Planning An Unexpectedly More Intimate Wedding Celebration

2022 has been the year of unintentionally more intimate weddings. Across the board every wedding was hit by intended guests having to bow out.

What do you do if suddenly your guest list is dropping? Pre-pandemic it was rare to have a huge regrets list when you received your RSVP’s, but this year most weddings we’ve planned are experiencing 25-30% fewer guests than originally expected.

The number one reason for regrets – COVID or COVID concerns. Whereas a normal wedding might have a handful of no shows or last minute regrets post RSVP, most weddings are experiencing 5-15 drops the week of, because somebody tests positive for COVID.

These drops aren’t limited to friends and in town guests some people are testing positive and can’t travel, or even harder for couples and their loved ones, wedding party members and immediate family have tested positive last minute after traveling to the wedding.

If you experience this, don’t panic or cancel your wedding. But DO follow CDC guidelines for both those who test positive, and those who are negative but have been in close contact. In some cases, it may be safe for them to still attend. Again refer to the exact guidelines.

The other key reason people are replying with regrets, well in advance – travel difficulties. It is not exactly easy to travel by plane right now. For some inflation on costs for flights, gas, and everything travel related, makes it impossible for their budget for them to attend. There’s nothing you can do about this, unless your budget is endless and they are important enough for you to assist with the expenses to have them there. If enough loved ones in one place just can’t make it, try to plan a trip to them sometime in the next year and plan a mini celebration down the road. A dinner or mini party in another city may be just what you all need.

How do these significant drops in numbers change your plans? For starters, many of your vendors cannot give you discounts or refunds. Your floral needs may now change, but the orders were already set for your flowers. Your catering or food and beverage minimums may be higher than is reasonable with your lower head count, but that doesn’t mean your minimums change. So what do you do?

This is when it’s really great to have a planner. Here are my tips for how to adjust your plans, the first step is to ask for upgrades vs. keeping everything the same as planned.

For example, if you were supposed to have 20 tables and now will have 12-13 talk to your floral designer about that! While they may have ordered your flowers according to your original needs you don’t need 7 unnecessary centerpieces! Upgrade your original design, or put more flowers in to the ceremony arch.

If you originally planned a buffet for 150 guests but now are expecting 100, ask in advance if you can switch your catering service to plated or family style instead. if you have enough warning (weeks not days) ask for menu upgrades, add snacks later in the event, or upgrade your bar selections to reach your minimums.

For your baker, downsize the cake and add more diverse dessert options for a dessert table. You don’t want boxes of cake to take home.

With your rental contract, many will let you make minor adjustments without problem, but if you had a minimum to reach add upgrades – switch to higher end table settings, or linens. Add chargers or upgraded glassware.

The goal isn’t to increase your budget, it’s to upgrade the details to reach your contractual commitments, instead of throwing money away. Most vendors are more than happy to make adjustments if you give them as much notice as possible.

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