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The art of micro-weddings: COVID-19 pandemic can’t stop true love

Erica Razze and Blake DiGiacomo are both from large Italian families. So, it’s not surprising that they had 280 people on their wedding guest list.

And given Razze owns Capiche Custom Events in Wilmington, you would expect a grand yet personalized affair. 

The couple planned to wed in the gardens at Hagley Museum and Library to music played by a five-piece ensemble.

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After the ceremony, guests would move to a clear-top tent overlooking the mansion, where they would sit at rustic wood tables for a vegan meal served family-style. “Old World meets Sunday Supper,” Razze quipped.

Then COVID-19 hit Delaware.

A consummate event planner, Razze kept a cool head. On Friday, March 13, the couple postponed the wedding. But after quarantining in April, they realized the pandemic had staying power. 

“We decided we wanted to marry sooner rather than later, and with only a week’s notice, we sent electronic invites to our family inviting them to a ‘very exclusive ceremony,’” she said.

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Instead of nearly 300 guests, they had 10½ (her best friend’s 2-year-old was the half-pint.) 

Razze is in good company—as a bride and a planner. The pandemic has crashed a bevy of weddings this spring and summer. 

But like the Wilmington resident and her husband, many couples have found creative ways to tie the knot, and most vendors are happy to lend a hand in what’s become a trend of “mini” or “micro” weddings.

Coping with COVID

Not every bride kept calm when the coronavirus started to spread.

“Many brides were in panic mode,” recalled Ashley Reynolds, owner of Make My Day Event Planning in Lewes. 

She fielded calls day and night as Gov. John Carney updated restrictions.

“They were either canceling their weddings or moving them to dates a few months down the road,” she said.

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Some of Reynold’s clients changed their wedding size and location up to six times.

Samantha Diedrick Harris of Secretariat in Wilmington focused on creating backup dates for the 2020 weddings. Most clients picked dates in 2021. Two couples, however, are “holding out hope” for late fall, she said.

Rescheduling was no easy task. Diedrick Harris had to call vendors and locations, as well as mail or e-mail guests. 

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Dan Butler, the owner of Piccolina Toscana and Toscana Catering in Wilmington, wonders if life will get in the way of many couples’ plans to celebrate in 2021.

“I’ve heard the term that ‘time kills all deals,’” said Butler, who typically has a wedding to cater on most weekends of the year. “If you got married in June with the idea of having a party the following June—you might say then, ‘What is the point? We need a new house, or we’re pregnant.’”

But some people make a financial commitment. Razze, for instance, rolled over her deposits to 2021.

‘I do right now!’

Like many couples, Shana and Owen Davis of Elkton, Maryland, decided to go ahead with the marriage portion, albeit on a smaller scale. 

They’d planned on having a reception at a golf club. Instead, they invited 28 people to a small ceremony at Auburn Valley State Park in Yorklyn. 

“We limited the guest list to local family and our eight closest friends,” Shana Davis explained.

After the event, they hosted a dinner for 22 at her parents’ house. They will hold a large reception in the summer of 2021.

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Leah and Matthew Palmer thought of postponing their wedding, which was scheduled for May 30, 2020, at Loch Nairn Golf Club.

“After much thought—we’ve been together since we were 17—we decided we still wanted to get married on our original wedding date,” she said. “My parents offered their backyard as our venue and transformed it into the most beautiful wedding oasis.”

Photos show them interacting with guests via in the internet, including a sweet photo of Matthew holding up his hand with his wedding ring on so digital guests could see it.

Leah wrote on Facebook: “It was the perfect day surrounded by so much love!”

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Many weddings this summer were in private homes, which aren’t subject to the same regulations as banquet halls and wedding venues. Regardless of the site, most of the events have been outside—with or without a tent.

Razze and her husband, for instance, had their ceremony under a pavilion at the Delaware Center for Horticulture in Wilmington, followed by a reception in the courtyard under café lights.

So many events of the same kind have spawned the new terms of mini or micro weddings.

“Couples are doing more upscale but smaller weddings for the people most important to them,” Reynolds explained. 

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Savvy vendors have taken note. Erin Noonan, the owner of Magnolia Lounge, a vintage tap truck, now offers portable bars and tap walls to accommodate smaller spaces and crowds.

For those who want to do a small ceremony now and a big party later, Taya Dianna of Altared Vows By Taya offers a discount on a renewal ceremony in 2021.

Leah and Matthew Palmer wedding
Micro weddings with just a few guests have replaced big events prohibited by COVID-19 regulations.

Tips for planning micro wedding

  1. Let people keep their distance.

At Razze and DiGiacomo’s “bubbles & bites” reception, guests were seated at their own table, spaced 8 feet apart. Each table received a personalized picnic basket filled with wine, cheese, spreads and desserts.

Reynolds suggested providing bracelets in three different colors: green, yellow and red. Those wearing green are comfortable with a hug. A yellow bracelet indicates a preference for masks and fist bumps. Stay at least 6 feet away from those sporting a red band.  

As for appetizers, plate each one separately, recommended Chef Hari Cameron.

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Are you planning to have a buffet? Only servers should handle the utensils, said Gianmarco Martuscelli, whose family owns Chesapeake Inn in Chesapeake City, Maryland. 

Only one table at a time—not three—should get in line.

  1. Think outside the box. 

If your original officiant is unable to provide the service, consider having a friend or family member go online to become one. DiGiacomo’s father stepped in for the officiant who was nervous about the coronavirus.

  1. Go online.

Many relatives are skittish about travel. Razze and DiGiacomo live-streamed the ceremony on Zoom for out-of-town family and friends. They also recorded it.

“It turns out that we had more than 100 people watching.” 

  1. Package it up.

Caterers and restaurants are making it easy to plan smaller events. Toscana Catering already has mix-and-match menu categories. 

Tonic Seafood & Steak in Wilmington early in the pandemic began offering wedding pop-ups, a $2,500 package for up to 25 guests. 

In Lewes, The Covered Bridge Inn has put together a Tiny Wedding offering for 20 along with Fork + Flask Catering, Coastal Tented Events, Becca Neufield Photography, Carolina Sugar Fairy (cakes) and Styled, an event and floral design company.

  1. Stay with the “theme.”

For party favors, provide personalized masks or hand sanitizer, Diedrick Harris suggested.

  1. Enjoy the simple things.

A micro wedding has its advantages.

“What I see, with my couples, is that the ceremonies are so much more intimate,” Dianne said. “It’s not about pomp and circumstance. That’s been really rewarding for me.”

Razze would agree. “We had the opportunity to be fully focused on each other and to exchange vows in a really intimate setting,” she said. “It was incredibly personal and special.”