Some people may heard the term ‘micro wedding’ and assume that planning one simply means taking traditional wedding planning and micro-sizing it. While this may be true in some instances, there are many unique (and fun!) aspects about planning a micro wedding that you won’t find in a traditional wedding.
A micro wedding is defined as a smaller and more intimate wedding, with only 10-50 guests. Unlike elopements, micro weddings include many of the traditional wedding elements, just on a smaller scale.
Figuring out how to plan a micro wedding doesn’t have to be stressful. In fact, one of the main benefits of choosing a small wedding is more manageable planning (it’s easier to coordinate feeding 30 people, rather than 150), and possibly a more manageable budget (however, this is entirely up to the couple!). Hosting a micro wedding also allows a couple to highly personalize the event, with an emphasis on quality over quantity.
Here, we’re walking you through the complete process of planning your own micro wedding, from the venue to the guest list, all the way to making it a personalized affair.
Pick Your Priorities
The first thing you need to do before you start planning your micro wedding is to pick your priorities. One of the greatest things about having a micro wedding is the fact that you really have the opportunity to zoom in on your personal priorities, and build your wedding plans around those. Gone are the traditional wedding ‘rules’ or schedules that you might normally feel obligated to stick to, and in their place are infinite possibilities.
When planning a micro wedding, the first thing you should do is make a list of your top 3 priorities for the wedding. Some examples of this could be :
- Amazing food
- Epic location
- Thoughtful ceremony
- Family style meal
- Gorgeous decor
- All things budget/DIY
Make sure to keep in mind your emotional and personal needs. If you know that you’re a sentimental person, then having a memento from the participants might make it on this list. If you’re easily stressed out, then hiring a wedding planner or keeping it low-key might be important for you to stay sane throughout the process.
This also might be a good time to decide which wedding elements you’d like to keep traditional and which ones you could do without. A micro wedding means ultimate flexibility, so if you have your heart set on a first dance, but can’t stand speeches, make sure you note that.
Once you’ve identified your priorities, it’s time to start getting inspired. Perusing places like Pinterest, Instagram, and wedding blogs can give you a more in depth idea of what those priorities will look like when they come to fruition. Start keeping boards and bookmarks, and over time your vision will become clear.
We also encourage you to seek out other micro weddings as inspiration, and find stories of couples who have planned and hosted their own. If your boards are full of pins showcasing massive ballrooms and huge celebrations, you’ll have a hard time connecting your vision to an actual final product (and you might not want a micro wedding after all!). Your boards should focus more on what kind of aesthetic, vibe, and fun/unique details that you’d like to incorporate into your own event. These resources can also be incredibly helpful when working with a wedding planner or other vendors.
Keep your boards well organized, and review them often. Delete out anything that will make you feel shorted. If your inspiration is leaving you feel like your event is ‘not enough’, get rid of them!
Set a Budget
While a micro wedding can be planned on a micro budget, it certainly doesn’t have to. Many couples choose to plan a micro wedding with a traditional budget, which gives them the opportunity to splurge on the items that are important to them.
We’ve seen everything from a budget backyard micro wedding that cost $2,000, to luxurious Italian countryside airbnb micro weddings. Clearly, these weddings varied hugely in budget, and they were both absolutely perfect for those involved.
While talking about money right off the bat isn’t the most enjoyable part of the process, it’s absolutely necessary. Don’t assume that planning a micro wedding will translate straight to savings. If you’re planning a micro wedding on a budget, you will still need to be thoughtful and strategic about that. Talk with your significant other, and any other people who may be contributing, and decide on a firm budget before moving forward.
After a budget has been finalized, you can choose with areas you want to spend a lot on, and which ones you want to save on. Again, this is where the flexibility of a micro wedding comes into play. You may choose to host your wedding in your backyard ($0 venue fee!), but then put that money towards incredible catering and bar options. Or, you might have your heart set on hosting your family in a mountain cabin, and simply have everyone bring a dish for an epic potluck.
Regardless of what you choose, having a clearly defined budget will guide your future choices, and allow you to make more confident decisions about where your money will go.
Pick a Date
The beauty of flexibility and opportunity continues when you’re choosing a date for your micro wedding. While there tends to be a set ‘wedding season’ for traditional weddings (as well as wedding ‘days’ and ‘times’..), hosting a micro wedding opens up endless options when it comes to the time of year that you choose to celebrate. When you’re only hosting a handful of people, you don’t NEED to feel like you’ve got to throw your wedding in the summer, on a Saturday, in the evening!
When choosing a date for you micro wedding, don’t be afraid to think outside the box. Planning a winter wedding becomes much more attractive when you can cozy your entire group into a warm mountain cabin, and you’re much more likely to have everyone on board when hosting such an intimate crowd. You may also consider opting for a weekday wedding (especially if you’re on a budget) or a destination wedding with a smaller group to coordinate with.
Your priorities and budget might also help guide your date decisions. If you’re looking to have a budget backyard wedding, then warmer weather would be preferable, but it’s also a great opportunity to have a moody fall wedding with cozy blankets and a fire pit. If you’re planning for a very specific location (beach, mountain, etc) then your date might also have to be season specific.
Choose a Venue
Choosing a venue for your micro wedding is one of the most exciting parts. It brings your whole vision to life, and gives you something tangible to work with. Before choosing a venue, it’s important to re-visit both your priorities and budget. Those two factors will help guide you in your search.
Having a micro wedding allows you to consider unique and special venues that wouldn’t be an option with a larger, more traditional wedding. While some people still choose more traditional venues, there are many others options including:
Truly, the sky is the limit. If you can imagine it, you can do it. One piece of advice that we do give couples is to make sure that you’re not trying to turn a large space into a small one to fit your group. Some large venues try to market ‘small wedding’ packages, but in the end it feels like a lot of empty space. If you’re considering a more traditional venue, take the time to visit the space and see if it works with your group.
This doesn’t mean you should count traditional venues out! We have seen countless incredible venues that fit perfectly with the micro wedding vibe. And as demand has risen, more and more venues are offering micro wedding packages as well. If the venue that you’re eyeing doesn’t already offer a micro wedding package, don’t be afraid to contact them and ask about it. Chances are, they’ve received other similar inquires and might be willing to alter an existing package, or create one from scratch.
Choosing your venue will also help you finalize a date. If you’re choosing to do a backyard wedding, or one in a personal space, this date will remain much more flexible.
One last thing to keep in mind is that you don’t need to have your ceremony and reception in the same space. Since you have less people involved, it’s much easier to move locations all together. So if you want, you can tie the knot at the top of the mountain, and party the night away in a cabin at the base.
Get Organized/Hire a Planner
Most couples say that organizing and planning a micro wedding is exceptionally more manageable than planning a traditional wedding. With fewer guests comes less details and being spared the stress of orchestrating a meal, drinks, and entertainment for 100+ people.
However, this doesn’t mean that you can’t hire a wedding planner. If you’re a busy couple, or know that the details of party planning will put you on edge, then it tends to be worth the extra cost. Some venues even include a planner in their package costs.
One thing to note is to make sure you hire a planner who has experience planning small events (even better if their sole focus is planing micro weddings). These planners tend to be able to envision and implement your day more effectively. They also might already be in contact with vendors who are also experienced with providing for small weddings.
If you do choose to plan on your own, we suggest staying highly organized. Even though you’re planning a micro wedding, you still have a lot of moving parts. Invest in a quality wedding planner (we like this one and this one on Amazon, as well as Erin Condren planners), and don’t be scared of a spread sheet or two. Having these details available digitally will help you enlist the help of others as well.
**Remember: you WILL need the help of those around you! One of the great things about having a micro wedding is the fact that you’ve only involving those closest to you, which means they will be more than happy to help you pull off your big day.
Eat, Drink, be Merry
Now that you’ve nailed down your date and venue, it’s time to tackle the most important (okay, ONE of the most important!) aspects of your wedding – food and FUN!
Getting to plan the food options for a micro wedding is extra exciting because your small guest count opens up endless opportunities of what you can feed your guests.
Again, go back to your vision here and think about what your want your night to look like. Is it a plated 5 course meal? A food truck with epic street food? A taco bar? Food is where many couples decide to splurge, and truly capitalize on quality over quantity. Since you’re feeding far fewer people, you can really up the wow factor.
Even though you’re planning for a smaller crew, start reaching out to potential caterers or restaurants early. You might not NEED to book 9 months in advance, but it’s better to be safe than sorry. If you’re planning to do something like a food truck or a bar cart, then expect a little more of a laid back approach (food trucks generally don’t schedule events out more than 3-4 months in advance).
You should also consider what you want your dessert option will look like. There’s no need for a giant and elaborate wedding cake that nobody will even eat here. Some great dessert ideas include:
- Individual small cakes
- Dessert bars
- Mason jar desserts
- Mini pies
- Ice cream truck
- Donut wall
- Bundt cakes
Having a smaller order gives you the unique opportunity to utilize smaller businesses, so look around your area and reach out to small bakeries or even coffee shops that have a reputation for amazing items. This also gives you the chance to try out some really unique and unexpected flavors and styles.
Again, you don’t need to go the traditional route here, and chances are your liquor expenses will be drastically smaller than if you were hosting a large wedding. BUT, that doesn’t have to be the case. Many couples choose to provide top shelf options, or even hire an outside bar cart or bartender to handle this aspect of their reception.
Don’t be afraid to get creative here either. Less people means more room for fun options like custom drinks, fun presentation, and whatever else you’re willing to dream up. We even heard of one couple who hosted a backyard micro wedding and filled their hot tub with ice and beer!
Most traditional weddings have a DJ and a dance floor as their entertainment. Lucky for you, throwing a micro wedding means that you can basically do whatever you want when it comes to fun. If you’re utilizing a more traditional venue, make sure you check with them before you bring in anything crazy.
Some creative ideas that we’ve seen couples do include:
- Hiring a musician or band (in place of a DJ)
- Bring in backyard games (corn hole, giant benga, etc.)
- Build their own dance floor
- Photo booth
- Build your own cocktail bar (this can also be hot chocolate or coffee/tea!)
- Beer pong tournaments (or Prosecco pong if you’re classy like that)
- Scavenger hunts
Create a Guest List
You may have heard the saying that creating a wedding guest list is one of the most political things you will ever do in your life, and while creating a guest list for a micro wedding may be no different, but there are ways to make it simple for you and understandable to those affected.
Generally, a micro wedding guest list is made up of your absolute nearest and dearest. For many, this includes their immediate family and closest friends, but in reality it’s up to the couple to decide who they want to share this day with.
Inevitably, there may be hurt feelings when you extend the invitation to some, and not others. People may be left wondering why they didn’t make the ‘nearest and dearest’ cut. It can help to explain to people that you are choosing to have a very small and intimate wedding, and extend your gratitude that your wedding is an important event to them.
The bottom line is that this day is about YOU and your partner, and you’re not obligated to invite anyone (even if they invited you). One of the big draws of having a micro wedding is the fact that you really get to spend quality time with each guest that attends. So when you’re creating your guest list, think about who the people are that you envision spending the night laughing, crying, and celebrating with.
Some other good questions you could ask yourself when creating your micro wedding guest list are:
- Have you spoken to this person in the last 3 months?
- Is this someone who you would plan an intimate dinner with?
- Would you spend $100 on this person for a meal?
If the answer is no to any of those questions, then they may not be the right person to invite.
When it comes to decor, it’s the micro wedding’s time to shine. Since there tends to be much less ground to cover (sometimes literally!), couples are able to customize and splurge on incredible decor options that are special and meaningful to them.
Some decor options that you could implement for your event include:
- Twinkling hanging lights
- Macrame on tables and chairs
- Elaborate florals
- Candle lanterns
The options are endless and most importantly, they’re manageable! If you were throwing a traditional wedding, then trying to drape a homemade macrame accent on each chair would be completely out of the question, but with only a handful of guests, it’s a vision that is more easily brought to life.
Many couples choose to have only one or two floral elements to their micro wedding, which usually ends up being a beautiful table centerpiece, and maybe a bouquet. Seek out a small local florist in your area and convey your vision and preferences with them. Chances are, the cost will also be drastically less!
You can also consider replacing floral elements with greenery and plants that you can then either give away or put into your own house after.
Pick Your Wedding Party/Officiant
If you’re planning to have a micro wedding, then chances are you might not even have a wedding party. Or, you may only choose 1-2 people to stand by your side. The beauty of a micro wedding is there are no rules or expectations here. If you want to have your very best friend or siblings, then that’s great! Otherwise, it makes perfect sense to just have you and your person up front and center.
You DO need to have an officiant at the wedding though (this is the person who performs the ceremony and signs your license). And no, you can’t just have anyone be your officiant (without a little work!).
If you’re considering having a family member or friend officiate then follow these steps:
- The first thing you need to do is check the laws in your state. Some states say that friends and family can NOT officiate a wedding, so this is an important step.
- If you CAN have a family member or friend do the honors, then this person needs to make it official with the state by becoming ordained (an easy way to do this is go to TheMonastery.org) and possibly registered. Again, this varies by state, so make sure you check, and if you plan to ask a family member or friend to officiate, make sure they have enough time to get that done.
Otherwise, you can find and officiant in your area by doing a simple Google search. Not all officiants are created equal so do a little research if you’re going this route. Be sure to compare prices, read reviews, consider the style (funny? serious?), and don’t be afraid to reach out and request a preliminary meeting to make sure it’s a good fit.
Create a Website and Spread the Word
A wedding website is definitely optional if you’ve chosen to have a micro wedding. Let’s be honest, you could easily keep your entire guest list updated with a simple group text. But, wedding website ARE useful if you’re planning to have a destination wedding (or anything involving travel), or are trying to coordinate something more complex (think renting out a group of cabins in the mountains). It’s also nice to have if you have guests who live out of state.
Wedding websites help keep your guests updated about flights, times, itineraries, etc. This could be especially helping when it comes to keeping those who are helping you plan and coordinate in the loop.
If you don’t choose to use a wedding website, at least start spreading the word to those that you want there. Again, this may look very non-traditional since you have a smaller group. A simple call or text will be plenty, and can take the place of save the dates if you’re trying to save money.
Save the Dates/Invitations
If you DO like the idea of more formal invitations, then consider getting fancy with save the dates and invites. Since you won’t be sending out hundreds of these, you can splurge on nicer materials and even have someone custom design them.
Some people also use this as an opportunity to send their guests a sweet gifts or small items that gets them excited about the event. If you’re having a mountain wedding, then tuck a s’more set into the envelope. If you’ve planned a beach destination wedding, include a fun pair of sunglasses. Since you’re working with far fewer invites, these unique and inventive ideas are easily brought to life.
When you’re planning a micro wedding, it’s important to decide which vendor you want, and which ones you’ll do without. Having a less traditional wedding means that you don’t have to check all of those traditional boxes.
Vendors you should consider having include:
- Catering (both food and alcohol)
- DJ or musician
- Equipment rental (tables, chairs, linens, china, flatware, etc.)
While this is a lengthy list, it’s easily customizable to your event. Go back to your priorities and vision for your wedding, and decide which of these is worth spending money on, and which you can do without. Be sure to contact any vendor you do want to use early, just to make sure you can get the ones you want. While they might not need to book you out early (this is especially true with smaller bakers, florists, and caterers), it’s better to be safe than sorry.
If you’re using a vendor that usually caters to large events, then it’s also important to ask about their experience with small events. You want to use a business that knows how to honor the intimate feeling of your gathering.
It’s also important to remember that you may be competing with bigger weddings if you’re having your micro wedding during the traditional wedding season/days/times. Most vendors will choose a higher paying job, so just keep that in mind.
Pick Your Pre/Post Wedding Events
A well known fact is that it’s not just about the wedding these days. Pre-wedding events have taken on a life of their own when it comes to wedding planning. Engagement parties, bachelor/bachelorette parties, and bridal showers have all come to be expected when throwing a traditional wedding.
Since you’re throwing a micro wedding, these events can be planned in a much more modest capacity and can involve your entire guest list if desired.
However, pre-wedding events also offer the opportunity to include people who aren’t actually attending your wedding. Since you’ve kept your guest list to an absolute minimum, hosting a larger pre-wedding party is a way to help those who didn’t make the guest list be a part of your big day.
In terms of post wedding events, some couples choose to extend their stay in a location with their guests to make it into a vacation (think renting out cabins, airbnbs, beach houses, etc). This is especially fun if you’ve chosen to have a destination wedding and can explore your new state or country with your loved ones.
Another option is a post wedding brunch. Either catered or reserved at a restaurant beforehand, this is a great way to close out the event with your whole crew.
We’ve saved the best for last here. One of our all time favorite things about planning a micro wedding is the fact that you can put your personal touch on each and every element, in a way that wouldn’t be possible with a traditional shindig. Because let’s face it, when you’re planning a party for 200 guests, it becomes impossible, expensive, and down right stressful to try and customize every detail.
With a micro wedding, the possibilities are there for the taking. Even the smallest touches make your event even more personal and special, and you’ll be rewarded with the wedding of a lifetime.
When it comes to decor, it’s especially special if you can include your loved ones. After all, you invited them for a reason. Consider adding a family/friends photo wall with at least one special shot of each person, or having personal picture included on coasters, napkins, or cups.
If you both have a fun and unique hobby (or collection!) don’t be afraid to incorporate that either. And don’t forget to include your personal preferences! If you’re an eco-conscious couple, include compostable/recyclable utensils. If you dream of twinkling lights, then fill your venue with candles and overheads.
Also keep in mind that your guests can add to the vibe as well! Just because you’re throwing a small wedding doesn’t mean that you can’t have a formal one, or even ask people to dress in costume.
Since your guest count is drastically lower than a traditional wedding, you have ample opportunity to show them exactly how much they mean to you. Consider leaving a handwritten note at each table place, thanking them for joining you on this special day and letting them know how much you really love them.
You can also put a more personal touch on wedding gifts (if you choose to give them) by customizing them with names, or certain guest favorites. It doesn’t have to be expensive by any means, but take advantage of the extra time you’ll have to direct towards each guest.
As we said before, don’t limit yourself to holding your ceremony and reception in the same space! With such a small group, it becomes much more manageable to move around to accommodate a personalized ceremony location. If you and your partner are avid hikers, consider a mountaintop ceremony, if you love boating, charter a small private craft. The options are endless here, so talk with you partner and loved ones and think about what really reflects your story and bond.
You can also think outside the box when it comes to ceremony seating and structure. Consider having your guests surround you in a circle, or participate in the actual ceremony.
One easy way to personalize the food and drink choices is to choose you and your partner’s favorites or do something sweet like recreating your first meal together. If you have a restaurant or food truck that’s especially meaningful, consider having them cater, or provide something fun like late night snacks. If you hire a food truck, some are willing to work with the couple to create custom menu items that both reflect their tastes and names.
Many bar carts or hired bartenders are also willing to create custom drinks, that you can then give a fun name connected to your wedding. If you’re looking to subtly cut costs, then consider asking your guests to bring their favorite beer or bottle of wine to share!
For dessert, consider choosing a fun option that you both love, rather than the typical cake. Seek out your local bakery for delicious and unique options like customized shaped cookies themed towards your favorite hobby.
Planning any event that’s as meaning as this will feel stressful at times. Just remember, at the end of it all, the most important thing is enjoying the time with your spouse and loved ones. When you look back on all of it, that’s what you’ll remember the most.