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How To Host A Sequel Wedding

How To Host A Sequel Wedding


Nikita Thorne Updated:
8th of March 2023

Sequel weddings have been around for many years and are set to become really popular in 2022 and 2023, due to the coronavirus pandemic. Many couples were able to have a legal ceremony and a small reception in 2020/21. Now, they're waiting until 2022/23 to throw a huge celebration with all of their friends and family.

Sequel Wedding

What is a Sequel Wedding? 

A sequel wedding is a wedding of multiple parts. You may think that you haven’t heard of them, but they are already a very common occurrence. 

For many, the sequel wedding is the chance to have a small, intimate wedding or elopement with their closest. For others, they just want to get married but the big party may not be financially viable yet.

Many couples have an intimate ceremony first, with a large celebration later with friends and family. The first event is usually where the official, legal documents are signed and the couple is seen as married or in a civil partnership in the eyes of the law. 

The second wedding is usually a much bigger affair. The couple will usually invite many more friends and family to this event. They might even enjoy a symbolic wedding ceremony led by a celebrant with a much larger reception.

Why choose to have a sequel wedding?

Firstly, during the pandemic, we were less likely to be able to celebrate marriage in the way we would like.  A sequel wedding gives couples the flexibility to get married now (perhaps in a small ceremony) and then have a party later.

What about when there isn’t a pandemic?

There are many reasons why couples choose to have a sequel wedding instead of a celebration over one day. Here are just a few:

Destination weddings

Destination weddings often mean getting the legal documents completed before or after the overseas wedding. Many of their good friends and family may not have made this guest list for the destination wedding. So, a sequel wedding allows for the larger party and celebrations to take place at home while avoiding excluding guests from the celebrations.

Interfaith relationships

Two people do not have to have the same religion to fall in love. However, for those in interfaith relationships, you may want to celebrate both faiths by having two ceremonies. A sequel wedding allows for each faith to be acknowledged and celebrated. Some choose to do this by having the legally-binding ceremony at a registry office and enjoying a symbolic ceremony led by an independent celebrant who can ensure the inclusion of both faiths in the ceremony.

Family and friends

Perhaps there is someone special in your life who is sick or an elderly relative who cannot travel to attend your larger celebrations. A sequel wedding will allow you to accommodate the needs of these special people who you really want to be present at your wedding.

Visas and travel restrictions

Perhaps there isn’t enough time to plan a big wedding before visas will expire. A sequel wedding is perfect for a couple who need legal papers sooner rather than later. Or maybe you are of different nationalities and it’s not possible for you to have everyone you love in the same place at the same time. A sequel wedding will allow you to accommodate the time and the travel restrictions of your guests.

Finances

Perhaps you just want to be married, but now isn’t the best time to splash out on the big party you really want. Many couples choose to have the intimate, legal ceremony with just their closest relatives and friends and wait until it is more financially viable to throw the big party they’ve been dreaming about.

Just because you want to!

Maybe your wedding vision is simply unusual! You may prefer to plan something that is true to both you and your partner. Regardless of your situation, having a sequel wedding gives you the flexibility to plan your dream wedding, giving you the best of both worlds. 

Find venues offering wedding packages during COVID

When should I have my celebrations?

Whenever you like! It is ultimately your choice when and where you would like to hold your celebrations.

For situations outside of the COVID-19 crisis, some couples prefer the romantic idea of eloping. You can have a very simple, intimate ceremony for the two of you and break the news of your marriage to friends and family with an invitation to the larger celebrations a few months or even years later. It is whatever suits you best!

Couples elopement

Where should I have my weddings?

Again, that’s another personal decision. Some may like to go to a gorgeous country house and have their wedding celebrations over a few days. Others prefer to go to the registry office and have a beautiful ceremony with a party later. Some will choose to go to mountain tops for an epic elopement. This is about you, the love of your life, and how you would like to celebrate your love for one another.

How do I plan a sequel wedding?

There is no set way to plan a sequel wedding. Everyone works on different time scales and their decision is motivated by different things. Whether it’s the practicality of having a legal ceremony now and party later when you’re in a better situation financially or whether you are motivated by the romance of an elopement; the plans are completely individual.

However, here are a few things you’ll need to consider when planning your sequel wedding.

Budgeting for more than one event

For those looking for a small legal ceremony followed by a larger celebration, a sequel wedding will not cost very much more or less than the traditional one-day event. On the other hand, those wanting more than one large-scale event may need to consider whether their budget will stretch.

You’ll need to be realistic about each event and determine how much of your budget you are willing to spend on each. 

Top tips for budgeting:

  1. Allocate a total budget and decide how much of the budget you want to assign to each event. If you assign a figure to each one, you know your budget when you get quotes from suppliers.
  2. Tell suppliers that you are hosting more than one event and see if they can help you with both. Perhaps they can give you a package deal for all of the events saving you the separate deposits and individual payments.
  3. Decide on your top wants for each event. If that’s splashing out on a gorgeous, three-course meal with champagne for your smaller event, will you be wanting that for the bigger party or will you be happy with a buffet and cash bar?
  4. Consider your wedding party’s budget! Your bridesmaids and/or groomsmen might not be able to afford two sets of hotel rooms or two different outfits, so be considerate of what you’re asking them.
  5. Check your wedding insurance. You might not be covered for both weddings under one insurance policy if it is more than a certain number of days apart. So, you may need to budget for two different insurance policies. 
Sequel Celebration

Where and when will you host your events?

Location, location, location. You need to decide when and where you will host your events. The decision doesn’t need to be made for both at the same time, but you may want to consider your approximate time frames at the very least so you can get dates pencilled in with venues and guests.

Ask yourself the following questions to help make this decision.

  • At which event will we be having the legally binding ceremony? This will dictate where your ceremony can take place as you will need to be in a licensed venue.
  • How many people do we want to be at each event?
  • How far do we want to travel to get married?
  • Will the sequel events take place over days, weeks or will the time frames be wider?

Who is going to be invited and how will you tell them?

Creating guest lists is difficult for one event, let alone multiple. You’ll need to be strict on who can attend each event in order to keep to your budget. Perhaps the smaller, more intimate wedding will be strictly direct family and the best pals you consider to be family (those you couldn’t imagine not being at your wedding). Whereas the larger event can be more flexible.

How many people are typically invited to the small wedding?

This all depends on the type of wedding you are wanting. Here are some ideas.

Couple having small wedding during covid restrictions

Elopement

An elopement is traditionally just the couple, officiants, and 2 witnesses. However, in modern times, this can also be read as a handful of witnesses. Perhaps you just want your parents to attend or maybe you will go with the limit of 2 and choose your best man and maid of honour to avoid family feuds. Those who aren’t able to attend can always join the celebrations via a livestream.

Minimony

During COVID-19, many couples will have what is known as a ‘minimony’. This is a tiny ceremony (it can be legal or symbolic) with just a handful of witnesses. Those who can't attend in person can join on a livestream. Many chose to hold these on their postponed wedding date to still be able to marry their partner but saved the reception until the restrictions were lifted or for the anniversary of the event (known as an anni-ception). 

Micro-wedding

A micro-wedding will be less than 20 guests. You’ll need to decide who those people are and they are usually the people who mean the most to you. This would be an ideal number for a small reception too. Again, there’s nothing stopping you from inviting more people to be at the legal ceremony via a livestream.

How do I invite people to the small wedding?

There is no right or wrong way to do this and it isn’t technically different from inviting people to a one-day wedding. Here are some ideas to inspire you:

  • Purchase some nice paper and handwrite each invitation to make this event even more personal.
  • Send out an email or set up a private Facebook event to keep it really simple and save on postage.
  • Ask your stationer if they can create a package for you to make your invitations for the smaller celebrations match your stationery for the larger event.

Inviting people to a larger wedding

You may wish to look at a more traditional way of inviting people to this event. However, you may also wish to make it clear that the legal wedding may have already happened. Whether you’ll be having a symbolic ceremony or just a really big party, help your guests know what to expect.

Ideas for how to phrase your invitation:

  • Join us in the celebration of the new Mr and Mrs …
  • Surprise! We tied the knot and now it’s time to party.
  • COVID hasn’t stopped us from getting married… please join us in 2022 for a big celebration and a symbolic ceremony
  • Celebrate the marriage of…
Large celebration

Inspiration for a Sequel Wedding

Of course, your wedding should be a reflection of you and your love story. So, really it will be completely unique to you! However, we have put together some ideas for those who find the prospect of planning two different wedding events a bit daunting! 

Start first by creating a distinct vision for both events. You can throw two unique and bespoke events, with new suppliers, new outfits (if you want), and a completely different atmosphere. Using a different aesthetic and adding in lots of personalized details will help each event to feel like its own special day.

After the small wedding, you might feel disappointed that you can’t celebrate immediately. So, we’d recommend planning something lovely to make your first 24 hours as newlyweds feel special. Whether it’s a long lunch or a gourmet dinner, it’s nice to celebrate, either just the two of you or with your witnesses. 

Depending on which kind of small wedding you have chosen, you might want to invite some of your guests virtually. There are a number of ways you can include guests who are unable to attend, including bespoke food services! For example, DineDelivered is able to offer wedding breakfasts to guests who can’t attend your wedding in person. The team will create a delicious three-course celebration meal for your guests that arrives ‘oven-ready’, so that they can easily join in your celebrations. You can also add canapes, a bottle of champagne, children’s meals and meals for special diets to make sure they have a truly personalised and special occasion in their own home.

Typically, one of your weddings will be more formal than the other. Decide if you want the formal wedding to be the small legal ceremony or the bigger bash. For example, an intimate ceremony at a church will be formal, but informal if it’s in your back garden. While on the other hand, a large reception will be formal if held at a stately home, but informal if held at a pub. 

However, don’t feel caught up in applying any rules to your planning. Wear what you want, serve the kind of food you want, and just make sure that you both have a wonderful time. At the end of the day, this celebration is only for two people, so make sure you both remember it fondly. 

The thing to focus on here is that you get double the celebration at a sequel wedding – it’s not about losing out on the big wedding that you planned, but gaining a more intimate personal one too. More than that, it’s a safe way to celebrate with loved ones, and right now, the health of those we love is our highest priority.

Not sure about what will be allowed when you tie the knot? Restrictions and guidelines are changing quickly, read our latest coronavirus news to keep up to date. 

Nikita Thorne Guides for Brides

About the author


Nikita Thorne

Nikita is a wedding planning expert and newlywed having tied the knot in 2023. She is the host of Guides for Brides - The Wedding Podcast and regularly speaks at wedding industry conferences and national wedding shows to inform and inspire couples who are planning their big days. She keeps on top of the latest wedding trends in design and fashion and loves to see the new innovative ideas from wedding professionals across the country. If you need practical planning advice, Nikita has been through the entire wedding planning process, so is your best contact!

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