How to Plan a Beautiful, Meaningful Micro Wedding So That You Can Celebrate Your Postponed Nuptials Right Now
When it comes to preparing for the wedding day, there are so many scenarios that the couple and their vendors make contingency plans for. The bride or groom is ill on the morning of the wedding, a VIP or vendor gets lost on the way to the venue, or weather that forces an outdoor ceremony or reception in. But 2020 delivered something that even the most seasoned of wedding pros couldn't have expected: the coronavirus pandemic. And when businesses were forced to temporarily shut their doors and suspend events in March and April of 2020, leaving couples wondering if or when their dream wedding would be possible again, industry experts started thinking about creative alternatives. Enter, the micro wedding.
With so many couples postponing their larger weddings and choosing new dates in 2021, beautiful venues and talented professionals have more availability than ever before to host more intimate celebrations, which is exactly what's necessary in order to tie the knot during the pandemic. Micro weddings, also known as minimonies, are usually attended by anywhere from five to a few dozen guests; these smaller guest lists allow for proper social distancing protocols but still let a couple celebrate with their nearest and dearest. Ultimately, it's a way to have the best of both worlds—you can get married now with a small group of guests, then celebrate with everyone you love at a larger wedding next year—which takes a little bit of the sting out of having to postpone the celebration you've spent months (or maybe even years) planning.
But how do you get started? That's the question one group of pros—photographer Jennifer Larsen; Teri Lands, the general manager of wedding venue the Inn at Fernbrook Farms; and florists Amanda Theodoropoulos and Lidia Stupak of Twisted Willow Flowers—set out to answer. "As the weeks in quarantine extended, couples looking forward to their celebrations started to worry about what their party might look like," Lands says. "Having their closest family and friends present while they exchanged vows quickly became the priority. We really wanted to create a visual to help couples planning this new approach and to see how they could create a special day focusing more on the intimate details."
Ahead, our three experts share their top tips—and tons of visual inspiration—to help you plan your own micro wedding.
Rethink Your Stationery
By the time the pandemic hit, most 2020 couples had ordered or sent out at least some portion of their wedding stationery—either save-the-date cards, invitations, or both. If you're planning to have a micro wedding, our experts say to rethink the paper products you already have. Since this is an event that will be attended by just your closest family and friends, ordering new invitations likely won't be necessary. "Follow up invitations with a 'change of plans' card at this time," suggests Lands. A suite like this one, created by Inviting Treasures, could still go out to your larger guest list with a note that explains the date listed is being changed. "Your guests understand the degree of stress it's caused and will understand your need to focus on a small intimate group of guests. If you are getting ready to send invitations you can insert a request for email and your wedding website so guests can stay informed if plans do have to change."
Embrace Traditions You Love
It's important to remember that your micro wedding isn't just something to while you can't host a larger gathering—it's your actual wedding day. That means you should embrace any traditions you've always dreamed of for your nuptials. If that means wearing your original wedding dress, like this one from Belfiore Bridal, planning a first look, and carrying a bouquet, you should. "Including traditions or elements that are special or meaningful to you is the most important thing when it comes to planning your wedding or minimony," says Larsen. But if you'd rather save any or all of those special moments for the following year, that's perfectly fine, too. "I am also a bride who has postponed her July 2020 wedding to next summer, but we are still having a 'minimony' on our original wedding date. We plan to save traditions like a first look, our first dance, and ceremony readings for our larger celebration next summer. But one special element we plan to include in our mini ceremony is a time capsule that our guests will help us fill with small mementos to remember the day, this season, and the start of our marriage."
Get Creative with Your Color Palette
While you might be tempted to go with the exact same color palette and flowers as you initially chose, the experts at Twisted Willow suggest saving that plan for the future celebration and doing something different for your micro wedding. "I say do something different. There are way to many beautiful blooms and color schemes to just stick to one with the option," says Theodoropoulos. "Doing so makes both events feel special." This peachy bouquet, comprised of garden roses, lisianthus, clematis, and more, was designed to "evoke feelings of fun and whimsy," bringing a little levity to the day.
Think About Safe Seating
Social distancing is paramount, even at a micro wedding, so it's important to consider a setup that will allow guests to have their own space. Our experts love a ceremony in the round for that reason. "A ceremony in the round [is a good way to] include all the guests that are present but still [give them] enough distance to stay safe," says Lands. Theodoropoulos adds, "[Everyone] gets a great view and can hear without having to bring in speakers." Plus, there's no better way to officially tie the knot than to be surrounded (literally!) by everyone you love most.
But there's also a good logistical reason why a ceremony in the round works so well for these small celebrations: If you're planning a livestream for guests who couldn't be present, this setup makes it easy for a videographer (or your computer or tablet) to capture your vows without obstructing anyone's view.
Make Your Décor Impactful
Just because it's a smaller celebration doesn't mean you can't have beautiful, impactful décor. To really define the space for the ceremony in the round, Twisted Willow created grounded arrangements in shades of peach, pale pink, and white with pops of purple and burgundy.
Emphasize Single-Serve Drinks and Food
To keep everyone safe, our experts suggest choosing a menu peppered with single-serve options. Mini bottles of sparkling water or wine, complete with paper straws, work nicely for cocktail hour—a waiter can hand one out to each guest, which means no one has to line up at a bar or pour drinks from communal bottles.
For food, pre-plated appetizers with a mix of everything on offer is a nice idea. Guests can stroll around with a plate of snacks and get as close to—or stay as distanced from—other guests at they feel comfortable with.
Set Up Alternative Types of Entertainment
Dancing might be out for your micro wedding, but that doesn't mean fun has to be. Our experts love the idea of setting up lawn games—properly spaced out—so that smaller groups can have a little fun. "Lawn games, like giant connect four, giant jenga, and cornhole are fun ideas for enjoying a cocktail hour or even just casual reception mingling. [These types of activities] allows you to have fun and connect with guests in a casual way without music/dancing," says Larsen.
It's a smart idea to provide hand sanitizer or to set up sanitization stations throughout the party space so that guests can clean up before and after each game.
Think Dinner Party, Not Reception
Lands says to think about this portion of the celebration as a dinner party, not a wedding reception. Doing so will allow you to better use your space—your micro wedding for 30 guests might be taking place in a space originally designed to fit 300. "Having a small intimate group in a larger space will allow you to spread out and keep social distancing in check," Lands says. "Long tables are so great if you want to have guests spread out but still feel cozy. Also, large square tables lend themselves to social distance guidelines but have a grand feel that also fill up a large space."
And if you're not planning to celebrate again, but rather want to put your entire budget to use on your micro wedding, you'll need to think of creative ways to reallocate those funds on a smaller guest list. First, think about décor. "There's really no limit [on what you can do]," Theodoropoulos says, adding that you could scale up your flowers during the ceremony, add a statement entrance to your reception space, or focus on smaller details, like floral napkin rings, that will make guests feel extra special.
You can also reallocate funds on a more complex menu. "Special touches like a multi-course meal or a pairing menu with local wine [are good choices]," says Lands. "Your chef will be able to provide more of a restaurant-style meal." Another meaningful idea? Include a personal note at each guests' seat. While this won't necessarily help you in the budget department, Lands says it's an extremely thoughtful way to thank this smaller group of loved ones for helping you make this day special.
Pay Attention to the Details
Details are what make your celebration unique to the two of you, so don't skimp on them for a micro wedding. Beautiful linens, customized menus, and upgraded rentals can take your day to the next level. "When planning your intimate wedding, it's helpful to keep in mind that smaller weddings make for a more intimate setting where you have the ability to get creative and added special touches to your celebration," says Larsen. "Things like personal vows or love letters, serving a personal favorite dish for dinner, or interactive ceremony elements that get your guests involved can make your day feel monumental and unique."
Another important tip from Larsen? Communicate with your photographer. "You should work with your photographer to create a timeline of your day to ensure you make the most of coverage time and are able to capture all the elements you hope to have photos of," she says. "Also be sure to keep your photographer in the loop about any meaningful details you've included in your day. Knowing about these details ahead of time helps your photographer capture [everything]!"
Serve Something Sweet...
If you're looking for details to save for next year's larger wedding, plan to cut into a tiered wedding cake at a later date. Instead, choose single-serve desserts (like cupcakes!) for guests and slice into a mini dessert that you love. This frosted bundt cake is a good choice.
...Or Make Dessert Interactive
Dessert definitely doesn't have to be cake! If you have the budget, hire a company like Brew, Sip, n' Joy, a mobile cart specializing in coffee and beer, to serve unique, interactive treats that guests can customize to their liking. In addition to serving craft coffee or espresso drinks, Lands says to get creative with the buzz-worthy offerings. She likes the idea of serving a White Russian coffee, a twist on the classic cocktail, Affogato, which is ice cream over espresso, or espresso martinis.
Photographer, Jennifer Larsen Photography
Planning, Venue, and Catering, The Inn at Fernbrook Farms
Flowers and Design, Twisted Willow Flowers
Wedding Dress and Bridal Styling, BelFiore Bridal
Rings and Accessories, River Edge Jewelers
Invitations, Inviting Treasures
Props, Games, and Signage, Relic Redo
Vintage Mobile Bar, Brew, Sip, n' Joy
Hair and Makeup, Pretty Please Bridal
Models, Carrie and Peter