Intimate Weddings: Micro Ceremonies & Celebrations
Intimate and Micro Weddings
You might ask yourself, ‘Will having an intimate or micro wedding compromise the romance of the day’? I would have to argue that there is far more intimacy, passion and involvement at a micro wedding than a large affair.
Guests at a small or petite wedding often have a much closer relationship than the 150-200 guests at a large wedding. They are more likely to feel that they are a part of the ceremony and are usually close enough to experience each and every word of the vows. The Knot just referred to them as ‘minimonies’, a ‘mini ceremony’, but in essence they are a micro version of a regular wedding. Intimate, micro and petite weddings are the perfect cross between "having it all or doing nothing".
Who Might Want and/or Benefit from an Intimate, Petite, Small or Micro Wedding:
- Couples whose wedding has been affected by COVID-19 gathering restrictions
- Cost-conscious couples wanting to save money
- Couples with extended family all over the country/world
- Couples who do not like to be the center of attention
- Couples who want to travel
- Those who want to be married while navigating the current COVID-19 climate
- Couples that value intimacy
- Couples who prefer to be surround by their closest family and friends
- Couples wishing to leave for the honeymoon on the same day or next day
- Second marriages, and those blending families
- Couples renewing vows
Regardless if you choose a large church wedding, an outdoor ceremony, or a small, intimate wedding, follow your dream, celebrate in your style and be present in your day. You are not sacrificing any details with a micro wedding, stay authentic to your vision, and create the best day possible. No matter how large or small your wedding is, hire a professional photographer. You’ll want to have these memories captured, even if you decide on an elopement.
"We need a witness to our lives. There's a billion people on the planet… I mean, what does any one life really mean? But in a marriage, you're promising to care about everything. The good things, the bad things, the terrible things, the mundane things… all of it, all of the time, every day. You're saying 'Your life will not go unnoticed because I will notice it. Your life will not go un-witnessed because I will be your witness.'"
–Shall We Dance?
The difference between Micro, Elopement and Petite Weddings
Micro is defined as extremely small, small-scale, reduced size, combined with intimate defined as close, very close connection, familiar, private and personal, you have the perfect definition of the ever-evolving modern day wedding.
These are weddings with under 50 guests, but contain all the aspects of a larger event: ceremony, reception, dinner, decor, floral, photography, toasts, etc., ...basically, everything from a larger conventional wedding, just a compact, reduction in size, but with an emphasis to the experience of the day. Small second weddings or vow renewals often are seen as intimate weddings. Petite and tiny weddings would be comparable to intimate and micro weddings, on an even smaller scale, with a guest count of under 20.
An elopement differs, as it is just the couple; a secret get-a-way with an officiant and sometimes a photographer, often spur of the moment. An elopement is about getting married now. Defined as: to run away secretly in order to get married, especially without parental consent, an elopement is just that, a spontaneous, shotgun, quick wedding with few, if any wedding guests.
While the terms might be similar, the micro wedding, a day full of events, differs from an elopement as the micro wedding contains all the elements of a traditional ceremony, including a venue event space or restaurant, photographer, floral, cake, and decor.
Is an Intimate, Micro Wedding Right for you?
Most couples do not elope in the extreme definition of the word, instead they are changing the culture and choosing a small, intimate wedding. According to The Knot wedding cost an average of $30,000. With couples choosing smaller, more intimate weddings it gives couples a chance to save money, have their cake, and to eat it, too, surrounded by their closest family and best friends.
If you start thinking about it, the possible locations for micro and intimate weddings are boundless; backyards, beaches, camping, city hall, cliff overlooks, colleges, community theaters, drive-in-theaters, hiking and nature trails, hotels, lakes, meadows, mountain tops, museums, national landmarks, parks, ponds, restaurants, vineyards, as non-traditional venues continue, you could even consider high-end house rentals, Airbnb, etc.
There are so many distinctions of how a wedding day can be designed, the options are endless, and no two weddings are the same. Large church weddings have evolved into outdoor weddings at vineyards and country clubs, longer days with sizeable receptions. Just as they have before, weddings will continue to evolve and change as we combine cultural aspects, traditions and customs. Couples today want to make the day as unique as they are. What does that mean? Simply, weddings, like everything else is ever evolving - prompt the intimate, micro, petite and tiny weddings.
Superstitions Evolving to Traditions, and Fading
As the weddings evolve, superstitions are debunked and traditions are merged. Here are just some of the ways modern day couples have altered the wedding day.
Seeing the Bride
- You have heard the phrase, “It is bad luck for the groom to see the bride before the ceremony.” While we still hear it today, it is becoming less frequent, and we are having move couples dismiss this unfounded belief as pure superstition and opt for a “first look” prior to getting married. This allows for the couple to be together, more involved in the day together, greet and converse with more family and friends – and for longer periods. Seeing each other prior to the ceremony ultimately extends the wedding day and the experience. But where did this superstition originate? It started with arranged marriages. The bride and groom had never met previously and the wedding was more of a business deal than a romantic love affair. Some of these arrangements resulted in the bride being left at the alter by a groom curious to sneak a peak, which then introduced a heavy veil obstructing the bride further. (Which brings up another tradition, the veil, but I’ll save that one for another day.)
Tossing the Bouquet
- During medieval times, it was considered lucky to get a piece of the bride’s dress, thongs of guests would even make is as far as the bedchamber trying to get a bit of fabric. Wedding dresses were torn apart. To alleviate this, brides started tossing the bouquet to distract guests to “make a run for it”, desperate to escape in one piece. Even the tossing of the bouquet is evolving as couples are getting married later with less unmarried attending the wedding, the tradition is evolving into gifting the bouquet to the longest married couple following an anniversary dance instead.
- Elopements to large church weddings, to simple backyard weddings and, now intimate, petite, small, tiny and micro weddings, weddings have evolved; will continue to adapt and change with the times. In the United States, in 1924, the average age of a bride was just over 21, with grooms a bit older at 24.6 years. In 2010, those numbers jump to 26.1 and 28.2, respectively. Seven years later, in 2017, that number is slightly higher at 27.4 years for women, and 29.5 for men. Contrast that to 2017 ages for couples in the UK where the reported age for couples getting married by The Office for National Statistics was 35 for women, and for men it was 38.
- In 1927, the wedding registry was created at Marshall Field’s, other department stores quickly followed with china and fine dining, kitchenware being the most common gifts received. As most couples would be moving in together after the wedding, the need to set up a household of utensils, flatware, cookware and the like was necessary. Today's couples; however, have longer engagement and most have already been living together. The need for everyday household items is extremely low, and traditional wedding registries found the need to redefine, and evolve, with options including the gift of cash towards honeymoon, or pre-purchased experiences.
More couples are opting for intimate, micro weddings
In all the weddings we have photographed, I would classify 40% of them as intimate or “micro weddings” with guest counts of 4-50. These petite celebrations are styled, themed, include customs and traditions, they are just smaller. These smaller events save the couples money with rentals, floral, catering, etc.
Some of the best words are those couples speak to each other on their wedding day. Whether these are public statements, intimate whispers, or handwritten notes. These promises, intentions and vows speak volumes but can really only touch the tip of the iceberg with regards to the relationship. How can you possibly describe your soul mate in 10 minutes, or 20? I believe it truly takes a lifetime. Personal marriage vows allow couples to look back, read the words spoken, relive the moment and feelings felt on the wedding day.
We photographed a small wedding last year with a total of ten guests. The day was so incredibly perfect, with the most intimate vows I have ever heard. There were appetizers, champagne, wedding cake, immediate families, and best friends, a musical interlude followed by an amazing dinner. In my opinion, there was absolutely no compromise. Their vows were beautiful; all the guests were completely involved and present. It was truly one of the best ceremonies we have photographed.
Regardless of size, all weddings and revelries can offer unique experiences for your guests. When you have tiny, petite, or micro weddings, the ability to offer a higher-end dining experience with fine cuisine is easier as there are more venues and restaurants accessible to smaller groups. Tie the knot while you rethink traditions and make them your own. Weddings are just the celebration of two families coming together, a chance to share vows, make promises to one another.
"This past summer, we were sitting on a bench in central park when you stated a philosophy I had never heard you say before. You told me that you believe that when the big bag happened, it set everything that was ever going to happen in motion and that everything that ends up happening in the universe is predetermined. If it happened, it was meant to happen.
Every time I look at you, hear your voice or feel your radiant warmth, I believe that this is true.
I met you when we were children, we were two little brave souls wandering halls, opening up lockers, holding doors, sharing stages, surviving a bubble in which we both felt like outsiders, smiling at each other in greeting when our eyes locked by chance. I didn’t know then that I would love you someday, but I knew you had an undeniable magnetic quality. I knew you were a unique soul.
I have spent the last seven and a half years loving you, the most profound and transformative experience of my life. You have taught me, whether I wanted to learn it or not, the deep rewards of patience. While I was ready to marry you about two to three days after we moved into our apartment, planting roots together over our many years has made is solid and impenetrable.
Though I fell in love with you quickly, my feelings for you have grown and evolved with every idea you’ve shared with me, every story you’ve told me, and every soul-reviving hug you’ve given me. My love for you has burned deeper as you’ve inspired me to fall in love with Lolita, Prince, Steely Dan, Do the Right Thing, Claire’s Knee, Laura, and video games that take 48 full hours to beat. I grow to love you even more with the conversations we have after engaging in the magical works of genius you share with me.
You have made me want to invest in things that last, things one can keep, things that grow over time, things we can share together in the perfect noisy quiet of our home. You have modeled for me how to develop self-love, acceptance, and inner calm. You have empowered me to be your equal partner in live and by doing this, have made me feel respected and believed in. You have taught me that it is so much more important to be my deepest self, than to be my best self, and I have loved you more and more with each of these lessons.
I know you don’t like promises, so I won’t make them. Instead, I am going to tell you some things I want to do with you as we continue on our journey together.
I want to make you a peanut butter pizza with peanut butter in the pizza dough and slather it with peanut butter. You once said this is something you want and I want to make that happen for you.
I want you to get a cat and I want me to get a cat, and I want those cats to always be together.
I want to make up songs with you to the tune of “Line up the Wall” which the teachers and students at the school outside our apartment building sing every day during dismissal and I want all those songs to end with “hey, hey, hey, hey.” I want you to sing songs to me always, even when I roll my eyes.
I want to take long summer walks outside with you right before dusk and always comment about how beautiful it is to be outside together.
I want to be patient with you as you go through your extremely long and solitary wake up process and I want to be kind and loving to you after I become my worst and most tired self after 9 pm.
I want to always agree with you when we each deeply believe in something different because we always end up understanding each other more.
I want to always do impressions of the characters of our shared past with you, including impressions of Max.
I want to nurture your enormous, beautiful talent and give you the time and space to create art. I want to protect and feed your dreams and only enable and inspire you to realize them.
I want us to keep saying “I love you” a thousand times a day and I want you to keep filling my hug and kiss quota, which you do, masterfully without question or prompting.
You always jokingly point out when I declare that I am excited about something because it happens all the time. I hope you always notice this, as you inspire the most excitement in me of all.
If someone had told me while we were playing husband and wife in Bye Bye Birdie that we would actually get married 15 years down the road, I would have giggled uncomfortably, laughing off such a notion. But somewhere inside of me, I would have been thrilled, because in some unconscious way, I loved you then. I believe, like you do, that it is not a choice to be together, but a magnetic pull from deep within the universe that tells us both that this is what has to be.
According to you, when the big bang happened, it was decided that we would find each other and pend our lives together, and if this is so, I thank my lucky stars for this beautiful fate."
"There is no way to encapsulate all my love for you and all you have taught me. So rather than list dozens … hundreds of moments, I want to bring up one. It is not the biggest moment, but as is sometimes my way of doing things, I can’t help but treat it like the signing of the Declaration of Independence.
It was the night we moved into our apartment on 196th St. As I assembled the IKEA futon, frustrated with simple instructions that were impossibly complex in reality, I received a phone call from you downstairs in our lobby. Your voice was frantic, your breath short with bursts of tears.
“Hi,” you whimpered, as if the tremor in your voice would magically reveal the dreaded thing.
“What is it?” I asked.
“Please, come here immediately.”
I rushed down our creaky elevator, only to find you in our lobby on your hands and knees, a chessboard on the floor, eight final boxes you had been carrying dumped in the corner, and hundreds of fragments of fragile chess pieces strewn throughout the hallway, shattered under radiators, stairwells, doormats, and front doors.
It was the Sherlock Holmes chess set you had bought me for my birthday earlier that year. As the world’s greatest gift giver, known far and wide for your extraordinary thoughtfulness, you remembered I had once seen it in a storefront window as a child, and you tracked it down to bring me a moment of unexpected joy.
It wasn’t that the fragmented pieces were irreplaceable. I believe you were sobbing in our lobby in the middle of the night as I hugged and reassured you – as we both frantically searched for the head of the Hound of Baskervilles – because you care so much. It matters to you to make every moment – from the most important to the most mundane – deeply special, marked with your distinctive and overwhelming love.
And so on this first day living together you seemed suddenly to see each shatter piece as compromised. That this adventure we had undertaken was no longer perfect, or straightforward. Through your tears, even then I could feel how deeply you wanted our adventure to lead to this very day.
Instead, we had Sherlock Holmes, Dr. Watson and Professor Moriarty in fragments.
This moment in time is ironic to me because throughout our seven and a half years, you have taught me that love is born when the expected meets the unexpected.
It is born when your high school stage husband Harry McAfee, years after college, notices your tattoo, and the one you never thought you’d get, and finds himself instantly realizing you are the most gorgeous person he could ever hope to meet. It is born at four in the morning after a ten hour drive through snow and sleet across borders, on the darkest night of the year, leading to an unexpected proposal caught on surveillance footage. It is born on walks along familiar and unfamiliar paths in our neighborhood, where inevitably we get into fierce debates about education policy and about baby names, debates which are finally settled by both of us realizing we need to eat dinner, right now. And because the expected and unexpected collide so often for us, I have learned from you that the heartbeat of love is acceptance.
You see everyone around you as precious, as deserving to be held up as beautiful, not in spite of their unexpectedness, strangeness or so called ‘imperfection’, but because of it. Every student you shine a light on, each friend you describe as your ‘best friend’, the family you call your heroes, and me, the person who sees that you are beautiful inside and out, approaches the world more courageously because you love them not for who you want them to be, but for who they truly and astonishingly are. Underneath your playfully mischievous sense of humor is love as acceptance, the greatest gift of all.
So our first night living together was no the beginning of something compromised, but the moment I learned that living together, creating a shared life together, was going to be a journey, with someone I knew, into the mystery of the unexpected. It was to be a realm of listening, not only to what you say but to what you do not say. It was to be a voyage unpacking who each of us truly is, through a space we created to feel and express anything. It was to be a story of you teaching me to be pleasant in the mornings and me teaching you the same after 9:30 pm. It was to be loving each other for the person each of us was discovering ourselves to be. It was shattering preconceptions and together reassembling from those pieces two individuals whose love is deeper for all that they accepted and made whole with each other.
Flash forward a week after that first night, and there they all were – the kings, queens, bishops, knights, castles, and pawns of Baker Street, put together again, their arms, heads and legs crazy-glued on giant newspaper we laid out. I remember no tears s we rebuilt – only our laughter.
Today, that chess set means more to me because we saw it in a hundred pieces. We have seen each other in many lights. And in each new light, you have responded with love for all we have overcome and come to believe. Had we not been able to repair that chess set, I would still have kept it because it was a piece of your love for me, and for us. But now it is even more beautifully human, touched by our hands and brought together by the expected meeting of the unexpected.
Now all we still have to do is actually play chess sometime. (Or just keep playing Catan.)
The power of your love-as-acceptance has taught me that we should never try to be anything but who we are, inside and out. Because of your lesson, I believe it is our duty to shape the world into a place of greater love and tolerance in all ways we can. It has been the greatest gift to my life to learn from and love everything I have seen you expectedly and unexpectedly become, and I hope we have many years ahead to build and rebuild as much love, acceptance, and goodness in the world as the two of us possibly can.
I love you so much, and I cannot wait to be your husband and for you to be my wife."