When Rose Buatti got engaged over Christmas, she and her now husband talked about having a destination wedding in Newport, Rhode Island. They would have loved to get married on the South Fork, where Buatti grew up, but it was out of their budget. They booked some tours for venues in Newport, and then, like everything else, their plans came to a screeching halt; COVID-19 hit.
Countless weddings have been pushed into next year as brides and grooms scrambled to hold onto their dream ceremonies and receptions, making it even more difficult for newly engaged couples to find venues. Instead, many couples have opted for a new alternative, a micro wedding.
Venues like The Vineyards at Aquebogue, a Lessing’s property, Giorgio’s in Baiting Hollow and East Wind in Wading River, have begun promoting micro weddings as a way for business to continue, and for couples to get married, during a time when Governor Andrew Cuomo allows only a maximum of 50 people to gather, including the two exchanging vows. Under these strict guidelines, everyone must wear a mask unless they are seated and dining. While music can play, dancing is not allowed.
“Right now, imagine it as a beautiful wedding ceremony and a beautiful wedding dinner,” says Kate Wiggins, the sales director at The Vineyards. The one thing couples seem most upset about is not being allowed to dance.
Wiggins says they have received more interest in micro weddings than she even anticipated since they started in early August. The Vineyards had been closed from March through June. “I’m still getting inquiries for traditional weddings for 2021 and 2022,” she says. “I think a lot of people who are just getting engaged are looking at venues for 2021, and there’s no availability because of postponements.” She is hearing that while this not something they had thought about doing before, they realize they are saving money by having a smaller wedding. At The Vineyards, micro weddings start at $2,495 for 25 guests. East Wind’s “Magical Minimony,” its smallest two-hour package, starts at $1,800. East Wind representatives declined an interview.
Wiggins recalls one bride saying, “‘I can get married at my dream venue and not have to spend an arm and leg.’”
While Buatti did not get married at a catering facility, the idea remained the same: A smaller wedding at an affordable price. She saw an opportunity to get married in one of her favorite places in what turned out to be an intimate, special affair.
As the number of coronavirus cases fell, Buatti thought, “Let’s just have a DIY, super simple, COVID wedding,” which is what they did. “Honestly…sometimes these things happen for a reason,” she says.
They planned the wedding in just a couple of weeks. Her mother is immunocompromised, so keeping her and the other guests socially-distanced was of the utmost concern. For the backyard reception, she got smaller tables from Bermuda Party Rental to keep guests apart. At her mother’s table, she tied a navy-blue ribbon, cut eight feet long, so there would be no mistaking the distance necessary to keep away.
A trio band—two of whom are husband and wife—played on one side of the yard to keep them away from people. Hand sanitizer was at the door. The party favors were customized masks that read: Quarantined for life. “We tried to have fun with it,” Buatti says.
The couple ordered food from Bostwick’s in East Hampton. She wanted to avoid a buffet and dinner service, so instead bought white boxes and put stickers on them with guests’ names as she planned to pack individual appetizers and dinners. Bostwick’s offered to do it for her when she delivered the boxes. Guests dined on the restaurant’s famous lobster rolls. “We couldn’t have done that with 100 people, but with 18 that was doable,” she says. Instead of a cake, they opted for individually wrapped cupcakes from Mary’s Marvelous in East Hampton.
As for her wedding dress, something brides usually spend the most amount of time stressing over, Buatti ordered five white, beachy options online. Then at the last minute, she and her sister spotted a dress in the window at Intermix in East Hampton, and she purchased it to wear, opting to wear one she got online at the legal ceremony they had at East Hampton Town Justice Court on August 7.
The next day, on August 8, she and Albert Buatti were married in a spiritual ceremony held surfside at Indian Wells Beach in Amagansett in front of family members and close friends. They stood in a semi-circle, spaced apart and wearing masks with her uncle, who performed the ceremony, in the middle. Her father walked her down the “aisle” wearing a face covering.
“It was incredible,” she says. Beach-goers watched the wedding from afar. Little girls were pointing in awe of the pretty dress and flowers. “When we kissed, the whole beach applauded. That was beyond my wildest dreams,” she says.
Brides, especially, hope to feel the most special on their wedding day, and Buatti said hers did not disappoint “People were celebrating it, and it truly felt like the entire beach was our witness. It was such a feel-good feeling of people witnessing a union during a time like this.”
Afterwards the group of 18 guests took one group photo with the bride and groom. “We held our breath and whisked our masks off for the photos,” Buatti recalls.
The whole affair was far from cookie cutter. “This was so memorable. Your father walks you down in a mask—it’s a little different,” she says with a laugh, but, “The love was there. That’s what it’s all about.”