I guess we all thought in 2021 the World would stop spinning a little quicker than it has. As we revel in the news from 22nd February with such mixed opinions and reactions, I personally have been a huge advocate for micro wedding plans and how incredible they can be. Having shot 19 elopements or micro plans in 2020, I’m over the moon to be back to shooting these more relaxed weddings as early as April 2021. I thought I’d share with you my thoughts, advice and great tips as to why micro weddings are the latest wedding trend of the decade!
What is a micro wedding?
Some would say they’re a cute way to say ‘we’re only allowed 15 guests’ but wait….they do not have to be the runner-up prize when it comes to your wedding! They can actually be f*cking awesome, memorable and a perfect way to get hitched during the global pandemic of the ’20s! Imagine being 80, sat in incontinence pants and retelling your wedding story?? “We had to wear masks, sanitise pens and could only have our parents…and it was perfect”
I’m a London wedding photographer and was fortunate enough to attend and photograph quite a few incredible elopements and micro weddings in 2020. I’m here to officially tell you…
Micro weddings are incredible and I fully encourage you to have one!
Yes, you’ve got to take a seriously hard look at your guest list, and maybe skip the dancing. But the getting married part? That stays exactly the same! If locking down your boo into a marital contract is your jam, then these micro weddings (or elopements, whichever term takes your fancy) then here are some top tips to get you started
Deciding if a micro wedding is for you…
I don’t want to give too much advice here as every couples’ circumstances are different, but it’s important that I make it clear that having a micro wedding is no better, or worse than a great big 100-person wedding.
Also: a micro wedding doesn’t just have to be a couple hours.
But that’s tackle this one at a time
Let me explain…
A micro wedding does not mean micro marriage…
In September, one of my couples planning a 120 guest wedding decided to just sack it off and pursue a wedding of 30 guests. This meant more budget for confetti, outfit changes and accessories. The couple had the most perfect wedding of 30 guests at Hackney Town Hall, then a short work round to a nearby restaurant where they booked the top floor for champagne, pizza, the most wonderful set of speeches and dancing. 3 confetti shots later and honestly the day was magical. The couple had the wedding they had secretly been wanting and….are now married! They put a ring on it and are now moving onto the next stage of their life arguing over who didn’t close the bread bag up properly!
I know right now it may feel like you’re not being given the chance to have the wedding you wanted with 100+ guests to watch it, but the number of guests doesn’t mean you have less of an awesome marriage, or a kickass wedding day.
A wedding of two halves…
I was set to photograph just under 25 100+guest weddings so that was 25 couples whose plans were set on fire, put in a bin and dumped in the sea last year. However, by December 2020, 12 of those couples had decided to split their wedding plans in two; a town hall ceremony and a quick drink in the park with 15 guests and a ‘part two’ wedding when the pandemic is over, with a further 5 couples booking me from a new enquiry who decided getting married in a global pandemic was the best life distraction they could think of.
You can have a ceremony day this year, and then your reception next year. So far, I can only find pro’s to this arrangement
- Two outfits. Need I say more?
- More time to chat to your guests, and you don’t pass out for exhaustion in your outfits
- It may actually work our cost effective by doing this
An average UK wedding costs £31k. Well, a ceremony day may cost you between £500-£2000 depending on your plans. That leaves £30k. However, the best bit is, your ‘part two’ can be ANYTHING! You could rent out your favourite bar, or host a big garden party. You can skip the drinks reception, the favours, and trade 3 course meals for a variety of street food vans. You can skip straight to speeches, cutting some delicious cake and party like its 2018. The traditions are going to be re-written and I’m SO here for it. Pick and choose what wedding elements you want at your part two plans. Still want to have a ceremony? Book a celebrant and make your wedding promises infant of guests again. HECK get married outside, you can do this now that you don’t need the official licenses.
This is the awesome thing about splitting your plans; you can really make your wedding plans how YOU want them. No traditions will hold you back.
So, you decided a micro wedding is on the cards…
Great! So the beauty of these micro plans is again…you can do what you want! Get ready together in the morning, wear something sparkly and awesome, get the tube together, get McDonalds drive thru after the ceremony. God, honestly the list is endless!
Last year I saw wedding shots on the steps of Old Marylebone Town Hall, a couple arriving by bike to their ceremony and then leaving via a confetti explosion, pizza and cocktails for the wedding meal, champagne in the park.
As a micro marriage pro now, I thought I’d offer you up some quick tips on making the process as easy as possible, especially if you’re dealing with major wedding fatigue.
To book a ceremony, most London town halls now show their slots and availability online. It makes booking really fun and stress-free. Alternatively, all will have a ceremony hotline and expect a call back from a member of staff that can tell you the next steps. The staff at all the major town halls are BABES and so helpful! You’ll have to give 28 days notice to get married but be prepared to wait upto 72 days if you’re a non-UK resident. Then you must be married within 12 months of ‘giving notice’.
Here’s my top 5 favourite London Town Halls:
They all have different rules when it comes to numbers and arrival times so do ask and make a note of these before you do any more planning.
So, you’ve given notice and booked your ceremony, now you can build around your ceremony. Whether you decide to have just your witnesses, or max out the capacity the town hall/government allows, you can start planning your day. The great thing about micro weddings is nearly all traditions can be thrown out the window, and new traditions can be born
Here are some of my top tips for making micro weddings fun, memorable and include as many guests as possible.
Transport: hire a car, get an uber or catch a bus! There are no traditions when it comes to running off to the town hall to get married so arrive in style!
Assume you can’t arrive separately. For covid reasons, Town Halls would prefer you turn up together with guests 15-30 minutes before your ceremony time. So do consider a first-look if you want to reveal your outfits to each other. They’re great fun and can happen around the corner in privacy without guests watching!
Timings: most town halls request you arrive 15-30 minutes before your ceremony, and most likely as an entire party. This is why first looks are great as you can arrive at the last minute with your soon-to-be significant other to a very excited group of guests.
How to choose guests: this is the part I imagine lots are agonising over. My advice is mostly that just because it says 15/30 guests, you can still choose to have less. You need 2 witnesses that will sign your marriage certificate, and after that decide how to make it fair. Remember that town halls are being incredibly flexible and allowed laptops, ipads and multiple phones during the ceremony. So send everyone a zoom link and they can watch it in pjs on their sofa!
Photos afterward: CONFETTI!! Confetti doesn’t matter if its being thrown by 4 people or 400 people. It’s still super pretty and the perfect way to exit the town hall. Group shots also don’t have to be boring. I’ve been shooting social distanced group photographs with and without masks and they really do feel like a piece of history in the making. It’ll seem so odd in 50 years time!
Photographer at work: Remember to include your photographer or any other ‘service’ based person in your ceremony numbers. In the Summer of 2020 we were included in numbers, and the latter part of the year we weren’t. So please bare this in mind when inviting guests
I hope this article has given you some glimmer of excitement for planning a micro wedding, or just saying sod it and eloping with 2 witnesses. I know its been a really hard 12 months when it comes to weddings but we must remember that love is not cancelled. And despite feeling like you can’t face another cancelled wedding, I think it’s safe to assume that from 12th April, weddings of under 15 guests can take place and we can start celebrating lots more marriages very soon!
Oh…..and don’t forget to book me for your wedding adventures!
To get in touch with Lex at Fleming Photography you can visit her website HERE