Co-Creating a Covid Safe Environment for Your Guests and Staff
Of course you are wondering how covid will affect your WNC wedding plans. As we look to reopening, we have one big question. What are the best practices to keep our staff, our clients and their guests safe?
As a business we are basing our safety practices on CDC guidelines and OSHA guidelines in an effort to support you and your guests as we co-create a new WNC wedding experience. We are also adhering to NC State recommendations for re-opening. We have taken the NC Count On Me Training for COVID safety. Because there are many challenges to creating a safe event in the time of Covid, we need to work together to create the best conditions for a safer and healthier event. So that we can protect those most important to you, and to those most important to us, we are asking our clients to take the NC Count On Me Pledge.
What has become clear is that the age of self-serve buffet tables may be at an end. This means we must adapt, as this is one of the most popular choices for our clients. We used to use a ratio of guests to servers, but with this new service model we will be taking more into account when we recommend staff. We will be looking at your menu, your venue, and your guest count to Determine Your Event Needs.
The typical bar model also needs adaptations. In order to maintain social distancing, two bartenders will be needed for even the simplest bars. One bartender to mix/pour and a second to deliver drinks to your guests. In order to limit face to face time, the staff will trade duties during the shift.
The following video illustrates the danger of using the self serve buffet model. Also consider this link to a 2010 episode of Mythbusters about viral contagion and buffets, for a deeper dive into this idea.
Our options moving forward are:
- Full Service Buffet : To move to a Buffet Line tended by BRES staffers. A Full Service Buffet line would remove the risk of multiple touch points. Spaced Attendants would assist guests by serving items requested on each table. This model requires more protective equipment than normal. More buffet tables and sneezeguards are needed to supplement this model while we are dealing with covid contagion. We will possibly need more attendants to provide extra sanitation and to provide more services than usual.
- Plated and Served: To move to a plated and served/ boxed service style with self-bussed disposable dishes/boxing. Our staff takes the catered food and re-boxes/portions a tasting of all items. Vegetarian/ Vegan/ GF Plating can be accommodated with advanced notice. As long as guest counts are low, this can be accomplished, most likely with small adjustments to existing staff. Larger events can also be accommodated, but require an appropriate ratio of staff. If a client prefers to use rental items that would need to be bussed/rinsed, the risk climbs to Moderate/High.
As we move forward and open to larger gatherings, the plated and served model will not work as well for all clients. This service style requires one server per table for weddings and similar banquets. So a little wedding math to illustrate. If you are using 8 ft round tables you can seat 8 guests traditionally, fewer encouraging distancing. If you have 100 guests it would necessitate at least 12 servers. This is just for getting the meal on the table in the traditional “everyone-eats-at-once” model. We also have staff whose sole focus is keeping high touch points clean, especially as guest counts climb.
The Full Service Buffet requires guests to assemble in a line and would necessitate some coordination to identify smaller group gathering spots. Couples may want to consider using table numbers to dismiss tables one at a time.
The Plated and Served Model, in addition to needing more staff to pull off smoothly, would require the rental of a warming cabinet for larger events.
New Covid Best Practices to keep food service guests safe include:
- Closed (touch free) trash disposal receptacles need to be widely available
- Presenting facial tissue (at least 1-2/table)
- Wide availability of hand sanitizer and/or touch-less hand washing stations
- Frequent Sanitation of Touch Points
- Sneezeguards for any buffet tables
BRES Will Provide:
- Masks for our Staff
- Gloves for our Staff
- Sanitizer for spraying down Kitchen, Bar, and Dining Room Touch Points
- Temperature Checks Pre-shift
Additionally, we are looking into the logistics of stocking Sneezeguards to offer at smaller events and WNC weddings.
Questions for your Venue:
- Are there Sneezeguards on food service tables/bars?
- Have you added trash cans to your guest areas?
- Should we bring facial tissues and hand sanitizer, or have you added these to your supplies for covid precautions?
- Do you provide sanitation for touch points outside of the kitchen and dining room throughout the event (like the entries, bathrooms, outdoor railings, banisters, etc.)
- Communicating expectations to your guests about covid precautions for your wedding in WNC. Post leading links about stylish masks. Check out these signs we found on Etsy! Ask guests if they’ve found a mask to match their dress. Include details in your wedding website or invitations if possible. Send your guests a link to the NC Count On Me Pledge.
- If you don’t have a planner, ask your dj if they would mind helping you communicate logistical points, assist with crowd movement and encouraging social distancing. Consider numbering tables to make it easy for a planner or dj to dismiss tables to the buffet one at a time.
- Providing Items the Venue does not intend to provide, or ordering these items through a rental company or BRES (We can help with disposable guestware, napkins and tissue if needed, but we need advanced notice of at least 2 weeks.)
Occupational Safety Considerations and Your Wedding
Thank you for reading through these safety measures and doing your part to ensure your wedding is a joyous memory for all. Please keep a list of all vendors who work at your event for contact tracing purposes. We will be keeping track of all contractors who work at your event in any capacity to aid in any efforts that may need to occur post-event. Let’s all do our best not to need these records.
It is our goal that everyone involved in your event, both guests and Service Staff, adhere to current directives surrounding social distancing, PPE, and other safety guidelines. While we cannot force a wedding party to comply with social distancing guidelines or wear PPE, we also cannot and will not stop staff from leaving any environment where they do not feel safe according to current OSHA guidelines. We hope that by outlining the best practices above, we have made it easier for you to proceed planning with confidence.