Today we have a wonderful guest post to share with you from The Manor In Somerset. Weddings have a reputation for being large and lavish affairs with no expense spared to create the perfect, memorable celebration.
However, in recent years many wedding professionals have noticed an accelerating trend for at-home or intimate wedding days. The Knight, the elusive owner of country wedding venue, The Manor Somerset, investigates this new trend, and poses the question: is there strength in numbers or is less sometimes more?
Once upon a time, when a couple announced their engagement, their parents immediately began planning the wedding on their behalf. Traditionally, weddings were more about family, society and show than the personality and preferences of the couple in question. Invitations would arrive from the bride’s parents to celebrate the marriage of their daughter to her betrothed, instead of from couples and their family.
It was reasonably expected that the bride’s parents would pay for a sit-down meal for all of their friends and extended family, that the guest list would run into the hundreds and that things were done a certain way. In short, it was a time of strict etiquette and expectations.
However, recent years have seen more and more couples opting to scale back their big days in favour of a more relaxed and intimate feel, with guest lists which once ran into the hundreds slashed to parties of about 50.
So what has caused this shift in the wedding tide? And while we have the image of smaller weddings meaning less money and effort involved, is this really the case? We would argue that there are three key reasons that couples opt for a more homespun approach to their nuptials.
While it would be naïve to say that financial considerations don’t play a part in these changing tides, recent research indicates that couples are still spending, and on average they are doing so in the tens of thousands. So is it an issue of constricted budgets, or shifting priorities and changes to the areas in which the budget is spent?
Perhaps the most pervasive reason is that society itself has become less formal. Rather than recoil at the idea of spending money on their wedding, perhaps couples are baulking at the idea of a grand wedding day, full of pomp and ceremony from an era that’s entirely alien to them. The age of technology has brought about a cultural revolution in which individual identity is expressed and celebrated, instead of being overlooked in favour of tradition and custom.
It is now considered completely inappropriate to regard a newly engaged couple as an extension of their respective parents. It is an antiquated notion that the parents should take precedence in the planning process. This shift in our cultural perspective has led couples to reconsider their guest lists. With more and more couples paying for weddings themselves, rather than relying solely on their parents, this has given them more jurisdiction over where the money is spent.
For example, instead of spending less per head on a larger group of people, couples are reallocating their budgets in finer foods, wines and entertainment for their closest friends. Rather than a seemingly grand celebration that lacks substance, couples are investing in touch of luxury for the lucky few they consider close enough to share such an intimate day.
Very few people have two hundred close friends, and so it stands to reason that without the expectation of inviting people just to be polite, couples are now culling longer guest lists and choosing to have their day their way.
Finally, stress is a key factor in choosing a laid-back approach to tying the knot. Weddings, particularly big productions, are often presented (often rightfully so) as extremely stressful. Deciding to eliminate the politics of inviting distant relatives and formal family friends, and rather spending that time with the people they find the most relaxing company is a direct response to the idea that weddings must be stressful.
At The Manor in Somerset, we have seen this trend manifest itself in the form of wed-weekends. While guest are arriving in smaller numbers, the fact that they are enjoying each other’s company means they are opting to stay longer, in an extended hen, stag and wedding celebration.
Typically arriving on a Friday morning, with female guests unwinding in the garden, playing tennis, relaxing by the pool and snuggling up by the fire with a bottle of wine, whilst the boys are out in the Somerset fields clay pigeon shooting, off road car driving, enjoying fine whiskies and a cigar in the games room, couples are choosing to shun stress in favour of a more bespoke and intimate weekend to remember.
The wedding itself takes place on Saturday with guests often numbering between 40 and 50. Sunday tends to begin with a leisurely breakfast in the garden, recalling memories from the day before, perhaps enjoying the onsite facilities or going for a walk in the nearby woods. In short, while this is still a luxurious, one-off experience, it is also about as relaxing as you can possibly imagine a wedding celebration.
At The Manor Somerset we have seen an increasing number of couples take this approach, even when it is not viable for the wedding day itself. Where it is not culturally expected to have an intimate celebration, as with Asian weddings, which often see about four hundred guests or more, many couples are still incorporating the friendly and familiar feeling into their celebrations with a relaxed engagement dinner party for their close friends or a pre-wed weekend celebration.
We can only conclude that, while budget constraints are an issue for some, the overriding theme is that the majority of modern couples only want to be surrounded by those they love on the biggest day of their lives, opting to really spoil the ones they are closest to instead of recruiting large numbers to join in the celebrations.