Small and Sensational
Our First Covid-Secure Micro Wedding
By CAROLINE LANGHAM
Our First Covid-Secure Micro Wedding
What a week – A lot of hard work, nerves and swift adaptations, but we were finally able to open our doors and safely host our first Covid-secure micro wedding of the season.
This is a round-up of a week of ups and downs, culminating in a small and sensational marriage of two beautiful people in our Fairfield ceremony room here at Cote How. Hopefully, this will give you a great insight into what we’ve done to make you feel Covid safe and secure, and how it’s still possible to have the best day of your life, without fear and yellow and black tape dominating this joyful and love-filled day.
Here is how we went about preparing for our first wedding of the season, the steps we took to ensure everyone’s safety and an insight into what your own micro wedding could look like here at Cote How.
Following Boris’ announcement on June 23rd, we finally got the much anticipated “green light” for weddings to restart! Our inbox was immediately filled with emails from happy couples, only to have elations dashed again when the detailed guidance was published. The 30 people indoor wedding was, of course, only referring to the ceremony, as no reception was permitted.
So what can we do right now and how will this impact our wedding?
Understanding the Safety Guidance
We have spent endless hours reviewing many pages of guidance to gain clarity on what we can and cannot do while keeping us all safe.
Safety is paramount for all, including couples, guests, staff and as a family home, our family too. As a responsible venue owner, we are prepared to make every possible effort to safely host as many weddings as we can for our valued couples to spare their disappointment any further.
Specialist small wedding venue
Luckily for us, we specialise in the smaller more intimate style of wedding, from elopements for 2 up to weekend weddings for 32, with our average guest numbers being only 20.
Variety of wedding packages
Ensuring we were COVID-Secure
Getting ready for the first wedding of the season has its own usual pressures. From getting the furniture painted, the venue touched up, upgrades completed, the venue spring cleaned, the gardens coiffed and planting refreshed. Added to this pressure was a plethora of Covid safety measures and procedures that had to be produced at short notice once the guidance became clear.
We have tried to be inventive, particularly with the signage. Reminders are necessary, but we felt they needed to be as subtle as possible while still maintaining effectiveness. After all, we didn’t want the venue to feel like a construction site, so ee also added a little sprinkling of humour where we could, including 20-second song lyrics for washing hands – “Bohemian Rhapsody” by Queen to “It’s Raining Men” posted in handwash areas. Our social distancing reminders were, of course, in branded colours and delicately splattered with diamante hearts.
Seriously though, we decided that we would temperature check all visitors to Cote How, from couples and guests to staff and registrars. Our non-contact thermometer has been invaluable and adds extra reassurance that we are keeping the venue as safe as possible and minimising risks to everyone.
What does the ceremony look like?
We knew that although we needed to be extremely careful and adhere to guidelines, we wanted to minimise the impact visually, especially for the ceremony. The last thing we wanted to be was a ceremony full of guests trembling with fear and sporting face masks. To do this, we needed to ensure that each household bubble could sit at least 2m apart.
For a micro wedding for just 6 people, we ensured that each household was comfortably spaced 2m from each other and from the two registrars, who also had to socially distance from each other.
The largest ceremony room, the Fairfield, was rearranged by following the guidance, undertaking a risk assessment, and completing the registration service Covid checklist, for which we gained a glowing approval.
We threw open the windows and doors to keep good air circulation, and we made sure to wash and sanitise hands carefully before and after the ceremony.
Much of the guidance is about minimising risks. One of these is frequent touchpoints such as door handles, where the virus can transfer from person to person.
The registrars had made a good suggestion, and so we asked the couple and their witnesses to bring their own pens and pocket tissues. This kept the process of signing the register flowing smoothly, without the need to clean the pen between users. A small detail perhaps, yet one that maintains safety and prevents the ceremony from looking like a scene from Casualty.
Communication is key
We were, of course, careful to include the wedding couple in all of our plans; we sent them a walkthrough video of the ceremony room to show them where to sit and how to enter the room. We sent out guidance notes explaining what to expect and what we were required to follow, both to offer reassurance and to allow them and their guests to be fully informed before they arrived.
Involving your absent friends and family
For those essential guests that were unable to attend, we arranged a zoom meeting for the whole ceremony. This went down a treat and was a fabulous way of having everyone in the room for the most important part of the day. The father of the bride, a spritely 96 years old, said he “felt like he was actually in the room, and loved every minute of it.”
A beautiful ceremony
The wedding was beautifully conducted by the fabulous Kendal registrars and although a little shorter than usual, as no readings were permitted, we weren’t left wondering where the second half of it was.
Kendal Registry Service were fabulous throughout and expertly guided Lynn and David through the signing process. The registrar very briefly had to wear a face mask in order to observe the process safely!
Music is a vital part of setting that all-important loving mood, so we were thankful that the registrars here in Cumbria allowed music to be played at a managed volume!
We skipped the ‘photoshoot’ fake-signing of the register as this was not permitted but did manage to do it once the registrars had left, even donning the facemask look for posterity!
Here is David donning the Exeter City FC face mask in stlye!
The emotion was supercharged
Having been postponed from early June, it was a great relief to our lovely couple when we told them that we had the go-ahead to host their wedding.
When you plan to marry the one you love, then are told you cannot, when the time does finally arrive, the emotion is even more heightened. I guess we were a little overwhelmed by how moved we all felt. I know I am a great softy and cry at every wedding, but the relief to see them finally tie the knot was immense, and the joy was truly palpable… and wow, there wasn’t much difference visually, just a bit more space. Which is great, isn’t it?
If you are undecided about whether to continue with your current wedding plans, maybe ask yourself a few important questions.
Why is getting married important to you?
Is it about love, sealing your relationship and being able to continue with your chosen life plan together… Or is it about hosting the best party of your life along with all the bells and whistles your ideal wedding day conjures up? These are two distinctly different ideals here, neither right nor wrong, everyone has their own wedding dreams.
As this pandemic unfolds and we are picking up the pieces left in its wake, we need to face the reality that there may be restrictions in place for a long time to come. There may never be a time when the weddings we knew will ever be the same again.
With this in mind, you may decide to change your plans to get married sooner rather than later. If so, what would that look like? If you find that you need to downscale and re-think the size and shape of your original wedding, you might find our blog about How to Plan the Perfect Small Wedding useful to read.
If you have enjoyed this blog, please add a comment below. If you like the idea of a small and intimate wedding, then take a look at our wedding packages here.
Photography by: Caroline on her mobile phone! Apologies to all professional photographers out there
Flowers By: In house via Lily Lou’s
Catering By: None – Caroline baked a cake!
Entertainment By: Spotify Playlists – In house!
Venue Styling By: Caroline
I would love to hear from you. If you have any comments please pop the min the comments box below.