Are you pondering the idea of a two-part wedding? If you are, this may be because of the recent easing of coronavirus restrictions. Or, this could be through personal choice or circumstance. Either way, we're here to give you all the helpful tips, tricks and answers you need to successfully tie the knot, then host your celebrations at a later date.

If you would like to see the latest on Government advice on weddings, visit COVID-19: Guidance for Small Marriages and Civil Partnerships for an accurate and detailed breakdown.
How To Plan a Two-Part Wedding

Budget - First thing's first. Let's talk about the budget. No matter how opulent or minimal you choose for either of your wedding celebrations to be, you will still need to consider both in your wedding budget. If you're postponing your celebrations to a later date, you may have some space in your budget now to make that first ceremony look/feel however you want. Or you may choose to have a simple ceremony and throw the budget at the party. Both days are important though, so have a think about where you want to spend and where you want to save.

Who Should Be There? - You may have an idea of a guest list for your larger celebrations, but who should be at your initial wedding ceremony? Well, the answer is plainly whoever you want! You need to have five people present to make a wedding legal in the UK, which is broken down as you and your partner, your officiant, and two witnesses. You can choose simply to pick your two favourite people in the world as your witnesses OR you can follow the government guidelines about how many people you can have present on the day. This will include yourselves, your officiant, witnesses, guests and any non-venue staff such as your photographer if you choose to have one. This gives you some wiggle room to invite immediate family and/or close friends.

Giving Notice - If you had already planned to be married in 2020, you may have already given notice of your intention to marry. If not, bear in mind that you will need to give notice at a local registry office at least 28 days before your chosen wedding date. This will only apply to your legal wedding ceremony, you will not need to give notice again for your second ceremony, should you choose to have one.

First Wedding Ceremony - Some couples will choose to look at this as simply 'the legal bit'. But perhaps you could see this as an opportunity to create an intimate, romantic experience for you and your partner. That is the benefit of having a small wedding after all.

Venue - Your ceremony could take place in a registry office, your place of worship or you could discuss hosting your first, smaller ceremony in the venue you'll ultimately host your celebrations in. This may incur an additional cost on top of your celebratory wedding date.

Outfits - Want to wear your wedding dress/suit twice? We say go for it! Decide to wear something a bit more understated in white like a jumpsuit or tailored dress? We're here for that. Or would you rather wear something sentimental like your first date outfit? We're with you all the way. 

Photography - Please have both days photographed. Whether you choose to nominate a guest for some photos of your first ceremony or ask your wedding photographer for prices to attend both. We strongly suggest that you have both days documented somehow. These are the memories worth keeping. 

Aesthetics - When it comes to decor, flowers and any kind of photo staging, this will largely come down to your choice, your budget and what your venue can allow. You may simply want a bouquet for your first ceremony or you may want aisle decor. Have a chat with your chosen venue to see what restrictions are in place before making any decisions.

Rings - You do not need to exchange rings as part of a civil ceremony. But you can, if you want to or if you're having a religious ceremony and it is a part of the proceedings. You could also choose to keep this symbolic exchange for your second celebratory ceremony. 

Second Wedding Ceremony - Although your marriage would be legally recognised at the first ceremony, do not let this stop you from hosting a second ceremony in front of all of your family and friends. This could be a religious or spiritual blessing, a humanist ceremony or a symbolic ceremony hosted by a family member or close friend. In a way, this second ceremony can feel very personal and intimate because it's designed entirely by you and your partner, without the legal requirements of the first ceremony. It's a chance to exchange vows in front of all the people you love. If you've held off on those rings until this ceremony, then it can feel like the final step in the process of becoming each other's husband and/or wife.

The Party - Although the current restrictions strongly suggest that you don't host any celebrations as such after your first wedding ceremony, hopefully by the time your second date comes around everyone will be ready for the party of a lifetime! Think about this when you're planning. With a bit more time to plan/budget, how can you bring a party atmosphere? Invest in a bigger band? Arrange some bespoke cocktails for your guests? Transform the venue with statement decor or some fancy lighting? Hire a photobooth? Of course you can DIY most of the above, so you needn't blow the budget.

Other Helpful Links

We thought you might find these articles useful if you're planning a double celebration.
How To Have A Registry Office Wedding | How To Have A Socially Distanced Wedding & Reducing Your Guest List | Wedding Ideas & Prep To Try In Lockdown  

Naomi Liddell

Written by Naomi Liddell

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