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What is a micro wedding and how do you plan one? Will you regret foregoing a traditional wedding? Why are micro weddings a better option for some people?
A micro wedding is defined as a non-traditional marriage ceremony with a smaller, more intimate venue and typically fewer than 50 guests. Although every couple’s micro wedding will be unique to their tastes, in general, micro weddings cost less, save time, and are less stressful to plan. For these reasons, micro weddings have become a popular choice for many couples who want to avoid the hassle of planning a large, traditional wedding.
Keep reading to find out if a micro wedding is the right choice for you.
What Does a Micro Wedding Look Like?
While micro weddings are smaller in scale than traditional weddings, they can still be a grand event. Micro weddings allow you to treat your closest family and friends to a unique wedding ceremony where you’ve selected only the details and traditions that matter most to you. The three key benefits of a micro wedding are:
- A more personal experience, including the ability to spend more time with your guests
- A cost- and time-saving option for busy couples who want to avoid the stress of planning a large wedding
- A larger number of venues to choose from
In addition to these common benefits of a micro wedding, research shows that having a smaller, non-traditional wedding could be beneficial to couples even after they’ve tied the knot.
The Value of Non-Traditional Weddings
Research has shown that the more a couple spends on a wedding ceremony or the ring, the shorter the marriage. The researchers specifically found that when the wedding costs $20,000 or more, couples were 3.5 times more likely to get divorced than when the wedding cost $5,000-$10,000. This information points to the value of smaller, non-traditional weddings.
Although researchers have not identified the exact cause of this correlation, they reason that wedding-related debt has an impact on relationship health. It could also be that couples who mutually decide to spend less on a wedding tend to make a stronger pair. In any case, while the wedding industry promotes lavish, large weddings as being the standard, this research provides a new perspective and reveals the benefits of smaller wedding ceremonies.
The Value of a Traditional Wedding
Before deciding to plan a micro wedding, you should also consider the benefits of a traditional wedding to be sure you won’t regret your decision later. It’s popular these days to forgo old-fashioned wedding traditions, with some couples opting out of marriage altogether as they cannot see the value in the tradition—especially if they don’t plan on having children.
However, the ritual of a wedding ceremony and traditions have existed for centuries because they provide a meaningful rite of passage for couples. Many couples claim they don’t fully understand the value of these traditions until after the fact. Marking your ceremony with time-honored traditions provides a natural transition into this new phase of your life, like how we hold rites of passage for those graduating from school or reaching adulthood.
If you and your partner have a long-term relationship, it may be tempting to elope and eschew all traditions in order to save on time and money. Many couples feel intimidated by the cost and details of lavish wedding traditions, preferring to spend the money on a honeymoon or a new house. Finding the balance between a big wedding and no wedding at all is what a micro wedding accomplishes.
Remember, the bride and groom aren’t the only ones investing emotions into a wedding ceremony. Consider if your family may have hopes for seeing you and your partner participate in wedding rituals that are meaningful to them. For example, would the bride’s father be disappointed if he didn’t have the chance to walk his daughter down the aisle?
In any case, it is most important for you and your partner to be on the same page in terms of your preferences for wedding traditions and rituals. Micro weddings offer the flexibility of cherry-picking meaningful wedding traditions to incorporate into your ceremony.
Micro Wedding Venues
One of the ultimate benefits of micro weddings is saving money. Spending less on your wedding ceremony allows you to afford a luxurious honeymoon or simply save up to buy a home in the future. With a smaller guest list, you aren’t limited to only the traditional wedding venue options, which often cost much more. However, micro wedding venues can be as minimal or expensive as you wish—this budget flexibility is what many couples love about planning a micro wedding. Read below for examples of both cost-saving and indulgent micro wedding venues.
When you’re on a budget, it’s much easier to plan a micro wedding rather than a traditional wedding. There are many creative options for cost-saving venues when you invite fewer than 50 guests. Whether you have a smaller budget or just want to spend less on your venue so you can spend more in other areas of your ceremony, the below cost-saving venues are a great, affordable option.
- Libraries: Many libraries offer options to rent rooms for events.
- Museums or art galleries: Museums and galleries are typically housed in ornate buildings, and you can save on decorations since they already have beautiful decor.
- Botanical gardens: Booking a garden venue in the off-season can save you even more money.
- Farms: A farm or barn venue is best suited for a small guest list, and many landowners charge only a small fee to use their space.
- Airbnb properties: Many Airbnb rentals now offer event hosting.
- Backyards: You can make a backyard venue as casual or fancy as you wish, and a backyard creates an intimate atmosphere.
- Parks: Although costs to hold a wedding in a park vary depending on location and season, parks typically charge a small fee and some provide wedding packages.
If you and your partner prefer a more extravagant venue, you may want to consider investing in a micro wedding package. Due to the rising popularity of micro weddings, various companies now offer packages customized for your smaller guest list and budget. However, these packages still include all the traditional wedding elements, just on a smaller scale. A micro wedding package is a good option if you’re willing to spend more on your venue and want most of the planning handled by the package organizer.
Below are some examples of micro wedding packages that include both traditional and exotic venues.
- Hearth House Venue Pop-Up Micro Wedding Package
- Wild Social Micro Wedding Package
- Cavender Castle’s Micro Wedding Package
- Inn at Hastings Park Micro Wedding Package
- The Reynolda Micro Wedding Package
Planning a Micro Wedding
If a micro wedding is what you have your heart set on, then you will still need to do some planning for your special day. The steps involved in planning a micro wedding will vary depending on your and your partner’s vision for your wedding day. However, there are some basic details every couple should consider as they plan a micro wedding: budget, music, and refreshments, and which traditional wedding elements to include.
Another optional step will be deciding if you want to live stream your wedding. Wedding live streams have become even more popular since the Covid pandemic required many couples with wedding plans to hold private ceremonies. If your original guest list was much larger before deciding on a micro wedding, then live streaming your ceremony is a convenient way to allow more family and friends to join in on your special day.
If you feel overwhelmed with the wedding planning process, the Getting Things Done (GTD) program can help ease your stress. GTD is designed to increase your productivity and effectiveness—not so you can squeeze even more into your already busy life, but so that you can do things with less time, energy, and effort.
When your mind is clear, you can focus and use your creative energy for the task at hand, and in your free moments, you can fully enjoy life without feeling guilty that you’re not doing something “productive.”
Here’s an overview of the Natural Planning Method from Getting Things Done to help you easily plan a micro wedding without feeling overwhelmed by all the details.
The Natural Planning Method for Micro Weddings
Many people lean toward formal planning methods, and this can be especially tempting when planning a wedding. For example, you may be tempted to spend more money on a wedding planner just to avoid the hassle of planning your micro wedding. However, taking the wrong approach to planning projects makes the process feel daunting and causes many people to put off planning until the last minute. Additionally, it can lead you to:
- Overlook critical issues
- Not allow enough time for brainstorming
- Neglect nitty-gritty details
By contrast, the Natural Planning Method is a much more effective approach, and you’re probably already doing it in your everyday life—you just might not realize you’re doing it. There are five steps of natural planning; we’ll give an overview of them and look at how they apply to planning a micro wedding, then we’ll explain each one in depth.
1) Define your purpose and principles. Your purpose is the intention of the project, and your principles create the boundaries.
Your purpose in having a micro wedding is to celebrate the union between you and your partner, and the principles or boundaries might include the wedding’s affordability and convenience.
2) Envision your outcome. Once you’ve determined that you’re planning a project and why you’re planning it (your purpose), you naturally begin to envision what it’ll be like. This is the physical feel, look, and sound of the project.
For a micro wedding, you might envision your closest family and friends gathering to hear your vows and share in music and refreshments in an intimate setting.
3) Brainstorm. Now that you have the vision, your brain wants to figure out how to make that vision a reality. In random order, your thoughts will bounce around to what you need, who you need to talk to, and how you can accomplish these tasks.
In the context of a micro wedding, this includes questions like “Is the venue we want available?” “What date should we choose?” and “Who will we invite?”
4) Organize. After the swirl of brainstorming thoughts, you naturally begin to organize them based on components (logistical tasks to make the project happen), priorities (information you need to determine if the project is feasible), and sequences (which actions need to happen first). This is when challenges, comparisons, and evaluations naturally arise because you’re determining which actions are more important and need to happen first.
In your wedding planning, the components involve inviting guests, making sure the location will work, and handling logistics. The priorities might be to determine your budget so you know what your viable options will be. The sequences are deciding that first you need to call the wedding venue to see if it’s available, then invite the guests, then decide on other options like music, refreshments, and personal touches.
5) Determine your next actions. This is a natural outgrowth of the organizing step. Here, you drill down on the first action you will need to take to accomplish the highest-priority task on your list.
For a micro wedding, you’ll have decided that the first action you need to take will be assessing your budget to see what venues you can comfortably afford.
TITLE: Getting Things Done
AUTHOR: David Allen
Deciding on a Budget
Just like traditional weddings, deciding on a budget with your partner is the first step in planning a micro wedding. As you think about your budget for a micro wedding, what’s the most productive way to discuss these plans with your partner? Financial educator and author Ramit Sethi shares his advice for talking about money with your partner, including planning a wedding budget, in his book I Will Teach You to Be Rich. Here’s Sethi’s advice.
Talking About Money With Your Partner
Before you can dig into the nitty gritty of your personal financial situations, you and your partner need to get comfortable with talking about money at all. That might be especially difficult if you’re not used to being open about your finances, or if you know that you and your partner have very different financial situations (for example, if one of you makes more money or has more debt than the other). However, if you approach the conversation with an open, humble, and nonjudgmental attitude, discussing money doesn’t have to be a scary thing.
To make these conversations easier, start with general questions—like how your partner thinks about money in general, how their parents talked about money, or what their ideal financial situation would be. Put them at ease by being vulnerable and sharing something about your own finances (for example, if you know you tend to overspend in a certain area, or if you’re stressed about your credit card debt). That vulnerability will encourage them to share openly in return. This conversation doesn’t have to happen all at once—it might take place over the span of several weeks. Either way, remember that the goal is for both of you to get comfortable talking about money and helping each other prioritize your financial health.
Once you and your partner are comfortable talking about money in general, it’s time to dig down into specifics. Sit down with your partner and openly discuss your salaries, savings, spending habits, debt, and financial goals. Here’s an example of how you could approach this conversation.
First, start by talking about your short- and long-term financial goals. This could be anything from taking a vacation next year to going back to school or supporting your aging parents. You should also get clear on the kind of lifestyle you’re hoping to live—will you spend thousands every year at bars and restaurants, buckle down to save as much as possible and reach FIRE at 35, or something in between?
Once you’ve both had a chance to share your goals, discuss your spending habits. Again, you can put your partner at ease by going first. Show them your plan for spending, including any areas where you feel you could improve, and ask for their feedback. Talking about your plan will naturally open the door to discussing your debt, savings, and investments (since you’re making automatic payments to all those accounts each month). At this point, you can also talk about how you’ll handle joint expenses if one person makes more money than the other (for example, if you make more than your partner, you might split the rent payment 60/40 instead of 50/50 so that you’re both putting the same percentage of your monthly income toward rent).
Finally, when you’ve worked through all the details together, end the conversation on a positive note by setting up a few savings goals together, like a tropical honeymoon or a bigger apartment. As you continue having conversations about money, you can get more specific about these goals.
- This has the added benefit of making it easier for you to bring up concerns about your partner’s spending habits down the line. If you’re worried that your spouse is spending too much, you can remind them of your joint goals (and how important those goals are to both of you) rather than directly accusing them of spending too much and making them feel judged or attacked.
Paying For a Wedding
Studies show that the average American wedding costs somewhere around $35,000—and that the average American thinks their wedding won’t cost nearly that much. But when it comes time for the big day, most people end up paying far more than they planned on all the details that go into a wedding. Those costs can add up quickly, and they can even put you into debt if you don’t plan ahead.
Instead of assuming that you will somehow beat the average and have a truly simple, low-budget wedding, take those statistics to heart and start saving for your wedding now—even if you’re planning a micro wedding. You may feel silly doing it, but you’ll be far better off than if you just assume you’ll somehow have an extra $35,000 on hand when the time comes. Plus, if you don’t end up spending that money on a wedding, you can always put it towards a different savings goal.
To figure out how much you should be saving for your future wedding, start by estimating when you want to get married (for reference, the average age at marriage is 27 for women and 29 for men). Then, use that estimate to figure out how long you have to save, and divide the total wedding cost by that number.
- For example, if you’re 24 and you plan to get married at 29, you have five years (or 60 months) to save up enough money. Assuming you’re paying for the entire wedding yourself, that means you need to save $583.33 every month for the next 60 months.
Of course, one of the goals of micro weddings is not to spend that much money. But Sethi’s advice still holds true. It’s much easier to slowly put money aside for a wedding than trying to conjure it all up at once or ending up in debt—even if you only plan on spending $5,000.
TITLE: I Will Teach You to Be Rich
AUTHOR: Ramit Sethi
Choosing Music, Refreshments, & Personal Touches
If a micro wedding is what you and your partner think is best, it’s important not to forget about planning the basics. Most agree that the essential elements of a wedding, regardless of size, include music and refreshments. After deciding on your wedding budget, you should consider what music, if any, you want to incorporate into your ceremony and if your micro wedding will offer food and drink to guests. Once you’ve covered these basics, you can build up from there by adding personal touches to the ceremony, including decorations, wedding attire, and photography.
This is your chance to let your imagination run wild since micro weddings are meant to be meaningful and unique to your tastes. Below are some ideas for personalizing your micro wedding by taking advantage of a smaller guest list:
- Write personal vows that you wish to share with your closest friends and family
- Create unique wedding invitations rather than having them printed
- Include your pet(s) in the ceremony since many micro wedding venues are pet-friendly
- Choose a few floral arrangements and pick them up rather than paying for delivery
- Use a local bakery to create a unique wedding cake
Choosing Traditions to Keep or Abandon
As mentioned previously, micro weddings allow more flexibility for incorporating wedding traditions that are most meaningful to the bride and groom and the guests. Your micro wedding could include all or none of these traditions. It’s important to discuss with your partner which traditions you both want to include, depending on cultural and religious values. Don’t forget to consider your families when making this decision. Try to think of what traditions your parents or close family would miss if they weren’t included in your micro wedding.
Meghan Shaughnessy from Lace and Belle suggests that you should focus on the details that are the most important to you. This may be the flower arrangements, a special theme, a choreographed dance, etc. Meghan believes the most meaningful micro weddings stay true to you and your partner’s vision for the day by including a focus on one or two special touches.
Many couples say having a micro wedding is what allowed them to truly enjoy the meaning of their important day. Micro weddings spotlight your love for each other by including personalized details and allowing you to declare your lifelong commitment in front of the people who matter most. Remember these important questions when deciding if a micro wedding is right for you: “Is a smaller guest list a viable option?”, “Would saving money on a micro wedding help you with future financial decisions?”, and “Would anyone regret not having a big, traditional wedding?”
We hope this micro wedding overview has helped you understand what a micro wedding is and if it would be the right fit for your big day.
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