"Micro Weddings"... Share the day with your nearest and dearest at Dodmoor House
Updated: Oct 18, 2020
15 vs 30 vs 100? They can all be as spectacular as each other. Reducing your guest list doesn't mean there will be any less of a celebration, and after seeing the beautiful "micro" weddings that have taken place here at Dodmoor over the last couple of months, we can safely say that the love and emotion is still as large as life.
We understand that many of you will have worries about your wedding plans at the moment, and we want to reassure everyone getting married at Dodmoor that we are here to help find the best solution for you. In these incredibly strange times, we sympathise SO greatly with every single couple that may have had to make some difficult decisions regarding their weddings. However we also want to highlight that bigger is not always better, small can be VERY mighty, and ultimately... love always wins.
You can still wear your gorgeous wedding outfits, you can still cut the cake and do a first dance, and you will still be marrying the LOVE of your life. We appreciate that there are a lot of emotions tied up in the decisions of "scaling back" your wedding day, but there are so many ways to make it just as magical as you had always imagined. Some aspects of the wedding being scaled down doesn't mean having any less of a day. Utilise the wonderful suppliers you already have on board (as you may well now have more of a budget to do so)... Elongate your wedding breakfast and have several amazing courses instead of three, splash out on some seriously special favours, or treat yourself to the shoes you've been dreaming of for months!
Dodmoor as a venue has plenty to offer, including stunning character in the buildings, flexibility and lots of help from staff, and a great amount of space both inside and out (which is very useful for social distancing!). We also recently installed a 'sail' over the outside area at the back of the Catesby Barn, enabling guests to have outdoor photos or an outdoor area to gather, even if there is rain! The beauty of Dodmoor is that you really don't need too much for the venue to look perfect. Candles and fairy lights fill the venue, which only adds to the cosy and twinkly feel - PERFECT for an intimate wedding.
As of October 2020, current government rules allow for 15 people to attend the ceremony and reception; this includes all children or babies and the two of you, but not any registrars, suppliers or venue/catering staff. So you can still have a photographer or other suppliers over the guest number of 15. We would like to hope that the guideline guest number will return to 30 soon (or even 45-50), and the next step in weddings could be a Covid secure number, relating to the size of the venue and how many people we can safely hold.
Your guests... This probably feels like the hardest part of all - trying to cut your guest list down to the required number without offending anyone. Just remember that everyone understands the impossible task that you face, and they will be with you in spirit (or maybe via Zoom if you live-stream the ceremony!). Thousands of couples have made these decisions over the last couple of months, and you can feel safe in the knowledge that everyone who knows and loves you will only want the very best for you.
We of course want you to have a memorable wedding day at Dodmoor, but we also want you and your guests to be as safe as possible. Staff will wear face coverings at all times and carry out regular hand sanitizing, the venue will be rigorously cleaned before your arrival, and we have invested in a hi-tech disinfecting atomizer, which we will use throughout the day whenever you and your guests leave a room, to ensure that it’s safe for you to return later. High touch areas such as door handles, surfaces (and the bathrooms) will also be regularly disinfected.
Once you have confirmed your guest list, we would just need you to let us know of the different households (or bubbles), so that we can help devise some seating plans for you. We will work with you to ensure that there are safe gaps of 1m+ between different household groups on different seating plans throughout the day, but still create a wonderful atmosphere, with everyone celebrating TOGETHER in one place (which is actually only allowed in Covid secure wedding venues, making this even more special after what could have been months apart from family and friends!).
We would require a copy of your guest attendance list for track and trace purposes, and also just ask that all wedding couples send out the 'guest code of conduct' to their guests, prior to the wedding day. For the ceremony, you would still have the option of the two layouts we have always offered - 'middle' or 'traditional', but with some slight changes. The middle style layout gives a little more flexibility to sit larger households grouped together, whereas the traditional style would involve guests being seated in two's (or one if someone is from a single household). This could be in either the Courtyard Barn or Catesby Barn (with the wedding breakfast taking place in the other), although we have found that with 15 guests, a ceremony in the Courtyard Barn and large banqueting table in the Catesby Barn works nicely!
Right image Tim Hill Photography
On arrival to the venue, guests will be greeted by a Dodmoor staff member and shown to their pre-ceremony seats, and will then be invited to the ceremony shortly before it begins. Your guests do need to wear face coverings during the ceremony, however the wedding couple do not (and you ARE allowed to kiss once married!). The best man (if you are having one) can also offer the rings, however they would just need to be kept in the boxes so that they are not touched by anyone but the couple.
Although confetti is not recommended due to cross contamination, we have suggested the use of "confetti cones" if you would really like it. This would just entail filling the cones yourselves and then guests can throw it from the cone on the day, and therefore the confetti itself isn’t touched by anyone else.
Left, middle and right images Tim Hill Photography
For the drinks reception, guests do need to be seated, so we would ask that you create a seating plan for this part of the day too, grouping guests together in their households or bubbles. This could be inside or outside depending on the weather, and Dodmoor staff will provide table service for the drinks. Our Dodmoor House Unlimited Drinks Packages are still available, and we are offering flexibility in choices due to smaller numbers. You will be pleased to know that cocktails and the Gin Bar are still available too! Please enquire about this for further details as to how the drinks packages could work on your wedding day.
Photos also ARE allowed (with your photographer keeping a 1m+ from you and your guests), and you can have small group photos on the steps in the courtyard, or a large group photo of everyone on the driveway of the main house (plenty of space to fit you in, still allowing for social distancing!). Canapes are still allowed also! Your caterer would simply need to plate these up for each household or bubble, and then bring them to your guests in their seats. VIP service we like to think!
Left and right images Tim Hill Photography
The drinks reception is often part of the day that escapes you quickly (as does the whole day, really!), so a strong positive of the "micro" weddings we have found, is that couples can now spend precious, individual time with all of their guests. There is also more time for you to spend alone as a couple (perhaps having your portrait photos done, which can sometimes feel rushed), allowing you time to take it all in and appreciate the day even more so than normal. Because really, how incredible is it that you're now married?
Onto the wedding breakfast, and this is where you will need to think about another seating plan. Mix it up slightly, so that guests can interact with a different household that they may have been seated by during the drinks reception. There are still plenty of ways for all of your guests to mingle, but remain safe while doing so! It might depend on which barn you have the meal in as to which layout you choose, but we have found that a large banqueting table works really nicely in keeping everyone together, whilst also looking great. You do also have the option to use round tables, however whilst the guideline number is at 15 people, you might find that the banqueting style has a more intimate feel.
We can comfortably and safely seat 15 people on a large banqueting table in the Catesby Barn, and would just need to include 1m+ gaps between households. As the width of the table is so big, households can sit opposite each other safely. A dining table of 30 people (when the maximum number changes in the coming months) is suited better in the Courtyard Barn, and this would need to have physical gaps between households on the tables (see photos below). Again, this still looks gorgeous!
We mentioned elongating your wedding breakfast, which we have found has been a great way to enjoy a lengthy part of the day together, and guests always tend remember the food most, so why not!? You might also like to consider extra special favours, which may have been previously overlooked. A lovely idea we have heard of recently is one of our bride's fathers handmaking twig style pens as favours, which guests can then personally use to sign the guest book (because of course, we can't all share a pen right now!).
Left and right images Tim Hill Photography
Another idea to consider could be a large décor piece to create a feature in the room, such as the Dodmoor House light up LOVE letters (enquire with us for a hire price!) to add some more 'wow' to the day. Speeches are also allowed, and we have a wireless microphone available, which would be thoroughly disinfected after every use.
You want to keep a nice flow to the day, so after the meal, you might like to think about some form of 'entertainment' (CoVid secure of course!). The thought of a quiz at your wedding may not sound like your cup of tea, but we have seen some brilliant ones, and they really are fun! They can also be a great way for the two families to get to know each other (if they haven't already), for example, every guest could send in a fact about themselves which would be read out at the table, and other guests can then guess who it's about etc...! 'Mr and Mrs' (or of course Mr and Mr, or Mrs and Mrs!) always goes down a treat too, and we have the props for you to borrow if needed.
As you roll into the evening period (if you would like to stay for some more celebrating after the meal), you could possibly do a cake cut followed by tea and coffee, have some live music which IS allowed (albeit more as background music as sadly there can't be any singing or dancing), and you CAN do a first dance! Guests would still need to stay comfy in their seats, but there is nothing stopping the two of you from having that special moment. As it gets colder and darker, an outdoor first dance might not be the best idea, but as we come into the Spring and it gets lighter again, this is a lovely and different option (as seen below at Ash and Dixy's micro wedding)!
You might be thinking "but I have a DJ booked?"... This is fine! Your DJ can still play background music for you if you don't want to cancel, and they could even become a master of ceremony or quiz master for the day/evening!? We have also been asked about father/daughter dances, and while the traditional father/daughter dance may not be possible due to separate households, you could always perform a choreographed 1m distanced dance if you're up for it! (Think TikTok style... that's been a highlight of 2020 right?). This would certainly inject some fun, and would be a talking point for years to come!
Left and right images Foto Gold Wedding Photography
Our favourite Dodmoor House sparkler arches could also play a part in the evening, possibly coming outside after the meal for some sparklers, before heading back inside for the remainder of the evening. Similar to the day time, we would still provide table service during the evening, and we pride ourselves on keeping your glass full, so there is no need to worry about not being able to head to the bar! Current guidelines do mean that guests need to be off site by 10pm, so transport would need to be arranged for 9.45pm latest. The two of you can then head off to the luxury Honeymoon Suite as a married couple!
You of course don't have to stay all evening, and if you would prefer the wedding reception to end a little earlier then that's fine too! You could opt for coffee and cake after the meal, and then see off your guests before retreating to the Honeymoon Suite around 7pm (timings would be discussed at your planning meeting). Cosy up in your PJ's, and reflect on your wedding together - a pretty romantic end to a very romantic day! It would all depend on how YOU feel about the wedding - we want to be as flexible as we can, and create a day that feels perfect for the two of you.
Left and right images Foto Gold Wedding Photography
We understand that this might all seem a little overwhelming, and that smaller weddings may not suit everyone, but we would always look to reflect any compromises that you have to make with a reduction in your venue hire fee. We also expect restrictions to be eased by next Spring, while there is still much hope for the future in terms of a vaccine and rapid/mass testing to transform things, and the possibility of the guideline guest number being increased.
Below are some snippets of feedback from two recent micro weddings we held at Dodmoor -
"We were nervous but we were not disappointed. In fact the opposite. What a wonderful intimate wedding we had. All the style and charm of Dodmoor with our nearest and dearest. I don’t know what we were expecting but it wasn’t this. We had the best day, and we got to spend real time with each other and our chosen guests.
The Dodmoor team were incredible. You pay for experience and the confidence that they will deliver. We could not recommend them enough. They did all the CoVid necessity without it even feeling like it was there. The preparation done is so detailed and they manage the day perfectly."
Francesca and Jonathan
"We decided to get married just over 4 weeks before our wedding date - and Mark and Louise from Dodmoor did not hesitate to support us from the get-go. We fell in love with the venue from the viewing and reserved it immediately. Louise helped explain everything needed to organise a wedding during CoVid, with all the restrictions while still making sure it was a special day for us.
Our wedding day went exactly how it was planned. Louise and the team were very adaptable on the day with a few changes in timings and guest requirements. We could not have asked for a better day. We spent the day with our loved ones and big smiles on our faces.
I am sure a lot of people are hesitating to get married due to CoVid and we feel so lucky and happy that we decided to embrace it and do it now. Having our loved ones there, with the perfect balance of making us feel safe and secure and it being our special day.
For any couples considering if to get married - our advice is simple - do it and do it at Dodmoor House!"
Ash and Dixy
Left and right images Foto Gold Wedding Photography
We remain positive, and strive to make weddings at Dodmoor House as magical as they always have been. Never forget that love always wins, and whatever the weather, one day soon you will be married.
We hope that this blog has been in some way helpful, and if you have ANY questions or queries regarding a micro wedding, please email us on firstname.lastname@example.org. We're here to help, 100% of the way.