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Could Socially Distanced Weddings Ever Work?

Over the past few months, we have seen nearly every industry affected by the Coronavirus Pandemic, and as lockdown eases, we have begun to see businesses and other industries start to adapt to the new normal. On the 23rd of June, it was announced that social distancing rules could be relaxed to 1m and that wedding ceremonies of 30 people or less could take place. This is obviously a huge step forward. However, this would not currently include wedding receptions and is a far cry from what most dream of when planning their big day.

As keen followers of wedding trends, our team has thought a lot about what weddings could look like following the pandemic and how it could work for our team. Would today’s couples really accept a socially distanced wedding and if they did, would it even be possible? I should stress that these are very much our present thoughts, but again as we have seen, so much can from one week to the next.

N & M walking down the aisle, after the wedding ceremony at the Granary Estates. Styling, floristry and catering by our team. Captured by Dan & Olivia Photography.

As a team we are slightly sceptical and struggle to see many couples accepting socially distanced weddings. The very essence of a wedding is large groups of friends and family travelling, very often from around the world, to celebrate together. Most weddings are also held indoors and guests and suppliers spend much of the day in close proximity. Could you really be expected to celebrate such a momentous occasion without hugs and kisses from all your friends and family? Would today’s Pinterest obsessed couple really accept facemasks and hand sanitiser as part of their day?

The wedding of your dreams

I think one of the main sticking points is that this isn’t the day that many have dreamed of. One of the brilliant things about planning your wedding is that you have complete creative flair. Everyone deserves the wedding of their dreams and for many a socially distanced wedding just isn’t what they want. Having dreamt about it for so long and when spending such a large sum of money why should they have to compromise? For lots of couples, having already postponed once, or maybe even twice, they already feel cheated and are not willing to compromise again. I think many will feel that it is just better to wait until they can have the celebration they want.

However, from speaking to some of our couples what resonates with them is that they just want to be married legally. They don’t mind not having the celebration they had originally planned if it means they can still get married, and for these couples the announcement on the 23rd will be a huge relief. For many couples, going through all of this has only brought them closer together and reminded them that life is short and that being together is what is most important.

Order of the Day

Following the most recent update by the Government, small wedding ceremonies of up to 30 people can now take place, and whilst it is a bit more of a struggle to imagine how wedding receptions could be held safely, it is slightly easier to envisage socially distanced ceremonies. These are a lot easier to adapt and there would be a much smaller impact upon what typically happens in a ceremony. Whilst the number of guests might continue to be restricted and guests may have to sit further apart to abide by social distancing rules, small ceremonies are definitely a possibility in this time. We may also see a rise in outdoor ceremonies.

However, following the ceremony it is much harder to imagine how a socially distanced reception could work once allowed. Typically, the drinks reception is a time for canapés, drinks and group photos, and an opportunity for guests to mingle and converse.

It is important to also consider the safety of your suppliers throughout the day, and how they would be able to operate under socially distancing rules. It is definitely easier for some to adapt than others. We could see a shift from canapés and grazing stations in drinks reception, to an additional plated course during the meal to ensure guests don’t go hungry. Whilst ceremonies are currently limited, we expect to see many couples have another event next year where they celebrate as planned.

We could see a rise in the amount of outdoor ceremonies to help abide by socially distancing rules. I & S had a beautiful unofficial outdoor ceremony with a celebrant at Horsley Hale. Image captured by our team.

Guest Numbers

The inevitable compromise on numbers is one of the reasons we question if socially distanced weddings could work. For some couples they just wouldn’t want to get married without certain people there, and to be honest who can blame them? One of the things which has resonated so deeply throughout this time is the importance of family and friends, and so I think now more than ever it is important for celebrations to be family-oriented.

However, as we have mentioned, for some couples this time could have led them to the realisation that they don’t want a huge wedding, and what is important is actually getting legally married with their closest family around them. We expect to see a rise in smaller weddings and elopements. With the current restriction on guest numbers to 30, couples could consider a small party this year, with immediate friends and family and then a larger celebration when it is safer to do so.

We could see a rise in smaller weddings and elopements, so couples can abide by social distancing rules and still get married. Image taken by Thyme Lane at Barrington Hall

As a team we can’t wait for weddings to be able to take place again. Whilst the announcement is a huge step in the right direction and a triumph for couples who desperately want to be married, we hope that these rules will continue to be relaxed so weddings can return to normal. We remain unconvinced that most would be happy with a socially distanced wedding, and after years of dreaming and planning, we can’t blame them! For more information please talk to a member of our team who will be delighted to help.

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