When the pandemic broke out, many couples decided to postpone their wedding. Others, however, are doing what has become a glowing COVID wedding trend: a micro-wedding.
Essentially, it is a scaled down version of the Grand Shebang that conforms to state guidelines. In Massachusetts, this means private residential gatherings of up to 10 people indoors and no more than 25 people outdoors. For public institutions and event venues, indoor gatherings can accommodate up to 25 people and outdoor gatherings can contain no more than 50 people. What drove the popularity of pocket-sized weddings?
Janie Haas. Photo by Genevieve de Manio
The reasons are varied, says Janie Haas from Janie Haas Events, who planned numerous mini-weddings during the COVID-19. “Some couples had the venue or the vendors under contract, so they decided to get married and have a big party at a later date,” she says. “There are other couples who wanted to get married and it was never about the celebration, or they always wanted a small wedding, and the mandates legitimized this.”
Encore Boston Harbor Wedding Planner Kassi Weist discovered that most of her micro-wedding couples simply didn’t want their lives to be put on hold. “Some want to start families while others want to create new, positive memories together,” she says. “Others were planning a wedding in an international destination but decided to get married locally due to travel restrictions. Encore, a large resort with so many amenities like restaurants, spa, and casino, feels like a travel-free destination. ”
Melissa Thunberg, CEO of Bramble Hospitality, says that many couples who wanted “hundreds of guests in a large hotel decided to have an intimate wedding in a smaller location [like Willowdale Estate or the Briar Barn Inn] because the original venue was closed or its date was unavailable a year later. “Take Gianna and Greg Baglioni, who got married at the Briar Barn Inn last Halloween.
“We noodled at a ski wedding or a big farm wedding,” says Gianna Baglioni, “and then a friend said to us: ‘I’m kind of jealous. If I were you and could invite about 20 guests, I would do it right away. ‘”
Photographs by Brynna Grae Lee
“After going through so many plans and competing with so many couples who had shifted, we decided to make this a reality,” says her husband Greg, who helped cut the guest list from 200 to 25, including the Couple. “It was a mix of family and friends and the perfect number of people because we didn’t get lost in a sea of guests.”
“It really forced us to focus on what was most important to us,” adds Gianna, “that was the company, the food and the vibe.” All guests received COVID-19 tests prior to the wedding and followed health protocols during the event. After an outdoor ceremony nearby, the couple gathered with near and dear ones in the Grove dining room for cocktails and a gourmet dinner. An adjoining terrace with bistro lights provided outdoor space where guests could meet under a glowing full moon.
Because their wedding was so small, the couple indulged in a variety of things, including grander floral arrangements, fancier foods like mini cheeseboards on every place setting, and more upscale decor, including crystal geodes on every table. Instead of renting the two treasure chairs at their dining table, the couple bought them as souvenirs. “The hardest part of planning the wedding, which we did in three weeks,” says Gianna, “was downsizing the guest list and dealing with concerns for the safety of our guests. But we did everything we could and it worked out wonderfully. “
- Photographs by Chris Ashton Photography
At Encore Boston Harbor, couples can get married outside in the garden or gazebo, and gather for dinner in multiple rooms suitable for small groups. “The guests have to have space for food and drink so that we have cocktails and starters at every table,” says Weist, followed by dinner. “Our chef has put together several micro wedding menus, but couples can choose à la carte. The benefit of turnkey expenses like food, flowers, and venue is that couples have less stress and can focus on taking in the moment and seeing friends. “
With petite weddings affecting so few guests, many couples jump for things they wouldn’t have considered with a crowd. “Since there can be no mixing at bars, for example, we made self-service ice buckets with one-way bottles of Moët & Chandon champagne with a straw,” says Haas. Some newlyweds have offered their guests three main courses. One couple had a five-course tasting menu with wine. “With fewer guests, couples can really take a step back and think about how to personalize their event with details,” says Haas.
Because the state has banned dance floors due to social distancing issues, wedding venues have created fascinating alternatives. “We offer an outdoor play package,” says Thunberg, “with a giant jenga, lady and ladder ball with all hygiene protocols. Photo booths are popular, as are fun dessert stations like s’more’s and outdoor sundaes that aren’t often seen at larger weddings. “
- Photos courtesy of Encore Boston Harbor
Personalized hand sanitizers have become the new pandemic. For health reasons, couples cut junior wedding cakes and offer their guests coated cupcakes. In addition, colored bracelets are the new polite, non-verbal way for wedding guests to convey their comfort while getting to know each other. A red bracelet indicates the person’s social distancing, a yellow bracelet indicates they are careful, and green says, “I’m fine when you’re around.” Haas notes that there are even some doctors who do The couple’s venue come and run quick coronavirus tests that get results in 15 minutes.
“I’ve done a lot of weddings and cried more than ever at micro-weddings,” says Weist. “I think it’s a combination of all the emotions that build up from the event and then are able to fulfill and exceed a couple’s dreams.”
“My advice to couples considering a micro-wedding is to go for it,” says Gianna Baglioni. “There is magic that happens when it’s so small.”
“You will never regret it,” adds her husband. “Your wedding will always be a big day, no matter how big or small it is.”
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