Seattle Wedding Planners Pink Blossom Events, Clutch Events, Perfectly Posh Events and New Creations Wedding Design & Coordination have teamed up to bring you a 4-Part Blog Series covering COVID-19 and planning your wedding during these unprecedented times. Today, the gals over at Perfectly Posh Events are sharing some ideas to keep your vendor team with a smaller wedding.
We know the entire wedding landscape has either come to a swift halt or will need to be recalibrated to operate in the temporary “normal” we are all trying to navigate. This is especially true for couples who have finished planning their wedding and are just waiting to enjoy their big day. Couples are left wondering, “What next? Where do we go from here? What about all the contracts we’ve signed with our team of vendors?” For some, the best choice is to postpone their wedding and try to move as many of their vendors to that new date. Others may carry on for various reasons, but their wedding may look different than what they had hoped, and it might be significantly smaller than what they had originally planned. Regardless of your decision, keeping your vendor team intact will make Plan B that much easier. Your thought out plans will still be able to have the same aesthetic and vibe. Plus keeping your vendor team will likely be helping in keeping a small local business afloat during these uncertain times.
If you have chosen to downsize your wedding, before you cancel or reduce services with a vendor that you think no longer applies to your special day, try speaking to your vendor and ask them if they can be flexible and creative in their offerings to you. While it may not seem practical to have them provide what you paid for originally, there are creative options that may make more sense for a smaller wedding scenario that could come close to the original amount that you booked the vendor for. Let’s get creative & have conversations before asking for refunds – you might find that in the end you are able to create a very memorable and meaningful celebration for your nearest and dearest!
Here’s a few examples of how you can get creative with keeping your vendor team if you change to a small wedding due to COVID-19:
Photographer: You’ve booked your photographer for 8 hours of wedding coverage. However, you’ve decided to elope with just doing a ceremony this year – so having 8 hours of coverage isn’t really necessary now. Consider asking your photographer if they’d be open to splitting their package to provide 4-6 hours of wedding coverage and allow a 2-4-hour credit further down the road, for an anniversary shoot, a holiday card shoot, family session or a baby announcement, you name it! Just be sure to not expect the additional shoot be to scheduled on a weekend – with a limited number of weekends available each year the photographer likely will not be able to reserve time on two weekend dates with a split package.
Videographer: In that same vein, the same may be true with your videographer! Typically, they offer similar hourly structuring as their photographer counterparts. So the same approach to reducing or splitting hours may be an option to run by them!
We’re also hearing of some of our videographer friends including a longer video edit of the hours they could not use on the wedding day, in hopes it brings more value to the couples’ memory log. From there, you can share that video with guests that couldn’t make it!
Hair & Makeup: Having a smaller wedding might mean that you have decided to not have a wedding party, so you may have a few empty slots in your hair & makeup booking. Consider passing on those time slots to your immediate family who will be attending the wedding and treat them to a pampering! If this doesn’t make sense to your situation, it might also be worth asking your stylist if there’s an option to rollover the surplus of services as a credit towards another event in the future, such as a special work function, a wedding or baby shower, a family photo shoot, etc.
Music & Entertainment: You hired a string quartet to play for your ceremony. If it feels weird to have a string quartet while you walk down a much smaller aisle with less guests in attendance, consider asking them to play during your intimate dinner after the ceremony. Live music during dinner really elevates the dining experience for guests! The same goes for reception music! If you hired a band to play for the dancing portion of the reception, consider asking them what creative suggestions they can offer to enhance your guest experience! Depending on how you feel, it might make sense to have them play throughout the remainder of the evening as well.
Our DJ friends over at Bamboo Beats provided the following suggestion for keeping your DJ as part of the vendor line-up:
“We have done many weddings that are less than 50 people and feel that music is an amazing way to create a calming and harmonious mood for the ceremony and dinner even if there may not be any dancing.
We can provide music from very safe distances and in multiple locations, with only one person on-site if needed to keep your vendor count low. We will be providing safety protocols like safe distancing and using disposable covers for our microphones during the ceremony and speeches to keep everyone safe.“
Just because you are having a smaller guest count, that doesn’t necessarily mean you can’t have a string quartet play at your ceremony or a DJ playing all evening. Pre-pandemic, we have planned many events that have had a DJ on hand. We also planned a wedding with 16 guests and the couple still opted to have a string quartet play during their ceremony. It was lovely and did not feel out of place at all!
[Photo Credit | Adrian Wangz Photography]
Caterer: With a smaller guest count, this sometimes means you can splurge a bit more and spoil your guests, because there just aren’t as many to accommodate. Many of our awesome caterers are willing to be flexible with their minimums, but if you’re having a hard time hitting their minimum still, ask your caterers for some creative options with the menu. Maybe an amuse bouche, mid-course palette cleanser or late-night snack!? Or, go big or go home, and look into a multi-coursed dining experience for your intimate guest list. Throw in a wine pairing, and you’ve got one of our favorite ways to celebrate – eating, drinking, and being married!
If you’ve hired a specialty food or beverage caterer, such as an espresso cart or a hot dog stand for a late night snack, you can consider using their service for another event or ask about reducing the guest count to hit their minimum. We have a wedding later this summer who downside to 20 guests and is using both the Espresso Elegance and Dante’s Inferno because they were so excited about it already, why take that away? We’ve also seen some couples donate these specialty food & beverage services to those who are working on the front lines – hospitals, food banks, grocery store workers, school lunch distributors, etc. If you are unable to use a service, donating it is a great way to give back with your wedding!
Dessert: You’ve ordered an army of desserts for a sweets bar for 150 people through your baker. But now your guest count is 20 people. Ask your baker to come up with some options that can get you close to the original value without having a ridiculous amount of dessert sitting out.
~Send each guest home with a midnight snack of desserts different than what was served at the wedding – maybe it’s a box of macarons, salted caramels, mini tarts, or a custom sugar cookie with your monogram. Package it up nicely with a silk ribbon and you’ll end the night on a sweet note for your guests!
~Raise the bar at your intimate reception and incorporate the desserts in your decor in a lavish way that you may not have been able to do before with a 150 person wedding. Those Pinterest ideas that you loved but couldn’t fit in the budget for a 150 person wedding? They suddenly are doable for a 30 person wedding! For example, you could have miniature individual cakes at each guests’ place setting with their name as the cake topper to serve as the place card – like this cake here by Honey Crumb Cake Studio and custom topper by Pomp & Revel
[Photo Credit | Kristen Honeycutt Photography]
~Want to include your friends & family who won’t be able to attend in person but will be watching the festivities virtually? Send your guests who are celebrating from afar a dessert box, cookie, or “cake cup” in the mail with a mini bottle of champagne and note telling them how much you care about them. Our friends over at Prive Events suggested this great idea!!
~If you can’t find a way to incorporate the dessert into your wedding day (there is only so much sugar that one can consume after-all) you can ask the baker if they would covert the remaining amount not spent on desserts to be credited towards a future purchase from the bakery. This could be used for an anniversary cake, a gender reveal cake if you have a baby, a birthday cake, and so much more!
Flowers: What are you going to do with enough flowers for 20 centerpieces if you only need enough for one long table that will seat 18 people? Similar to the dessert ideas above, you can first start by upgrading your design and doing the things that maybe you weren’t able to do when your floral budget was spread out over 20 centerpieces. Or you maybe able to have a small arrangement delivered to your local family members and friends who are unable to attend in-person. Or you can ask the florist for a credit towards future flower orders – Mother’s Day, birthdays, “thinking of you” flowers, future baby showers, monthly flower arrangement for your first year of marriage, etc.
Rentals: This is one of those variable costs that you can reduce easily if your guest count becomes suddenly much smaller. But, since you’re not needing to pay for 150 dinner forks and 150 dinner knives, consider upgrading your rentals for your smaller wedding that maybe you couldn’t afford when your guest count was larger. Get the fancy chair you wanted but couldn’t justify. Upgrade your table linens to a luxurious fabric or pattern. Add in those chargers you were eyeing! Ask your planner or reach out yourself to our amazing local rental companies (shout out to our amazing friends at CORT, Pedersen’s and Alexander for being so great!) and see all the pretty things that you could now bring into your wedding design on a smaller scale.
[Photo Credit | Kristen Honeycutt Photography]
We understand some things may not make sense to keep no matter how creative you get but consider asking if that service can be saved/credited for another event like a holiday party. Or you can ask about donating that service to a local charity who can use it for their annual fundraising event or other purpose. There are countless ways to be creative and generous!
We hope this has helped to spur some creative ideas for you! If you’re still unsure of how to utilize your vendor, please just open up the conversation with them. And if you have a wedding planner, they should be able to help you brainstorm some creative ideas as well! And thank you for considering keeping your vendor team – by continuing to pay your vendors you are helping a local small business and likely helping that vendor take care of their family during this very uncertain time for our industry.
Stay tuned for two more blog posts in this series next week:
~May 12th: Wedding Planning Tasks You Can Be Working on Now.
~May 14th: What Safety Measures You Need to Incorporate at Your 2020 Wedding.
And if you missed the first post on communicating to your wedding guests and vendors by the wonderful Megan from Clutch Events, check it out here.