By Craig Pannozzo
Micro-events – and even micro-weddings – were the flavour of the moment during summer 2020. Although mass gatherings remain banned under social distancing rules, up to 15 guests can now attend micro-weddings in the UK (subject, of course, to local lockdown restrictions).
Through my recent work with companies in the hospitality and events industries, I’ve seen firsthand what does and doesn’t work for this type of party. This guide offers tips, techniques, and insights for those who are looking to organise their own micro-events.
HOW TO ARRANGE A SUCCESSFUL MICRO EVENT
As any event planner or executive assistant will know, the key to arranging a great party is to consider all angles in advance and organise every aspect with meticulous attention to detail. There are a lot of moving parts involved in putting together a socially distanced micro-event, so we’ll look at each of the important considerations in turn.
1. Check the current legislation
Before you set about planning your micro-wedding or event, it’s vital to ensure that your plans don’t fall afoul of the law. At present, the official government guidance states that outdoor events organised by businesses, charities and public bodies can take place following a thorough risk assessment (so be sure to keep documentation of the potential risks and how you’ve mitigated them).
According to the most up-to-date information, you must ensure that social distancing between different households or support bubbles is sustained at all times, including interactions between staff and performers. Micro-event organisers also need to take extra measures to ensure the safety of guests and stop gatherings of more than six people from forming at the event.
2. Pick the right venue
Where possible, I’d advise you to pick a venue with lots of outdoor space. Whilst it’s fine to meet up as a group of six at the moment, inviting 15 guests to socialise in a confined indoor space would be a risky and irresponsible move given the current climate.
Beyond this, your choice of venue will be decided by the nature of the event you’re planning: I’ve helped to organise informal birthday parties that have worked well in open rural settings recently, but this might set the wrong tone for a corporate event.
For a corporate micro-event, you might want to look into hiring a more impressive location such as a small local wedding venue. Not only are the prices on such places much lower currently due to lack of demand, but they’ll also be perfectly equipped to cater for a group of 15 outdoors.
3. Ensure the safety of your guests
The safety of your guests should be your main priority when organising a micro-event. Social distancing is the most vital consideration here: the area should be large enough so that your guests can stay at least 1-2m apart, and any tables should be spaced out appropriately.
It’s also now considered good form to provide hand sanitiser to your guests – if the event involves any sitting down, provide at least one bottle on each table. For corporate events, I’ve even seen branded hand sanitiser gels that attendees can take home with them.
4. Consider food and drink carefully
Closely connected to that last point, it’s important to weigh up your options when it comes to food and drink. Hiring staff to circulate plates of hors d’œuvres is no longer appropriate due to social distancing measures, meaning that you may have to rethink your strategy.
That said, the World Health Organisation states that it’s highly unlikely COVID-19 will be transmitted on food, so you could still offer a buffet and have your guests collect their own meal one at a time. If possible, though, the best option is just to ask the venue to provide the catering.
5. Add a splash of theatricality
With so many measures in place to protect guests, micro-events planners need to work hard to ensure that the atmosphere doesn’t end up feeling too sterile, but it’s easy enough to bring an event to life by adding some entertainment and giving your guests something to remember.
Depending on the type of event you’re organising, you could consider possibilities like fireworks, performers, or even an outdoor pop-up bar offering bespoke cocktails. If any children will be there with parents, you might want to look into some activities to keep the kids happy.
6. Guarantee a good time, whatever the weather
As I suggested above, micro-events should really be held outdoors whilst we wait for the current situation to improve. For this to work, you need to be prepared with a decent amount of outside cover and warmth – and this is a feature you can really get creative with.
Lots of organisers have tried zoning off areas with gazebos and marquees recently. This provides rain cover for guests whilst encouraging them to mingle in smaller groups; people are free to move about and chat, but households can also stick to their own bubbles, making it easier to ensure social distancing for everyone.
Alternatively, you could invest in some festival-style ponchos for your guest to wear, which represents another opportunity to introduce some branding if you’re organising a corporate event. Even if you’re just planning a private party, you could use personalised waterproofs to take the theme of the event that one step further.
Craig Pannozzo is the manager of specialist events supply company, Gazeboshop.