The reasons might not be so positive right now, but small-scale weddings are back. Amanda Cassidy streamlined her own nuptials and says she has no regrets...
'We're married!' We both updated our social media at the same time, giggling giddily as we drank bubbles and admired our shiny new rings.
We had just eloped - a spur of the moment decision made just two weeks before. We decided we wanted our wedding ceremony to be as intimate as possible. We kept it a secret as we drew up some provisional venues and dates and flew to London to Make. It. Happen.
Serendipity took over and our venue (the breath-taking Islington Town Hall) and reception (Kensington Roof Gardens) both had availability on the date we wanted and before I knew it, I was wedding dress shopping and planning our honeymoon.
My future husband and I both had sisters living in London, and while we decided to shun the traditional lavish wedding our friends were choosing to have, we still wanted our immediate family to be present when we exchanged our vows. We realised that our secret marriage was more of a micro wedding than an elopement.
Of course, this was pre-COVID times. But with the arrival of the global pandemic and restrictions, many of us are focusing on quality over quantity when it comes to organising our nuptials.
Defined as small-scale weddings, these itty-bitty versions of most people's idea of their Big Day are also becoming highly-creative, intimate and less expensive.
This was going to be our Little Big Day and our reasons were quite simple. We wanted it to be all about us, we didn't want to spend a fortune and we wanted to keep everything as stress-free as possible.
Most micro weddings have fewer than 15 people present - but this will obviously depend on the restrictions nationwide. Wedding Planner, Emily Bunting believes more brides are choosing to embrace minimalism when it comes to their wedding plans;
"It is not just for financial reasons that brides are paring back on wedding ceremonies. More of us are deciding to embrace a more stress-free version of our wedding day. It is easy to see how couples can get caught up in all the arrangements for a party for 80 plus of their nearest and dearest. You want to look your best, host the best reception and make sure everything goes smoothly and that doesn't come without a relatively large headache for some. Making it mini means you can still have the perfect wedding - just without the huge guest list."
The average cost of a wedding in Ireland is about €24,000 but that number is dipping as the average age of couples getting married rises and financial priorities shift towards family life.
I was lucky enough to attend some of the best weddings in that year or two when most of my friends got married. I think we had 7 weddings in 7 months at one stage.
All these weddings were beautifully planned out, with guests lavished with fabulous meals and entertainment, but I found the idea of being the bride at the centre of such a huge event very daunting. I wanted a more intimate affair - and by affair, I mean wedding ceremony.
I knew that choosing this type of day wouldn't be without its challenges. There would be push-back from close friends, naturally. We knew we were putting ourselves first, but we kept coming back to the same thing - this was about us and our vows to each other. We didn't want any distractions.
The W Bomb
Telling our family was fun. We were breezy and confident and they were surprised but not overwhelmed. They booked their flights and we arranged accommodation and transport. Operation Elopement was go. My sister had my something borrowed and something blue.
My nieces would be our flower-girls, the rings were bought, the flowers (pink peonies) arranged and on the sunniest June morning, I skipped up the aisle and into my married life. I found the freedom from the 'normal' wedding traditions quite liberating and I was able to control that narrative a little easier than perhaps I would have, had it been in front of hundreds.
We only told our friends on the day of our wedding. My girls rallied immediately with bottles of champagne appearing in our hotel room within the hour and they went on to organise my hen party a few months later. I've always been a little back to front and spontaneous, so it wasn't completely out of character. Now, every year for the last ten years on our wedding anniversary, we throw a big party for everyone we know - a type of perpetual wedding party (without the expensive cake).
A wedding day is magical no matter how big or small the reception may be. Ours was a little more atypical at the time, but having smaller weddings seems to be a rising trend - especially in light of COVID.
Other advantages mean couples can better save for a home and may avoid the stress that can often come with a larger wedding.
For us, London was meaningful. It was a place we had spent a lot of time and had built wonderful memories. Our wedding was everything we hoped it would be and we have no regrets.
My advice is to do whatever you want to do. It is (hopefully) the only time you will ever experience this amazing moment. For us, small was beautiful and simple suited best for our little big adventure of a lifetime.