The year the wedding world changed – and 5 genius ways to adapt!

Published by Claire Gould on

A gorgeous elopement in London, with Jordanna Marston Photography

Hey there lovelies. I really don’t know where to begin today’s blog: we had this one planned a few weeks ago, when we expected weddings of 30 guests to be happening by now and for the future. And then we heard the news that the rules wouldn’t change after all. I am SO heartbroken for all of you who were planning a celebration this weekend, or in the coming weeks. If a gathering of 30 of your friends and close family isn’t safe, how is it possible that crowds in pubs, parks and beaches are being allowed to happen? Lovelies, I am desperately hoping the situation changes for you, and the powers that be will allow small weddings soon… in which case, this article WILL apply!

With love,

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I’ve been a fan of small weddings from day one. Before 2020 happened, I was already in love with intimate weddings and elopements. We’ve featured plenty on the blog, and every single one has a special place in my heart. Especially for those of you having to face a mini version of the Big Day you’d planned, here are 5 genius ways to adapt to having a smaller wedding in 2020.

This article’s inspired by a blog post I read by lovely Jordanna Marston over the weekend: 5 reasons to love small weddings and elopements

None of us know where we’ll be when Spring 2021 turns into wedding season. I’m hoping with all my heart that we’ll have kicked corona’s bum right off the planet, and social distancing won’t be a thing any more. But just in case – in case – we’re going to be limited to 30 or fewer humans at a wedding, perhaps it’s safe to plan a micro wedding just to be safe. If that’s a new word for you (and yeah, I know it sounds a bit meh) stick around and I’ll explain…

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1. Mindset change needs to come first

Intimate weddings have been happening for decades. Our grandparents didn’t have massive weddings like we do; celebrations were low key, local and still meant the world to everyone.

Despite wedding magazine surveys telling us average weddings are costing over £30K these days (source: Hitched) plenty of couples have had weddings with less than 30 guests in the time wedding blogs have been around. And  they’re some of our fave weddings!

So I want to tell you it’s more than ok to have a small wedding. Celebrating with 30 or so people will be amazing, I promise! (Remember Christmas dinner? How many people were in one house? It felt like a lot of people, didn’t it… and I bet it was under 30!)

Having a mega wedding (30 or more guests) doesn’t make the day any more special – in fact, it can often make things more formal, less relaxed, and more stressful to plan. But when you’re celebrating with your closest family and most loved friends, you’ll have the most overwhelmingly emotional, beautiful day you can dream of.

You’ve just got to believe that everything I just said is true. Think it over a little and imagine how it will feel.

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2. Guests: Who are your “Can’t be withouts”?

Sorting your guest list can be THE most stressful part of wedding planning (apart from the table plan). But if you’ve fewer guests, there’s less to worry about. And hey, it’s not your fault if Covid said you can’t invite your auntie’s neighbour’s dancing partner, is it?

Don’t start with your old, 80+ guest list and try to cut out names. You’ll feel a bit harsh if it’s a cull!

Instead, start with a blank sheet. Who are your absolute “can’t be without” family and friends? Who do YOU need to have by your side on the day? Who’s there for you, by your side through thick and thin, in a normal month? That’s your guest list.

3. Suppliers for your post-covid wedding

If you’ve booked suppliers for your original wedding, please do try to keep them with you as you reschedule. Photographers, venues, florists, hire companies and wedding planners can all cater for an intimate wedding just the same as they would a big do!

And small businesses need your support right now: we’re relying on 2022 bookings to keep our cashflow going while we live on beans and own brand cornflakes… but we’re determined to come back from this!

You’re likely to have to renegotiate with many of your suppliers if your guest list is smaller: a ‘per head’ venue cost will plummet; so perhaps you can afford that luxe album option from your photographer with the money you’ve saved?

We’re looking at a rather delightful play off here between quantity and quality: if you’ll only need 3 floral centrepieces now, perhaps you can have those lush roses you couldn’t afford before? Talk to your suppliers, come up with a plan… and don’t think of your intimate wedding as a disaster, but as an opportunity to get creative and make the most of your new, scaled back wedding day.

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4. Switch the focus from day to evening

So here’s a thing: most of us will plan for 75% of our guests to be at the ceremony and day do, with another 25% joining in the evening. This means planning for a lot of meals, and seating arrangements, transport, and all the little extras for styling the venue and keeping folks entertained all day long. That kind of stuff isn’t exactly flexible (imagine adding 20 people to your guest list at the last minute… your venue coordinator would fall off their chair!)

If you’re planning a post-Covid wedding, your starting point will be 30 guests. But no one knows if that number will go up in the next few months, or even change from month to month. It means your daytime guest list needs to stay pretty safely close to 30.

If the rules do change in the coming months, perhaps there’ll be scope to add evening guests to your list. They’re a little easier to whip out last minute – have a stash of invites printed and ready to go, or just invite them informally with a quick phone call.

And don’t let your evening celebration play second fiddle: have some great wedding entertainment on hand, bring out your sparkly second outfits, get a pizza van to feed people and fill a box with dance floor props to make it the evening reception of the century – for anything from 30 guests to however many you’re allowed by the time your wedding comes around!

Flexibility is going to be a thing in 2021 – embrace it!

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5. Head off on your homeymoon… or sod it, elope!

So homeymoon‘s not a typo. I was reading The Knot’s article about homeymoons… a genius(?) wedding rebrand of that old fave the staycation. Couples making the best of lockdown have embraced paddling pools and cut out cardboard palm trees to decorate their homes, beach styley… because it beats staying at home doing DIY for 2 weeks when you should have been in Mauritius.

Of course, while we’re talking about getting away from it all, and now you can book a cosy glamping pod in a remote corner of the UK, why not embrace the micro wedding with all your hearts and elope? I’ve gotta admit… I know I’d do it (and obvs, have a massive wedding party once all of this is over and forgotten!)

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Jordanna Marston Photography is an English Wedding member

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Claire Gould

Claire spends her days writing - either in beautiful calligraphy or online. She lives on the edge of the English Lake District only minutes away from the beach, where she loves to escape and unwind. Claire's calligraphy can be found at Claire launched the English Wedding Blog in November 2009 - it's been a top 10 UK wedding blog ever since, with a regional focus we hope you LOVE.

1 Comment

Diane · March 5, 2021 at 7:16 pm

I love the photos and comments about micro weddings. We’re getting married on 31st July. It’s going to be a very low budget, small wedding. Most of my family are overseas and won’t be able to attend, but we’re going ahead. So much has been made of having the ‘perfect’ day on your wedding day and people have spent a fortune on having all the frills and fancies I’m , which if you can afford it, must be wonderful. I’m hoping ours will be a day of love, fun and friendship without all the extras.

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