Boom in Norfolk ‘micro-weddings’ with just 30 guests

A wedding planned by Emily Andrew for Brittany and Sean (credit Benjamin Mathers Photography)

A wedding planned by Emily Andrew for Brittany and Sean (credit Benjamin Mathers Photography) - Credit: Archant

Micro-weddings of 30 guests or fewer in Norfolk set to boom this summer while 2021 wedding bookings soar

A wedding at West Lexham

A wedding at West Lexham - Credit: Archant

The Coronavirus has hit the wedding industry hard. In a matter of months, thousands of happy couples have had to cancel or postpone their magical day.

From those who have lost huge amounts of money last minute, creating a ‘save the new date’ or swapping the venue of their dreams for the local registry office; every ‘due to wed’ couple has been affected. Many couples still don’t know when they’ll be able to get married at all. So the question is, what is the future of weddings after the pandemic?

“It has definitely been a challenge in many ways, but I’m grateful to have played my part in making it as stressless and painless as possible for my clients,” says Emily Andrew, a bespoke weddings and events planner in Norfolk. “I genuinely feel very sad for those couples who hadn’t the budget to use the services of a wedding planner and had to navigate their way through postponements and the uncertainties without professional support and guidance.”

So where do weddings go from here? From July 4, wedding ceremonies and civil partnerships of up to 30 guests have been allowed in England.

Thurning Hall Shoot with Emily Andrew (photo: Benjamin Mathers)

Thurning Hall Shoot with Emily Andrew (photo: Benjamin Mathers) - Credit: Archant

“Your 30 ‘guests’ will include any suppliers present such as celebrants, registrars or photographers. Large gatherings are still banned, therefore the celebration part of the wedding (including the serving of any food or drink) will not be allowed, so any post-celebration gathering would have to follow the current social distancing guidelines – up to six people outdoors, support bubbles, or two households indoors or outdoors,” says Emma Hla, founder and creator of Coco Weddings, a stylish wedding venue directory.

Nevertheless, if you still want to go ahead with your big day; there is hope and imagine the joy of what small things can bring. “Whilst the landscape may change again over the next few weeks, small or ‘micro’ weddings are certainly a way forward for couples who just want to be married,” says Emma.

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“There’s something rather magical about hosting a wedding on a smaller scale - they’re relaxed, deeply personal and offer you the opportunity to spend quality time with your loved ones. Something we all need right now.”

Wedding at Ash Tree Barns (photo: credit Gary Archdale and co owner of Ash Tree Barns)

Wedding at Ash Tree Barns (photo: credit Gary Archdale and co owner of Ash Tree Barns) - Credit: Archant

Isabelle Coville, one of the venue owners of West Lexham, Kings Lynn, an ethical family-run haven for glamping, retreats and weddings, couldn’t agree more. “I may be biased, but weddings beyond 120 - 150 people become very impersonal,” she says. “I feel that there may be a move from the extravagant to the meaningful. Having a small registry ceremony is a wonderful way to have a memorable day with your inner circle as you hardly get to breathe with all the excitement and fun of the big knees up!”

Wedding venues may be hard to come by for next year, so perhaps consider having your registry wedding sooner so you don’t lose momentum, and then enjoy the extra time to plan your perfect wedding party. “With Norfolk having the driest weather in the country, most of our couples choose to get married outside and have a registry wedding for the official part,” says Sarah.

She adds, “Some couples who had dates booked with us from September onwards have opted to stick with their 2020 date and to scale down their wedding size so they can go ahead with the government guidelines limiting to 30 guests.”

Pink Cake by Sugar Buttons Cakes (photo: Aurora Grey Photography)

Pink Cake by Sugar Buttons Cakes (photo: Aurora Grey Photography) - Credit: Archant

Although it is a small price to pay for global safety, these cancelled and postponed nuptials may have radically changed the way we all look at weddings from now on.“It’s maddening to spend so much time and money planning your perfect day and for it to be over in less than 12 hours,” says Sarah. “I would always advise to spend more on time together and free up funds by doing the flowers and décor with your nearest and dearest as a way to hang out and catch up in the run-up to the ceremony.”

But will we want 300 plus people at a wedding anymore- will we even be able to? Or has the panic of Covid-19 made us rethink the wedding entirely? “Yes I do believe wedding dreams will be fulfilled again, but only when there is a vaccination to prevent the spread of infection,” say owners and couple Gary Archdale and Claire Jarju of the stunning Ash Tree Barns.

Located in the heart of the stunning Breckland countryside this luxury accommodation is trying to take advantage of lockdown.“We are trying to do as much work as possible on the barns to upgrade the property, grounds and business,” they say. “The future looks busy and we are definitely receiving a lot of inquiries and client bookings right now, which is exciting.”

It seems many more people are booking their weddings for 2021 and beyond, so is it ever too early to start planning? “My 2022 diary is already open,” says Amie Childs, owner of For Keeps, a small business specialising in bespoke wedding signage and beautifully personalised gifts in Aylsham. “A little earlier than usual due to the current situation, and lots of couples are now starting to get in touch with 2022 dates.”

Amie adds, “My advice to anyone who has a venue and date confirmed is that if you know there is a supplier you desperately want to be a part of your big day, get in touch with them as soon as possible. 2021 is going to be the 2020 that never got to happen and more! Celebrations are going to be very much needed, and bigger and better than originally planned.”

With so much to organise it’s a good idea to have a written plan of everything you need to do, including choosing and ordering your wedding cake. “So far I’ve been able to reschedule all my postponed weddings,” says Imogen Davison, owner of Sugar Buttons Cakes in Norwich, which specialises in creative, avant-garde wedding cakes for visionary couples.

Imogen adds, “Some of my weeks next year are going to be unbelievably busy and I don’t imagine I’ll see a proper day off between March and November, but I really wanted to be able to accommodate all my lovely couples. I had so many amazing cake designs planned and I was so disappointed to not be making them this summer, but next year is going to be a corker!”