Love in the time of covid... help me with our microwedding logistics?
May 5, 2021 11:24 PM   Subscribe

Thanks to the ongoing pandemic and super slow rate of vaccinations in my province, weddings are still restricted to 10 people or less, including the officiant. We have a venue booked for 2 hours. What are we supposed to do with those 2 hours?

Shrinking down our 90 person wedding to 10 people has been less than ideal, and honestly we are paying way more money than we should for such a tiny wedding. I think I'm still dealing with some sticker shock, but it couldn't be helped.

I'm really stuck on how the ceremony itself is going to go, and how we are going to make the most of those 2 hours, which to my great pain we're paying thousands of dollars for. We have the venue (a very pretty courtyard which will not need much in the way of decor - the venue will provide chairs for the guests, an aisle runner, a signing table, and basic greenery and candles). We have an officiant and photographer.

Do we need to do a rehearsal? Do we start the ceremony with music? Does anyone walk with me down the aisle? We've already nixed bridesmaids and groomsmen, since they're now the only guests invited to our mini wedding. If we play music, when do I come strolling in? An entire song seems too long (my pick is 3:52 long).

We're going to write some personalized vows to make the wedding feel more "ours" and also to pad the time a little. We thought about streaming the ceremony for all our friends and family who can't be there, but I don't really like the idea of being on camera or on a screen. I'm not sure why it is, it just feels weird to me. I think it'll make me feel self-conscious. Does anyone else besides us and the officiant say anything?

What happens after the ceremony, when we sign the thing? Are we supposed to play more music while that happens? And then I guess we fill the rest of the time with photography of various combinations of everyone who is there?

I think I'm mostly worried that the whole thing will feel awkward, disjointed and anticlimactic, instead of intimate and special. At a normal wedding, guests would be mingling, they would head into cocktail hour with food and drinks, and then onto the big reception celebration. We're not even able to plan a dinner at this point, as our 10 guests and us two will span 8 different households. That, and indoor dining is still banned as of now. So after the ceremony, maybe we'd go outdoors for some more photos, but that would be about it.

Is there anything I'm missing that I should be thinking about? Any microwedding veterans who have advice?
posted by keep it under cover to Grab Bag (9 answers total)
 
We forgot music for our less than 20 person wedding, and the guests hummed music for us to our great embarrassment
. It's a really fond memory though!

Ultimately what you do with your wedding is up to you! I had a friend where we ended up having a nerf gun fight! That was super fun and silly.

For 2 two hours I feel you need 20 minutes from start time for everyone to be settled and ready to wedding (incase someone is late or whatever) then about 20 minutes for the officiant to introduce you, do the walking, say the vows, exchange rings, kiss, etc, 10 minutes for paperwork stuff, then wondering around chatting and accepting congratulations from your ten guests, who will reflect on the venue and such. That's going to put you at 90 minutes. If you need to do any clean up within those two hours, that is the rest of the time. If not, you should plan some small activity or something for your guests and let it be.

Going outdoors and spending some time in some way would be appropriate if you desired, but these days I don't think anyone would harbor bad feelings if that was it.
posted by AlexiaSky at 4:41 AM on May 6


We had a small (18 people?) civil ceremony indoors pre-covid. It was a lot of hanging around, but basically we hung around for about half an hour beforehand chatting, spent about 20 minutes on the the ceremony and then hung around for about 40 minutes afterwards chatting. Some of the pre-wedding hanging around is because English registrars like to allow a lot of time for paperwork then, but it took about 5 minutes to do our part of that since we did it together. We had cupcakes and tea/coffee/juice available afterwards but I don't think that much was eaten. I think our room rental was for 2 hours but we didn't use all of the time and weren't worried about it and left when we felt it was time to leave. We did have a photographer, who took snaps rather than posed shots, they came out really well. I enjoyed it - it felt like a good length of time to socialise with a small group.
posted by plonkee at 5:24 AM on May 6


If your officiant is a pro, they can help you plan the time for the ceremony and give you ideas about what to include/not include. You can have friends or family speak, do a reading of a poem or whatever is meaningful to you, perform a song if you have anyone with those talents in your attendees, really whatever you want. I think you can absolutely have someone walk you down the aisle if that’s what you want!

Music-wise, I had a few songs for the guests arriving time, one for the wedding party procession, and one for the bride. I think I picked a moment in the song beforehand that felt right to start walking down the aisle, I think just a few bars into the song? We also had a fun recessional song to play while we walked together back down the aisle and everyone clapped and cheered.

You could see if your parents or anyone else want to make a toast (even if you don’t have alcohol) or a small speech during the post-ceremony time, since that’s a traditional wedding thing that doesn’t really rely on food or dancing. Taking pictures can also take quite a while, depending on how many different permutations of you and the guests you’d like.
posted by MadamM at 5:31 AM on May 6


Usually food gives people something to do while mingling or waiting around for photos and congratulations. So maybe you could some alternative background activity, like put out lots of photos of fun memories that people can look at together and discuss amongst themselves, or something more creative that I can't think of right now. Since you'll only have 2 hours you'll need to be able to set up and clean up quickly - so for something like photos, you might bring them all on easels or in albums, for example.

Do you think anyone will want to make speeches? Will you want to make speeches to honor your guests? 10 people means it can be a pretty intimate and meaningful gathering, so you could lean into that.

Depending on your tastes: a little dancing, letting guests choose the songs? Karaoke?
posted by trig at 5:32 AM on May 6


I'm really sorry that everything has impacted on your wedding. Here are a few ideas from weddings I've been at:

- rehearsal kind of depends on how much choreography you have and how precise you want it to be. With ten people there, everyone could walk down the aisle with the couple last and you could have the whole song you love.

- we had friends and family do readings - Kalil Gibran, because it was the 90s, etc.

- ring warming - you pass the rings around before the exchange of rings

- a candle ceremony: the traditional one I've seen is the unity ceremony, but maybe you can design another one. This might be a neat thing to share on Zoom, have people light candles at home and have a screen up with all the candles, if you are going to go ahead with Zoom. (Variations: Sand ceremony, rope ceremony)

- time capsule: Ask each guest to bring a small thing (image, memento, news story) or have small cardstock paper pieces and fancy pens there and they can add them to a box that you can open on your first anniversary. You could really expand this asking your original larger group to send things in.

- we had music during our signing

- admittedly we walked to a park but our pictures took a looooong time so I think you won't have trouble filling that time if you want pictures.

- I know this is a hard one but...I would concentrate on filling the day with things you find meaningful, and if that only takes 90 minutes, then it does. Better more compact joy than better value dread. Congratulations!
posted by warriorqueen at 6:09 AM on May 6 [1 favorite]


I had a 15-person outdoor wedding pre-covid. It was very low-key, a little makeshift, and super fun.

Our parents walked each of us, but you could also walk together, walk yourselves separately, or even have a former bridesmaid/groomsman do it.

For music, we picked a song we loved and practiced walking to it at home. We landed on letting the intro play for like ten seconds, then my husband went first and I followed just as the first chorus came in. Then we shut it off as the chorus ended, right when there was kind of a natural pause. We recruited a guest for this — he just had his phone connected to a portable speaker. He actually screwed up our walking OUT music because the speaker went to sleep, but we got some great candid photos out of that moment where everyone is cracking up.

We wrote our own vows too. You could also consider having readings. We each asked one person to read something that we picked (poem-length things, so not long), and I think it helped a lot to flesh out our very bare-bones ceremony.

Seconding that pictures will definitely take longer than you think. And depending on what your venue is like, could you go to other locations on the grounds for post-ceremony photos?

It really, really sucks not to get the wedding you were hoping for, but a tiny wedding can also be really special. I loved feeling like everyone who came to my wedding was really THERE, like we were all doing this sort of wacky thing together. And watching all the absolute most important people in our lives meet and get to know each other was really cool. And we got basically infinite amazing photos because there were only so many people to photograph, hah.
posted by catoclock at 6:37 AM on May 6 [1 favorite]


We did a ~10 person wedding (years before covid; it was on purpose) and we had photos, the ceremony, and then brunch and that was about 2 hours.

- Photos take longer than you think they will.
-Music is optional but fun - we had a phone set up and played a walk-in and walk-out song (managed by one or the other of the guests).
- We had the attending toddler be the flower boy, he enjoyed flinging petals around.
- We did hire a videographer and put the video of the ceremony up on YouTube for our friends and family to see, and that was both really nice for them (my grandmother, who couldn't travel to the wedding, particularly enjoyed being able to watch it) and totally a non-event for us. I was entirely, 100% focused on what we were doing and never even noticed the camera.
- We invited the guests (who were our immediate family members) to speak if they wanted to. Both sets of parents and one sibling did, it was nice.
- Brunch was literally bagels and fixings from a local deli. It was a pleasant way to cool down from the ceremony and enjoy each other's company. If you're outdoors, you could conceivably get an extra table or two, rearrange the chairs, and have some sort of food as the closing piece of the event.

The most important thing to remember is that, other than signing the paperwork correctly, there is nothing you *must* do and nothing you *cannot* do. We said our vows sitting on horses! (One of them tried to eat a ring.) We didn't kiss! (My wife finds kissing gross.) We wore custom-made historical Viking outfits that we got via Etsy and it was dope! Our officiant wore a pair of plastic helmets strapped to her chest like so because she has that kind of sense of humor (and we knew it; she's my wife's best friend.)

So think of what would be fun, pleasant, and meaningful to you and your soon-to-be spouse, and do that, whether or not it is "correct" according to wedding magazines.
posted by restless_nomad at 7:21 AM on May 6 [1 favorite]


Do we need to do a rehearsal?

Based on what you describe, I would say no. Unless you have some specific choreography in mind, or you are using a friend to marry you and they've never done it before, you don't need to rehearse. An experienced celebrant will be able to direct you easily.

Do we start the ceremony with music?

If you want to. It is a good way to signal that it's time to begin, and to personalise the ceremony. You need to make sure there's some kind of sound/amplification and someone to press play. Unless one of your guests is a musician and is going to play.

Does anyone walk with me down the aisle? We've already nixed bridesmaids and groomsmen, since they're now the only guests invited to our mini wedding.

Up to you, but most heterosexual couples seem to have someone walk with the bride and that's independent of the number of guests. If it's not the bride and her father, it's the bride and both parents, or the bride and her mother, or the bride and another important male relative. I've seen fewer same sex weddings, all of those had both parties escorted by someone(s). Another option is for the couple walk in together. Or, like the Sound of Music, make an entrance by yourself. You should do exactly what you want, regardless of the size of the wedding.

If we play music, when do I come strolling in? An entire song seems too long (my pick is 3:52 long).

Regardless of number of guests, pretty much everyone has the problem that the music they want is too long. At the royal weddings of both the Duke & Duchess of Cambridge (Westminster Abbey; 1900 guests) and Duke & Duchess of Sussex (St George's Chapel; 600 guests) the music hadn't finished by the time the bride reached the front of the church.

You can either use a section of the piece you like, or you can get to the front and wait until the music finished. If you do the latter, then nearly 4 minutes is probably going to feel like a long time, so be really confident that you like your pick that much and then just own the choice and enjoy it on the day. Make sure that the celebrant and the person in charge of the music understand what you want. If you act like it's what you're expecting to do, then so should all the other guests.

What happens after the ceremony, when we sign the thing?

At every wedding I've ever been to, your guests discreetly talk to their neighbour. You can mask this with music if you like.
posted by plonkee at 4:06 PM on May 6


I'm a musician who plays at a lot of weddings.

I'm really stuck on how the ceremony itself is going to go, and how we are going to make the most of those 2 hours, which to my great pain we're paying thousands of dollars for. We have the venue (a very pretty courtyard which will not need much in the way of decor - the venue will provide chairs for the guests, an aisle runner, a signing table, and basic greenery and candles). We have an officiant and photographer.

In my experience, it usually goes like this
Ceremony (processional, [couple settles in at the front, guests sit down], celebrant talks about the couple and general thoughts on marriage, [readings, unity ceremonies etc go here], vows, [celebrant takes back the mic and says a few nice things and then says that you can kiss], kiss [photos (it's uncommon but depending on the photographer they may or may not get you to pose here - tell them beforehand if you just want in the moment, unobtrusive, non-posed photos), whooping. the celebrant eases the moment back into the ceremony and guides it towards the signing], signing the register, [return to the front and the celebrant pronounces you're married, if you have music it will play], recessional)
Group photos
Guests go and do their own thing for an hour while the couple goes and does couple photos with the photographer

The ceremony usually takes an hour, the mingling/group photos 10-20 minutes, then couple photos (which can take any time between half an hour and two hours).

I think taking loads of photos with everyone/as a couple with the pretty backdrop of the venue will make it feel more worth the money.

Do we need to do a rehearsal? Do we start the ceremony with music? Does anyone walk with me down the aisle? We've already nixed bridesmaids and groomsmen, since they're now the only guests invited to our mini wedding. If we play music, when do I come strolling in? An entire song seems too long (my pick is 3:52 long).

You can walk with a parent if you like, or just walk alone. Both are common.
If you have music (a guest/the celebrant with the music, or a musician/band), it will start when you're ready to walk (walk whenever you're ready after the music starts).
The celebrant will talk this over with you - usually they'll go and check that you're ready when you're at the place you're going to start walking from. Then the celebrant will go back to the front and ask the guests to stand and music will start playing and you'll start walking. Or a venue staff will check you're ready and then signal the celebrant/musicians and music will start playing etc.
The music will cut maybe 3-10 seconds after you've reached the front as you settle into position. If the music is too long, the musicians/celebrant will pick a bit in the music to naturally fade out from. If the music is too short, they'll repeat the song. So pick whatever music you like - it's not an issue.

We're going to write some personalized vows to make the wedding feel more "ours" and also to pad the time a little. We thought about streaming the ceremony for all our friends and family who can't be there, but I don't really like the idea of being on camera or on a screen. I'm not sure why it is, it just feels weird to me. I think it'll make me feel self-conscious. Does anyone else besides us and the officiant say anything?

You can set a little video camera yourself in the corner and send the file/upload privately and link the people after the ceremony, if that feels better for you. Or you can ask someone to edit the file so it's more produced, and there's more a feeling of distance you and the final product. (In case you haven't planned for this - ask your guests not to record you during the event)

Unless you have inserts such as unity ceremonies or readings, you and your partner and the officiant will be the only ones talking. Common inserts that people do (these typically take place during the section before the vows):
. A guest or two do a reading
. Unity ceremonies (sand pouring, handfasting, candle lighting etc)
. blessing/warming of the ring - passing around the ring and guests hold it and think their well wishes into it (better to have a bit of music for this one since it can be silent and feel a bit awkward)

Since you're not able to do a reception afterwards, maybe your guests can do their toasts/share memories or funny stories about you guys here? Or a time capsule ritual where all the guests contribute something to a time capsule to open up in blah years time?

What happens after the ceremony, when we sign the thing? Are we supposed to play more music while that happens? And then I guess we fill the rest of the time with photography of various combinations of everyone who is there?

Usually music will happen at these points:
. Processional
. During non-talking rituals/inserts or a period of silence in an otherwise talking ritual/insert (e.g. blessing of the rings if you have >5 guests)(music during the overall ceremony is usually done to fill in what might otherwise be slightly awkward silence, and most unity ceremonies have talking to guide the couple through it)
. the signing
. Recessional
Your celebrant should handle this for you - you just pick the music you want and they'll make it happen when it's meant to happen

I think I'm mostly worried that the whole thing will feel awkward, disjointed and anticlimactic, instead of intimate and special. At a normal wedding, guests would be mingling, they would head into cocktail hour with food and drinks, and then onto the big reception celebration.


I think it will feel all the more special and intimate for it being a small wedding! Big weddings can feel impersonal and rushed as you try and give the guests all of five seconds of your time to thank them for coming etc, but at a small wedding you can really take time and spend quality time with everyone.

Have a beautiful wedding!
posted by womb of things to be and tomb of things that were at 6:29 PM on May 6


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