Micro weddings… one of the many new buzz words we’ve learned in 2020 and one we’ve all had to get used to in the wedding community.
Way back in March, when the coronavirus crisis began to unfold, thousands of engaged couples across the UK were forced to put their wedding plans on hold. I’ll never forget those first few weeks of the Spring lockdown. Phone calls and emails flooding in day and night from couples and wedding suppliers alike, all of us caught in a storm of confusion with no clear end in sight.
Looking back still gives me the shivers, it was all so unknown and frightening but now we are a good nine months into it I feel like the options for weddings right now are becoming clearer. Personally, I’ve been extremely lucky to have had the experience of shooting eight micro-weddings since August, all of them incredibly memorable and unique events that I’ll never forget.
While the news of a vaccine is brilliant I’m aware that many couples are still feeling uncertain about their upcoming weddings in 2021, so wanted to put together a little post about what micro-weddings actually look like and how you can still plan a brilliant day if some restrictions remain in place when your date rolls around.
WHAT IS A MICRO WEDDING?
Even though we are only just getting used to hearing the phrase ‘micro wedding’ now, they are really nothing new. A micro wedding is just a small and intimate wedding, typically with fewer than 20 guests and without a formal evening party. I’ve actually shot several micro weddings over the years (long before coronavirus was even a thing) and have always really enjoyed them. Because everything is a little more low-key and on a smaller scale, micro weddings are usually extremely relaxed and informal, something that’s always appealed to me as a photographer. Small, intimate weddings allow you to spend more quality time with your nearest and dearest without rushing round trying to see every guest for 5 minute chat, and can also give you way more flexibility with budget.
FOCUS ON WHAT MATTERS MOST
When you started planning your wedding, odds are you didn’t envision a day that involved face-coverings, social distancing and hand sanitiser for 15-30 guests. We’ve all had to make so many changes to our daily lives, but now time’s marching on and we are getting more used to these things, you can probably make a clearer decision about what you’re willing to compromise when it comes to getting married.
My top tip is, and always has been, to focus on what matters most to you about your wedding. If it’s to get married with all your friends and family there to celebrate with a big party, then a micro-wedding probably isn’t for you. If you’re in no rush and feel comfortable postponing, then you can absolutely do so, don’t feel guilty! However if you just really want to get married and are happy to postpone or pass on a bigger reception, then a micro wedding or intimate wedding will be the way forward.
At the end of the day, everyone gets married when they do for different reasons and this is your own personal choice. If you are happy to marry now and party later, go for the micro wedding. If you’d prefer to do it all in one go and don’t mind waiting, postpone until you’re confident things will be back to normal.
PLAN A & PLAN B
Gosh I remember a time when Plan A and Plan B referred to planning your wedding photography around the weather forecast! How times have changed.
Even though things are looking up for 2021 weddings and I am feeling very optimistic about the Summer, it’s still worth having a Plan A and a Plan B, just in case restrictions aren’t fully lifted in time for your wedding. Who knows where we will be in two or even ten months’ time, so take the time now to work out what you’d do if wedding guest numbers are still restricted, even if it’s 50 rather than 15.
Not only is this the pragmatic thing to do which helps keep your guests and suppliers in the loop, it will also make you feel better and less worried in the long run. If you have a plan of action now you won’t panic if you need it later, and it could take off a lot of pressure should you choose to postpone at short notice.
CONNECTING WITH GUESTS WHO CAN’T BE THERE
If it looks like you are having to cut your guest list, you can still share your day with those who can’t be there to celebrate with you in person. I’ve seen some amazing ways of getting guests involved with weddings from afar, with some tuning in to live streams on Zoom and others leaving video messages to be played during the speeches. I’ve also been to some weddings where guests have come to congratulate couples on their way out of church from across the road and some who have waved through windows.
On a practical level, you may also want to pre-warn your guests that plans might change if attendance numbers aren’t eased and you can do this easily on your invitations. Have a look online to get some ideas for the best ways of phrasing this.
MARRY NOW, PARTY LATER
This idea has gone down really well this year, with many couples choosing to get married now and party with friends later. Again, I’ve seen a few couples do this before coronavirus was on the scene, with small intimate ceremonies followed up by a much bigger celebrations months afterwards for various reasons.
If you still want your extra guests to feel part of the ceremonial side of things you can even tie in a marriage blessing or commitment ceremony, keeping the original, legal ceremony short and sweet. Commitment ceremonies and humanist blessings are brilliant if you want to do this informally and outside a place of worship, and can be tailored to be extra personal and unique. If you want to know more about this idea just ask me, I can give you loads of examples of what I’ve seen at other wedding celebrations. If you’re feeling far too anxious to start planning a follow up party right now then please don’t put that extra pressure on yourself. You can always have an awesome anniversary party when you’re ready.
WHAT ABOUT FACE COVERINGS?
Aah, face coverings. These became mandatory for indoor wedding ceremonies in the Autumn and seemed to cause a lot of worry at first because nobody could quite envisage wearing them at an event like a wedding. I’m pleased to report that, having been to six weddings where they were worn, they make absolutely NO difference to how much you’ll enjoy yourself! Really, they don’t. If anything they’ve become quite the accessory, and you can now get some gorgeous ones from online shops such as Etsy. Some bridal boutiques will even make them for you using off-cuts of your bridesmaids dresses, etc.
MAKE THE MOST OF YOUR BUDGET
If you’ve had to downsize your wedding then you may find yourself with a budget that’s suddenly stretching a bit further than originally planned. This might mean you can now afford to decorate your ceremony venue with extra flowers, get an upgraded wedding album or save more towards your honeymoon. Use your new budget to create a truly unforgettable experience, you definitely deserve it after surviving 2020!
Obviously this is at the forefront of all our minds right now, especially at weddings where you naturally want to be close to all your family and friends. As things stand, you can only get married right now in Covid-secure venues, which generally means “official” venues which have been set up with special social distancing measures, hand sanitiser stations and so forth. Some couples have worried about the way socially distant weddings might look and feel, and that’s totally understandable given that most people haven’t been to one yet.
I wasn’t sure at first either, but now I’ve been part of eight weddings since the Spring lockdown I can honestly say they look and feel just like normal weddings, only with a bit of extra spacing! Just ensure you stick to your venue’s guidance and maybe treat your guests to some hand sanitiser favours as a souvenir of these crazy times.
WON’T THE PHOTOS LOOK WEIRD?
I’ve been asked this so many times I’ve lost count and the answer is…. no. The photos won’t look weird. In fact, the photos might even be better because you’ll have much more time to spend on them and relax into the experience.
At a big wedding the pressure is on for you (and for your photographer) to try and squeeze in all your wish-list shots into a jam-packed couple of hours. I have taken some of my favourite photos of all time in 2020 because my couples didn’t feel stressed or guilty taking the time to do them. You could use the extra time to get some really amazing pictures that will become part of history!
As for family photos with social distancing… yes, those may look different but only for shots where guests are not in support bubbles. I can use some simple optical tricks to create the illusion of closeness for shots with grandparents and so forth, or you can just embrace the social distancing and make it a feature of your pictures instead. It’s going to be a big talking point when you look back at those pictures in 10 years and remember what was going on in the world at that time.
(By the way, all the photos in this blog post have been taken at weddings in 2020. In case you needed extra proof.)