You found your soul mate, you said “yes” and you’ve got the sparkler on your finger to prove it. All that’s left is to say the magical words “I do” and disappear into the sunset as a married couple. It was all going swimmingly, until Covid-19 hit and derailed your plans.
Being caught up in a global pandemic has brought many couples’ wedding arrangements to an abrupt halt, with hundreds of weddings either postponed or cancelled. It’s been a tough time for everyone involved in the planning and carrying out of these memorable celebrations. From the engaged couple, to the venue, the caterer, the photographer and more; everyone has felt the impact.
It’s become clear that the status quo isn’t going to return overnight. The days of sharing your special moment with scores of friends and family from near and far are on the backburner for now. We must adjust to what is in front of us if we still want to create lifelong memories of the day we say “I do”.
Social distancing and other preventative measures will stick around for a while yet, and now is the time to embrace smaller, more intimate weddings. Here are some tip and ideas as to how you can still have a beautiful celebration within the parameters of the Covid-19 landscape.
Assuming the reopening plan continues without any increased COVID rates, all legal limits on social contact will be removed ➼ 𝟐𝟏𝐬𝐭 𝐉𝐮𝐧𝐞.
Choosing the right venue is possibly one of the hardest parts of planning a wedding, and often one of the very first steps. Indoor venues are likely to be overlooked in favour of outdoor spaces or garden settings. An outdoor wedding allows for better social distancing, and can significantly reduce the spread of the virus.
Outdoor venues lend themselves to casual, intimate weddings, with more scope for imaginative seating arrangements. It’s also easier for the venue staff to monitor social distancing and guest behaviour against the backdrop of the Covid-19 protocols.
When you’re up against the sullen British weather, a good compromise is to hire a tent or marquee. Ideally opt for one with open sides to allow for the flow of fresh air. There should still be sufficient space outside the tent that allows for mingling or even for a satellite bar. Encourage guests to use these areas, rather than stay indoors for the duration of the event.
If you’re still in the process of scouting for venues, consider the following points.
As we mentioned earlier, social distancing is likely to stick around a while. Whatever the size of your guest list, make sure that the outdoor area is large enough to comfortably accommodate the guests, while maintaining the prescribed social distance.
Tables that previously seated eight guests for the wedding reception, might now only seat four. Hence, a guest list of 40 that in the past would require five tables will now need to be split between eight tables to accommodate everyone. Try where possible to seat guests within their bubbles. Although fresh air plays a large role in reducing the risk of transmission, it still pays to be overly cautious.
One of the advantages of holding your wedding in a garden is that you are already surrounded by beauty. Make the most of what you are surrounded with. Any décor that you bring in should complement the natural surroundings. Consider the following ideas:
- Pick your colour scheme to complement the colours in the garden venue.
- String fairy lights through the trees and bushes to create a magical setting when the sun goes down. Hanging lanterns have a similar effect, but are more cumbersome.
- Choose your chairs to fit in with the scenery. If you’re planning a rustic wedding, wooden chairs will work well. Use cushions in colours of the surrounding flowers to make the chairs more comfortable. You’ll want a classier chair for a high-tea type wedding, and if you’re going really casual, scatter blankets and beanbags around for seating.
- Use chalkboard signs to direct guests to certain areas like the toilets, or bar. You can even use them to display the menu.
Nature provides a palette of colours, and with a small amount of imagination, you can transform even the plainest garden into a beautiful wedding venue.
The Guest List
It’s a natural instinct to want everyone you’ve ever known to share your special day with you. But the current reality is that if you want to get married now, you must be selective in who you invite. Cutting your guest list down to the bare minimum is a daunting task indeed, but must be done in order to comply with Government and/or local restrictions.
So, how do you do this? First, make sure that you know what your local restrictions are regarding the number of guests allowed to attend the wedding and reception. This will obviously have an impact on how you finalise your guest list. Consider your potential guests in terms of the following groupings:
- Immediate family
- Extended family
- Close friends (Must-haves)
- Other friends (Nice-to-haves)
- Work colleagues
- Partners (other than those included in any of the above groups)
- Vulnerable people
Use these groups to narrow down the list to include those people who you simply can’t imagine not having at your wedding. Bear in mind that the wedding party – bridesmaids, groomsmen and the like – might have to be included in the maximum number of people. If this is the case, try and keep the size of the wedding party low so that you can accommodate more guests.
If numbers are tight, be firm on “plus ones”. This is your wedding and you should be surrounded by those who are close to you. If Jack from the office is single, he can surely still enjoy your big day. Likewise, if second cousin Shirley is divorced, well, perhaps seat her next to Jack! The point is don’t waste precious space on people you don’t know.
Large weddings are simply not possible in the current situation, but with a bit of out-of-the-box thinking, you can still make it happen. Over the past year, businesses have turned to hybrid meetings and events, with some participants physically present and others tuning in via online methods like Zoom and Google Teams.
A live streaming option for guests who can’t physically attend your wedding is a great compromise, and enables them to be included in the celebrations, albeit from a distance. It’s also particularly suitable for vulnerable friends or family, and those residing overseas who are unable to attend due to travel restrictions or financial constraints. If you don’t have your own contact, your venue may have a preferred AV supplier who can make the necessary arrangements.
Make sure that the venue has decent Wi-Fi that won’t lose connection during the live stream. This constant connectivity isn’t always possible in garden settings, and it’s very susceptible to changing weather. A good AV technician can work miracles, but if your heart is set on a hybrid wedding, make sure that you highlight this as something to discuss with each venue’s wedding coordinator.
Current restrictions and/or financial constraints are forcing you to consider different options for your wedding catering. Wedding planners, venues, brides and even the mother of the groom (who always has a say!) are changing their ideas to enable a wedding to go ahead.
Garden weddings don’t suit the large buffet style meals that we were used to seeing at larger, indoor weddings. Instead, try something more in keeping with the intimate nature of the wedding. Outdoor weddings provide a great opportunity for mobile food and trucks. You can also bring in coffee trucks, or arrange a mobile bar to be set up outside.
Picnics are also experiencing something of a revival. They are the perfect catering solution for small outdoor, casual weddings, and you can really go to town on what you include. Whether you’re having a high-end garden tea party, or have chosen a rustic, informal theme, your picnic baskets can be made to order. You can also personalise the contents for guests who have particular dietary needs.
If finances are tight, keep costs lower by purchasing the food yourself rather than outsourcing to a catering company. Rope the wedding party in to pack the baskets the evening before or the morning of the wedding. Pop champagne and have a pre-wedding celebration with those closest to you.
Weddings in general have become more relaxed over the years and some of the age-old traditions have all but fallen away. If you are having a traditional-style wedding, albeit it a garden one, consider these points in your planning.
- Use online services as much as possible. Virtual meeting services like Zoom and Google Meet are useful tools to use for initial meetings with suppliers.
- Make appointments for face-to-face meetings with your suppliers far in advance. Although the pandemic has been around for a while now, there are still many unknowns and the more time you allow for arranging your wedding, the better for all involved.
- Listen to your suppliers. They know best with regards to what can and can’t work for socially distanced garden weddings, and they have guidelines that they have to follow to keep the event safe.
- If you’ve opted for formal seating, have more than one seating chart. This reduces the number of guests clustered around a central spot.
- Avoid sharing microphones. Have at least two available so that you can have one in use and one sanitised ready for the next speech. With small weddings, it’s possible that you won’t require microphones, but sound can “blow away” outdoors, so these may be necessary to counteract the wind.
- Have more than one pen available to sign the wedding register to avoid a sharing situation.
- Have sanitizer easily available for guests, and/or provide each guest with a small bottle at their place setting, or in the picnic basket.
Before you embark on your wedding planning journey, ensure that you know the Government and/or local restrictions with regards to small weddings. These are constantly changing in line with pandemic developments, so keeping on top of these regulations is key to a successful event.
Your wedding is one of the most significant days of your life, and pandemic or not, you want it to be perfect. The current situation is encouraging creativity in even the most mundane details, and this is leading to unique events that will never be forgotten.
It may not be the wedding you dreamed of when you were a little girl, but embracing the changes may mean that your wedding is more than you ever imagined it could be.
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