With all these frequent changes to the rules on weddings in 2020, you would be forgiven for being a little overwhelmed. If you're a couple looking to tie the knot in the next few months, it seems that the answer may lie in micro weddings and elopements.
What are the current rules?
The UK government announced yesterday (22nd September) that, in England:
"Weddings and civil partnership ceremonies and receptions will be restricted to a maximum of 15 people (down from 30)"
from the 28th September. Anyone working at the wedding is not counted as part of the limit and receptions can still only be a sit down meal. The government said that it is possible that these latest measures will stay in place until March 2021.
NB: Advice is being updated frequently, so please do double-check the official government website(s) before making any decisions. My article is correct as on 21st September 2020.
So what does that mean if you're looking to get married soon?
If your wedding is in Jan/Feb/March 2021: I would sit tight for now. A lot can happen between now an Christmas... I would start thinking about your options around two months out from the wedding date to see where we are. However, you can of course start thinking about backup plans now if that will help you feel more in control.
If your wedding is after March 2021: I would sit tight and see what happens in January if you can. Again, an awful lot can happen in six months so I wouldn't assume anything just yet, but make a contingency plan if it will help you through this time.
If your wedding is in 2020: I would suggest that you start thinking about what you want to do as a couple and what's most important to you both, as it's likely your wedding day will be affected by the current restrictions. Again, unfortunately the rules could change in the next three months but we can only work from what we have right now.
The options you have available at the moment, under the current restrictions, are:
postpone your wedding (for some, sadly, this will not be the first time...)
convert your wedding plans into a micro wedding
What is a micro wedding?
A micro wedding is the term used to describe a wedding which involves fewer than twenty people - for this article, and with current restrictions, I will be referring to weddings of 15 people (the couple plus thirteen guests). Micro weddings are still "full" wedding days, with a ceremony and reception, they're just on a much smaller scale to the typical wedding.
Micro weddings were becoming more popular at the end of last year, well before coronavirus came into the world. This is because these small weddings allow more focus to be on the guest experience, and generally you can get more from your money too! Your budget can be focused on creating a spectacular wedding aesthetic through decor, flowers, entertainment, or levelling-up your catering. And all those Pinterest-worthy wedding tables with gorgeous set-ups, usually only done on photoshoots due to logistical constraints, could now feasible be recreated for your wedding day! See how I can help you with this.
Planning a wedding for 15 people is also far less stressful than planning one for 80-100 people. You can really focus on what you want for your special day without worrying about everyone you know's opinions on what you're planning. Plus, on the day itself, you will actually be able to spend time with every one of your guests, which is so rare in a 'typical' wedding!
The only tricky part, as with any wedding, is deciding on your guest list. Of course, if your dream wedding day has more than 13 guests present, then a micro wedding is not for you. But, if you sit down and think about who in your life matters most you, and you come up with a short list of names (without those "obligation guests") then this might be the perfect solution!
Micro weddings can be beautiful, deeply intimate, and so special. It might not be the wedding you always had in mind, but if this sounds more like your sort of vibe than a huge wedding party, then this could be a great option for you as a couple.
NB: I would recommend hiring a professional planner for the day to help you coordinate the details, as there can be a lot going on with suppliers regardless of guest numbers! Plus, that way we can ensure you get maximum enjoyment out of your wedding day after all the stress leading up to this point. I have created a new micro wedding package here exactly for this reason.
What is an elopement?
An elopement is usually a sort of "private/secret wedding" attended only by the couple, two witnesses, the officiant and usually a photographer. Elopements are usually quick, simple, and the focus is on the legal part of the wedding only. If you're reaching the end of your tether with wedding planning (who could blame you at this point!), and just simply legally becoming someone's husband or wife is what you want, then this might be for you! You can always have a big celebration with all your loved ones later on, if you wanted to.
Two important things to work out before you elope: firstly there is who you're going to ask to attend, and secondly there is who you're going to tell that you're now married. It can be a bit of an awkward conversation so it's a good idea to plan out what you want to say, in what format (in person is ideal), and when (before the wedding day, or after).
Once that's out of the way, you can think about locations. Elopements are a seriously romantic idea, so take time to think about where you'd want to "escape" to and what you want to include as part of your day. Just remember to take into account the notice period in the country you wish to marry in - elopements aren't as spontaneous as movies make it out to be!
In the UK, you must "give notice" to marry at the local registry office at least 29 days before the wedding, and you have to include venue details. For Church weddings, the notice period can be longer.
Abroad, the rules vary hugely - this handy Gov tool can help you find which documents you may need and gives guidance on how to go about marrying abroad. Hitched also has a great list of places you can elope at short notice!
Further tips for elopements:
make sure your ceremony is personal and include any special touches throughout the day that will make you feel like it was the perfect choice,
meet any suppliers you hire before the big day so you feel absolutely comfortable sharing such a special moment with them,
don't forget to invest in a photographer! You will want to remember this day for a very long time and it enables you to share your experience with loved ones who weren't present on the day (if appropriate),
consider hiring a planner local to the area you wish to elope to - this can make travel, accommodation and supplier arrangements far easier to handle, and (as always) leaves you stress-free on the wedding day! They can help you just in the lead-up, or they can be with you on the day as well - whatever suits you, just ask.
See my new elopement planning services if you'd like support on planning your next steps.