What is a micro-wedding? Well, it’s more than an elopement, but less than 400 guests. Preferably less than 50, or maybe 30…okay, nobody really knows. Basically it’s just a wedding that’s done in a much more intimate way on a smaller scale. By having a micro-wedding you may already be bucking tradition away from the big fancy weddings society sees plastered all over the magazines in the grocery store or on wedding blogs.
As a photographer of non-traditional weddings, it’s in my interest to tell you today how to keep your micro-wedding non-traditional during a pandemic or for whatever reason you may be seeking to have a smaller celebration.
- Don’t be afraid to disappoint people by not inviting them. This is YOUR celebration. It’s not theirs. If you’re striving to have a smaller celebration you need to invite your absolute favorites and the people most important to you. The people who you will look back on in 10 years and be glad they were in your photos. I speak from experience. Having a wedding party just for the sake of having people in your wedding is silly. Plus, we look back and there’s a person or two we wish we could cut out of those photos and had kept them to the people who truly knew us best and have always been in our lives for the long haul. Plus if people will be upset by not being invited, then they may not be the kind of people you need in your life anyway.
- No matter what kind of wedding you’re having, I highly recommend approaching it with a “screw wedding rules” vibe. There is so much people-pleasing happening at weddings that folks are often forgetting to celebrate in a way that feels authentic to them. There aren’t rules. So you don’t have to worry about following them no matter what a relative says.
- If weddings have never felt like your kind of thing due to all the icky patriarchal traditions, then make a list of all the wedding traditions you can think of and go through them together and cross off the ones you don’t want to do at your wedding. Whatever you have left you can consider how to integrate it in a way that makes sense to tell and celebrate your own story.
- Traditional weddings are usually a high-budget item. One of the best ways to have a non-traditional celebration is by having a very small budget. Small budgets limit all the fluff you can do to celebrate and help you pair down what you want to only the most important things.
- Cut out the legal stuff. Check your state’s laws for marriage licenses. If you don’t need a witness, just marry yourselves. Heck, do it on a day that’s not the celebration that way you don’t have to feel like you need to make time for paperwork on your wedding day. Some states require an officiant of some sort, some require none, some require just witnesses. Figure it out and decide from there how you want to approach the legal aspect. If having an officiant feels way too traditional to you and your state will allow you to get away with not having one – do it. If all else fails, get married in Colorado where you can marry yourselves and you don’t need any witnesses or officiants.
- Keep things simple! Weddings do not require a fancy dinner. I’ve been to many small weddings where people order pizzas or BBQ in the backyard. I don’t know about you, but my favorite food is Indian take out from Yak and Yeti. If I wanted to have a non-traditional celebration that was authentic to our story I might just order a lot of take out and share it with everyone in my back yard. It sounds a lot more authentic to how we live our lives and how we enjoy spending time with friends and family than a fancy meal at a restaurant we cannot afford.
- The best part about micro-weddings has to be the fact that you can skip things like having a wedding party, a DJ, making programs, favors, centerpieces, guestbooks, reception place cards, aisle runners, and all the other arbitrary stuff that traditionally goes along with the wedding. If you have a micro-wedding you can focus on only the stuff you truly need to celebrate.
- A micro-wedding is the perfect semi-casual excuse to buy a quirky wedding dress that you’ve secretly always wanted, but know that some of your more traditional family members would hate. If you only invite a small group of people you love most, you won’t have to worry about your aunt making sneaky comments behind your back all night about your non-traditional attire.
- My favorite part of micro-weddings and the intimate weddings and elopements I’ve had the pleasure to photograph is the fact that you can keep the ceremony informal. If you don’t need any fancy readings or a unity ceremony, you can focus on writing personal vows from the heart. Micro-weddings usually include some of the most personal and intimate vows I’ve had the privilege to witness.
- Last, you can have your wedding just about anywhere with venue costs that fit nearly every budget. You can run off into the mountains at a national park for a small fee (averaging a couple hundred dollars), or you can rent a large private venue to house your closest family. Either way, a micro-wedding gives you a lot more flexibility on where you can celebrate.
Ultimately the truth is the way you keep a micro-wedding non-traditional is probably very similar to how you keep a big fancy wedding non-traditional. Micro-weddings by their nature are less traditional anyway. If you’re planning one due to COVID-19 or for any other reason and you’re struggling to make it feel like something unique and different, I hope these tips help you!