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Staggered Event Concept for Socially Distanced Events

A Socially Distanced Event Idea for Weddings, Galas & Social Events

Until there is mass-testing and/or an effective vaccine for COVID-19, the format of large events and gatherings has to evolve and change. We've put together some ideas on how you can keep your event safe, comfortable and engaging for your guests while maintaining social distancing protocols and keeping in memorable for your and your guests!


So, what is the formula for determining how many people you can have in your space. We wondered this, so we went searching and found that most states are using the following formula:

Square Footage of Space / 30 * .25

This means that if you have a 10,000 square foot space you would be able to safely host 83 guests under the current distancing protocols.

So, how do you have an event for 300 guests when your venue can only safely accommodate 83 guests under the current guidelines? We have some ideas...


So, it is true that you will not get everyone in the same room at the same time and adhere to social distancing guidelines and protocols. However, you could still have all of your guests if you went to a staggered start time approach.

For this blog we are using a wedding as the event to discuss ideas and talk through the concept. But this same concept could work for galas & social events as well. It's certainly not a unique idea, but infusing some props and decor and making each time segment unique could really make it memorable for you and your guests!

So, if you are getting married or having an event and need to invite 300 guests, how can you do this when the protocols only allow for 83 guests?

Consider getting married in the morning via a private ceremony and having your videographer record the ceremony. Next, invite guests to attend one of three - four reception "sessions" - breakfast, lunch, dinner and maybe a late night "dance party" as the final option. Have everyone view the ceremony and then start with a shortened reception with a menu that meets the need of the time.

For galas/social events - have your speakers pre-recorded so guests can watch the mission-driven or brand directed moments that you want them to see and then play it at the beginning of each time segment.

Here are some FUN options to make your modified "smaller" event stand out.

For breakfast and brunch you could do a mimosa toast using a FUN champagne/mimosa wall (rented from Parties & Props of course!).

For lunch you could do mini picnic baskets (and picnic tables - Rented from Parties & Props, of course) for your guests to minimize contact with servers and since picnic/farm tables are larger, it would be easy to seat them using the 6 ft social distancing standards.

For dinner, consider family style seating vs. traditional rounds and consider family-style service (using lazy 30" lazy susan's rented from Parties & Props, of course) so that guests don't have to reach across to serve each themselves, they can just "spin the lazy susan". This also minimizes the guests having to come in contact multiple times with servers or standing in awkward "socially distant" buffet lines.

The lazy susan in this photo was golf themed, but underneath, it is a beautiful wood lazy susan with tons of charm!

And finally, the dance party. Consider unique self-serve bars and specialty drink walls versus the traditional bar which have people crowded around one area and coming in contact with servers multiple times. Also, create fun "lounge" vibes (with sectional lounge furniture rented from Parties & Props, of course) to really make the night feel fun and guests feel safe and relaxed!

The benefits of a staggered event:

1. If you have the space all day - why not use it?

2. Guests who may not have been able to attend because of timing and other obligations now have options and are more likely to attend.

3. Older guests who typically leave before the music begins have options that don't include the loud music and late bedtime they are trying to avoid.

4. You get to watch your wedding over and over again

5. You get to enjoy all of your guests

6. It may help you meet food and beverage minimums that would not have been possible with a smaller event.

Communicate with your Vendors and Venue:

Of course, you will need to check with your venue, vendors and catering partners to see if this is possible and how it may change your costs and determine turn-around times (which you can use to rest!) in between start times so that the room can be turned, cleaned and ready for the next group.

No matter the event, Wedding, Gala, Social event, adopting this approach could be a fun and memorable way to approach your event and ensure you get to engage with all of your guests.

For more fun ideas and thoughts on socially distanced events, contact Parties & Props. One of our talented designers would love to talk to you about creating the right "socially distanced" event environment for you. | 314.963.0880

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