With the current pandemic turning the wedding industry upside down, many couples have made the difficult decision to postpone their impending nuptials until the guest list can be extended beyond 15.
However, for some, going ahead with a 15-person wedding is the only option due to venue policies or simply because they’re sick of the ever-changing rules and just want to tie the knot.
As someone who attended 15 (!) weddings last year and had 10 planned for 2020, the Covid-19 wedding restrictions have been a real game-changer for my social life – and, obviously, my friends’ emotions.
Whilst thousands of brides won’t be having the big white wedding they’d planned, that’s not to say that a ‘micro wedding’ can’t be just as special. If you’re planning a 15-person wedding and want to make it just as epic as your original plans, we’ve enlisted two of the country’s top wedding experts to share their tips.
Here, Jade Colton, founder of Shropshire Events, Lorna Shaw, Content Manager, rockmywedding.co.uk, and Hamish Shephard, founder of Bridebook, the leading wedding planning app, have shared some practical ways to ensure your micro wedding is the day of your dreams.
Embrace the intimacy
Large weddings can be great fun and more inclusive but the more guests at your ceremony, the less intimate the atmosphere and the more hosting duties that ensue. Having fewer people means you can share pivotal moments, such as exchanging your vows, with the people who mean the most to you. Sit together (not tables apart) at a family style wedding breakfast, and then cosy it up at the end of the day with sofas, blankets and your favourite nightcap!
Make it all about YOU
Make your day a reflection of you as a couple; let it incorporate what you both enjoy and embrace what is truly you as a couple. This goes for all weddings but when the guest list is smaller (and indeed the overall cost per head) this allows you to splurge on and prioritise elements of your day that you would otherwise have had to limit.
Foodies, for example, could opt for an all out tasting menu, taking time to savour the wedding breakfast over a few courses. For those who share a mutual hobby, try and incorporate it into your day if possible… why not rock climb to the altar or tie the knot at 10,000 feet?! Maybe this isn’t one for your fainthearted or elderly guests!
Take time to really think about your wedding ceremony and make it personal to you as a couple. Write your own vows, read a poem or ask a family member to do a reading. If you’ve chosen to get married during this time it’s because you really want to, so enjoy every minute.
Choose the perfect setting
Take the opportunity to book a smaller but idyllic, chic venue or think outside the box and pick your first date spot or favourite restaurant, where you met or got engaged. Be completely romantic or as quirky as you like. With destination weddings restricted, seek out one of the country’s many hidden gems and make it your own for the day.
Relax the rules
Having fewer guests takes the pressure off and means there is less need for a tight schedule or formal approach. Order the day as you both want it to play out. Always dreamed of getting married at sunrise or sunset? Then do it; have it your way. The more relaxed the atmosphere the more enjoyment you’ll all have.
Print your recipient’s names on their invitations and be intentional with your wording, gift your wedding party individual favours, arrange your playlist to suit all 15 of you, invite everyone to make a speech or a toast, dot photos of extended friends and family (as well as absent ones) around your venue.
Give your guests personalised wedding favours, anything from handwritten notes, to bespoke face masks. They’ll really appreciate the personal touch and you’ll enjoy making them for your closest family and friends.
Incorporate games into your wedding reception, anything from Mr Mrs to the memory game. These fun ideas will fill the room with laughter and create the joyful happy atmosphere you were hoping for.
Don’t ditch the detail.. or the fun
Part of the excitement of organising a wedding is in the attention to detail; the flowers, table décor, venue styling and also the fun elements that make the day so memorable for everyone. It’s this detail that you’ve dreamed of when you’ve envisaged your big day, all the parts that make it yours so don’t compromise on any of these.
Make it interactive
Since lockdown we’ve all become a dab hand at FaceTime and Zoom! So even though your full list of guests aren’t safely allowed to don their best attire and physically attend your wedding that’s not to say they can’t shed a tear and raise a glass watching you recite your vows from the comfort of their own sofas. The beauty of this is that you can invite as many acquaintances as you like (even those who weren’t on your original list!) Put iPads at the table, stream certain special moments throughout the day and play recorded video messages from those who can’t be there.
Now that your wedding is likely to be costing you significantly less than it was originally how about making it a two day event? Make the most of really spending time with those closest to you, and not just for twelve hours! Whether a stay overnight, a next day bottomless brunch, lunch and supper; hours of grazing and lazing, or an afternoon of fun and activities, celebrate your first official day as husband and wife in style.
Postpone the party
Having a smaller wedding doesn’t mean that you can’t extend it to a separate celebration at a later date. Whether you choose to use your original colour scheme and wedding theme or opt for a festival theme, carnival feel, a good old garden barbecue or knees up, everyone will be thrilled to have a party to look forward to following 2020!
Hire a wedding planner
Often thought of as a luxury, the breadth of advantages of hiring a wedding planner might surprise you, especially during this uncertain time.
Planners have a a list of key vendors and can often negotiate a better deal on your behalf. They are experts at visualising your day and bringing about your dream wedding. A good wedding planner will be hands on with helping you adapt to a smaller guest list, find the perfect venue, liaise with suppliers and help change your existing arrangements.
Invest in a brilliant photographer
Look to invest in a brilliant wedding photographer. You might not consider that a necessity, but with so many people who will want to see the photos and with fewer people there taking additional information shots you really need to ensure the day is perfectly captured.
Rent a bus
It is still legal to travel on public transport (whilst wearing a mask of course). So why not hire a vintage bus and ride with your guests to your wedding reception. Purchase miniature bottles of champagne and make individual picnic bags full of savoury snacks to enjoy on the way.
Include your pets!
They don’t count as one of your 15 people. Win!
Incorporate family heirlooms
With only your nearest and dearest there (and no extended family or obligatory colleagues) you can take more risks. Why not incorporate family heirlooms to make it more personal – use your Grandparents tableware to serve the meal or decorate the table with framed photos.