COVID-19 has put a cork in most things this year. And one of those—which are notoriously heartbreaking to cancel and difficult to reschedule—are weddings.
Depending on where you’re located, weddings could be rescheduled for later in the year, transitioning into smaller-scale celebrations or just postponed altogether well into 2021. But what if you still want to have a wedding? Can you do it safely, if not with less people and not simply in the courthouse?
Of course you can; it just might take a little more understanding of how to coordinate vendors, choose your guests and be realistic about how much you want to spend on the new celebration. But if trying to replan a wedding (or planning a wedding in general) has you cringing, DMV-based Petite Soirée, can make your small wedding vision into a reality, without all of the added stress.
Petite Soirée is offering micro and mini weddings for DMV residents, with pre-chosen venues, floral arrangements, cocktail hour and reception coordination and more. If you’ve never heard of a mini or micro wedding, or are simply curious about how the event planning industry is adapting to the global pandemic, we spoke with Petite Soirée’s founder Lauryn Prattes. She’s also the owner of a sister company Lauryn Prattes Styling and Events. Highlights from our conversation are below.
How do you define Petite Soirée as a company, and how did you all get started?
Luxury, streamlined micro and mini weddings would be the best way to sum it up in a few words. When this all started [the global pandemic], in the first few weeks, we saw all of our spring clients being very affected by the pandemic and having to postpone their weddings. I think everyone kind of went into this naive head space; we all thought, “Oh great, we’re going to lock down for a few weeks and then come out and everything will be fine by May and June. But people have to RSVP now, so you might want to consider postponing.” And now, looking back, that is an obvious choice, but as the weeks went on, I think the realization set in for people that this is here for a while.
Being in event planning, it’s now about finding solutions, especially seeing that we had clients that were older, who had been together for a while or didn’t want to wait a year to get married. Now they were going to postpone their big celebration, but they still wanted the option to do something that wasn’t just going to the courthouse and getting married by themselves. At the same time, I was also really concerned with the events industry here. Obviously, if we have a year of no events, that’s going to be really hard and difficult for many of the vendors who we’ve been working with for years, and I want to see them stay in business. I wanted to come up with a solution for all of that, and when I saw this concept of micro weddings starting to happen across the U.S., that was appealing, but even more so as a business model because it just takes a day. Say you want to book a micro wedding on a Saturday, Sunday, Monday and the following Tuesday, it’s taking up a lot of time and a lot of energy doing all of these different micro weddings, and connecting with the vendors such as the florists and caterers. So in our micro and mini weddings instead, we have several planned for one day and all of the same vendors, so the vendors are still getting paid for their full day of work, there are just smaller, more focused weddings, with up to three or four clients getting the benefit of sharing some of those vendor/venue costs.
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Love is never canceled, so neither should your wedding day. Wear the gown, have the bouquet, pop the champagne, slice the cake, have YOUR moment this year as you planned, but in a more intimate setting. We’ve aligned with a creative team of vendors, so you don’t have to worry about a thing. Message us for details! . . . Planning + Design @laurynprattes | Photography @abbyjiu | Gown @bertabridal | Florals @sweetrootvillage | Tent @sugarplumtents | Rentals @whitegloverentals | Calligraphy @spurlegulstudio | Cake @bttrcrmbakeshop | Hair @jewelhairdesign | MUA @carlraymua | Custom dyed ribbon @honeysilksco ribbon
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What does a micro and mini wedding planned by Petite Soirée look like? What are the differences between the two?
The main difference between the micro and mini weddings is the meal component. If we booked the micro wedding for a client, the concept is just a ceremony and a 45-minute Champagne and cake time slot. What we’ve been hearing from most clients is couples will then go on their own and maybe go to a restaurant or go back to their house and have dinner or something with their family. For the mini wedding, we have a ceremony, a cocktail hour and then a meal (brunch, lunch or dinner). With the micro weddings, we can do four in one day, but with the mini weddings we can do three in one day. I will say that the mini is what most people are interested in so they can still get the photo shoot and Pinterest-worthy tablescapes for their meal, but it’s just done at a smaller, more-compact level.
Every event is private, so there’s not going to be another couple getting married at the same time or sharing the same space as you. It’s not meant to feel like a wedding factory or anything like that. We have partnered with high-end luxury vendors who have wanted to keep that luxury branding with it, so you have your own time slot, and we’ve built in a buffer between events, so that we don’t have guests leaving and new ones showing up, but also so we have the time to carefully clean and sanitize everything.
Speaking of sanitization and safety, how are you all keeping couples, guests, staff and vendors safe during these events, since they’re geared toward the COVID-19 era?
We’re still developing exactly what protocols will be and they will probably be changing constantly based on what the recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are. We’re really following the CDC recommendations and local state guidelines in terms of health and safety for everyone, and we are trying to target some venues that mostly have outdoor areas. We’re also targeting venues that will not swallow up the 20- to 30-person guest count, but can still accommodate more than that so that social distancing is easy in that environment. By keeping the numbers down, most of these weddings are 30 guests or less, so that keeps it on a very intimate scale, and most of our inquiries have been for even less with anywhere from 12 to 20 guests in the range.
Otherwise, all of our vendors will be wearing masks, and we’re working with the vendors who have protocols in place for sanitizing and food service. We’re also looking into different ways to do food service such as not passing cocktails but maybe having a pre-poured cocktail station where people can just go up and pick up their cocktails. And, instead of doing passed appetizers, doing almost mini cheese boards that have three to four little mini appetizers already on them that people can just pick up and eat. We’re also doing individual cakelets instead of taking one cake and slicing it. We’re doing everything we can in terms of safety and caution, and in between events, we’re changing out anything that’s fabric and can’t be wiped down, including any linens, tear pads, etc. that will be changed out between events, and making sure everything is fully wiped down and sanitized with Clorox or Lysol. Lastly, making sure everyone is wearing gloves and that the bathrooms get sanitized in between as well.
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You can have your cake and eat it too! We celebrate your marriage with a micro wedding with 30 people or less. And instead of a dessert bar, everyone gets their own dessert! Planning @laurynprattes | photography @abbyjiu | dessert @bttrcrmbakeshop
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When it comes to the cost of a micro or mini wedding, is it less than a traditional wedding?
Certain things like the venue is divided up into the number of hours that each client needs, and the client pays for the number of hours, and the same thing goes with the photographer and with catering. With floral arrangements, we’re just doing one altar installation, one type of tablescape, and all of that is shared throughout the day. From a vendor standpoint, it’s a little more streamlined and easier for them to manage because these are all happening in the same day, instead of spread out with multiple different locations and designing plans, and they all still get paid for their full day of work. All the clients are then sharing some of the costs for the vendors with others.
But despite the savings that may offer, one thing to note is that when we’ve been talking to couples, when you’re looking at a micro of mini wedding, your cost per person price is going to be a lot higher than your 250-person wedding or your 150-person wedding. Even though it’s on a small scale, a lot of times we’ve been hearing numbers that people want to stay within that aren’t realistic when you’re wanting all of these finishes, even though the process is still streamlined. Some of these venues that we’re looking at are really nice, high-end venues, so although we’re doing our best to keep the cost down and by sharing the day, there are still some costs involved with this that people should be prepared for.
Looking ahead to weddings in the future, do you think we will see more micro and mini weddings, or will we see super-big gatherings once it’s safe to celebrate again?
I think we’ll see both. There are the people that have always wanted a large gathering and that’s what makes them happy, so they’re going to still want that. But, as someone who had 109 people at my own wedding, I would have been happy as a clam with 30 to 40 people. I’ve always loved a smaller wedding. We will see a trend toward these smaller weddings because for a while weddings have just gotten so big and oftentimes you have a tendency to do what your friends did or what your sibling did, and now it’s kind of accepted again to not have to invite all of those people.
In typical events we always hear, “I have to invite these courtesy invites,” and this situation [the global pandemic] has kind of gotten rid of the courtesy invites. We might see an increase in smaller weddings, and I’m excited to see the possibilities of couples who are still going to spend a lot but have these luxury, beautiful, 30- to 50-person weddings and then take the rest of what they otherwise would have spent to have that same-scale wedding for 200, and put it toward some kind of epic honeymoon or down payment on a house. This will definitely be a trend, and I think we’ll still see a return of large events for those people that have always dreamed of having that big event or still want that. For those that maybe felt like they had to have that large event, but maybe deep down didn’t really want it, we’re going to see them really embracing this concept.
Is there anything else you would want readers to know about Petite Soirée, the services you offer or what you see as the future of weddings?
We will try our best to help match the couple with the wedding that is the best fit for them. We do have limited dates and limited time slots, and limitations on how many we can take in each day, but we’ll send a timeline of what to expect in the process of planning a mini or micro wedding, and all the couples will have to do is send their invitations and figure out what they’re wearing to the celebration. They’ll still get to do their cake tasting too, but we’ll handle the rest for them. Of course, we can still do something completely customized for them. We can work with a custom date, and they can get a few more customizations with the events, but the process will still be streamlined. They’re not selecting the vendors, they’re already pre-selected for the venue and so on. But if they’re interested, I would definitely encourage reaching out sooner rather than later.
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