Couples say ‘yes’ to casual post-pandemic marriages

Discreet brides, short or no turnaround times, new gift etiquette: the Covid-19 has indeed changed the institution of Irish marriage. And, while the increase in more casual ceremonies may have been exacerbated by the pandemic, the trend is expected to continue even as the number of guests attending indoor wedding receptions rises to 50 on July 5.

“There are a lot of couples who could have completed their papers during Covid-19 and had to cancel a marriage three or four times at this point,” says wedding officiant Barbara Ryan (

“Now they are looking to mark the occasion in a meaningful way, but perhaps without all the fanfare of previous times.”

Couples are so exhausted from the events of the past sixteen months that while a “fairytale” wedding with a huge guest list was allowed, it isn’t necessarily pleasing right now.

Instead, emerging trends include shorter delivery times (some couples only having the three months’ notice required by the HSE), an increase in informal venues, and reduced ceremonies which, overall, have the stuff of a – day out.

“I work with a couple who have abandoned both a traditional venue and a formal dinner,” says Ryan. “The ceremony will take place outside while friends and family sip champagne and savor canapes. There are no bridesmaids, no groomsmen; just a simple ceremony with vows and exchange of rings is pretty short.

One alternative that is rapidly gaining popularity is that of a garden wedding. It’s popular, says Ryan, because Covid-19 has opened people’s minds to what’s possible in a non-traditional setting.

“It’s definitely a trend,” says Maria Reidy, founder of Maria Reidy Events and Signature Rentals, a one-stop shop that rents elegant table decoration pieces for weddings and events.

“During the restrictions, I worked with a couple who got married in a ceremony on Dalkey Island, followed by a very casual lunch at their home afterwards. Another couple invested their money in landscaping their back garden to have it for the wedding and enjoy it after.

Garden parties, even if they’re more relaxed, come with a caveat: Reidy warns costs can rise compared to a venue where many essentials are already included in the price you pay. “Bringing in things like a florist, caterer, and marquee can be expensive, but the upside is you have more control.” However, it is not all bucolic.

Intimate city weddings are enjoying a new lease of life thanks to the hustle and bustle of a reopened Dublin. A firm favorite, The Westbury capitalized on its private dining space The Trinity Room for small groups, according to Kate Gough, events manager at the hotel.

The magic of the big day, without all the headaches? It gains momentum after a traumatic period. Photo: Dora Kazmierak

Gough admits that she sees smaller groups enjoying the city’s surroundings better than ever. “They take pictures at St Stephen’s Green, stop in Brussels for a pint, book a meal in town the next day,” she says. “After Covid-19, I think people who previously would have seen the countryside as beautiful landscapes now see a bustling city center in that sense. Aesthetics aside, couples’ priorities have changed dramatically since the onset of Covid-19 and a more relaxed wedding reflects that, especially when it comes to budget.

“There are couples sitting on $ 20,000 or $ 30,000 for their big day who have spent the last year and a half indoors and can see how that money could be better used for a home extension or renovation,” explains Ryan.

“They could decide to have a wedding for a quarter of the price, it marks the day in a way that makes sense to them, but won’t cost an arm and a leg.” According to the Lyst Fashion Index, searches for short wedding dresses have increased 170% in the UK since the start of this year. Inspiration is here, with celebrities like Lily Allen, who married last September in an inspirational Dior blazer-style mini dress, and brands like Rixo and Warehouse offering affordable collections. for the less traditional bride.

“The ‘princess’ dress is really not in fashion right now. Brides want to be more casual, ”says Reidy. “Rather than putting all the money in the dress, brides are investing in really cool things that they can wear again like shoes, hair accessories, and jewelry.”

Does the traditional white dress still apply? Yes and no, according to Reidy. “A lot of brides decide to wear a colorful dress the day they walk to the registry office, but for a party with family and friends, white and cream tend to dominate.”

A casual wedding day offers a chance for personalization. The last year of foreclosure was marked by a huge focus on housewares and the table; it’s also a trend that permeates weddings.

“Previously, a lot of brides would have been happy to go with what was provided by the venue for the table scenery,” says Reidy. “Now they know how much something like a colorful plate or a gingham napkin can really transform a table. ”

Rustic touches infuse details such as flowers. No more structured and artificial bouquets in favor of ethereal flowers that have a freshly picked look.

“Brides are also more demanding,” says Reidy, “they are aware of choosing seasonal flowers from Irish growers. ”

Overall, a low-key approach to a wedding doesn’t necessarily mean a less happy day. In fact, it is quite the opposite. Letting go of societal pressure allows for a celebration that recognizes the couple in a real way. After all, isn’t that what the couple signed up for in the first place?

In an age where authenticity is key and movements like ‘Instagram vs. Reality’ are taking hold, it seems entirely appropriate to deflate the over-the-top shine of Irish weddings of the past. As Ryan puts it, “It’s about seeing the couple as they are now rather than projecting some kind of lofty image.”

Is it just a knee-jerk reaction to the trauma of the past year and a half? Perhaps, only time will tell. But the main thing to remember, according to Ryan, is that couples have a lot of choices right now.

“If a bride wants to do an outdoor ceremony with a glass of wine in her hand, she can, or she can have 10 close friends at her favorite gallery. The day can be as casual or as elaborate as you want, it all depends on what you want.

The gift guide

As the rules regarding weddings change, will the gifts remain the same?

Those attending more unconventional nuptials this summer may feel a little confused as to the best etiquette to give. For example, if you are only invited part of the day, are you offering the same amount as before? Likewise, does the Irish cash in a card tradition prevail?

“The Irish are very generous and I think the tradition of giving money by card will continue,” says Reidy. Rather than cut back, it’s likely, given the stress corona couples have endured, that family and friends will want to go the extra mile to mark the wedding day in a special way.

Donations for overseas travel and honeymoons may not be as popular right now, but as priorities change, more couples are looking for a gift registry. “Instead of getting married earlier, maybe a couple bought their first house, so they’re asking for house-related gifts,” says Reidy.

So what if you’re only invited for part of the day? The land is getting a little muddy, Ryan says. While immediate family will likely offer the same, it might be different with extended family and friends. The upside, however, is that it could lend itself to more thoughtful gifts.

“A friend can pay for the bridal bouquet or buy a beautiful piece for the couple’s house. If you’re really informal, maybe it’s a potluck wedding and your partner brings a pot.

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