If the past three years have taught us anything, it's what weddings are really about. Not baby's breath, warm uplighting or linen table runners, as Instagram might have you believe, but a commitment to the person standing in front of you. More couples are opting for micro weddings, intimate gatherings that honor their partnership without the big crowd (and even bigger bill). And while micro weddings spiked at the height of the pandemic, scaled-back celebrations are here to stay. Because you’re not going to look back on the Best Day of Your Life™️ and lament a lack of petal confetti or a wedding hashtag. But you might wish you’d spent more time with the people you love. Below, find the best tips for planning your micro wedding, according to planners who specialize in small soirees.
34 Micro Wedding Ideas for Planning a Small (But Memorable) Celebration
Meet the Experts
- Sarah Carroll: Planner at Small Shindigs
- Cassie and Mallory: Planner at Wild Social Weddings
- Alisha Reicks-Sturgill, Planner at The Indigo Bride:
- Jamie Wolfer, Planner at Wolfer & Co.
What is a Micro Wedding?
According to wedding planner and YouTuber Jamie Wolfer, a micro wedding falls somewhere between an elopement and a traditional wedding. Wolfer tells us these parties host no more than fifty guests—enough to fill a dance floor, not enough to feel like you’re at Coachella. And unlike elopements, which do away with guest lists and conventional itineraries, a micro wedding follows the ceremony-dinner-dancing formula, only with fewer guests. So how do you plan one?
Micro Wedding Planning Tips
1. List Your Priorities
Along with curating your guest list, you’ll need narrow down the vendors you care about most. Do you envision reading your vows beneath a rainbow of florals? Is a five-person band essential for bringing your dance floor to life? “Micro weddings are all about having the most important everything. Prioritizing your top two items will ensure you’re putting your dollars towards what you’re really going to be happiest remembering down the line,” advises Carroll.
2. Hire a Planner
We won’t judge you for ditching the three-layer cake or bouquet toss, but don’t be so quick to forego a day-of coordinator. Cassie and Mallory tell us not to rely on your mom or best friend to work out the wedding details. “There is no reason to be stressed at your own wedding and to have family worried about things like timelines, vendor communication, set up, and tear down. Hire someone to make sure these details are taken care of so you can celebrate worry free!”
3. Settle on Your Guest List
If you invite one friend from dance class, must you ask the other? Will your distant cousin ever recover when he learns he’s not welcome at your big day? And can you gently implore your in-laws to stop inviting couples you’ve never met? It’s easy for to-be-weds to feel flattened under the weight of guest list expectations. Which is why Cassie and Mallory suggest sticking to a system for cutting it down. “If you haven't spoken to someone you are considering on the guest list in the last year or two don't invite them! If you're thinking of inviting them out of guilt, don't do it! You should only be buying dinner for those closest to you.” they tell us.
4. Explore Creative Venues
Your nuptials are no longer relegated to the barn or ballroom. By shrinking the celebration, you‘re both free to explore the locations closest to your hearts. Think: the cafe where you shared your first date, a library you frequent on weekends, a national park or your very own backyard. “Take advantage of the small size and go somewhere you couldn’t go otherwise, like a lakeside ceremony and a unique restaurant reception!” says Reicks-Sturgill.
5. Rent a House
If the idea of hosting a wedding at your place gives you hives, research home rentals, say Cassie and Mallory. “An Airbnb or VRBO for the weekend is often cheaper than a day renting a traditional wedding venue and they can typically sleep ten or more guests. This means that folks staying with you can help offset the cost of the Airbnb,” the pair points out. As is the case with any venue, make sure you have a rain plan so a few showers don’t drown out the festivities.
6. Pick and Choose Traditions
Spoiler: you’re not obligated to partake in the cake smashing and vow reciting and garter tossing that went down at your friend’s cousin’s wedding. Your traditions should encapsulate you and your partner’s bond, so select (or invent!) rituals that mean most to both of you.
7. Write Your Own Vows
Micro weddings give way to deeply personal ceremonies (introverts rejoice). Since you won’t have to worry about the stage fright induced by hundreds of guests, consider sharing handwritten vows in front of your small circle. “Taking some time and joying down your own vows really does make it a more personalized, intimate experience both for you and your guests” says Wolfer.
8. Bring Guests into the Ceremony
And since you’ll be surrounded only by your nearest and dearest, bring friends and family into the moment. Have your brother strum a guitar cover of your favorite song as you step down the aisle or ask a best friend to recite poetry that speaks to you and your spouse-to-be.
9. Find an Officiant to Tell Your Story
Your love story can get carried away in the whirlwind of timelines, contracts and payment schedules sucking up your attention before the wedding. An officiant who knows you two personally, whether it’s a spiritual leader or family member, will paint a portrait of your life together.
10. Pin Carefully
We know your pin boards are brimming with dreamy veils, overhead flower installations and ghost chairs. But what you don’t see when searching for inspiration are the budgets that brought those photos to life. A bride-to-be recently told us the Pinterest effect can lead to unrealistic expectations when communicating your wishes with vendors. By all means, pin with abandon, but know you can create magical vignettes all on your own, while being mindful of a smaller guest count and budget.
11. Personalize Place Settings
Since you’ll have fewer place cards than you would at a traditional wedding, why not make them extra thoughtful? Carroll suggests penning handwritten notes as part of each guest’s place setting. Include a treasured memory, words of gratitude or an inside joke for each invitee.
12. Handwrite Your Heart Out
Better yet, handwrite (or hand paint, as Sturgill proposes) your invitations and menus. This invokes the intimacy of a homespun dinner party and make each guest feel like a VIP.
13. Make A Weekend of It
A departure from the typical “hi” and “bye” guests usually receive at weddings, a closer group allows the couple to catch up with each one. To keep the conversations going, why not hang out all weekend? (These are your favorite humans, after all.) Go for a group hiking expedition, partake in a private yoga class or gather around a beach bonfire to pile on the memories.
14. Dine Differently
Plated chicken and whipped potatoes are a classic, but hosting a micro wedding opens the door to tons of creative dining options. Lean into local flavors, like the gumbo shop down the street or the falafel food truck you always pop by after work.
15. Trade Dinner For Brunch
When we envision a traditional wedding, our minds go straight to dinner and dancing. But lately, couples are moving up their timelines to host trendy brunch weddings. And since restaurant celebrations are perfect for your tiny guest list, you’re welcome to brunch ceremoniously. Did we hear mimosa clink?
16. Break out the Polaroids
Instead of simply noting first and last names, let a photos of you and your guests serve as place cards. Display each memory on a wall or hang Polaroids from a tree. Attendees can simply seek out their faces and flip around the pics to find their table numbers. And to continue the polaroid party, place the cameras on each table and ask guests to snap away throughout the reception.
17. Commit to a Theme
Cocktail attire, black tie, beach formal—we’re used to seeing these wardrobe requests etched into wedding invitations. But since you’re on a first name (or nickname) basis with everyone at the party, don’t shy away from more playful themes and dress codes. Ask guests to go full Bridgerton for the affair or plan a Grand Budapest hotel-inspired fête.
18. Open the Mic
Along with conventional person-of-honor speeches, small weddings lend themselves to a laid-back dialogue. An open mic brings everyone into the moment, where they can share a tender childhood recollection or embarrass you with a college story.
19. Share One Long Table
To bring everyone together in a more literal sense, explore a single seating arrangement. Endless farm tables snaking through gardens are all the rage on Pinterest, but your small crew can make it a reality.
20. Plan a Potluck Dessert
No fondant here. Ask guests to show up with homemade dessert in hand and marvel at the epic sweet table your people have put together at the end of the night. Whether this manifests as a cookie table, pie bar or assortment of French pastry is up to you and your partner. (Just be sure to include a recipe box nearby so your taste buds can re-live this moment forever.)
21. Skip the Champagne
To cut your bar budget, Cassie and Mallory tell us to take aim at the champagne. “Guests barely touch the champagne and most of it gets thrown out. Skip the champagne and go for a drink in hand toast instead!” say Cassie and Mallory. “Our recommendation is two signature cocktails/mocktails, two beer options, one red, and one white. Want to cut more? A bottle of liquor will go further than wine so cut the wine entirely!” the pair added.
22. Steer Clear of Shop Minimums
When booking florals or food, some businesses require a cost minimum for the event. When planning a micro wedding, you’ll want to steer clear of these mandates, says Wolfer. “There’s only so much bougee food 25 people can eat,” she jokes. “Read the contracts carefully and make sure you’re avoiding any shop minimums. “Instead, the planner recommends chatting up a local baker or florist about servicing your mini bash.
23. Assign a Friend to Pick-Up Duty
“It’s a lot easier to pick up three centerpieces than it is to pick up 15,” points out Wolfer. So think about scooping up flowers or desserts right before the festivities. This way, you can skip the delivery charges and take a final peek at the goods before they make it to your wedding.
24. Ask for Beauty Support
Another way to save on vendors? Commission a (trusted) pal to take care of your beauty needs for the day. And if your wedding leans more low-key, invite your bridespeople to wear their makeup or hair anyway they’d like (which we’re sure isn’t a stiff and sticky up-do).
25. Try Dried Flowers
The beauty of fresh blooms doesn’t detract from the heartbreaking truth that they’re all tossed out after the occasion. Dried flowers aren’t as fussy as their fresh predecessors (zero wilting worries here) and double as a keepsake you can cherish long after the wedding is over.
27. Flip the Itinerary
If getting married in the amber glow of sunset raises your heart rate, why not center your itinerary around it? As Texas wedding photographer Lauren Nicole shares on TikTok, “Have your dinner reception first, then get married closer to sunset when the days are longer. Afterwards, have some drinks, make a bonfire and hang out under the stars.”
28. Get Crafty With Favors
Sending guests home with thoughtful gifts is a must for tiny weddings. If you know your way around a pottery wheel, throw 25 mugs to delight your loved ones. Or spend an afternoon whipping up 40 dark chocolate truffles partygoers can grab on their way out (because we can all appreciate second dessert).
29. Destination Weddings Are Within Reach
The logistical migraine of flying your group across the Atlantic lets up when you’re traveling with 20 people. Destination weddings were made for micro guest lists. And you can be sure everyone attending adores you both enough to make the trek. When planning your out-of-town party, reach out to local planners to handle the details, since you won’t want to journey back and forth for tastings and venue visits.
30. Dig into Logistics
Sure, a mountaintop celebration offers panoramic views of the Rockies, but does it have parking? Restrooms? A power source? Decor restrictions? Investigate all the practical details before closing on that creative venue. Then get back to the fun stuff, like orchestrating your playlist or picking out rings.
31. Shuttle Guests in Style
Since you’re carting around fewer people, you can get creative with your wedding ride-of-choice. Trolleys, Vespas, sports cars and VW busses all serve as thrilling modes of transport to your reception.
32. Re-think Seating Arrangements
At your mini mony, you’re free to sidestep all seating conventions you’ve seen at larger weddings. If rows of chairs aren’t your thing, try arranging guests into a circle around you and your partner. If chairs aren’t your thing, set out picnic blankets, vintage couches or Moroccan poufs for pals to get cozy on.
33. Hit the Vintage Store
If you choose not to rent items like flatware or décor, hit up your local thrift or vintage shop for eclectic finds. Pick out colorful glasses for champagne toasts or floral teacups for after-dinner tea (and double them as your favors).
34. Take One Big Photo
Commemorate your micro celebration with one big group photo. (No drone needed.) Ask your photographer to plan for the shot, then tuck one into each thank you note you send post-wedding.