As couples consider COVID-secure options for their post-lockdown weddings, we explore the potential of the outdoor venue and what weddings in a post-Coronavirus world could look like.
Among everything else it did, lockdown shattered the wedding plans of thousands of couples up and down the UK. Two months on, the ban on weddings introduced on March 23 still stands in England, with ceremonies on hold in Wales and Scotland too, but there are at last some positive signs. Restrictions are now under review, with a view to allowing small ceremonies again as soon as later on this month, and Northern Ireland has already announced that outdoor weddings with up to ten people present will be allowed from June 8.
Even as the toughest measures of lockdown are eased, things will not be the same. Traditional weddings with hundreds of guests will not be possible – or even desirable – for now.
In a post-COVID world, social distancing is here to stay, in the near term at least, so couples must look ahead to how they can celebrate their weddings in a safe ‘COVID-secure’ way.
Given that the risk of infection is known to be higher in enclosed spaces, while open air and outdoor gatherings are safer, outdoor weddings are expected to surge in popularity as couples seek to adhere to social distancing advice and keep their guests safe.
But naturally they will still want somewhere special. Beautiful outdoor venues such as Sculpture by the Lakes in Dorset – the home and business of Simon Gudgeon, one of the UK’s leading contemporary sculptors – provide the solution.
They are already seeing an upturn in interest there. Simon comments:
Fortunately, here at Sculpture by the Lakes, we have long been invested in the indoor/outdoor approach in order to make the most of our stunning setting. For example, The Retreat, our largest venue, has sliding doors the length of two sides of the building and an open-air terrace above, and we often put up open marquees and tents for our larger summer events. All of which allows for lots of space and airflow.
We are also coming up with innovative ways to overcome the other challenges – such as individual picnic boxes rather than waitered tables. And we have been reaching out to companies who can arrange for live-streaming of weddings for guests who are unable to attend – for example those shielding at home.
Not only can we anticipate the rise of the outdoor wedding – but also of the micro wedding. Indeed, those going ahead with their nuptials in the coming months will have no choice but to go down that route – with just their closest family and friends in attendance. Simon explains:
With the move towards smaller more intimate events, we expect there will be a move away from tradition, both through necessity, and as couples try to put their own stamp on their celebrations, rather than let them be run by the demands of being COVID-secure.
Many couples who might have had their hearts set on a more traditional wedding are now coming to Sculpture by the Lakes with a paired back vision. They are looking for simplicity, elegance, and placing a high value on being close to nature, and with the ones they love most.
If nothing else, this time has given us a rare opportunity to think and reflect on how we live, and taught us all to appreciate the simple things. That goes for how we celebrate weddings as much as for anything else.
It is a shift in approach which could well persist even after COVID-19 is controlled, adds Simon:
I think people may continue to feel nervous about gathering together in larger groups for many months to come. Being outdoors or in open, airy settings will provide not only a lower-risk environment and allow for the appropriate social distancing, but it will also help people feel more at ease and able to enjoy themselves.
Aside from the social distancing and safety elements, outdoor weddings have a totally unique charm, he adds:
Celebrating a wedding surrounded by nature and beauty can be the most wonderful uplifting experience, and is by no means second best to the traditional indoor event. As more people experience them and appreciate their appeal, the outdoor wedding could even become the new norm.
To learn more about weddings at Sculpture by the Lakes, visit: https://www.sculpturebythelakes.co.uk/weddings