Covid Silver Lining? Smaller Weddings More Enjoyable

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By. Jill Brooke

Former Z-100 deejay  Jo Maeder wasn’t going to let something like Covid-19 cancel her wedding plans.

“Do you know how long it took to finally find the right guy?” she says, stressing the word long for emphasis.

It had been decades of saying no, no, no to a conga line of suitors until she met and fell in love with Duke University’s math professor William Pardon.

“When you are our age, you don’t want to waste a day waiting,” she says matter of factly.

Not only did the author of four books not wear white – opting instead for a  red flamingo dress-  but wanted a bold jewel-toned bouquet which Victoria Park Florist in Chapel Hill, North Carolina created.

Sasha Duffy had the same pioneering spirit. “We had already waited 13 years and didn’t want to wait another day,” she says. “May 1st was my parents’ 38th wedding anniversary so we feel it’s our lucky day. Everyone keeps saying ‘post-pandemic’ but life doesn’t stop. We didn’t want to lose a year. We love each other and want to start our future together.”

It wasn’t only the carpe diem crowd who are opting for small and intimate celebrations – all with socially distancing protocols.

Tess and Nick Pantano, both in their 20s, also created a wedding for under 10 people. “We wanted it to be easy,” says Tess.

Not only was it easy, but the silver linings started bubbling up like a glass of Veuve Cliquot.

Of course, people are conditioned to think of weddings as large affairs which were the trend for decades. According to the Knot 2019 Real Weddings Study, the average wedding size was 131 people.

Flowerpowerdaily’s research shows that the average centerpiece is between $60 and $100. Count in the bouquet for $160 and canopies that average north of $700. Florist costs for brides average $1500 in the country but in cities usually are $4500 and above.

In 2020 because of COVID, many couples rescheduled their events except for those brave souls who were determined to pursue their dream. It meant limiting guest lists to under 20 or sometimes a bit more.

Florist Leatal Cohen, who owns Pic and Petal in Brooklyn, actually prefers smaller events vs. “large productions.”

“It allows the couple to focus on what is important – each other,” she says. “It’s one of the biggest days of their lives and they can now actually talk to all the guests.” Plus it’s a lot less drama over whether Aunt Sophie gets cut from the list or a friend who is not part of your future.

Furthermore, it allows the florist to focus on little details that sometimes get overlooked or sidelined by a more expensive blowout. 

The mantlepiece flowing with cascading Juliet roses. A special extravagant orchid bloom in a bud vase or bouquet. Table arrangements using more special ranunculus flowers. A jaw-dropping canopy of flowers. 

Although the food budgets may be less, as well as staff costs, floral budgets will not be as diminished.  

“With social distancing, there are now fewer people at each table,” notes Ashley Fox of Ashley. Fox Designs. “If you had 10 people at a table, it’s now four. As a result, there are still many centerpieces needed.”

Many couples created these smaller ceremonies with the belief they would have a bigger blow-out later.  

But for the actual ceremony, these couples then get to invest in the floral details that will resonate on those wedding pictures on the mantle. The big statement floral canopy arches, the brides’ bouquet along with the grooms’ boutonnieres.

Those pictures are where the memories live along with the knowledge that the smaller party was far less pressured and far more enjoyable. Furthermore, all the reports from these pioneers to friends have encouraged others to maybe consider smaller events whether there’s a pandemic or not. That’s all you really need is a great floral display and no one will know the difference.

“My flowers were more expensive than my wedding dress,” says Maeder with a giggle. “But TOTALLY worth it.”

Photo Credits: Jo Maeder, Tess Pantano, Leatal Cohen and last shot is from Ashley Fox

Jill Brooke is a former CNN correspondent, Post columnist and editor-in-chief of Avenue and Travel Savvy magazine. She is an author and the editorial director of FPD.