"Couples are saving thousands": The unexpected silver lining of a COVID-19 wedding.

2020 has not been kind to brides.

Amid the national tragedy of the bushfires, many January brides felt the impact on their wedding days.

And then, in March, along came COVID-19.

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For many couples, the first impact was closed international borders, meaning international friends and relatives would no longer be able to attend.

Shortly afterwards, venues were struck with the four-square-metre rule, so couples with big weddings faced the challenge of culling the guest list.

Within days state borders were closed and in an instant, destination weddings and elopements were cancelled. While everyone was still adjusting, venues were closed down altogether and ceremonies were cut to a max of five people.

Most couples at that stage simply gave up.

But some were determined, and they persevered. And for me to observe as a wedding celebrant, it has been surprising beautiful.

No one would have anticipated it, but weddings in the time of COVID-19 have been, for many couples, unexpectedly perfect.

For Ashleigh and Jason, of Brisbane, after they cancelled their reception and planned to continue with the ceremony, the borders closed and family in NSW could no longer attend.

Before long they were dealt another necessary blow, the five person rule, meaning only two people could attend their ceremony, as their official witnesses.

But they wanted to get married, and so they did. Ashleigh says their ceremony was “still full of love and intimacy, which is what we were wanting.

“We really enjoyed the simplicity of the ceremony, as the name [of the wedding company we were married with, Just Married Weddings] indicates; we just wanted to be married.”

The highlight for all couples marrying at this time has been that the ceremony becomes one hundred per cent about the two people getting married.

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For those who chose not to postpone, getting married wasn’t about anything but saying I do. COVID-19 completely stripped away everything that wasn’t truly essential, until all that was left was two people, in love.

Adding to the romance is the rarity of the occasion. To get dressed up, step outside into the world and head to a quiet, beautiful, often empty little patch of beach or park, and get married with just two witnesses and a celebrant, has a clandestine, otherworldly feel to it.

For Ashleigh and Jason, the popular Brisbane park they were married in was practically empty, making their ceremony feel even more intimate. Getting married in a very quiet, open space feels like you are the only people in the world, Ashleigh shares – and to one another, you may as well be.

An additional benefit for some couples is the huge financial savings.

Without all the fluff and fuss of traditional weddings some couples are saving thousands. When you’re forced to do your own make-up, have a very simple bouquet and drive yourselves, couples aren’t facing the pressure of ‘performing’ the perfect wedding.

They can discard any drama over not inviting their great aunt Margorie or not having an open bar. With the absence of choice comes an absence of expectation, and the result is an incredible freedom that has been, for many couples, a pleasant surprise. They can shed the overbearing guilt that comes with trying to please everyone.

In my recent experience as a celebrant, I’ve heard from couples who are having a tiny ceremony and saying they will celebrate later, in some form, with family and friends – but that it will look quite different to what they may otherwise have done.

And many are actually really grateful for the chance to reconsider what matters.

For Ashleigh and Jason, after so long without seeing everyone, they look forward to having everyone they love in the one room.

As with everything else about life in isolation, no one can be sure how the lessons learned will filter out into normal life, if and when normal life returns.

Future couples may look to their newlywed friends and take on board a thing or two about discarding what doesn’t really matter and embracing the true meaning of marriage.

If love is the reason for saying I do, maybe all you really need is the two of you, two witnesses, and somewhere special to make it official.

Carly Brown is the owner and one of the celebrants with Just Married Weddings – an Australia-wide micro-wedding and elopement company. You can follow them on Facebook or Instagram. 

Feature image: Delila Maslo for Kaptivations Photography.