Since launching The Pilgrims Rest as a wedding venue in 2016, I have often written about the benefits of holding smaller weddings; keeping guests lists down and how taking the “less” route can often mean more on your wedding day. I hope I wasn’t tempting fate’s fickle finger as I wrote, as none of us could have predicted just how “less” 2020 weddings (and 2021 for that matter) would become.
It has never been a secret that I love a small wedding, as I like nothing more than spending time with family and friends; so it is no accident that our venue is designed to work so well for them. 600 years old, with only knows how many celebrations hosted beneath her eaves, an eerie quiet has descended upon our grand old lady over the last year. It has been strange and a little sad to see her doors closed for so long, but on the few occasions when weddings have been allowed to proceed, we have lit fires and candles, flung open doors and happily watched as she sparkled back into life.
This time last year, the term micro wedding was pretty unknown but was about to become the headlines of wedding magazines and blogs across the globe. As 2020 moved at a glacial speed through lockdown after lockdown, tiny weddings became the norm as couples threw caution to the wind and tied the knot when restrictions allowed. The Pilgrims Rest team worked closely with our own couples as they turned their perfectly planned weddings upside down, slashed their guest lists, complied with social distancing rules and had micro weddings of their own.
Amazingly, there was nothing at all micro about these weddings. There were streams of happy tears; clapping rather than singing; funny speeches and delicious, long lunches or sometimes just a simple ceremony with just five people. Although poles apart from how their original wedding plans and Pinterest boards looked, it was clear that love was the order of the day; no matter how tiny the wedding or how many restrictions in place, these weddings have been absolutely magical and we have felt very lucky to be a part of such special celebrations.
Now, months into 2021 and in the midst of another lockdown, unable to finalise wedding plans and lacking a crystal ball to guide them, brides and grooms are taking the lead and putting together more than just one wedding plan. With two or three different guest lists - depending on what might be allowed as their wedding day gets closer - it has given them back a little more control and also a renewed sense of excitement.
Over the last year we have come to realise what is important to us. For many, family and close friends sit firmly at the top of that list, especially with regard to their wedding plans. The aim of achieving the ultimate “Instagram wedding” has taken a back seat and plans of filling baskets with flip flops and dating tiny favours suddenly parked. As we learn about the environmental impacts that have improved during periods of lockdown, more couples are creating more sustainable weddings, following the less is more wedding route and searching for venues that need less decoration.
Happily, it seems that even Covid can’t get it the way of true love and it is so exciting to see how many engagements have been announced in the last few months. Newly engaged couples, starting their own planning are thinking carefully about last year and are searching for venues that can adapt to last minute changes in guest list size but remain cosy and warm if larger numbers cannot go ahead.
So will weddings going forward will be great or small? There is no doubt that there will be some couples who want all their friends, family and work colleagues and want to dance until their feet drop off and who can blame them? Saying that, I am certain that more invitations for smaller, personal and relaxed weddings shall find their way through our letter boxes in the coming months.
Whatever you choose, a word to the wise as you write your invitations; There used to be a rule of thumb that 15% of guests invited to weddings would decline. After a year of being kept from our friends and family; our dancing shoes hung up and arms unable to hug, I am sure I will not be alone when I reply “Yes” to every single invitation that lands on my doormat!
If you would like more information about The Pilgrims Rest or would like to arrange a virtual tour with one of our team please contact us on 07552873448.
Photographer: Jessica Bevan Photography