You were happily planning along, you’d nailed your guest list, thought about all the food, been to check out a couple of bands, and then boom. Global pandemic. None of us knows when things will be back to ‘normal’ and so whether your wedding is planned for next month or next year, it’s important to prepare a plan B. With current wedding restrictions and those we can foresee, that plan B may look like scaling back your wedding.
There are plenty of emotions tied up in the decisions and designing of your plan B. But for the sake of giving you as much value as possible, let’s look at this from a logistical perspective. What does scaling back your wedding actually mean? It means reducing the numbers. The number of guests, the number of tables, the number of flowers (well, maybe – we’ll get onto that) and consequently, the number on the bottom line of your budget spreadsheet too. What it doesn’t mean is having any less of a day. It’s utilising the amazing suppliers you already have onboard and adapting your day (and how they can help you with a big celebration later down the line if that’s your jam). It may seem like an overwhelming task, so let’s break this down into some easy to digest steps.
We’ve gone into this hot topic in great detail over on our How To Have a Socially Distanced Wedding article. For all of the tips, tricks and advice on how to reduce your guest numbers head over there. The most important thing to remember in this is that, although your original guest list can’t be with you in person,they can be with you virtually. Which means that they can absolutely still be a part of your day. We have an article coming really soon on how to host a virtual wedding so keep looking out for that.
Ergh. Undoubtedly one of the trickiest parts. You’ve assigned your best friends these really important roles but wedding restrictions now mean that you may have to scale back to just one or two of them. In many situations, there is a maid of honour and a best man, which hopefully will make the process a little bit easier. This may also be more easily understood by other members of the party. But what about those of you who have set your squad in equal standing for these roles? The best thing you can do is take a deep breath and follow your gut. There are ways to still include your other best girls throughout the process, extra special things you can do for them as they join you remotely. Or you simply decide that no one has a ‘special role’ to play and all guests in your micro wedding are created equal.
There are a wide variety of ceremony types, both religious and non-religious. In some cases, the ceremony may not change that dramatically aside from the number of guests in attendance. In others, your grand and lengthy celebrations may need to be reduced. Current government advice is to keep ceremonies as short as possible so you may want to look at reducing the number of readings you’re having if you were previously having more than one. Go through your plans with your celebrant or religious leader for guidance on this.
With reduced guest numbers comes reduced tables and the associated decor elements. There’s less stationery to print. There’s less food. And what about the cake?
Speak with your venue about how to reduce your number of tables – perhaps they might suggest you go for one long trestle table or perhaps there is a way to arrange the circular tables you already had planned. Will you be in the same space as originally planned? That might help you to determine what your setup looks like.
Reduced tables mean reduced centrepieces, but that need not necessarily mean less impact. Could you maybe repurpose some centrepiece budget for a cool hanging installation instead? Perhaps you can now find the budget to have that beautiful moon gate you originally wanted?
Other things that would be on your table that you might want to consider are favours. Scaling back on favours doesn’t necessarily mean getting rid of them altogether. With fewer attending guests to celebrate, you could add some budget to favours as an extra special thank you. But it’s also a nice idea to remember those virtual guests. You may want to consider sending out paper invites to virtual guests with the details of how they can tune in. And if budget allows, you might want to post out/deliver favours. You would have been buying each person a plate of food, so the cost of a favour per couple/household is small by comparison and a really lovely touch.
With fewer mouths to feed it’s more than likely that your food budget will be reduced. Can you use this as an opportunity to make dinner even more special? Since your dinner has become your celebration (RIP dancefloor, come back soon), you have the opportunity to really go to town on your menu. Maybe you had two courses planned, could you repurpose some budget to up that to three, four or maybe even five really delicious courses now? Make it a true cuisine experience.
And then your cake. Was your original plan to have a three-tier, pressed flower, iced in buttercream dream cake? If that feels like a bit too much cake now, maybe you could speak with your cake maker about keeping the design the same, but reducing it to one tier or creating some cool individual cakes instead. And hey, if you want all that cake then go for it! There’s nothing wrong with eating cake for breakfast every day for a week after your wedding.
As it stands you can still have musical entertainment at your wedding. But there will be restrictions on volume and dancing so with that in mind, perhaps you could speak with your band and or music agency to see how they plan to accommodate the new wedding restrictions. They can certainly still play all of your favourite songs, but perhaps a more acoustic vibe would work better for a seated reception.
Yes to having a gift list! It makes life so much easier for you but also for your guests. But what do you do now that you’re having to cut down your guest list? Should you still have your gift list? Will those who are now uninvited still want to get you a gift? Check out this article to read about gift list etiquette and what to do.
You’ve bought the dress of your dreams. Maybe it was love at first sight or maybe it took a few trips to various boutiques to find ‘the one’. Either way, you love her and there is absolutely no need to scale back. Get her on and feel your absolute best. You deserve it.
But if your dress feels too much now. For whatever reason. You might want an alternative option. If you’re having a bigger celebration later down the line then all is not lost and you’ll get to show her off in all her glory then. But for now, should you want something more understated, there are plenty of both high street stores and designers that are absolutely smashing it when it comes to bridal fashion.
Hair and beauty
You deserve to feel the best version of you on your wedding day. And if hair and makeup are a part of making you feel good then there is no reason to scale back here. The getting ready part of your day should be equally as important now as it was when you were having a larger celebration. Get the champagne popped, welcome in your hair and makeup artists and feel great.
Your day is likely to be shorter now with celebration restrictions in place, which means you may have to make changes to the order of your day. Your drinks reception may not be happening anymore, so that’s an hour to two (sometimes even three) that will be cut out. There are ways to elongate dinner though. Maybe add in a cocktail hour or a gin tasting course or you know, just more food because why not? But even with all of that, your ‘first dance’, should you have one – we seriously hope you do as that’s not breaking any rules – will be much earlier. What does that mean in terms of costs and the timeline of your day? Have a good chat with your photographer and videographer about that to work out when they are needed. Maybe there’s opportunity for your videographer to help you out with streaming your day, for example. The bottom line is though, these memories deserve documenting. Regardless of how many people are in the room.
If you have a wedding planner or stylist it’s a good idea to have a chat with them about how they can help with replanning the order of your day. You may not need as much on the day help at this point but equally, you might so have a good honest and open chat with them too. Perhaps they have a new offering where they can support a smaller gathering first and plan a larger second celebration next year.
Depending on where you are in your planning you may have already sent out stationery. If you haven’t, chat with your stationer about the best ways to scale back or again, ways in which you can switch up what you have to make it work for your new situation. If you’re having a virtual wedding, it’s a nice idea to send out an invitation to let them know how they can join you, maybe you want to send a copy of your vows to them in case there is any signal fall out or perhaps you’d still like to share an order of service with your virtual guests too? If you already have stationery printed but no longer makes sense as you’re having to uninvite guests from the physical day, can you repurpose them? Perhaps send as is and add in a note to let them know how they can stream the day instead. There is no need to throw your invites away. Plenty of people who care about you both, whether physical or virtual guests, would like to hold on to wedding invitations for years as a reminder of your day. Also, we feel that those amended invitations are going to become iconic reminders of these times.
Maybe you had planned a couple of buses to transport guests or maybe you had cars for all of your wedding party. If that is no longer the case, perhaps you can repurpose that budget to hire the car of your other half’s dreams as a surprise? Or simply provide transport for the entirety of your 15 person wedding?
We hope that’s given you confidence that scalling down your day is absolutely possible. With some careful thinking and planning, you can still have an incredible and memorable day. Perhaps even more memorable than your original day would’ve been.