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Micro Weddings: The case for small, Covid secure, sustainable weddings.

It’s February 2021 and we are in lockdown.  Whilst we are waiting on the Government to make an announcement, I am optimistic that by Spring the UK will be back open for weddings and events to take place.  Vaccines are being rolled out swiftly and the number of Covid cases is now on the downward trajectory.  Whilst I would love to confidently say that we will be back to large parties and dancing with abandon by the Summer, the likelihood is that for the rest of this year we will still be operating with caution.  But this doesn’t mean that love or marriage is cancelled for another year!   Now, more than ever, is the time to embrace Covid secure, sustainable, micro weddings. Here’s why…

Marriage doesn’t need to mean excess.

For thousands of years, marriages and wedding ceremonies have been happening every day, all over the World.  They are a gathering of family and friends to celebrate your love for one another and formalise your union.  However over the years, it seems weddings have become less about the union and more about the accompanying frivolities.  The wedding industry is now a multi-billion pound industry as couples become ever more imaginative and creative in their planning of their big day.  Expectations, extravagances and guest lists run high as we seek the most perfect, Instagram-able wedding. Yet 2020 changed all this and the wedding industry is fighting for survival as it reels from the effects of Covid 19 government restrictions.  I lament the loss of income for myself and so many of my friends and colleagues but part of me also welcomes the opportunity to create more sustainable, micro weddings.   

Two Gold Wedding Rings on a dictionary definition of marriage

The evolution of big weddings.

As humans have evolved, we have become ever more competitive; seeking to have the first, biggest and best of everything.  Our weddings are no exception.  Everyone and anyone must attend for us to celebrate our love match.  Our wedding must be personal, unique and innovative… and of course on trend.  Wedding trends have evolved significantly over the last few hundred years.  Until the Victorian era and the rise of the Middle Class, weddings were much more subdued affairs.  As the industrialised world swiftly advanced and became wealthier, weddings started to become a statement of success.  A large wedding was seen as a sign of significant wealth.  Parents would save for years to be able to afford to give their beloved daughters a wedding they could be proud of.  The only exception being wartime and post-war weddings when speed was often of the essence and severe rationing precluded any significant feasting.  Micro weddings out, mega weddings in!

Bigger doesn’t always mean better.

But bigger doesn’t always mean better. Look at your guest list.  80, 100, 120, 150, 200 + people.  Perhaps a fraction of whom you know intimately, or well enough to spend any regular time with.  A small number who are immediate family.  Certainly too many for you to spend any meaningful time with on your wedding day.  The beauty of micro weddings is that you can reduce your guest list to only your most nearest and dearest and you have a genuine reason for not inviting Great Auntie Mable who you’ve only met once in your life!  You can spend  quality time with the people who mean the most to you rather than a fleeting word or two.  It also means that you can let your imagination and creativity run a bit more wild, unconstrained by the limitations of a big crowd.  Your wedding breakfast doesn’t need to be a simple three-course meal.  Unleash your culinary desires and choose that 5,6,7,8 course feast you have been dreaming of.  Satisfy your taste buds and go for quality over price point.   No need to skimp on the décor.  With less tables and space to adorn you can opt for more lavish flower arrangements, upgrade your tableware and add embellishment.  Small can still be entertaining too.  Dancing may be restricted but your ears and eyes can still enjoy the sounds of live musicians and performers.  Smaller numbers also opens up the possibility of more interactive activities.  Ask guests to prepare a short speech, recite their favourite poem or perform something.  Or how about introducing a game or activity for everyone to participate in together?  Think fun, dinner party over big, dance party.  And if you are worried about anyone missing out, film it!  Or better still invite them to join in virtually and stream the fun live to them at home.

Micro Weddings
Lily Rose Photography

The difficulty of postponing.

Couples are facing a tough decision.  Get married anyway under restrictions or postpone to a date in the future when restrictions may have eased enough to allow the wedding day you originally planned.  Postponement is problematic.  The government are yet to advise when larger weddings will be able to resume.  This makes re-setting a date for your wedding very difficult and the likelihood high that you will need to postpone again. Faced with an indeterminable wait and perhaps the need to move on into married life is it time to consider a more intimate but just as special wedding day?  Reducing your guest list is difficult.  Some of us come from large families and have lots of close friends.  Choosing who makes the cut might be a hard decision to make.  Ultimately it is your day and it should be your choice how your celebrate your marriage.  But what is the most important factor?  Why are you getting married? Is it the act of marriage union?  Is it the celebration with all your family and friends?  Sometimes the answer is both.  Does it suit you to wait? 

Micro weddings are more cost effective

Weddings are expensive.  The average cost of a wedding in the UK in 2019 was over £30,000.  Usually, the larger the wedding, the larger the cost.  With economic uncertainty affecting all of us, maybe it is time to rein in our spending and reduce our guest lists.  If finance is less of an issue, a smaller guest list also means that your original budget will stretch further.  Perhaps that dream honeymoon destination (when we can travel!) is more of a reality.  The wedding dress you have had your eye on but weren’t sure you could afford is now withing arms reach.  You can focus on enjoying an exceptional culinary experience rather than figuring out how to feed the 5000. 

Wed Magazine / Suzanne Neville

Micro weddings are greener.

Thanks to the efforts of Greta Thunberg, Sir David Attenborough and others, there is also a rising environmental consciousness.  Whilst wedding suppliers have made great strides in the last few years to reduce waste, recycle more and reduce their carbon footprint; weddings still carry a significant environmental impact.  Travel to and from weddings, outfits that will likely only be worn once, flowers flown in from Holland or South Africa etc.  There are of course lots of things you can do to reduce the environmental impact of your wedding but the best way is to reduce the number of guests.  Smaller is greener.

Micro weddings will sustain the wedding industry.

Whilst we sit in perpetual limbo waiting for the next government announcement to signify the survival or further destruction of the wedding and events industry, those of you who have decided to embrace the micro wedding are helping to sustain the wedding industry.  Whilst not always as lucrative for some wedding suppliers, your micro wedding will help us pay our bills, keep food on our tables and a roof over our heads.  The government says we are an unsustainable industry.  I say we are a vigorous, agile and determined industry of creative, imaginative, dynamic and innovative people, many of whom have not received a penny in compensation from the government who have forced the closure of our livelihoods.  It pains us to be unable to provide you with the wedding of your dreams.  We are fighting tirelessly to persuade the government to tell us when weddings and events can happen again so that we can plan for all our futures.  We have worked hard to ensure all our venues and services are Covid secure, putting in place robust hygiene and social distancing measures.  The popularity of marriage hasn’t changed in thousands of years and has adapted to be inclusive to all.  We know big celebrations will be back; we just need to support one another until then so that when they do we will be around to throw the mother of all celebrations!      

Perspectives Photography / Kathryn Clarke-Mcleod Photography/ Nova Wedding Photography

Ultimately, it is your day and your decision. How you spend your money and celebrate your wedding is entirely your choice.  I completely understand wanting to have all your friends and family witness you marry the love of your life and celebrate with a great party afterwards.  I did and I don’t regret it.  But I also didn’t want to wait for someone to give me permission.  So maybe it’s time to look to the positives and embrace Covid secure, sustainable, cost effective, micro weddings.  The wedding industry will thank you!   

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