A Simple Guide to Planning Your Own Microwedding
From Hollywood dramas to online forums, the world probably has you thinking that getting married is complicated, stressful, and expensive.
If you’re planning a big, traditional wedding… they’re pretty much right.
If you’re planning a small, contemporary wedding… they’re very wrong.
Putting together your own microwedding can be straightforward and affordable. And while everyone’s special day looks different, below are the primary components that go into planning a small, intimate wedding.
Wedding planners and coordinators exist for a very good reason. But if you’re planning a laid-back ceremony in a park, you can probably handle it on your own. On the other hand, if your microwedding is a detail-driven day with a fully-catered dinner and formal reception, I highly recommend finding a professional wedding planner in your area. (And do keep in mind that some planners offer “day of” packages that are perfect for small weddings.)
The Budget / Guest Count
Deciding your budget and guest count are you first steps. Are you planning a simple mountaintop elopement, and trying to create the cheapest wedding possible? Or you planning on feeding your three dozen closest friends caviar? Once you have these numbers estimated, you’re ready to dive into the other details.
A major bonus of microweddings is that you’re not limited by the travel-plans of 300 guests. There are exciting and unique places across the United States––and around the world––that are perfect for intimate weddings. From beaches to mountain-tops, let your imagination run!
In the wedding world, there are: seasons, days, and times. Wedding season (roughly May - October), weekends, and evenings are the highest demand. The higher the demand, the higher the price, and the more limited the venue/vendor availability. If you’re flexible with your scheduling, consider working with off-season dates, weekdays, or mornings/afternoons. It’s a great way to save money and opens up a lot more options.
If you’re having an outdoor ceremony, don’t forget to factor in…
Temperature––which may affect makeup, outfits, comfort, etc.
Time of day––which will impact your lighting for photos (near sunrise or sunset is best; noon is the worst)
Once your ceremony is pinned down, plan the rest of the day accordingly. You don’t want to leave your guests in limbo for five hours between the ceremony and the reception. (We’ve all been to a wedding like that, and it wasn’t fun.)
Wedding venues are a dime a dozen, but venues willing work with small weddings aren’t quite as common. Beyond the traditional spots, try looking for public parks, mountaintops, breweries/restaurants with event space, and rental homes with beautiful backyards.
Venue Pro tip:
Trying to find a venue that’s ideal for both the ceremony and reception radically limits your options. Keep in mind that you can always hold the ceremony at the top of a mountain or in a local park, and hold your reception in the private event room of a restaurant or brewery nearby.
My favorite spots: “Where to Have Your Microwedding”
Religious or secular? Unity candle or whiskey-blending ceremony? Guests standing or sitting? And who walks down the aisle first? If you have a wedding planner and/or a competent officiant, they should help you figure these things out. I dig more into the actual ceremony planning: here
Arguably, the only thing you really need for a wedding ceremony! Officiants perform the ceremony and sign the license. Find a local professional in your area or opt for a friend or family member.
Tips on finding the right officiant: here
For small weddings, the primary vendors are the officiant, photographer, florist, and some way to feed people. The next ones on the list would be hair stylist or videographer. Small weddings generally don’t need DJs, but a live musician for the ceremony can be a nice touch. I breakdown how to round up vendors like a pro: here
The Wedding License
Don’t forget about this one. Exact details vary, but generally, you’ll get the wedding license in the state where the ceremony will be held. Your officiant should have all this information; if they don’t, that’s a big red flag.
The easiest option is to call the government office responsible for issuing marriage licenses and ask questions. Familiarize yourself with the waiting period, general requirements, and any logistical concerns that may arise related to non-citizens, divorcees, witnesses required, etc.
I’ll say it again: planning a small, simple wedding doesn’t need to be stressful. Do your research, give yourself plenty of time to talk to vendors/venues, and remember to breathe. If you do find yourself feeling buried, reach out to a local wedding planner. Whatever they charge, it’ll be worth avoiding an anxiety-attack blackout on your wedding day.
For more information on planning your own small wedding, be sure to check out my other articles!
Owner / Lead Planner