Couples across England are faced with the prospect of cutting down their lavish wedding plans to an intimate ceremony of just 15 people following the latest government guidelines after a spike in coronavirus cases.
Prospective brides and grooms may be feeling the pressure after being forced to axe people from their guest list and now dealing with the possiblity of a empty-feeling wedding ceremony.
To help guide couples through the stress of planning the new adapted version of their special days, Femail has spoken to wedding experts to compile an ultimate guide to planning their mini nuptials.
For breaking the news to your loved ones that they can no longer attend your big day, recommendations include emailing them to explain and finding ways to keep them involved.
The guidance includes filling empty space with large, elaborate floral arrangements, hiring a big screen to connect with people who can no longer attend and having more outdoor-based venues such as a weekend of glamping or a brunch in a vineyard.
FILL AN EMPTY SPACE WITH EXTRA FLOWERS
Sarah Allard, of editor of Hitched, also recommends adding a statement visual piece in the room, such as a floral installation that fills the room in height and width or a large central table for all 15 guests to sit at as the focal point of the room. Picture: Stock
With only 15 guests, couples may find their wedding feels a little emptier than they had imagined when they first began planning.
Wedding experts have provided some useful tips to help cut down the possibility of your ceremony feeling deserted.
CREATE A COSIER FEEL WITH DRAPES AND SOFAS
If couples decide to stick to their original venues, which can often hold up 50 guests, they may be left with large holes in their where people were meant to sit.
To combat the issue, Sarah also recommends adding drapes to ceilings and walls to the stop the room echoing and emphasising the small number of guests.
The room coverings will also help create a cosier space as you tie the knot and make the experience as intimate as possible.
With a smaller number of guests, there will also be a lack of bums on seats, so Sarah suggests changing up your original seating arrangements.
‘See if you can hire an eclectic mix of plush sofas and chairs that’ll create a quirky and relaxed vibe in your ceremony room.
‘It’s easy to seat people in social bubbles on a sofa too.’
For the reception, she also recommends gathering everyone around one long table or a big round table – ensuring they can all be involved in conversations together.
In order to fill the space and create an intimate setting for the ceremony, Hitched Editor Sarah Allard recommends adding a statement visual piece in the room, such as a floral installation.
She says by adding extra flowers that fill the room in height and width or a large central table for all 15 guests to sit at as the focal point of the room, people won’t notice the extra space.
‘Use candlelight and lanterns for a warm, romantic glow instead of bright lighting,’ she added.
MAKE THE WHOLE DAY AN EXPERIENCE BY PLAYING GAMES
Despite your big day not looking quite how you envisaged, the experts have suggested there are still ways to make it feel more personal.
Stacey Hartley says by making your wedding day an experience it will make the day extra special.
‘Small in size doesn’t have to be small in nature. Create some fun experiences for your guests to do together,’ she said.
She even proposes getting the guests to play games to get everyone involved .
‘Even consider making any social distancing measures fun – getting married at this time is something you won’t ever forget so use it.
SPLASH YOUR EXTRA CASH ON PRIORITY ITEMS
With a smaller, more intimate ceremony, couples may have managed to save a lot more money than they originally anticipated.
The experts instead encourage brides and grooms to use the extra cash they would have spent on their ‘big do’ to splurge on their priority items.
Sarah Allard suggests having two or three ‘stars of the show’ such as Michelin star food, an open bar, a live singer, gorgeous flowers on every surface, or a venue you didn’t think you could afford before.
Similarly, Samantha Kelsie, a wedding celebrant and former wedding planner, said: ‘Where before you may have been finding ways to cut the budget, now you can really splash the cash on a glorious outfit, venue, or restaurant experience for you and your handful of guests, with only the finest champagne being poured all day long.’
SAY ‘I DO’ AT TWILIGHT
With a smaller wedding, there are likely to be less limits on the times and dates your guests can do and provides the perfect opportunity to do things a little differently – such as having your ceremony at twilight
After all the setbacks that have come with planning a wedding during the coronavirus pandemic, experts suggest ditching the usual traditions could be a fantastic way to make your micro wedding extra-special.
To mix things up, Sarah Allard said couples could consider changing the time of their wedding, opting for a twilight ceremony instead of the tradition lavish wedding breakfast.
‘You can marry as the sun sets and follow with a relaxed dinner and dancing.
‘Small weddings lend themselves to much more flexibility and originality.’
However, it is important to note if your reception is being held in a pub or restaurant, they will now close at 10pm.
TRY YOUR HAND AT DIY AND GET SOME SECOND-HAND ITEMS
Stacey Hartley, a maximalist stylist for To Be Revealed Styling , proposes trying your hand at some DIY by creating a backdrop for the ceremony. Picture: Stock
Stacey Hartley, a maximalist stylist for To Be Revealed Styling, proposes trying your hand at some DIY by creating a backdrop for the ceremony which will make the room feel smaller.
While the ceremony may not feel quite as you had expected, Sarah Allard recommends focusing on micro details in the mini nuptials to personalise the day and ensure it still feels special.
‘Leave a handwritten note for each guest at their place setting, sharing your most treasured memory with them,’ Sarah says.
Alternatively, she suggests getting an illustrator to sketch each guest on their invitation, order of service or menu and putting your name and wedding date on everything, such as napkins, guest book, cocktail stirrer, cake topper, the label of wine bottles and wedding signs.
Stacey Hartley also proposed getting personalised sanitiser bottles made up for each guest, as well as personalised markers for them to stand on or on seating to ‘makes it feel special rather than sad’.
To make the day feel extra special for all those involved, Stacey Hartley recommends creating personalised markers for people to stand on and place settings for the sit down meal
‘It’s about you so create a frame that will make you feel that extra special. You can create a flower filled ring around you or add in plinths of different heights to create drama.
‘Even consider going DIY and wallpapering MDF panels or painting them to create a gorgeous backdrop.
‘It can be small or big but ultimately it is about creating an area that makes you feel special.’
But, not everything has to be pricier. Kate Beavis, from Magpie Wedding which specialises in sustainable weddings, said: ‘Collect vintage china from second-hand shops or hire some to create a quirky mismatched feel.
‘Hand pick flowers from your garden, or ask guests to pick some, and display in old gin or wine bottles.’
TAKE THINGS OUTDOORS
One way Nick Brewer, owner of Oastbrook Weddings based in East Sussex, suggests changing up the usual wedding expectations and opting for an outdoor ceremony.
While outdoor weddings were a popular choice pre-Covid, for those brave enough to trust the English weather, the idea of a nature-themed ceremony is now even more popular.
Nick said: ‘For a beautiful table setting for your wedding breakfast why not have your wedding in a vineyard and lay a trestle table between the vines – you will feel so special in this setting, like you are in Provence or Tuscany.’
Alternatively, he suggests choosing a venue where the guests can stay all weekend, such as a mini glamping festival.
‘You could have a barbeque the next day or another wedding meal – spreading the whole wedding out to make it feel bigger and more memorable,’ Nick added.
INVITE YOUR AXED GUESTS TO WATCH ON ZOOM
The experts suggest setting up a big screen to connect with people who are unable to make it on the day.
Joanna Pisko, owner of Brickhouse Vineyard, an 18th century wedding venue in Exeter, said: ‘You could live stream your first dance and zoom greet everyone afterwards, so they get to wish you well after you have tied the knot.
‘We’re finding that first dances in our beautiful Round House with a zoom connection greeting afterwards, are going down really well right now.’
To make it extra special, experts at Your Wedding Live recommend getting your virtual guests to dress up.
‘That way you get to see all your guests in their finery, getting emotional during the vows and see their happy faces celebrating with you.
They also suggested couples could ask people to do readings and speeches via Zoom.
The experts suggest setting up a big screen to connect with people who are unable to make it on the day
Venues for the perfect intimate 15-person wedding
Experts at Hitched have compiled a list of some of the most idyllic settings for couples looking for a special venue as they face the prospect of a 15-person wedding day.
River Cottage – Axminster, Devon
The iconic Devonshire farmhouse can hold weddings of up to 20 guests.
Your ceremony can take place inside or in River Cottage’s walled garden, and then you’ll have full use of the Kitchen Garden, dining room and famous farmhouse kitchen from midday to midnight.
Their chefs can whip up a delicious meal for between 10 and 20 guests to celebrate.
Out in the sticks, River Cottage in Axminster, Devon, can hold up 20 guests within the tranquil walled garden, with chefs on hand to prepare a beautiful wedding brunch
The Georges Vault – Rochester, Kent
Although this venue can hold up to 70 guests, it’s ideal for weddings of 15 and fewer too due to its cosy vibes.
The Georges Vault is a 14th century wedding venue in the heart of Rochester, near the Cathedral.
It’s split over three floors, but the one you want is the basement crypt which is bursting with atmosphere.
The Georges Vault in Rochester, Kent, is split over three floors, and before the lockdown could hold up to 70 guests for a ceremony
Fox & Hounds Country Hotel and Treetops Treehouse – Chulmleigh, Devon
Intimate micro weddings can be held in the Fox & Hounds Country Hotel’s amazing Treetops Treehouse.
While this is usually the bridal suite for the newlyweds, it is also a truly unique venue for a wedding of up to 10 in total.
It features a log burner and cute interiors that make it ideal for a rustic micro wedding.
Why not try out a more unusual choice of venue with your smaller guest list, such as this Treetops Treehouse at the Fox & Hounds Country Hotel in Chulmleigh, Devon
New House Farm – Cockermouth, Cumbria
Located in the pictureseque Lorton Valley, New House Farm is a luxury country house that can host up to 20 guests for an intimate wedding.
With open log fires and pretty, secluded gardens, it’s great for a wedding all year round.
If you would prefer an indoor location, New House Farm in Cockermouth, Cumbria, may be the spot for you with its intimate wedding venue
Cherrytrees – Kelso, Lothian & Borders
If you’d like an outdoor micro wedding, Cherrytrees in Scotland is a wonderful outdoor wedding venue.
It can hold up to 50 guests but is completely flexible and looks wonderful set up for much smaller weddings.
You can have a sit-down meal or informal afternoon tea or picnic on the lawn.
Further afield, Cherrytrees in Kelso, Lothian & Borders, is beautifully picturesque setting for a smaller intimate wedding
Treseren – St Newlyn East, Cornwall
In a secluded spot in the countryside, just five miles from the beach, is Treseren.
The country house is available for weddings of up to 20 guests, with bed and breakfast included at the house for 12 people.
The house is licensed for civil ceremonies in their gardens and in their beautiful Wedding Room which has elegant French doors that open onto the terrace.
For a particularly intimate wedding breakfast, couples may be interest in Treseren, in St Newlyn East, Cornwall, which is licensed for civil ceremonies in their gardens and their wedding room