Won't wait to marry like Boris and Carrie? The rise of the micro-wedding
Boris Johnson and Carrie Simmonds are rumoured to be planning to “celebrate their wedding” in summer 2022.
The couple has sent save-the-date cards to family and friends for an event on Saturday 30 July of next year, according to The Sun.
While details of how and where they will marry remain a secret, it could be that the couple have delayed their wedding until next year so they can enjoy a big do, free from the restrictions placed on weddings taking place during the pandemic.
Currently, a maximum of 30 people are allowed to attend a ceremony or reception in England.
In Wales, wedding receptions can have up to 30 people indoors and 50 people outdoors; a limit of 50 applies in Scotland; and while there is no limit on the numbers in Northern Ireland for ceremonies (venues must decide how many people they can safely welcome), receptions are not currently permitted.
While the PM may be among those soon-to-be married who prefer to wait until coronavirus restrictions are lifted, some couples are choosing to work with current social distancing guidelines and scale down their nuptials.
Watch: The New Micro Wedding Trend Is Perfect for Minimalists and Couples on a Budget
In fact, many are coming to the realisation that when it comes to weddings big isn't always best, with couples embracing the intimacy of "micro weddings" with only their nearest and dearest on the exclusive guest lists.
Step forward newly-wed Ariana Grande. The popstar may sing about diamond rings and splashing the cash on champers, but her wedding was really rather modest.
Grande recently married beau Dalton Gomez at home in California, with her rep confirming: “They got married. It was tiny and intimate - less than 20 people. The room was so happy and full of love. The couple and both families couldn't be happier."
Read more: Vicky McClure 'desperate' to marry after having wedding hopes dashed amid pandemic
Coronavirus guidelines have forced many couples to ditch plans for big gatherings and find creative ways to celebrate their love.
"While the micro wedding concept is not new, the term ‘micro wedding’ has been coined this year," explains Sarah Balfour, from Orchid Events.
"The intimacy that smaller gatherings offer is very appealing during a time of uncertainty so the trend for micro weddings is really growing in popularity."
Micro wedding, intimate ceremony or elopement, which option is right for you?
“Ariana and Dalton’s low key wedding couldn’t be more on trend for 2021," says Sarah Allard, editor of wedding planning website Hitched.
Allard says a micro wedding can be defined as a wedding with less than 20 guests.
“A micro wedding differs from both an elopement and an ‘intimate’ wedding. An elopement is usually done in secret, will be attended by just the couple marrying and two witnesses, and is often a quick and simple register office ceremony – whereas a micro wedding is a full wedding day, just on a smaller scale.
“An intimate or small wedding is generally considered to have between 30 and 60 guests. Micro weddings are much smaller than this, with guest numbers usually in the single digits or teens.”
While the main reason for the current rise in minimonies is obvious, Allard says there are actually a lot of benefits of a micro wedding and she expects them to continue to be an attractive option for couples after pandemic restrictions end.
“A micro wedding of up to 20 guests is often much less stressful for couples," she says. "It strips the planning process right back to the things that are most important to you: the people you absolutely want by your side and the experience you want to create for yourselves and your guests."
It can also be a lot more cost effective to opt for a micro wedding: "As you will be inviting only your absolute nearest and dearest, you will be able to focus on the quality of your guest experience and spend more intimate and personal time with them,” Allard adds.
Read more: Laura Whitmore reveals why she loved marrying husband Iain Stirling in secret
Having to plan a wedding within the confines of government restrictions has helped normalise the idea of an intimate wedding and has lifted the pressure on couples who felt they needed to conform to the traditional big, white wedding.
"What a small or micro wedding really does is focus on your ideas," says wedding planner, Liz Taylor from Taylor Lynn Corporation.
"It’s a way of sharing your special day with the people who really love you (and visa versa). One thing lockdown has taught us all, is to focus on the important people in our lives."
Smaller weddings also tend to have an incredibly warm, relaxed atmosphere because everyone knows one another.
"There’s no awkward table plan or distant relatives to look after," Taylor says. "It also means you can go to town on the little details that will make your wedding truly unique and memorable, without trying to please too many people."
Watch: Boris Johnson and Carrie Symonds 'to wed in 2022'
How to hold the perfect micro wedding
Choose your venue carefully
Couples who had already chosen a venue when they had larger numbers, may need to start searching for a new venue.
"Whilst some venues have a range of smaller spaces in which you can get married and have your wedding breakfast, it might not have the same feel and vibe as the room that you had originally booked." explains Balfour.
"Lots of venues are already set up for intimate gatherings and a micro event opens up so many other venue options, maybe more personal places that have meaning to a couple."
Consider the guest list
The guest list often involves tough decisions for the couple, but reducing numbers can actually make this process a lot easier.
"The best way to do this is to rule out certain groups of people," suggests Balfour. "Of course, the choice will be different for every couple, but here are some examples of such groups you could take out of the mix: Work friends, cousins, partners, children.
Balfour adds that since restricted numbers have been set out as law, people are less likely to be upset about not being invited, as everybody is well aware of how tricky the situation is.
Taylor suggests making a ‘can’t do without’ list. "You can be more selective than usual which is great for the more decisive couples, but if you’re struggling to whittle down your list, this a good place to start," she says.
While you might traditionally categorise guests as day or evening, a big change now may be that you categorise them as actual and virtual. "Virtual attendees can enjoy a live stream of the ceremony or you can set up iPads with a Facetime for each one," Taylor adds.
Upgrade your food and drink
Since you have reduced costs by having small numbers, you might want to think about upgrading your menu. "Money you have saved by having a small guest list might allow you to have a free bar as well," Balfour adds.
Taylor suggests swapping out the traditional three course meal with an interactive dinner or dessert experience.
"You can personalise the experience and get your guests opening the door to a variety of creative food ideas," she says. "Whether it be a grazing table or Teppanyaki style meal with a live chef, food is no longer just about the eating, it is a culinary experience and often is the most talked about part of the day."
Or you could go completely personal. "Individual ‘wedding branded’ boxes of hot fish and chips. A mini picnic hamper with individual bottles of fizz. A bento box on each place at the table. Or a tiffin box for every guest filled with spicy curries and hot naan," Taylor suggests.
Switch up the seating plan
Depending on your numbers you might also like to seat all of your guests together on one long table. "This way you would create a feeling of being out with friends and family instead of hosting a party," suggests Balfour. "You will get plenty of time to spend with your guests and they will also get to spend quality time with each other."
Read more: Bride visits dying grandmother in her wedding dress knowing she wouldn't live to see her big day
Think about a weekday wedding
With less guests, it’s more likely they’ll all be able to take off a weekday to attend your wedding depending on their professions. "Booking a weekday wedding means your costs will likely be cheaper – allowing you to spend more money on your guests’ experience – and your chosen suppliers are more likely to be available," Allard adds.
Make the most of the experience
Whatever the size of your guest list, you will be able to create a memorable and atmospheric day. "Guests will take their cue from you, so put emphasis on the experience and spend your budget on making amazing memories," Allard says. "That could be anything from incredible food, a live band, to embracing a back garden wedding with fun garden games and a champagne picnic."
Go big on decor
A smaller wedding means you can be even more flamboyant in this area because, with less guests, there’s likely to be more wriggle room in the budget. Taylor suggests hanging huge floral canopies over a banquet style table to offer a romantic and easily customisable setting.
"For a small wedding a banquet table has more presence, facilitating conversation, creating intimacy and offering unique options for centrepieces," she adds. "Creating one long runner down the centre of the table, filled with clusters of roses, foliage and tea lights or a higher structure with eclectic bulbs and flowers hanging above the guests."
Wed now, party later
If you love the idea of a micro wedding, but feel sad about missing out on the party, you can always try to have the best of both worlds. "One option is to have a small ceremony now, and throw a big party when all restrictions have lifted," Balfour suggests.