Bridegroom Cameron Mason-Page tells us about his intimate wedding to Roma Mason-Graves and considers the plus points of a small wedding
On Saturday August 22, 2020, I married the woman of my dreams under the current COVID-19 guidelines. We were limited to a wedding of 30 people with a standing reception and sit-down meal of two households per table. For many, the COVID restrictions meant that after months of preparation, weddings had to be postponed or vastly altered incurring huge costs and immense stress for all involved. For my then fiancée and I, it was the opportunity of a lifetime. The benefits of a smaller wedding were endless; it was cheaper, simpler, more intimate and more enjoyable than anyone ever thought possible. Many people are starting to see the benefits of a more private affair so much so that we could be looking at a shift in the way that weddings are undertaken post-pandemic.
According to The Independent, the average cost of a wedding is £30,355. For most, a car or a house are about the only two things that can match or supersede this expense. Many people have no choice but to look abroad to make things more affordable. For us however, we estimated that our special day did not exceed £10,000 and that’s at a push.
One of the best bargains was our wedding venue which we got at a fraction of the price. This is because of the lack of demand at this time and the amount of limitations in place. We were able to wed under the pavilion at the luxurious Pennyhill Park Hotel, home of the England Rugby Team. Under normal circumstances this would not be feasible, but with more intimate weddings taking up less space and demand, there could be some wiggle room to get that price down. Aside from the venue, you can be sure that catering tops the expense and it’s not just the grub; the booze is sure to break the bank. Choosing to spend your money on fewer people means that you can cater for quality not quantity.
There are many other ways we kept the costs down. For music, rather than a whole band, why not go with a single musician, a piano player with a good voice can really make the day, or just plug in your phone and play your favourite tunes. Why not get your friends involved? One friend baked our wedding cake for us (we went for a classic Vicky sponge), and another did our photography. You can thank them with gifts and cards, and it adds to the sentimentality of the day with a personal touch.
Normally it takes about 13-18 months to plan a wedding on average. My wife and I planned ours in a month and a half. When a wedding becomes smaller, it becomes simpler. The only thing that restricted us was giving notice to the registry office. This is a legal requirement and you have to wait 28 days from giving notice before the nuptials may proceed.
In our case, we were forced to act quickly as we are moving abroad and so simplifying everything was the best way forward. The main inhibitor of speed is numbers. The more people there are, the larger the venue needs to be, the more staff you need, the more food you need, more invitations etc. It’s an exponentially more demanding job that requires a time, planning and complex management. That’s why many feel the need to hire a wedding planner which again is another big expense.
This is perhaps, one of the most important points for a smaller day. There is no question that it would have been nice to share our day with certain friends and extended family and it’s very tough to decide who should come and who shouldn’t. However, I cannot stress enough the value of sharing the most important moment of your life with just the few people that really matter. The ceremony is no longer a spectacle, it’s something special, and when you’re pouring your heart out with personal vows, you don’t want to hear people coughing, babies crying and knowing that half the congregation can’t hear you anyway. You want to be in the moment, just you and that person opposite you. Those lucky few that did get to see it, will treasure it forever. If it’s romance and intimacy that you want, this is the key.
We’ve all seen it; you go to a wedding and then after the ceremony you never see the bride and groom again. All you see is a mob of people all trying to get a glimpse. The newlyweds are stressed, tired, and busy trying to make sure everyone is having a good time. On top of that, they’ve got the staff telling them someone’s broken a toilet seat, and someone with a shellfish allergy has been given the prawn cocktail starter. The problem here, is that it’s their wedding. This is meant to be the best day of their lives, but they don’t get a chance to enjoy themselves.
Having a smaller wedding relieves you of these stresses. You don’t need to worry about the running of the day because it’s all so simple and you can spend time with all your guests extensively, enjoy the conversation and enjoy the day. My wedding was a day filled with pleasure and zero stress and to not have to worry about the masses or the finer details was a huge relief and I know my wife feels the same.
Big wedding, small wedding, whatever you decide, I’m sure you’ll love it. When all’s said and done, it’s your day so do what you like. From my experience COVID or not, I would not have done it differently and I cannot tell you the number of married couples who have told us they wished they had done the same. One of my mother’s friends said to me, “I invited people that I didn’t know before, and I hadn’t seen since and I always regretted it.”
When people get married there can be a lot of social pressure to invite people that they don’t necessarily know. They burn themselves out trying to make the day bigger and bigger to the point where it’s more like Glastonbury than an actual wedding. When you invest more time and energy on a huge wedding you put more pressure on it going perfectly and it can be hard to hit that expectation. I say, relieve yourself of this pressure. Relax and enjoy yourself. What makes the day special is joining yourself in matrimony to the person of you love most and sharing it with those that really matter.