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Tiny weddings becoming popular amidst COVID-19 pandemic

Tiny weddings becoming popular during COVID-19 pandemic in Alberta
WATCH ABOVE: With restrictions on gatherings expected to continue into the foreseeable future, some Alberta couples are choosing to forge ahead with scaled-back wedding ceremonies. Sarah Ryan has the story.

With restrictions on large gatherings due to COVID-19, many engaged couples are opting to forge ahead with their weddings, albeit with much smaller guest lists.

In any given year, Fairmont’s most popular international wedding venue — Edmonton’s Hotel Macdonald — hosts 100 to 150 weddings.

READ MORE: Albertans encouraged to postpone weddings another ‘few months’

They can be as large as 250 guests — but not this year. After many couples opted to either cancel or postpone their summer 2020 weddings, the Hotel Macdonald has a new offering: tiny ceremonies and receptions with a maximum of 14 people.

Danielle Lundy, director of the hotel’s sales and marketing, says the phones haven’t stopped ringing.

“The response has been fantastic. So we have plenty of weddings on the books for this summer that are going to move forward with these intimate ceremonies.”

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Lundy said her team has been playing close attention to the rules set out by Alberta Health.

“We have increased cleaning at the hotel and of course physical distancing that we’re using for all of the ceremonies and receptions.”

The Hotel Macdonald has five different locations for couples to choose from: the Empire ballroom, Wedgewood room, Jasper room, drawing room and of course, the famous grounds.

Sherry and Robby Bowie turned their July wedding in Leduc into an intimate affair in April inside their tattoo shop.
Sherry and Robby Bowie turned their July wedding in Leduc into an intimate affair in April inside their tattoo shop. Courtesy: Twentyfour Photography

Newlyweds Sherry and Robby Bowie opted for something a little less traditional for their recent nuptials.

Destination weddings cancelled or delayed due to COVID-19
Destination weddings cancelled or delayed due to COVID-19

The couple got married in their tattoo shop, opting to bump up and dramatically overhaul the wedding they’d originally planned for July.

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“We had a guest list of about 120 people travelling from other provinces and locally to Alberta, but COVID-19 changed all that,” Sherry explained.

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The pair significantly cut down their guest list until only a dozen remained.

“The essentials: mom, dad, brother, husband, wife, officiant and kids,” Sherry said.

Other guests were invited to watch the ceremony virtually, through Facebook Live.

“Everyone was very understanding. They were quite excited that we were making the best of what we could with the times being the way they are.”

Calgary couple hold wedding on Facebook during COVID-19 pandemic
Calgary couple hold wedding on Facebook during COVID-19 pandemic

A friend made a wooden archway overnight, and the pair made sure everyone kept their distance.

“We measured out markers on the floor for everyone to stand on,” Sherry said.

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She explained the decision to forge ahead wasn’t easy.

“It was heartbreaking, in a sense, to not get the big day that we had put so much time into planning.”

But she has no regrets about how it all turned out.

“At the end of the day, the most important thing was we wanted to get married,” she said.

“I now have a story to tell my grandchildren in the future.”

READ MORE: Should we cancel the wedding? Couples unsure as coronavirus pandemic drags on

Taylor Fawcett and his wife Rebekah Andrews feel the same way about their intimate wedding, held on Saturday.

By greatly reducing the guest list down from 170 people, they didn’t need the big venue they’d originally booked for July.

“We could just do it in my parent’s backyard. So that’s what we did,” Fawcett laughed. “It was really easy.”

The couple had initially thought about holding out and waiting to see what happened in the coming months.

“The more we thought about it, we thought even if there [are] miracles on miracles and everything is back up and running in June, I don’t think anyone’s going to want to jump into a reception hall with 170 strangers and dance next to them,” Andrews said.
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Taylor Fawcett and Rebekah Andrews swapped their 170 person July wedding for an intimate backyard ceremony on Saturday.
Taylor Fawcett and Rebekah Andrews swapped their 170 person July wedding for an intimate backyard ceremony on Saturday. Courtesy: Elise Marie Images

Fawcett’s parents doubled as the officiants and musically inclined family members played a song for the newlyweds.

“It could have been warmer, that would have been great. But barring that I think it all went perfectly and it was a wonderful time. Really special for us,” Fawcett explained.

READ MORE: Alberta, B.C. couples say venue won’t reschedule 2020 weddings amid pandemic

They’re planning to host a big celebratory reception next summer for all of their guests, where they’ll play the video of their ceremony.

“Hopefully things will be better by then and we can gather and do the big reception that we planned all along,” he said.