Tuesday, February 7, 2023

Weddings in Covid Times

A big lavish wedding is something that nearly every bride dreams about but over the past twelve months many have had to rethink their wedding plans. Couples throughout the World have had to postpone what was meant to be one of the biggest days of their lives. The stationary had been chosen, the Dress had been bought, the venue, the band and DJ all booked, the catering sorted and, possibly, several hundred invitations sent.

Three things have happened with weddings since the outbreak of the pandemic – couples have simply postponed their wedding and re-booked an alternative date, some have decided to get married but without a large reception or party hoping for that at a later date and some have chosen to downsize and continue with their planned date. Those that have reconsidered and made new plans, smaller plans, are starting a new trend in micro-weddings, mini-weddings or minimonies.

Weddings in Covid Times

Hospitality venues have been among the hardest hit businesses during the Covid pandemic, many of which rely on hosting large wedding receptions every weekend. Venues that work in conjunction with specialist wedding planners and will arrange everything from start to finish – the decor, the catering, the entertainment, the party favours etc.

I recently read that the average cost of a wedding in the USA is now $30,000. That is a massive business and no wonder there is a whole industry built around getting married. But it is an industry that is on the verge of collapse until large scale wedding ceremonies can once again take place – or is it? One of the beautiful things about the hospitality industry is how well it adapts and how well those that work within it also adapt.

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During the height of the pandemic virtually all wedding ceremonies were postponed, churches were closed and, of course, all hospitality venues were closed. If wedding ceremonies were carried out at all it took place in a government building and there was nowhere to have a party after. But as some hospitality started to open again during 2020 it was possible to hold small parties and the micro-wedding was born.

A small wedding is normally classed as having less than 50 people but a mini-wedding could be as small as the couple and two witnesses. Certainly in the UK during the summer of 2020 wedding parties were limited to ten guests, although it was possible to have thirty guests at a funeral!

So why choose a mini-wedding? What has transpired since last summer is that some people love the intimate and more relaxed feel of a small wedding. A lot of the formalities have been removed even to the extent that brides are choosing not to wear the large “meringue” dress. A small gathering with your most cherished friends and family members can give you the opportunity to really be a part of the celebration.

Do you really need a flock of bridesmaids all wearing the same dress and the same Louboutins? The formal setup of the past with the bride and groom on display on the top table and, maybe, 150/200 guests, most of whom you don’t know but felt obliged to invite can just be far too stressful. Now that embarrassing family member who always thinks they are telling a funny anecdote but is actually relating a cringe-worthy event that everyone knows and would rather forget can join the party from afar.

One of the great growths we have seen during the pandemic is the use of video conferencing and calling. Skype, Zoom, Facebook Live etc have become tremendously popular in our everyday lives as a way of staying in touch with our loved ones. Another area in which these apps have found a niche is to broadcast events. Create a live stream of your wedding reception – why not? Invite everyone, give them the login details and enjoy your day!

Surely another factor for the continuation of smaller wedding parties has to be the cost. Before the pandemic it seemed as if every couple were trying to outdo the couple before them. I made comment earlier about the Louboutins but it derives from a true story concerning a distant family member who was insistent that her bridesmaids had the same shoes that she would pay for (more likely her father!) at a cost of around 400 British Pounds each.

When my wife and I married we had 22 of the most important people in our lives – registry wedding, church blessing and photographer followed by a reception. Because our number was small we spoke directly with Chef and wrote our own menu (he even phoned me the night before to ask about home made breads), we were seated round one large table, we were able to talk and interact with all our guests and we danced to our own playlist.

Having worked on large and small wedding parties I can certainly see the benefits of a mini-mony and hope that the trend continues.

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Dave Winteridge
Dave Winteridge
I am a restaurateur in the South of France but originally from Great Britain. I have spent around 30 years in the hospitality industry and over the past 12 years I have opened restaurants in Spain and France. I am a keen skier, living in the Pyrenees, and ideally for the future I would like to spend less time at the stove and more time at the keyboard.


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