COVID-19 has changed the world over the last few months. The idea of having 200 people packed under one roof seems a little less likely, so I’m really looking forward to photographing some intimate weddings this year. I define an intimate wedding as having less than 50 guests. This could be a small gathering of friends and family for dinner or an elopement at City Hall. You’ll feel closer to every guest because you’re only inviting your most important people. I’m not gonna lie, I absolutely love a packed dance floor with 200 people, but there’s such an intimacy with small weddings that I really love as well.
There’s a great article that came out last week by The Knot all about what weddings might look like after COVID-19. I’m also lucky enough to be able to work with Boston’s brightest industry experts and they have graciously shared some of their top advice for couples thinking about intimate weddings and COVID-19.
Paula Marrero of Marrero Events and Unwrapped by MWE
“Couples are understandably upset and overwhelmed with the thought that they may need to postpone and/or replan their entire wedding which oftentimes takes up to a year of planning. Intimate weddings are an excellent solution until our world has quietly settled down and we know what’s ahead. By having an intimate celebration, a couple can have it live-streamed to their friends and family across the world, allowing them to keep their original wedding date and then plan a larger celebration in 2021. I know this may not be ideal, but it’s a chance for everyone to celebrate what’s most important … their love and commitment.
I hope that after experiencing what we have thus far, that all couples retain a planner to educate, guide and advocate for them as they move forward into very uncharted waters. The primary things couples should consider when planning an intimate wedding is their guest count. Try to keep it at or below 50 and ask the venue whether the count would need to include vendors as well.
As it looks as though many weddings will be postponing this year, we have created a unique line of curated gifts to allow options for couples to still celebrate on their original wedding date and/or share the celebration with family and friends throughout the world with trinkets reminiscent of their day. We want couples to realize that the most important thing is that they found each other, they will celebrate their marriage and for most couples who were planning their wedding this year, postponing the date now allows them to be able to truly celebrate their engagement with engagement parties, showers, bachelor and bachelorette parties, etc.”
Sarah Boucher of Willowdale Estate
“With a smaller group, details like atmosphere, music, and meaningful moments planned for the ceremony and reception could have even less distractions. Working with your event professionals to make each moment shine will leave you with even more clarity during the moments that matter most to you!
Photography and video may become an even more meaningful way to share the wedding day with friends and family who may not be able to celebrate in person. Those memories will look even better if you’re able to select a beautiful backdrop like Willowdale Estate!”
Jonathan Wiegratz of Boston Common Band
“Being 100% candid and having spoken to dozens of other “creatives” in the industry, there’s now a huge demand for Saturdays in 2021. Essentially, vendors are now seeing 2x demand for popular Saturday dates with new clients, as well as weddings looking to postpone; This creates a crunch in all vendor’s availability. Around the industry, there seems to be some variance in the flexibility of the postponement/cancellation terms, where some vendors are being flexible than others. It also seems to come down to vendors who are mainly materials based (florist, catering, etc), versus more strict vendors who are time + skills based (musicians, planning, photography, etc).
COVID is certainly an unprecedented scenario, and no one is at fault. It wasn’t caused by venue, vendor, brides + grooms. We’re all in this together, and we would propose that we all work together to help mitigate these circumstances for one another. From the vendor’s business end of things, postponements from 2020 to a Saturday’s in 2021 represent the vendor shouldering a near total loss of those 2020 Saturday incomes. In order for vendors to minimize the impact to our businesses, the overall push within the industry is to look into postponements to Thursday/Friday/Sundays where there’s a higher likelihood where all your preferred vendors will have availability, and minimizing any financial impact on your end, depending on the vendors cancellation terms.
- Rescheduling Best Practices
We’ve found a number of clients finding the following to be the easiest way of rebooking a date:
- Contact your venue and gather 5-6 dates that work for them
- Build a Spreadsheet with those dates and the rest of your vendor team.
- Send those list of dates to your vendor team.
- Rebook on a date that works for all / majority of your vendors… Or if you have priority weight on say, the band + photographer, etc…
- This will help minimize any impact on cancellation losses etc!!
Lisa Serino of Next Level Films
“I think there is a huge benefit to having an intimate wedding. So often I see couples bouncing from table to table trying to quickly greet all of their guests before dinner ends and they haven’t even had a chance to sit down and enjoy their own meal! With a smaller gathering, you can really make all of your guests feel welcomed by spending time with each one. For smaller weddings, I’ve found that couples are often interested in a video messaging booth. This is more of an informal, casual set up, where your guests can come up on their own time if they want to record a special message for you- whether it’s words of advice on marriage, sharing a story of how the two of you met – it’s a really fun way for your guests to get involved and it’s a priceless gift for you to be able to watch long after the day is over.
One thing that would be really neat is if you could coordinate a video message recording from any guests that couldn’t make it and that could be added into the film as well! That way they could still feel part of the celebration knowing they would be leaving you a message on your wedding day that will be preserved forever!
If you are planning a small intimate wedding and possibly cutting down your guest list, a videographer could come in really handy! You can ask your videographer if they can provide a live feed of your ceremony so everyone can experience it live. Or if that’s not possible, maybe requesting a faster turn around time for your film so you can share your day with friends & family as soon as possible! Close relatives and friends can still take part in the celebration, even if they aren’t able to be there in person! This year, we are providing a 24 hour turn around time for every ceremony because we know that most of our couples will be having less guests than they originally planned. This way they can share this very special moment with their loved ones right away!”
Stephanie Russo of Russo Fabulous
We have lots of couples having small weddings at private residences and eloping on their planned wedding date. Because we don’t have a minimum order, we are more than happy to accommodate our clients scaling back from their original proposal from extravagant ceremony and reception decor to just personal flowers. We’re looking forward to getting creative with decorating backyard spaces for ceremonies! We’re most excited to be able to work with and see our couples on their planned wedding date versus waiting another year out (we’re impatient haha).”
Haley Tyson of Haley Tyson Design
“Just because it’s an intimate day, there’s no reason why you can’t have all the little details that become heirlooms that you can hang onto forever – think a dinner menu or a program with a little description of the day. A sign to hold or to be photographed to commemorate the date or location would be really special as well. You also have the opportunity to personalize each table setting. Because of your smaller guest count, each guest could leave with something personal to your relationship with them.”
Scale it Back
Oftentimes intimate weddings are the ceremony and dinner only. But what if you want that feeling of a small wedding but still want to dance to your favorite local band, have your MOH give a toast, and enjoy cocktail hour before dinner? Many venues will be offering their large areas for smaller weddings. Everything about Liz and Pat’s Wellesley Country Club wedding looked like a lot of my bigger weddings, except there were less than 50 guests. Instead of the big ballroom, they opted for the covered patio. Instead of a big ceremony they just popped a tent up next to the fairway. Whatever your small wedding looks like, just remember what’s important to you and splurge on the things that will make your day memorable.
Here’s a few other venue ideas for your small wedding!
Your Favorite Restaurant
It’s Friday night in 2019, your heels are on and you’re going out. What’s your spot? Where do you go? Your favorite restaurant could also be your wedding venue, just ask the staff if they have private rooms for events. More than likely the answer is yes. Aileen and John picked Del Frisco’s in Boston’s Seaport for their intimate wedding. This is a great way to support local restaurants who have been hurting during this crisis.
All About Family
If you have a close-knit family then consider staying local and small with an intimate wedding in your home town. Eleni And Matt’s Greek wedding was held at their hometown church with just immediate family. After a few portraits of the two of them, they all went out to dinner afterwards.
It doesn’t get more intimate than getting married in your living room. I especially love photographing weddings at home because I really feel welcomed in as part of the family. There’s nowhere for me to go other than to be close to my couple and their family and really capture all the emotion of their celebration. Leah and Blake’s wedding was especially fun because I’ve never seen 16 people dance so hard 🙂
I hope you found this article helpful as we all try to navigate intimate weddings and COVID-19. If you’d like to chat more with me about your small wedding, you can message me here. Small weddings usually are a bit more emotional and feel more connected because of the intimate setting. Imagine how much more those feelings will come out when you can finally be in the same room with your favorite people. Sounds pretty great right? I think so too.