“The immediate future of weddings is exquisite storytelling; it’s impeccable details and top-notch service; it’s a unique adventure and an experiential celebration guests will never forget.”
In countless ways, this pandemic hangs over the wedding industry like a hurricane with no path — postponing plans, shuttering operations, and sending into disarray the beautiful pieces of our service-based industry. We have sustained this constant force with no let-up for close to twelve months, all while working tirelessly to keep in tact our couples’ dream weddings with all of their family and friends in attendance.
For our industry, this pandemic has urged us all to reevaluate the future of weddings and, with our couples’ trust, it is time to create a better and more sound path forward. Waiting to go back to “the way things were” might seem like the easiest solution, but the reality is that the future is already here. And the good news is, it’s bright ahead. The immediate future of weddings is exquisite storytelling; it’s impeccable details and top-notch service; it’s a unique adventure and an experiential celebration guests will never forget. In the immediate future, it’s intentionally dreaming of, exploring and embracing more intimate weddings.
It is important to note that the intimate wedding is not new, and it’s something that was beginning to trend much before this pandemic began. Prior to 2020, our industry was already quietly transitioning and weddings were already slowly morphing in two significant ways. First, the rise of the destination wedding was steep, with more and more couples jetsetting to Puglia and Provence with 25-100 of their nearest and dearest friends and family members. Remember the wedding invitation you received for your friend’s 50-person destination wedding in Europe or on a tropical island? Us too. At the same time, the gap between the realistic wedding budget and wedding vision was becoming more noticeable; the 300-person wedding, a dominant trend over the past decade, was becoming more of a financial stretch and many couples were starting to see an alternative — lowering guest counts to allow themselves to achieve their dream weddings, which were experiential, highly detail focused and sentimental celebrations.
Cue a pandemic. Suddenly smaller weddings have a spotlight on them, shining so brightly they cannot be overlooked. Overnight, the intimate wedding has become more than simply a chic and sentimental option — it has become the immediate way to safely proceed with a wedding as we walk into the future. Smaller guest lists and private locations with gorgeous tents have become table stakes in a world of face masks and little bottles of hand sanitizer. However with that said, these intimate weddings that have come to life over the last year have been some of the most awe-inspiring celebrations we have ever seen.
While many right now see the small wedding as a secondary option in light of the current state of the world, intimate ceremonies and receptions have long been the quietly beautiful and meaningful wedding experiences that so many couples crave. In recent years, we have seen small luxurious weddings set trends, go viral on social media and grace the covers of magazines with some of our favorite celebrities and influencers holding intimate ceremonies before an exclusive group of loved ones above Tuscan skylines and among Californian vineyards.
Many will also recognize the small wedding from the albums of our parents and grandparents who held intimate weddings before “intimate weddings” were categorized as such; they exchanged vows surrounded by close friends and family members, with their venue — perhaps their local church altar, or the backyard of their family’s private estate — filled with florals, taper candles, handmade decorations, their wedding cake baked by a local shop, and a getaway car complete with a send off of rice throwing. These weddings from our own personal histories remind us that no matter the size, the love and legacy continues.
Above all else, intimate weddings are an unmatched opportunity for couples to tell their unique story completely. They are weddings filled with couples’ dream wishlists for their celebrations — from a remarkable venue to a stunning clear top tent draped with ethereal fabric and romantic florals overhead (a la Bridgerton), to the couture wedding dress the bride has dreamt of wearing, to the chef’s tasting style menu everyone will be talking about long after the wedding is over, to the custom personalized invitations, to the much-adored band that will leave a lasting impression on every guest. As a result, each detail carries its own meaningful weight when the whispers of small ceremonies and exclusive receptions can be heard by every guest — no vow goes unheard, no song selection goes unnoticed, no fine detail goes unseen.
We are still in an unfamiliar transition period, but amid the pandemic and beyond it is imperative that we — as trusted vendors in our industry — embrace small weddings not as a contingency plan but instead as intentional and intimate experiences that would still fit the vision of many of our couples. Starting today, I challenge vendors and couples to look at intimate weddings through a different lens; as an intentional decision and beautiful choice. Small weddings don’t have to be (and shouldn’t be) built on simplified plans or scaled-down expectations because the guest count is smaller — they can be just as lavish and luxurious as larger weddings, while also benefiting from the addition of the thoughtful touches that make a wedding celebration truly intimate.
The pandemic has interrupted so much of what we do and how we do it — but it certainly hasn’t interrupted the love that our couples share for one another, the unique vision they have for their wedding, or their wish to spend their day with the ones they love most dearly.
Let us pioneer the next phase of our industry on behalf of, and inspired by, our couples — designing small weddings and cultivating intimate moments that, despite what comes our way, will stand the test of time.