Updated: Jun 3, 2019
There was much talk over the weekend about reforming wedding laws. Two of the many drivers for the Government considering reform were to give the “hospitality business a boost” and to “make weddings more affordable” for couples. We’d hate to stop the slow and deliberate wheels of the legal system delivering more relaxed rules around weddings. We absolutely believe that it’s about time we got out of the 19th Century in terms of wedding laws. So, we share this thinking on the proviso that you don't let on how much we can achieve within the current laws as we certainly do not want to stand in the way of progress!
We’ve arranged over 300 small weddings and elopements in the past 3 years here in Cornwall, the average cost is just £5065 – some 83% cheaper than the national average. We agree there is a demand, and the cost savings can be significant without compromising on the quality of the day enjoyed by our couples.
What we’d like to do is share some lovely ways to work within your budget, create a unique wedding day that incorporates an outside ceremony and activities and gives you total choice and flexibility over your wedding day. Our starting point has always been that the rules are there to be flexed as far as possible to deliver unique, stress-free and fun filled wedding days designed in line with your thoughts and preferences. This thinking has led to hundreds of super-happy couples as well as small wedding venues and service providers benefiting from year round bookings.
Here’s a few of the rules we flex and how we do it.
Outdoor wedding ceremonies
Lots of our couples have their heart set on outdoor wedding ceremonies and we can offer lots of options working within the existing wedding laws. This usually involves Garden Pagoda or similar permanent outdoor structure or the wide opening door to a permanent structure with guests seated outside. Our venue partners have been imaginative and visionary with where these are located. We can offer outdoor locations over looking the sea nestled in the tree-tops, at the end of a beautiful natural aisle created by lime trees to a thatched round house set in the middle of a beautiful vineyard.
In addition to this, many of our couples actually have two ceremonies on their wedding day: their legal ceremony at one of the licensed wedding partner venues that we work with, followed by an outdoor blessing conducted in the woods, on the beach, by a lake or wherever the couple choose. This second ceremony can be conducted by a specialist celebrant or by a member of the couple’s wedding party. It’s often more moving and personal and yes, there are usually a few tears shed. It is hard to imagine a time where the “legal” ceremony is truly relaxed enough to incorporate everything that each different couple might want from a wedding ceremony having seen the scope of possibilities opened up by our couples.
Whether a second ceremony is included or not, we only work with venues that offer exceptional outside spaces for photography for your wedding day. We can offer everything from rugged coast cliffs, the beautiful gardens of a tiny Tudor castle, woods, beaches, a vineyard and sub-tropical gardens. Wherever you choose to marry, make sure you check the outside spaces as well as the indoor spaces at any venues you are considering.
The Law Commission’s research highlighted that costs to couples increase due to them having to move from one location to another to accommodate getting ready, the ceremony and the celebrations that follow. We beg to differ. A number of venues offer an all-inclusive wedding experience, typically running to a three-night stay and wedding day.
Many family and friendship groups no longer live in close proximity like we did years ago. This means that a wedding in your locality usually means a number of guests having to travel and find accommodation anyway. This has led to a trend in smaller, more intimate runaway weddings where the couples choose a wedding venue with accommodation in a beautiful location and invite their nearest and dearest to join them for a 2 or 3 night celebration.
At these venues you can gather together the night before the wedding, perhaps having a relaxed meal or drinks together. The next morning a communal breakfast can be followed by wedding preparations at your accommodation, allowing that special time apart for the bride and groom before coming together again at the ceremony. Follow this with, photography, toast drink, garden games, bespoke catering from a vintage tea party to a BBQ to three course dining, a trip to the beach for a picnic, music and dancing, fire pits and marshmallows and fireworks. The list goes on. This leaves a day for everyone to relax and catch up before departing that evening or the morning afterwards. This approach certainly makes your wedding day more personal and meaningful, and we never hear the age old regret that the couple didn’t actually spend much tine together or that they didn't get time to speak to their guests properly.
The wedding season is now all year round
I often get asked how the wedding season is going in the summer months. The truth is, we don’t really have one. We arrange weddings all year round for our couples. There are some reasons for this.
Firstly, there is a real appeal in making your wedding really standout and unique by choosing an autumn or winter wedding. Everything is different about an “out of season wedding”. Replace lace and feathers with fur and brocade. Swap soft pinks and pale blues with burnt orange, reds and deep greens. Add twigs, foliage and moss to your floral arrangements, and take your wedding ceremony to the fire-side enjoying mulled wine and whiskey, hot chocolates and toasted marshmallows.
Other reasons we see plenty of couples choosing autumn and winter weddings are availability and cost. You are much more likely to be able to pick a date of your choice at a substantially lower price in these parts of the year. Wedding day services as well as venues have more availability, so this means you are more likely to be able to book your first choice stylist, florist, photographer and caterer. Demand drives price, and whether it’s right or not we know that June/July and August weddings can cost as much as 300% more than exactly the same wedding in November, December (excluding Christmas and New Year), January, February and March. With most of us balancing multiple financial responsibilities – mortgages, the costs of raising a family, student loans and much more – it really is worth considering autumn and winter weddings which will reduce your costs without reducing the quality of your day
The Law Commission recommendations’ to the Government to date have focused on the affordability of weddings. There is no doubt that smaller weddings are cheaper overall. The BBC has stated the average cost of a wedding in the UK is £30,355, whereas the average Petite Wedding is just over £5000. But it’s not just that, there’s more to size than meets the eye. A smaller wedding can deliver a better, more intimate experience, and the quality of what you can afford to do within your chosen budget can be better.
We set up Petite Weddings as we were trying to find somewhere for our own wedding ceremony and celebration that would be perfect for a small family group. Having both been married before, we wanted our wedding day to be intimate and meaningful. Equally having both been divorced our funds were limited too! We searched and spoke to friends, and yet we failed to find anywhere that worked for us.
Friends and colleagues thought the idea of a small wedding was really interesting with many of them wishing they had done something like that. We did a bit more research, and there seems to be real demand for small intimate weddings, and so Petite Weddings was born.
There are many attractions in a small wedding or elopement. Many of our couples choose to elope on their own or with a small group of their closest friends and family. This means that they have those they really want around them on their special day, and often because of the lower cost they can extend the stay for a few days. The budget available can be spread less thinly and it means you can indulge yourselves and any guests more than if you were accommodating a higher number of guests.
Having those who you really want around you on your wedding day also reduced stress and eradicates friction that might arise when you have a larger crowd to think about. In fact many couples choose a small wedding for exactly this reason – there is nothing worse than family rifts being exposed on your big day. We say keep it tight, keep it simple and enjoy a stress-free day filled with love and happiness.
Making your day unique
One of the reasons the Government is looking to reform wedding laws is to offer couples more choice so that wedding days become more personal and meaningful.
We hate to be smarty-pants, but you can do this already to a greater degree. We work creatively within the existing laws to deliver unique wedding day experiences inline with our couples’ preferences. Aside from the actual legal ceremony being constrained by where is can be held, there is scope to do pretty much anything.
We have arranged all sorts: from stand-up paddle boarding round St Michael’s Mount in Cornwall, followed by a beach BBQ for 22, wedding blessings on the beach and cliff-tops taking in those awesome views, sunset ceremonies overlooking the sea (legal and celebrant led), lantern ceremony to follow the main ceremony, post-ceremony beach photography and kite flying, picnics by the sea, coastal path walks to a church blessing, picking your own wedding flowers from the fields the day before your wedding with your florist and so much more.
Every wedding is different, so whether it’s adapting your ideas to incorporate seasonal local produce to your menu, seasonal local flowers and foliage to your styling or picking a dress code that fits with your chosen venue, the possibilities are endless.
Do be constrained by what you can afford to spend, but don’t let your wedding planning be constrained by tradition, rules and laws.
To find out more about how we could help you plan your perfect petite wedding please contact firstname.lastname@example.org call Jane on 07411 117294.