Whilst intimate weddings and elopements were already on the rise, COVID-19 has seen an even greater trend (and, well, requirement!) for the rise of the micro wedding. So if you’re looking to plan a micro wedding that adheres to the latest government guidelines, what are our top tips for planning a small and intimate wedding?
Drawing Up Your Guest List
First and foremost, you’ll need to draw up your guestlist. With only a maximum of 30 guests allowed you will likely need to be quite selective – remember, this total also includes your suppliers (although venue and catering staff can sit outside of this).
Make a list of the key suppliers you feel you need for your day – such as a photographer, videographer, and also of course your officiant. With the remainder (obviously, once you’ve also accounted for yourself!), you’ll be able to invite your closest friends and family. Local lockdowns, travel restrictions or ill health may mean some are unable to attend at short notice, so you may want to also have a small back-up list of people you could invite at short notice.
Your venue will need a full list of attendee names and contact details for contact tracing so ensure you have all of the details to hand.
Finding Your Dream Venue
If you haven’t yet got a venue, you’ll need to find one which is ‘COVID-19 secure’ and which is happy to recommence weddings – currently, it is entirely at the venue manager’s discretion as to when weddings will resume.
When choosing your venue, ensure you have somewhere which will offer enough capacity for you and your guests to have plenty of space and adhere to social distancing measures. Venues with plenty of outside space are ideal, allowing not only beautiful wedding photos but also for you and your guests to dine outside (if the weather plays ball!). If you need to hold your wedding inside, then try and ensure there is good ventilation.
The guidelines have now changed to allow singing and instrumental music as part of your ceremony, allowing you more scope to personalise your intimate wedding day and make it even more memorable (although remember that musicians or singers must be included in your guest count).
If you want to maximise guest count then it may be that you want to ensure there is a good audio system in place to play a recorded song of your choice. If you want the quality of live music but are restricted on numbers, some musicians will be able to record an acoustic cover for you, for a fee, giving you something more unique as well as something that you can keep after.
Whilst social distancing must be adhered to, intimate wedding ceremonies are so incredibly romantic and allow all guests to feel close to the action with all guests getting a great view of the ceremony. A videographer can record the action so you can later share the highlights with wider friends and family who were unable to attend, or you could opt to live stream it to a wider audience too. If you’re opting for the latter, check the layout of the ceremony room beforehand (so you know where’s a good place to situate your phone/camera) and ensure there is a good phone/wifi signal in advance.
As of 8th August, face coverings are now required in places of worship as well as registry offices. It may be worthwhile bringing a supply of face masks with you for any guests who may have forgotten. Whilst the officiant and couple are not required to currently wear them, there are a number of bridal designers now offering carefully designed face masks for those who want them.
Food & Drink
Food and drink are key parts of any wedding and always a great opportunity to put your own stamp on things and make your wedding more personal, but even with the current guidelines you can still create a really memorable experience for your guests.
The government recommends that food is plated and served to your guests to ensure they are seated as much as possible and avoid any bottlenecks or queues at the bar. Whilst sharing boards, buffet-style food and street-food trucks may be off the cards for now, your caterer should be able to help you create a bespoke menu that reflects your needs and preferences and ensures your guests are well catered for. In place of canapés, you could perhaps opt for bowl-food style nibbles served to your guests, or carefully considered menu choices will ensure a three-course meal is sufficiently filling so that no-one goes hungry.
With fewer guests to feed, you may now have budget to really go for blow-out food options and upgrade the food and drink choices you offer. Whether it’s bringing in a chef from your favourite restaurant or offering the highest quality ingredients and finest wine pairings, there are plenty of options to provide a truly memorable gastronomic experience for you and your guests.
Whether you opt for round tables or trestles, no more than two households/bubbles should be sat at the same table and each table should be socially distant.
Pulling together your table plan will require some forward planning to ensure it adheres to the guidelines. Work with your stationer to create a clear table plan and place names so your guests know where they are to be seated and to avoid any bottlenecks. By sharing a copy of your table plan with your wedding planner, event coordinator or venue team, they can also help to direct guests to their seats and ensure everything is seamless.
Flowers and Styling
Opting for a micro wedding doesn’t mean you can’t go big on flowers and styling – in fact, it may be that you now have more budget freed up to go to town on the details. Whether it’s a big statement flower arch to frame your ceremony or meadow-style floral arrangements to line your ‘socially distant’ aisle, there are plenty of opportunities to ensure your wedding is just as jaw-droppingly beautiful as any other.
Similarly, with fewer tables to now style, an intimate wedding really allows you to think about the table styling details. From carefully considered crockery, cutlery and glassware details through to the table linens, stationery and flowers, you can work with a wedding planner or wedding stylist to create a really beautiful table design to wow your guests and create an incredible experience from the moment they enter the room.
When you only have a small number of guests, you can really spoil them and make them feel extra special – as well as bouquets for your bridesmaids and buttonholes for the groom or groomsmen, it may be that you want to opt for extra little touches like a buttonhole or corsage for each of your guests.
Musical, theatrical or comedic entertainment is now allowed, providing it adheres to specific guidelines. Whilst dancing is not currently permitted, you may want to consider having some live music, for example piano or acoustic guitar, as background music to accompany your meal. Live music is a great way of helping to create ambiance for your wedding and the style and choice can really set the tone for the atmosphere you are looking to create.
Logistics and Wedding Schedules
To ensure social distancing is maintained and the safety of your guests upheld, having a clear schedule for the day and circulating this with your venue and all suppliers will help to ensure that everyone knows where they need to be, when, as well as ensuring the day flows smoothly.
Some parts of the day may need extra consideration, such as ensuring the cake cutting can be done whilst allowing your guests sufficient room to distance. Guestbooks and other items such as Polaroid camera photo booths can be used but any high-touch items or areas such as this should have plenty of antibacterial hand gel on supply to keep guests safe. It may be worth also working with your stationer to create additional signage too, to direct your guests if necessary.
Your suppliers will need to work with the venue in advance to complete a risk assessment and will of course need to adhere to social distancing measures on the day itself. Whilst most suppliers are so excited to get back to weddings, it’s worth bearing in mind that many may still be slightly nervous about getting back to events with larger groups at first, especially those suppliers with young or more vulnerable families. Work with your suppliers to ensure they are comfortable throughout, and respect that they will need to adhere to the guidelines to ensure the safety of them and their business, as well as the wider industry.
Note: This advice is correct at the time of writing but guidelines are changing frequently. For the most up to date advice, see www.gov.uk for details. Whilst this post is intended to provide advice, you will need to ensure your wedding adheres to the latest guidelines at the time of your wedding and work with your local registry office and venue to ensure that it complies with any local requirements.