The Bijou wedding

Published date: 23rd May 2019

Many brides (though fewer grooms) dream of the full production wedding: a veritable army of guests, grand ballroom party after a massive formal reception, all singing all dancing. Others for a variety of reasons long for something very intimate, maybe just the couple and the legally necessary witnesses. A bijou wedding, small and perfect.

Don’t just think this is for financial reasons, however significant they can be. Big weddings if not handled right can be hugely stressful, take over your life, and spoil relationships – with parents, and on some sad occasions between the (formerly) loving couple. Some couples want to marry quickly, so lack the time to organise a do for 200. Others hate the idea of being in the spotlight. But yes, a wedding that costs a few hundred pounds can be attractive to the financially stretched.

Unless you are both friendless orphans without siblings it’s possible that some contacts will resent not being invited to your wedding if it’s just the two of you and witnesses provided by the venue. Mums may regret the lost opportunity to have that big day, dads the chance to walk beloved daughter down the aisle. If they really love you, however, they will be supportive.

But the bijou wedding can include the nearest and dearest, though it takes great moral strength to resist entreaties to invite just a few more, and soon we’re at 50 guests and that’s no longer bijou.

A destination wedding is a good way to avoid the 500 close friends and relations option. Unless you are Rothschilds a wedding on a different continent thins out those able to attend. For the most intimate dos – you and him – this is also a great idea, the venue will provide witnesses and the chances are slim of bumping into uninvited friends in the restaurant afterwards.

Plenty of venues in this country are geared up (or down) for this type of affair, Gretna being a celebrated location for pseudo-elopements.

The church or registry office ceremony for two, or two and parents, could seem odd in your imagination, but it need not be. Have the very few guests stand beside you to enhance the intimacy; each of you wear a single flower for the same reason. But if you don’t like it, browse our pages for the many venues happy to host tiny gatherings, and happy to undertake the organisation on your behalf.

A photographer can still be hired to capture the moment, and given you only want a few pictures taking (no unwieldy family groups) you can negotiate the fee – most creative snappers will be interested in the project, and may allow two commissions in one day. Alternatively take your own informal pictures, or have your very few guests do it for you: with digital cameras hundreds of images can be taken, of which a good handful will be terrific keepers.

The reception, if it can be called that for two to say eight, can be wonderfully different: why not hire a violinist or a harpist? As you are not feeding the 5000 you may wish to make the wine super special – vintage champagne to toast your love; a first growth claret with the main; Chateau Yquem with pudding. Do that for 200 and you’ll need very very deep pockets indeed. And many restaurants and hotels have small private rooms available at little charge for an intimate meal.

There is no reason why such a tiny event need be dull. To make it intensely personal do the table decorations yourself, perhaps using photos of your earlier lives; prepare commemorative booklets for your guests; give each a gift to mark the day. With a little imagination you could even cater the thing yourself in a special way – if you’re in the wilds and the weather is good make a picnic of it; barbecue on a lonely beach (so Scotland’s West Coast springs to mind); make your own cake, otherwise you can order a small one from the pros.

When it comes down to it a wedding celebrated before two witnesses or 3500 people has the same legal validity, and performs the same function in formally celebrating your love. Good luck if you choose this route.

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