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Socially distanced weddings in 2020 (ones to go down in history!)

We have really wanted to write this blog for quite a while now after what seems to have been a strange and unusual year. It is safe to say that the majority of people will not forget 2020, and this is especially true for one couple Ren’s Kitchen had the delight of meeting.

We have over 100 pending weddings booked in with us with couples eagerly waiting with bated breath to hear the latest announcements from the government about restrictions and what can and can’t take place. For most, the feeling is that their wedding is one of the most important days of their lives and so the current regulations and limitations were unacceptable on their special day. These included:

  • Only 15 guests

  • No dancing

  • No group photos/mixing with groups

  • No kissing the bride

Of course all of these factors have been understandable deal-breakers and so here at Ren’s we have become part time counselors and shoulders to cry on this year as we have had to postpone nearly all of our weddings (some up to three times- and counting!) For some couples however, their mission was very clear: “We have life plans, and simply cannot wait around for things to get better!”

Georgie and Chris had planned to get married in September 2020 at Cissbury Barns, a stunning venue in Findon, West Sussex. Ren’s Kitchen first met the couple in Spring 2019 to start planning the day for 100 of their family and friends. They were real foodies and we were keen to be involved in the menu planning and design so our chefs worked together with the couple to create an amazing bespoke three course menu. It was all really exciting to plan something innovative and new.

Then of course the world changed dramatically in March 2020. We started looking at our year and tentatively rescheduling our spring and summer weddings. There was still a hopeful feeling that by September things may be back to normal and so Georgie and Chris decided to hold off until further news. Other personal commitments such as being in the process of selling their property in London meant they were in lockdown with Georgie’s parents in Sussex and this took priority. We kept in touch and spoke frequently entertained by the idea of maybe less numbers/no international guests.

By mid-May, however, with still no improvement and so they decided that they definitely wanted to go ahead with the date, but the venue would be way too big (and expensive) if they were only allowed 30 or so guests. The new plan was to have an intimate gathering at Georgie’s mum’s house for 30 close family and friends. We started to plan the new event based on the guidelines we had from the government at the time.

Unfortunately with just two weeks to go until the big day, the government backtracked on the restrictions, and whereas we were allowed to have weddings for 30, this was now reduced to 15 and of course only in socially distanced ‘covid-secure’ venues. After more soul-searching, they decided to have the wedding at Cissbury Barns, who were amazingly flexible as always, for 15 guests.

We have to say, we had our reservations. The main room has space for 120 guests and I felt that the day might feel a little too unusual what with Ren’s Kitchen having to serve in full masks and visors, all the guests having to be seated or distanced the entire time and even little details like canapes having to be individually packaged and distributed to avoid any possible contamination.

In actual fact it turned out to be perfect and we couldn’t have imagined it any better! It had all the things a great wedding should but in such a small intimate group that felt totally comfortable and at ease meaning that everyone had the best day. The room looked stunning with one long table (with breaks every 6 guests) that was beautifully decorated. Georgie was insistent not to compromise on any of the dressings and decorations. With regards to the service, we love small groups and events as we are able to give a much more personal experience. Our team therefore gets time to chat and get to know the guests, and we can take much more care of them individually rather than as bigger groups. As for the guests that were not able to be there, Georgie and Chris hired an amazing photographer and videographer. They live-streamed the wedding on Zoom (an application that many of us have come to love over the lockdown periods), as well as creating a 10 minute video of the day which the couple have kindly allowed us to share. They even had friends Facetime them during the meal! Ultimately, the day ended up being exactly the kind of laid back, relaxed gathering that they had hoped for back when they first got engaged.

We spoke to Georgie recently to ask her about their experience. She expressed to me mainly of their relief that they were able to get married which, of course, was the most important thing but also how lovely the day had turned out to be. She told me that they did not have a single regret, and never felt that they missed out on a thing. This was a great achievement for a couple who had such a vision for their day initially and then had to change and re-change their plans so many times.

Georgie also said how proud they felt of themselves for all that they had achieved in their lives during a pandemic. Not only were they still able to sell their property, they also managed to relocate out of London! I know that their triumph in such adversity really inspired and cheered up all their family and friends who, of course, would have had their own experiences and struggles.

We wrapped up the day at 8.00pm, which again turned out to be a positive for them. The guests formed a beautiful ‘sparkler archway’ to see off the newlyweds, and they were able to spend some quality time together in their hotel (which as we all know is so rare for wedding couples!) We asked Georgie if they thought that they would have a second wedding or party for all of their friends and family once all restrictions are over and she said they had talked about it, but on reflection, they felt their wedding was complete now and so there was really no need.

Here at Ren’s Kitchen we are so happy for all of our wedding couples that decided to persevere in such difficult circumstances. Sometimes it’s easy to forget that a wedding is most importantly about simply getting married to the person you love. With all the technology available at the moment, there are so many ways to bring in your family and friends so they can still be a part of your day as Chris and Georgie proved. We are intrigued to see how weddings change and evolve in the future, but our guess is that they definitely will as a result of 2020.

Thank you so much to Chris and Georgie for letting us share their story with you. We hope it is able to help anyone who is struggling in wedding-limbo. If anyone needs any advice or just a chat, you can call Ren or any of our team for help and support anytime. Stay safe.

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