How to have the most stylish small wedding
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Surrey experts share their tips for bringing glamour to your socially distanced day
If you’ve decided to press ahead with your wedding this year or indeed next, it’s likely you’re feeling a little overwhelmed with trying to figure out how to squeeze the plans you had for your big day into a much smaller occasion.
With fewer people attending than you might have envisaged, the guest experience will need to be high on the agenda and key for your inspiration for the day.
Surrey wedding planner Susie Evans offers her top tips and the go-to local experts that can bring some glamour to your socially-distanced day.
The guest list
Struggling to cut your guest list down? Look at your text messages and calls and only invite those you’ve spoken to in the last three months - we usually converse more regularly with the people who matter most.
Rather than worrying about all the things you won’t be able to do because your wedding is smaller than you’d hoped, think about all the little touches you can add to make it feel exclusive that you might not have been able to achieve with a bigger party. This could be hiring a private chef or a sommelier that can offer private tasting as part of the day. Working with a wedding planner will help ensure you have a seamless and truly memorable day from start to finish.
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A small intimate wedding can open up a whole new range of venues which would have otherwise been overlooked due to large numbers. Consider restaurants, private gardens, galleries, wine bars, even your home - you could hire a small marquee if you are concerned about the weather (Inside Outside Marquees in Great Bookham have some great options) or even hire a large private house for the weekend. This is definitely the time to be thinking outside the box.
Smaller numbers mean you can introduce hand finished touches such as personalised place cards, embroidered napkins with their initials. Work with a stationer such as ERA Calligraphy to make a suite of stationery that will intrigue and excite your guests as to what’s to come on the day.
A small intimate wedding will require a whole different set of photography skills. You’ll need a photographer who can blend seamlessly into the background and get those intimate shots without being intrusive. Amelia Britton at Fresh Shoot Studios is great at this.
· Think about every part of the guest journey and the ambience you want to create - music will be key to this. If you’re not to sure how to make the most of a setting, enlist the help of a stylist like Clare Watson from Turmeric House who can help you curate and create a fully immersive experience for your guests through the style and design of the setting.
Fewer tables and a smaller space means you have the freedom to be a bit more imaginative with styling. You might like to use different flower arrangements and candles to give each table an individual feel for example.
Be creative with your tableware too. Whether you go for matching or mix it up with a few different styles, Couvert Hire has some beautiful place settings to elevate your table design.
Instead of multiple tables seat everyone at a long estate table or at a U-shaped set up which will make everyone feel like family and don’t forget to leave room on the table for conversation - Banstead florist Mad Lilies recommends lifting the flowers up and suspending from overhead as a canopy.
Using luxury candles, such as the Ester and Erik ones pictured, at different heights running all the way down the table can create a beautiful atmosphere of twinkling light and micro clusters of flowers on the napkin of each place setting gives an additional personal touch.
Work with a local wedding caterer like Two Many Cooks to create a carefully-curated and personalised menu with the perfect food and wine pairings. A live food station with someone carving a large jamon or an oyster shucker provides another dimension to the guest experience.
Creating a signature cocktail for your guests is a great ice breaker and if numbers are really small why not ask each guest what their favourite cocktail is beforehand so they can enjoy a completely personalised cocktail on the day. Tattam’s Cocktails can even create an entirely bespoke cocktail working with colours from your theme.
A wedding cake traditionally gets displayed on a separate table but why not incorporate it in to the table design? Or Gaya’s Cakes and Confections suggests incorporating your cake and accompany with an after dinner cocktail a black forest gateaux and espresso martini make the perfect combination.
With smaller, intimate weddings you have the opportunity of creating perfectly curated gift boxes with personalised gifts or maybe consider a unique scent for your wedding and have a candle made for your guests. The list is endless but there are so many options.
Break with tradition
As you determine the finer details of your day, decide what is important to you and your partner and remove things that are not. It may be something like the traditional aspects of a wedding day, such as the first dance or cutting of the cake.
Having less guests at your wedding means you get to spend more time with each and every one of them. So many couples say they didn’t get to chat to everyone on their day but when you’re having an intimate wedding, you will get plenty of time to chat with them all.