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2020’s Newest Wedding Trend: Intimate Celebrations

  |   By Alison McGill
Event planner Shannon Kennedy of Kennedy Event Planning had her own dreamy, intimate wedding in Tuscany. All photography by Anne Marie Bouchard.

Small is the new big. That is what many couples are realizing who have managed to keep their 2020 wedding celebration on track. It has come to light a scaled down guest list is not necessarily a personal choice, but a mandatory one in light of social distancing (and not knowing when those rules will be relaxed and what life will look like when it does happen). One thing we do know is large gatherings appear to be off limits for some time.

Enter the intimate wedding. It’s been something that has become increasingly popular in the past several years (I had an intimate wedding in 2009, only my parents were present). Shannon Kennedy who is the owner and principal planner of Kennedy Event Planning in Ottawa also had an intimate wedding in Tuscany in 2018 and it was this event that inspired her to launch a new phase of her business, Petite Weddings (the fact she launched this just as a global crisis was emerging was purely happenstance). Here she shares what is happening with her business today and why a small wedding can be amazing, elegant and quite simply a dream.

 Can you share what the landscape of your business is looking like to date in light of COVID-19? “The wedding and event industry has been shaken by the current global pandemic. Professional planners are navigating through an uncertain global crisis for their clients, unlike anything we have faced before. We are fortunate to be well versed with years of experience of fast-acting and fasting thinking to be able to make adjustments to our clients’ plans by helping them manage their emotions and expectations, secure backup dates, move and revise multiple vendor contracts, and postpone multiple weddings at a time. All while attending multiple Zoom meetings each week with fellow wedding experts to stay up to date with ever-changing developments, policies, and practices industry-wide. Like many, we have been looking at our clients’ events 60 to 90-days at a time, making adjustments to their weddings as needed. Our clients’ whose weddings were originally scheduled to take place between April and July have all been postponed, and attention has now been turned to our clients hosting in August and onward to secure backup dates in case we need them. Overall, we are still feeling hopeful that the mid-Fall wedding season will still be possible, and we will be celebrating winter weddings like never before!”

You have recently launched a Petite Weddings program within your business. Please share the details of what those types of celebrations look like and what’s involved. “I have been developing and working on Petite Weddings for the past two years after feeling inspired by my own small wedding planning. After planning my clients’ weddings for the past ten years, I dreamed of hosting a beautiful and elegant wedding for myself but wanted to do something very intimate. I wanted to share all the style and luxury of a typical wedding to the very few present at our wedding in Tuscany. It was amazing having 25 friends and family members join us knowing that we had spared no expense on being able to treat them to something so special. And from our wedding, I began thinking about launching a new platform in my own business offering the same type of celebration. Our philosophy is Petite Weddings can be for anyone! It can be for someone who is just so excited to be getting married and is doesn’t want a long engagement; it could be someone who is visiting from out of town or abroad and realized the city of Ottawa is fantastic place to have as a backdrop for their wedding, or it could be someone who has been affected by the current global pandemic whose plans may have been forced to change.  I want to create an environment, a situation, and a backdrop that is magazine worthy with our couples being the star. One of the benefits of hosting such an intimate wedding is we get access to some really amazing and unique locations across that a traditional big wedding can’t access. When you have a group of 120 to 250+ people you are limited to where you can go and host your day. Now imagine, a group of four, eight, 12, or up to 20 people and all the amazing places you can go to. Do you want to get married in front of your favourite piece of art in the National Art Gallery of Canada? Or the lookout at Nepean Point overlooking the Ottawa River? Or a luxury cottage or the family property where you grew up? There are so few limits to what your wedding can do or be, really the only limitations are our imagination.  Just because a wedding is smaller doesn’t mean that it cannot be fabulous—small is the new big.”

How have people shifted their thinking about their wedding size in light of the coronavirus crisis? “Under the current state of emergency in the province of Ontario and many across only groups of maximum five people are allowed and there are many restrictions on the use of public spaces. While this current state won’t last forever, I do not think it is realistic to believe life will immediately go back to how it once was, and we will likely face a future of a ban on large gatherings and couples are definitely realizing this. If you are considering planning an intimate wedding or shifting your current wedding to a smaller scale one, it’s time to get moving.”

Small weddings can be something seriously magical as you know from personal experience. What do you feel makes an intimate wedding extra special? “These types of celebrations are incredibly elegant and intimate. For my own wedding, Patrick and I had friends and family join us from all over the world, we rented a villa on an active vineyard in the Tuscan region of Italy. Everyone arrived and moved into the villa for five days, we ate, we drank, we relaxed and hung out. Patrick and I were married on our third day there, and the whole experience was really about bringing everyone really close together to share our experience with us while also enjoying a beautiful group vacation. Some of our wedding photos have actually gone viral online with reposts from Anthropology, Bridal Vogue, and I still find them on Pinterest! For me, it was all about hosting the people who were really important to us and giving them an amazing, beautiful experience.”


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