Having a Small Wedding During Coronavirus

So who knew that our wedding last September would be a blueprint for so many brides during this time? I love the idea of a small wedding followed by a larger party at a later date. I also understand that some have always dreamed of the big wedding and that is ok too! Whether you are restructuring your wedding or postponing it, please know that my heart is with you. 

I cannot begin to imagine the amount of stress and sadness that comes with the uncertainty of being a bride during this time. My deepest love and sympathies go out to anyone struggling with planning right now. Your feelings are valid and understood and I'm sending you all the love I can.

My hope is that this post can help some who are looking to plan a small wedding on their own. I think our wedding met all the typical expectations and we only had two vendors for our big day: table and chair rentals (who we never even saw, they dropped everything off when we were gone and picked them up the same way), and a chef -- who again we only came in contact with/near when we were being served at the table. 

With all that said, I wanted to answer some FAQs I've been getting lately in terms of hosting and planning a small wedding. This is all obviously based on my own experience and my opinions, but if you have any more questions, please feel free to email me. Be as specific as possible and I'll give you the full rundown!!

For anyone new, here is a quick, little rundown of our wedding:

Andrew and I were married last September in Nantucket in a small, intimate backyard wedding. We found a rental house that could fit all of our guests, rented it for a week, and got married in the backyard on a Thursday. There were 14 adults (and two young children) including Andrew and me at the ceremony where my dad married us. We had a MOH (my sister), a flower girl (my niece), a best man (Andrew's best friend), and a ring bearer (my nephew). Our moms walked us down the aisle and Andrew's dad read a passage during the wedding.

Then that night we had a private dinner prepared by a hired chef at the house on the back porch. We had our first dance with each other and our parents, we had speeches during dinner, and we cut a small cake (made by my mom) after dinner. After dinner and dessert, we all jumped into the pool, changed, played games, and drank at the house.

The following day, the rest of our 100 invited guests arrived on Nantucket. These included our extended family and friends. Friday night we hosted a welcome party at the house for everyone. On Saturday we hosted everyone again at Cisco Brewery for drinks and lunch, and then Saturday night we held our bigger wedding reception. There we had a second first dance (in my wedding dress + Andrew's tux), danced,  drank, had dinner and Andrew gave a speech. After the party, we went to The Chicken Box for an after-party. 

(I added a lot of these together as this was THE most asked question) Cutting down the guest list and not offending anyone. Were people mad? How did you tell people? Parents' requests? Differences in invitations (saying invited to wedding vs. invited to the party).

I'll start with who we invited and how we told everyone. Our guest list for the ceremony was our parents, our siblings, and one friend each. It worked because we each have a sister so it evened out. I also invited my step-siblings (four of them), but they weren't able to make a mid-week wedding so they came to the weekend party. We also invited one friend each. This worked out because Andrew wanted his best friend to be his best man and I was able to invite my best friend Caitlin.

So in total we each had our parents, our sisters (and their husbands) and our best friend. I understand that it's not possible for everyone to do something like this who may have larger weddings but it worked for us.

It also brings up a good solution to inviting close friends: have them be part of the wedding. Either have them marry you, be in your party, play music for the ceremony ... things like that. It's a "fair" way to get to invite friends without offending anyone else.

When you have a hard stop to an invitation list, people can't get upset. If people do ... oh well. This is YOUR wedding day. Now if you invite 10 friends and don't invite your aunt, I understand being upset. That's why you need to make it fair. Understanding people will understand. 

Our wedding in general (with the 100 guests) was small so we were able to tell almost everyone, in person, the plan for the wedding and how the ceremony would be held the day before with just family. Because we were only inviting those super close to us, we were able to let everyone know. More than likely if you can't tell them in person that you're having a small ceremony then they aren't that close to you.

In addition to that, we also sent out two separate Save the Dates and the formal invitations. You can see our larger invites here that say "save the date to celebrate the marriage." We did the same for our formal invitations too:

For the wedding ceremony:

For the rest of the guests:

All of this is to say people knew if they were coming to the ceremony or not. They understood they were still able to celebrate with us, and everything turned out perfectly. In terms of parents' requests, they were very understanding and didn't push us either way. Andrew and I let it be known early on that that wedding would be small. We only wanted to invite people we were close to and knew very well. The fact that it was also a destination made it harder for people to come, and it usually eliminated anyone who would come out of convenience alone. 

BUT I do want to mention that there is no better time than right now to have the BEST excuse for a small wedding. Every single person will understand doing something small right now. No one will fault you for it! In all likelihood, there will be some people who are relieved they don't have to make the decision to come during a pandemic or miss your wedding. 

How did you figure out the timing for the ceremony? How were you able to find time for yourself and getting ready even though you were DIY-ing it?

The timing was definitely a hard part of the planning process. I had never planned a wedding before so I had no idea what I was doing. This is where I relied heavily on our photography team. Since they are with you the entire day, have done a million weddings, and know the amount of time things take, they are a vast source of information.

My photographer and I had calls before the wedding where I shared my ideal day and my plans and he put times to everything. Like I said I'd wake up and give gifts, then get ready and he was like, "Ok, this will probably be 15 minutes, that will be an hour ..." and so on. 

He actually typed everything out and mapped out the timing to hold his team accountable and make sure everyone knew where to be at what time. But it also held me and the wedding party accountable! They kept us up to date on timing gave everyone a heads up on where to be next.

In terms of not having a wedding planner or day-of coordinator, it was difficult. But I communicated well to everyone at the ceremony what my plans and goals were and designated people for different jobs. It was a lot of work (for everyone) but the great thing is that people wanted to help and be part of it. Everyone will look back to the wedding and know they had an integral part in making it happen. 

My advice is to tell anyone and every one your plans and ideas for the day, and talk about it over and over again. Communication is key!!

Where did you find the house/venue? Did you tell them it was for a wedding?

Here is a dedicated post about the house and the process of finding and booking it! We actually found it on VRBO through filtering our guest list size and rooms needed. There are also notes on these sites that say "allows parties" or not. We were very upfront with everyone we talked to in the process, letting them know we'd be hosting a small ceremony for our family and then a larger welcome party the next day.

Again, over-communicating is key, and letting people know your exact plans makes it so you are upfront and honest about everything, but also makes it so there are no last-minute surprises to anyone. Some said yes to the parties, some said no. It just worked out that our house was built with the idea of hosting big parties and weddings.

How to plan it yourself in the backyard? How did you stay on top of everything?

I just kind of envisioned what I wanted our wedding day to look like and went from there. I pulled inspiration from different places and tried to bring a combination of different things to life. We were fortunate to be able to stay at the house for a weekend in October (11 months before the wedding). Being there helped bring a lot of things to life in terms of spacing, decor, run of show, etc. 

I stayed on top of things, best I could, via a Google spreadsheet and Google doc. Each day had its own tab and I had a list of everything I needed to do with price and planning status. I would talk it through with my mom and she would ask questions or bring up things I hadn't thought about. Same thing with Andrew's family and Andrew. Just going through the days over and over again until everything was thought through. 

It was defintely a lot, and I was very stressed at the time of planning, but it all worked out and it was honestly better than I could have ever dreamed it to be. So it will work out!

What did you pay for? What did your guests pay for?

Assuming you mean people at the ceremony, they paid for their flights and a discounted portion of the house. My parents put up a set amount and everyone else paid for their share for the week. Outside of that, there wasn't much else. Food and drinks were taken care of by our parents. The girls' dresses and guys' tuxes were all gifted, which I understand is a privilege that not all are able to do.

Hiring a florist/flowers/decor?

This is very controversial to some (idk why ... who gives an f?) but we did silk flowers for the wedding! I don't do real flowers because they die so easily. I found silk flowers that I loved and still love to this day! In terms of things that were must-haves versus things I could live without, flowers were No. 1 on my list of things I didn't care about. I don't see the point in paying an absurd amount of money on things that die within 12 hours. 

Doing silk was honestly one of my favorite parts of the wedding. We were able to arrange the flowers and vases beforehand We used them for four days straight (the rehearsal, the ceremony, the reception, the welcome party, and the second reception) and I still have them as decor in my apartment and for my future home!

We used real flowers for my bouquet and Andrew's lapel. We also bought bulk rose petals from Costco to be delivered to the house for the walkway and throwing after the ceremony. This was great because they were biodegradable and we didn't have to worry about cleaning up after we put them out/threw them. 

In terms of the rest of the decor, I bought almost everything: china, chargers, vases, napkin holders, candles, etc. I got these either from places like Amazon or local shops nearby, and we had the linens custom made. We rented chairs and the two tables and that was it. Everything else was something we bought and brought. I think I did this for two reasons: I was very particular and it was cheaper for me to buy them, and I couldn't rent a lot of things without a coordinator in charge.

During the process, as things would come in, I would mock up dinner tables or decor in my apartment or with Andrew's family. That way we could see what worked and what didn't and we could fix and tweak accordingly. 

I'm realizing that I actually never posted pictures of the reception dinner (which I will create a post for next week) to show and link everything. So here are some beforehand:

What did you do for music? Did you dance?

We were lucky in that the house was equipped with Sonos speakers and there were some out on the porch so we used those for music. We all walked down the aisle to the same song (played over the speakers) and that was it for the ceremony music. 

For dancing, we only did our first dance and the father/daughter and mother/son dances. We also played those songs through the speakers for all three. It was a little awkward because everyone was standing around us watching and there wasn't really a dance floor, but we made it work. It's only for a short time anyway. Then during dinner, we had music but there was no dancing until the larger party two days later!

So those are all the most frequent questions. But again if you have more specific ones, please email me! I'll be putting together a post next week about our reception dinner. For the rest of my wedding posts, you can find them here

Connecticut Fashion and Lifestyle Blog | Covering the Bases | All rights reserved.
Blogger Template Created by pipdig