confusing and no one seems to know what is going on! Your images are gorgeous btw <3

  8. Kat says:

    This is super helpful info because it’s so hard to find up-to-date info! I wanted to visit Oregon and I’m not even sure if it’s allowed right now. Having all this info in one place is terrific.

  9. Jacqueline Griffin says:

    This is such a JUICY blog post with so much great information for Oregon weddings and elopements! It is so hopeful to see the options you bring forward for your couples!

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