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Let’s Elope

Of course, if you didn’t grow up in Melbourne and don’t follow horse racing that name won’t conjure up the same image for you as it does me. Let’s Elope was a beautiful chestnut mare who was one of the few horses to win both the Caulfield and Melbourne Cups in the same year. I have a soft spot for beautiful chestnut mares… but I digress…

Seriously, how effed up has the last 18 months been for people planning a wedding? My heart breaks for every posting I see on the Facebook bride’s pages about weddings being postponed or cancelled as the couple try to sell off all the props they didn’t use. It’s even worse when a dress is listed for sale as “never worn”.

We are living in a time in history where couples should think long and hard about why and how they marry; think about what the act of marrying means to them.

It’s happened before. My folks were married at the outbreak of WW2* – just them, the vicar and two witnesses. No nice frock and no party afterwards but, like thousands of couples all over the world, they wanted their commitment to each other made permanent, public and official. They were married for 61 years before dad passed away.

If you and your partner want to get married because you love each other deeply, because it’s about time it was official, because the law finally gives you the opportunity or because you believe it will complete your relationship (among many other very good reasons) then instead of planning a great arena spectacular which may be postponed three times, plan an elopement or micro-wedding.

The minimum number of people you need to make a marriage legal is 5. You and your partner, two witnesses over 18 and me. At the time of writing the limit on persons gathering outdoors is 30. It has been as high as 100 or as low as 10 in the last year and a half. In the July lockdown we were still allowed to marry people with a maximum of 10 at an outdoor ceremony.

A Marriage isn’t the Reception. I’m resisting the temptation to say that again, louder.

A marriage doesn’t need a venue, caterers, cake, DJ, MC or anything else that will need to be rescheduled, cancelled, postponed and involve arguing about non-refundable deposits or next available dates. It doesn’t include matching chair covers, placemats, table decorations, wishing well, wet bar, red carpet or dozens flowers. A marraige includes a couple in love, two people to witness and a Commonwealth Registered Marriage Celebrant.

Plan an elopement. If you have to book a spot in a park in my Council area it costs $135 which isn’t a huge amount to blow if you end up not going. I can book that for you with my Insurance and Risk Management Plan. In most circumstances the minimum 5 people required can still gather out of doors.

Have a tiered guest list and specify on your invitations “should Covid restrictions affect our allowed number of guests, we are sorry but you may not be able to attend. Don’t worry, you’ll be at the party when we have it.” Write to the people you’re not inviting. “Sorry we can’t ask you to our Covid-friendly micro-wedding but you will be included when we plan our reception at a later date”.

Most photographers/videographers will be happy to provide a shoot of the ceremony only at way, way less than the cost of engaging them for hours to capture everyone getting ready to go and half of the reception as well. Make sure you lock one in with a good refund policy.

Plan the party later. I mean way, way later. Plan a huge reception style event for your 1st anniversary; or even your 5th given the uncertainty with this virus. Show the guests the video of your ceremony. You will find a lot of celebrants doing “double deals” right now; a simple marriage service now with a commitment/renewal ceremony involving all your friends and family when things settle down, or combine it with a baby naming when the time comes.

If you and your partner want to get married because you want a huge party, grazing platters, drinks waiter, loud music, photo booths, fake tans, 6 bridesmaids, massive cake and two hours of video footage….. my best advice is to put the lot on hold for a couple of years.

*ps… I was not born in the 1940’s. My parents were stupid old when they had me, 25 years after their first child.

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