Five Ways to Make Your Socially Distanced Wedding Feel Special

Your micro wedding can (and should!) be as monumental as your original ceremony and reception was intended to be.

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Photo: Simply Lace Photography

If there was one thing no bride or groom expected to derail their wedding plans, it was a global health crisis, but when the coronavirus pandemic first shuttered the wedding industry—along with just about everything else—in March of 2020, couples and their vendors started getting creative. Enter: The micro wedding. Because so many brides and grooms ultimately postponed their larger celebrations until things are safer, intimate celebrations have been on the rise. And while these couples may not have envisioned a small, socially-distanced gathering when they started planning your dream wedding, it's important to remember that accommodating fewer people doesn't mean compromising on the details. "While it's unfortunate to not have your full guest list in attendance, having fewer guests means that there will be more intimacy," says Melissa Brooks, founder of Enchanted Allure Events. "Focus on the details of the day and make it more personal than ever! Don't let COVID-19 stop you from enjoying the best day of your life."

Customize your dècor.

"Décor is an important way to set the tone for a wedding," says Jove Meyer of Jove Meyer Events. "It should look and feel like you, and represent your unique love story." Choose personalized signage from Etsy or ask your stationery designer to create placards for the bar area, menu, seating instructions, and schedule of events. If you choose to hold your celebration at a family home, incorporate the building and grounds. "I suggest using your wedding budget to upgrade your home décor and garden," says Meyer. "Plan projects that will last beyond the wedding so you get more bang for your buck. If your ceremony is in your yard, plant flowers rather than using cut ones; if you wanted to be married in front of trees and you do not have any, plant some!"

Brooks recommends adding uplighting or string lights to your outdoor spaces for a cozy feeling after dark and incorporating the home in memorable ways. "Embrace all aspects of the home," she says. "From the way that you 'walk down the aisle' to where you take your wedding photos, take in all special areas of the property to embody being in the comfort of your home."

Upgrade your menu.

If you aren't providing food for hundreds (or even dozens) of guests, consider creating a personalized menu that works best on a smaller scale. Meyer suggests including foods from your first date, favorite travel spots, or the local bistro where you're Friday night regulars. To make things even more special, share the story of each dish with your guests. "If you are a couple who loves to cook, include your own recipes," he says. "All weddings have food and drink, but enjoying libations that have meaning and tell a story make it more special," he says. A smaller wedding might also free up a room in your budget for a more interactive food experience, says Brooks. "Enhance the guest experience by having a mobile food truck. This can replace favors or any other entertainment that you will no longer be having," she says. "It's safe, spacious, and creative!"

Tweak your seating arrangements.

With a smaller group—and in the interest of keeping everyone at a safe distance—get creative with your seating arrangements. "No need to go traditional, especially now that things have changed," says Brooks. "Set up a different layout that allows guests to still be socially distanced, have a great view, and provides an amazing set up for your wedding photos. Swap regular backyard chair seating for a more comfortable lounge vibe by providing couches, benches, and blankets."

Connect with far away friends.

Whether it's your brother who lives overseas, your grandmother who couldn't travel, or your essential-worker maid of honor, a smaller, socially-distanced celebration may end up missing a few key players. Live-stream or record your ceremony using high quality technology to share your special day—"Be sure you have the right sound system and have factored in outside noise, and that you have strong wi-fi, ideally wired," says Meyer—and send custom touches, like your personalized wedding playlist or desserts from your favorite bakery, to help all your guests feel included. Pittsburgh-based event planner Nancy Byrnes organized a live-streamed ceremony for her daughter and son-in-law, and encouraged them to include a ceremony reading about their history as a couple and what they loved about each other. "If you didn't know them both and didn't get to hear the toasts and speeches, it helped everyone who tuned in know them better as a couple," she says. "It is a true keepsake for generations to come—their love letter to each other on the day of their wedding."

Host a car parade.

Byrnes also organized an outdoor receiving line for local friends and family to greet the newlyweds. She was able to get a permit to close their street for a few hours, which allowed them to direct traffic one way, and placed two small rugs—one for the bride and groom and one for guests who chose to walk—at a safe distance to allow for in-person congrats. As guests arrived, they were greeted with bottles of Champagne to enjoy at home, mini wedding cakes, monogrammed cowbells to ring in celebration, and packets of lavender to toss at the newlyweds. "I had numerous comments from friends and family that said it was special to arrive and be greeted by our favor butler when they thought they were the ones arriving to give joy," she says. "This was but a fraction of what would have spent on the reception so we made this decision easily and with gusto!"

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