Whether you’re planning a micro wedding (A.K.A. intimate wedding) or an elopement, we have some great ideas on how to make your big/small day super special.
Here at Lang Floral Designs, we do wedding flowers and event design in the Chattanooga area. We have had the privilege of working on over 100 weddings spanning the entire state of Tennessee and beyond. In 2020, we saw a massive change in the wedding industry due to COVID-19. Many of these couples had already begun planning their larger weddings (150-250 guests), and had to make the very difficult decision to move forward, cancel or postpone. However, now that we have seen how this pandemic-plagued year has progressed, many couples are loving the idea of a smaller “micro” wedding to decrease the risk of having to make such difficult decisions about their wedding day.
What is a Micro Wedding?
Brides.com gives this definition of a micro wedding:
“A micro wedding is an intimate affair, typically with no more than 50 guests. They still feature time-honored traditions that make a wedding but on a much smaller scale.”
The term “micro wedding” is fairly new to me and most of the wedding industry, but the idea of having an intimate event with a smaller guest count is no new concept. Some couples are more introverted or low key, and the thought of a huge party with 200+ guests gives them more anxiety than it does excitement. With the effects that COVID-19 has had on literally everything, the “micro wedding” concept has become much more appealing for so many!
I mean, this could be what you’ve always dreamt of. Many couples end up letting their guest list snowball to the 200’s out of obligation. It’s extremely rare that I meet with a bride with a large guest list who actually wanted a big event. It’s just hard to dwindle that list down at the risk of offending friends, coworkers, clients or distant family members. The one good thing that COVID-19 has done to the wedding industry is give couples an easy out if they don’t want a guests list of hundreds of their “closest” family and friends. This weird time we’re in has made it much more acceptable for couples to choose a small, intimate guest list of just immediate family and best friends. Your micro wedding guest list will end up being just “your tribe”.
So, Why Choose a Micro Wedding?
Here are a few of the benefits in scaling down your guest list to a “micro” size:
- One-on-one time with each guest
- No obligatory invites
- More room in the budget for the special details
- More COVID-19 safe
- An intimate and cozy feel
Take a look at our top 10 ideas below, and imagine what a more intimate wedding would feel like.
1. Define What’s Most Important to You and Your Fiancé
If you’re planning a wedding in 2021 or 2022, you have to take into consideration that COVID-19 may still be a factor surrounding your big day. But pandemic or not, one of the first conversations you and your fiancé should have once engaged is what your priorities are for the wedding. Do you want a long engagement or short? A huge party where everyone is drinking and dancing, or a more intimate and romantic feel. Are you set on staying local, or would it make sense to expand your search to other states?
Your answers to some of these initial wedding questions might help you see if a micro wedding would be the right choice for you and your fiancé.
2. A Non-Traditional Wedding Venue
If you are considering a micro wedding, you’re probably looking at a guest list of around 15-50 people. So, this opens up your options for a wedding location far beyond traditional wedding venues. Now, don’t get me wrong. A traditional wedding venue is going to have all the amenities you’ll need for your wedding (think bridal suite, tables and chairs included, a built-in arbor at the ceremony site, etc). So, if you’re getting married in Tennessee, I recently wrote a blog about the TOP 15 BEST WEDDING VENUES IN THE STATE.
However, you’re much more free to think outside the box with a smaller guest list. We saw a lot of couples pivot their wedding plans in 2020. One couple rented a large AirBNB right outside of town for their summer wedding, so they could sun bath and enjoy the pool all weekend long. When wedding day came around, they had plenty of space out in the AirBNB’s yard to create their intimate wedding ceremony.
Another couple switched out their large indoor wedding for a small ceremony in the bride’s parents’ backyard. The bride’s dad even custom built this bridge to go across the pool for the ceremony. Talk about making the best of a difficult situation! This micro wedding was gorgeous and the couple was beaming all day long!
Micro Wedding Photos by Michael Rizza Photography
3. A Destination Wedding
Planning a wedding out of the country might not be the best plan right now. However, if you’re an adventurous couple, there are SO MANY beautiful locations within the Continental United States that would be easily drivable. One of my favorite destination wedding spots is Under Canvas. With 9 luxury glamping locations across the U.S (and counting), there’s sure to be one within driving distance to you and most of your guests. Contact them for options to rent out the whole glamping resort for your wedding weekend!
If this sounds like a dream come true, be sure to contact ‘Cause We Can Events, who specialized in adventure destination wedding planning, and has worked with Under Canvas many times! Last year, we worked with Gabby from ‘Cause We Can on this Under Canvas Smoky Mountains wedding.
Photography by Lauren Mihae Photography
If luxury camping for your wedding isn’t your idea of magical, consider renting a private section of a resort or an AirBNB in your ideal location. With a small guest list of only the most important people to you, you can get more creative with accommodations and safe travel plans to create an unforgettable experience!
4. Elope Now. Celebrate Later.
Did you know that “eloping” for your wedding day doesn’t just mean haphazardly rushing to the courthouse. Nope. Some couples love the idea of getting away, just the two of them (plus officiant and photographer of course) to exchange vows in private. We recently had a couple do a hiking elopement in the mountains of Tennessee. The couple and their family hiked up together to the elopement spot (with their adventure photographer close behind). How unique and special is this idea for a couple who loves to enjoy the outdoors?
Urvi and Chris hired Make Adventure Stories to plan and photograph their elopement.
Here’s what the owner had to say about this special event:
Like a lot of couples this year, Urvi & Chris had a large traditional wedding planned that was cancelled by COVID-19. But, not knowing how long it would take for “normal” to come again, they decided they were ready to be married! So they reached out to me, asked how fast they could make this happen. So we found a date, and in just about THREE WEEKS went from elopement idea to execution.
That’s the beauty of eloping–truly anything is possible! And with planning theirs quickly, it brought a laser-sharp focus the things that they as a couple wanted to remember in 5, 10, or even 25 years from now as “THE” moments of their adventure–these are the things that really matter. For Urvi & Chris, it was being outdoors and doing the things they loved.
So, what I encourage couples is to not feel boxed in to “traditional” elopement locations like the courthouse! And, definitely know that even though you and your partner might chose to elope, it doesn’t mean you two have to go it alone! There are a ton of options waiting for you.Kate Okenatez-Mahoney, Make Adventure Stories
5. Extravagant Florals & Decor
I know. I know. I’m a wedding florist… Of course I would suggest going big on the flowers for your micro wedding. But hear me out. Most full scale weddings include a laundry list of florals (I’m not complaining!); 6-10 bridesmaids’ bouquets, 20+ boutonnieres and corsages, 20+ floral centerpieces, etc. But most micro weddings call for a small or non-existent wedding party and a fraction of the reception tables needing centerpieces.
So, when you take away all those bridal party items, the expense of some large statement floral items will somewhat balance out. Be sure to communicate your budget with your florist. And if you need help budgeting, check out these two resources: Average Cost of Wedding Flowers and A Free Wedding Budget Spreadsheet.
One thing we love to do is create a beautiful floral ceremony piece or hanging installation, and repurpose it at the reception in some way. Check out the images below to see some of our favorite floral installations, and how they were repurposed at the reception.
6. One Big Banquet-Style Reception Table
Long wooden farm-style tables for the reception have been a favorite in the wedding industry for a few years now. First was the trend of having a long greenery garland all the way down the table. Currently, we’re loving the trend of styling several floral items down the length of one table. Mix in some candles and a fabric runner down that line of floral details, and you’ve created Pinterest-worth magic!
The problem with this trend is that if a couple is planning a large wedding with 200+ guests, they may not have the budget to rent 20-25 beautiful wooden tables, and line them with 60-75 floral centerpieces and countless candles and such. It simply takes a lot to achieve that look.
But your micro wedding begs for it! If you’re having 20-50 guests, imagine how beautiful and inviting it will be to have them all at one giant table! Position you and the groom at one end on a cute vintage sofa, and you will be the center of attention and have the privilege of seeing each and every guest enjoy your reception.
Take a look at some of our favorite banquet-style reception tables:
Photography: Resounding Whispers (Micro Wedding Styled Shoot)
Photography: Our Ampersand
Photos by Lauren Mihae Photography
Photographer: Lindsey Lowe Photography
7. An Extra Special Menu
A smaller guest count opens up the opportunity for a more creative menu. I always feel that your menu should reflect the tone of the wedding (let your caterer make suggestions too). An intimate and elegant affair lends itself to a chef-inspired multi course dinner.
But if you’re having a more relaxed micro wedding, consider bringing in a few local food trucks for the added experience. A taco bar and Mexican theme have also become a huge trend for casual weddings. A great caterer can even help you elevate that idea with premium ingredients like steak and shrimp, fresh guacamole made table side, cook-to-order food stations, and even a signature margarita cocktail!
If you’re planning a micro wedding in the Chattanooga area, definitely check out Party Bites. Here are some suggestions their head chef Antonio has:
“You truly can make the most out of a Micro Wedding by taking your creativity to the next level in your food choice! Grazing Stations can be an amazing option that can feed a vast amount of guests, any time of the day, offering a plethora of filling, health-conscious, options.”Antonio Tate, Chef/Owner-Party Bites Catering
8. More Personalization
With a larger wedding, it can be challenging to have the budget and the time to pull off personalized items for each of your guests on your wedding day. When couples need to accommodate 150+ guests, they often decide not to even do a seating chart, because it’s just too much work. But we all know how much more pleasant a wedding is when the seating has been planned out in advance and you’re sitting with people you know.
So, of course you can think big when it comes to the seating chart, place cards, table numbers and the like. We especially love to do a little decorative element to accompany the place card, like a sprig of greenery or piece of fruit. With a smaller guest list, you can put more care and attention into each place setting to make your entire table stylish and inviting.
Photos by Resounding Whispers (Micro Wedding Styled Shoot)
However, with just a few dozen guests, you could go far beyond that. The wedding favor is one item you could really go nuts with. Consider personalized items as a part of each favor…or you could create more of a guest favor “kit”. How sweet would it be to include a little note to each guest telling them how special they are to you. The possibilities are really endless.
9. Be Open and Honest about the Invites
Regardless of the reason you chose to go with a micro wedding, I give you full permission to “blame it on Covid”. Hey, you may have family drama and social anxiety. No one has to know. I would, however, communicate your plans to those who didn’t make the cut. The best way to do this, without singling people out, is via social media. For friends who thought they were close enough to you to get invited to your wedding, it could hurt their feelings to find out they were not. But by letting everyone know you chose a smaller option rather than a traditional wedding, you’ll minimize those negative reactions.
I recommend writing a heart felt post on all your social media platforms, letting people know that you have chosen an intimate wedding of JUST immediate family and a few friends. You could even call it an elopement so please understand it isn’t like a normal wedding. Have your fiancé do the same. They don’t have to know whether the guest count is 5 or 50. This just softens the blow and lets people know that you truly wanted to invite everyone, but decided to go small.
If you already sent out save-the-dates or invitations, take a look at this resource which goes into much more detail about how to pivot your entire event. It is acceptable to redact a wedding invitation due to covid-related changes. You just need to do things a little more formal than a social media post.
10. Splurge Elsewhere
If you’ve always dreamt of a big wedding, you may grieve just a tiny bit when deciding to give up that dream for a safer micro wedding. And that’s totally understandable!
(Here’s a blog I wrote about how to decide if you should scale down or cancel your full-scale wedding plans due to COVID-19.) However, in time, it might be a good idea to let your focus shift to another priority, other than the wedding.
If you originally had a wedding budget fit for a full-scale wedding, you may save thousands by going smaller. We suggest taking a chunk of that savings and investing it into something for your marriage, like a down payment on a house, paying off some debt, or purchasing a new furniture set for your home together.
So, is a Micro Wedding for you?
Have I convinced you yet to choose a micro wedding? If an intimate day with your loved ones, beautiful decor, and a to-die-for menu sounds like your cup of tea, a micro wedding might be the perfect way to tie the knot!
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Lang Floral Designs is a premier wedding florist in Chattanooga, Tennessee. We do wedding and event flowers in the surrounding areas of East Tennessee and North Georgia, and we also love providing brides everywhere with useful ideas and information for their wedding day. For a better idea of all we can do at your wedding, click here. Contact us today if you’re interested in hiring us for your wedding or event.