How to Make the Most of a Downsized Wedding
Updated: Nov 4
Well, friends, it happened. I got my first email in 6 months with "Hey Alexis, wanted to know if you have some time to connect next week to discuss the possibility of postponing our 2021 wedding to 2022."
What's that sound? Oh, just another piece of my soul being murdered by 2020.
I want to preface with I THINK IT IS FARRR TOO EARLY to have these conversations for any weddings earlier than May of next year. As we've learned this year, there is so much that can change in just a few short months, but I know for all of our postponed 2020 couples and our didn't-think-COVID-was-going-to-affect-us 2021 couples, the anxiety is beginning to creep in. So let's just bring the scary monster out of the shadow of the closet & talk about it.
What if COVID is still trying to cancel love next year?
First of all, we learned this year that love is definitely not canceled, but so many of you postponed because you didn't want a small wedding and while of course you always have the option to postpone again, I think many of you are not about that life again and I anticipate postponements becoming more expensive than they were this year as even more vendors start to charge postponement fees. So let's talk about how to make the most of a downsized wedding.
HOW TO MAKE THE MOST OF CONTRACTED MINIMUMS
If you're in the position to potentially need to downsize your wedding, you likely already know that catering takes up a huuuuuge part of your budget. If you're contracted into a minimum or you've already paid more on your catering bill than you will likely spend on 50 guests, talk to your caterer about what types of food experiences you can add to meet the minimum/utilize what you've spent. Most of our catering friends in Chicago have the capability to create these insanely creative culinary & bar experiences! Whether you add hand passed mini margs like our friends at Entertaining Company offer, a savory late-night snack to help soak up some of that liq, really BEEF up (heh, see what I did there) your dinner service or all of the above.
Many of our floral friends have minimum spend amounts and while in a COVID world they're getting super flexible on this, there's also a certain point where they don't make enough money to make the job worth it and some of you have already paid more than you'd utilize towards your floral invoice with your new anticipated guest count. So how do you make the most of a floral minimum? LIVE YOUR WILDEST FLORAL DREAMS BOO BOO! Only have 5 centerpieces now? Then go lux with it & really make a statement or ask your florist to create mini bouquets for your ushers to hand to each woman as she arrives or add a bloom to every place setting to make a statement or add that statement piece that was out of budget when you thought you were hosting 250 guests!
With Stationery being a physical product (and the post office being an absolute disaster) it's likely that if you're already talking about downsizing your 2021 wedding that your Stationer has already ordered the paper, which means you're locked into what you've contracted. Talk with your Stationer about how to make the most out of the product you've paid for, but some ideas, some lux place cards or menus, turn them into thank you cards for after the wedding, or add an extra insert into your invitations!
HOW TO MAKE THE MOST OF THE DOWNSIZED GUEST COUNT
So here's the first thing, you just have to accept it for what it is. Would you have liked to have 250 people at your wedding to make it absolute rager? Maybe. But if you're thinking you might potentially have to downsize the wedding, the first step is acceptance. IT IS WHAT IT IS, friends.
One thing we've seen this year which I personally think has made these weddings even sweeter is finding ways to include everyone who is in attendance in the wedding. One of our past couples did a family unity ceremony where every guest was given a candle when they walked in and they passed the flame through the guests that were seated, up to the parents and finally to the bride and groom who lit their unity candle together. It's a totally COVID friendly ceremony, so long as everyone is wearing masks, and with only 50 people in attendance, won't take long to do at all. & the reality is that when you're looking at a guest count of 50 people, most likely everyone there is pretty high on the relational ladder, which makes including them in your marriage ceremony even sweeter.
Now, what about the guests that had to get cut or would have made the list, but couldn't or weren't comfortable attending? I LOVE TECHNOLOGY! It has made this COVID thing so much more bearable than it would have been without. I don't know about you, but March-July of this year was brought to me directly by Doordash, Tiger King, and Tik Tok. More than likely someone on your wedding team can or knows someone who can set up a live stream experience for all of the guests who couldn't attend to still witness your ceremony. Some streaming experiences (like Be There from our friends at Cage + Aquarium) even have the capability to create virtual experiences for your guests so they too can enjoy your wedding. It might even be worth a convo with your caterer or florist to see if it's possible to send grandpa his boutonniere or send a marg kit to the guests that couldn't attend.
If a VIP member can't make it (like a sibling who would have played a key role in the wedding), have them put on their suit/dress and zoom in. Put an iPad on a stand so that they can still stand up at your wedding. For speeches, have them call in and put your DJs mic up to the phone so they can still give their speech.
So look, I know this is not your ideal, but there are definitely ways to make this whole intimate wedding thing suuuuper special and go all out in a way you wouldn't have been able to if all of your anticipated guests attended.
If you're newly planning a 2021 or 2022 wedding, check out this post for your strategic roadmap to planning your 2021/2022 wedding.