Bigger isn’t always better when it comes to getting hitched these days. In fact, micro weddings — intimate celebrations with guest lists under 50 — are in.
COVID-19 changed many things, including the cancellation or postponement of weddings and the introduction of tiny Zoom nuptials. But even though the world has (somewhat) reopened, many couples continue to forgo huge, extravagant affairs in favor of more intimate ones with their nearest and dearest. “Micro weddings and elopements were already becoming more popular before the pandemic, but now more people are open to the idea,” says Allie Dearie, a New London wedding photographer. “Couples are being inspired by the fun and unique smaller weddings that they see their friends having, and they want that for themselves.”
Many have “expressed relief that they can have the smaller celebration they always wanted,” she adds. Thankfully, there’s no reason to invite all of your office colleagues or cousins you haven’t seen in years.
Hosting a micro wedding has many advantages, chief among them cost, says Maggie Lord, of Fairfield, vice president at David’s Bridal and the founder of RusticWeddingChic.com. “The number one factor that drives up the budget at a wedding is the guest list,” she says. So instead of paying for all those meals, splurge on what’s truly important to you.
Remember: downsizing doesn’t mean skimping on the details. “Just because a couple opts for a micro wedding, it does not mean they have to skip any of the wedding traditions they want to highlight. The same holds true for style and elegance. A micro wedding can be just as over the top as any other size wedding if the couple wants it to be.”
Benefits of a micro wedding
If you’re celebrating small, here are some tips to keep the wedding magic.
Talk it up: A major bonus to downscaling is the opportunity to mingle with and have real conversations with those sharing your special day. “At large receptions, sometimes it can feel like you spend half the time greeting your guests,” Dearie says. “With intimate ones, there is more time to really enjoy being present with your loved ones.”
Venue variety: Forget jockeying for the most popular halls. You’ll have more flexibility to find the right venue and date when you don’t need a large space. Consider less formal locations, including your own backyard, a favorite restaurant, or the gazebo in a nearby park.
Take your seats: Instead of the usual seating arrangements, you can set up one or two large family-style tables or even a U-shaped layout where everyone is close enough to talk.
Keep the party going: Look into other ideas that wouldn’t be practical with a larger group. Rent out an upscale home or inn where everyone can stay, and spend the wedding weekend celebrating all together.
How to do it right:
Don’t sacrifice all the bells and whistles, Dearie says. “I would not recommend rushing through the time line. It’s still your wedding day, and you deserve to celebrate it fully.”
If you’ve saved money with a pared-down guest list or less expensive venue, splurge elsewhere. Offer a top-shelf open bar or special wine pairings during the meal. Upgrade your menu (think lobster). Or offer to cover guests’ hotel rooms or transportation, if it’s a destination affair; something that wouldn’t have been affordable for a larger-size celebration.
Don’t “underestimate the amount of work planning a wedding can be, no matter the size of the guest list,” Lord says. “Working with a wedding planner or coordinator can be just as helpful when planning a micro wedding as it is with a larger event.”
Communicate with your wedding guests about what type of micro wedding you are having. “You don’t want guests to assume just because it’s small, that it’s informal,” Lord says, or that it’s OK to bring kids or pets.
Use your wedding website to reassure guests about health and safety procedures including face coverings and social distancing at your event, in addition to dress codes and directions.