Small weddings are not one size fits all because engaged couples are not one size fits all
Couples arrive at the decision to have a small wedding for many reasons. Carefully selecting the type of small wedding that is best for you is the first step to making your small wedding happen.
From heading to the courthouse with mere hours’ notice to a full wedding celebration surrounded by 50 of your closest friends and family, small weddings allow any couple to create the intentional and meaningful wedding that’s best for them.
There are 5 common types of small weddings, with variations in each of these types, that allow couples to build their experience based on the timelines, guest counts, traditions and experiences that are most important to them.
Small Weddings 101
Elopements are the most extreme way to scale back a wedding. A term that has been around since the 17th century, elopements are traditionally planned with very short notice and consist of just the marriers, the officiant, and (sometimes) a photographer. Elopements have been popularized amongst tourist destinations like Las Vegas or Hawaii, giving couples the opportunity for more of an experience than heading to their local courthouse but still absolving them of 99% of the planning a traditional wedding would require.
Today elopements are more defined by their short timeline than by their non-existent guest list. While many people still elope by heading to their local courthouse with a moment’s notice or arranging a small ceremony with only the necessary witnesses, custom luxury elopements have also entered the market. These elopements are usually planned in six months or less and include a few select guests, more decor elements, a ceremony and possibly some food, like a dinner, a slice of cake or a few appetizers.
An elopement may be right for you if:
- You want as much flexibility as possible
- You want to stay out of the spotlight
- You who want to BE married more than you want to GET married
A minimony may be right for you if:
- COVID-19 has delayed your wedding plans significantly
- You want to get legally married now
- You still want to have your originally planned wedding when it is safe to do so
3. Pop-Up Wedding
Pop-up weddings are similar to pop-up restaurants and pop-up stores, as they temporarily take over and repurpose a space. Pop-up weddings take over a venue, arrange all the vendors necessary for a wedding, and then use that space and those resources to marry multiple couples before it is packed up (often 3-6 per day). This allows couples to share costs with one another and creates a very hands-off planning experience.
Typical pop-ups are 60-90 minute experiences that include a ceremony for the couple and a few guests, along with a few other elements like a small cake and champagne toast or photography. In these settings the couples and their guests essentially just show up for their allotted time slot, get married, and head on their way.
There are also more involved pop-up experiences, such as Intimate Wed Pop-Ups, that use the same model of traditional pop-ups to save couples money, time, and the complexity of planning, but allow for a more involved 4+ hour experience that feels more like a luxury elopement than a pop-up wedding.
With these experiences, couples get ready with a hairstylist, make-up artist, barber, and wedding dresser, have a 45-minute photography session, are married by an officiant followed by a mini-reception with drinks and appetizers, and can have 10 guests with them throughout their day. The pop-up model allows high-end venues and vendors to be used at a fraction of the price to the couple.
A Pop-Up Wedding may be right for you if:
- You want a unique wedding experience
- You want to skip all the planning, but not skip the wedding experience
- You want an Instagram-worthy destination, but don’t want the daunting bills
4. Micro Wedding
A micro wedding, also known as a tiny wedding, is a simple, paired back version of a traditional wedding. With 30 or fewer guests and a simple reception such as a cocktail hour, tiny weddings allow couples to include more elements and celebrate with a larger crowd than elopements or pop-up weddings. Micro weddings still place the focus on a personal and intentional experience by keeping the guest list short and the complexity of the day low.
The focus of the day is entirely placed on the couple being married and the support of their guests, and not on coordinating dozens of vendors, entertaining unwanted guests, hours-long ceremonies, or fitting in every imaginable tradition.
A Micro Wedding may be right for you if:
- You want a simple wedding, but more guests than an elopement allow for
- You value simplicity and intimacy, over traditions and extravagance
- You want a wedding that feels more traditional, without the stress and price tag
5. Intimate Wedding
Intimate weddings resemble traditional weddings most closely, allowing couples to take full-scale weddings and essentially boil them down to the traditions, guests, and elements that are most important to them.
With 50 or fewer guests, an intimate wedding allows for more than just immediate family and friends, while still keeping the guest list low enough to remain intentional and give the marriers a high degree of freedom while planning.
Planning an intimate wedding is an opportunity for marriers to have their dream wedding. They create more opportunities and possibilities, by better utilizing their wedding budget because they are only sharing their day with those that matter most to them.
Intimate weddings also allow couples to splurge on luxury in the areas that matter the most while cutting out the things that don’t. This means marriers are able to build a wedding that ticks off all the boxes on their wish lists and makes it’s an inclusive and intentional experience instead.
An Intimate Wedding may be right for you if:
- You value intention and intimacy over a big, traditional wedding
- You want to invest in the things that really matter to you, not on extra guests
- You want you wedding to be focused on you, not on what everyone else wants