As most brides probably do I had begun looking at venues and catering before we were engaged. Venues were insanely expensive for these celebrations. My job doesn’t exactly have a steady paycheck and I make my money a few cents at a time. So $5,000 just to get in the door before I had fed anyone or decorated anything seemed nuts.
Once the question was popped we had a discussion. Since we are both locals we knew only doing a small wedding or elopement would likely hurt some feelings. Plus we had many people we wanted to see and knew people in our lives would love to have a reunion night! Additionally I had seen the stress on brides when they had giant weddings. The bride and groom can’t really get to relax and enjoy the day. This way hopefully we could take it all in.
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So we decided to have a micro wedding ceremony one night (a more intimate wedding with a wedding reception on a much smaller scale) and the next night we would do a nice backyard party with less food at a cheaper venue for a bigger crowd. Doing it two nights in a row would help our out of town guests with their schedule. Our ceremony venue choice’s smallest package was for 25 attendees so we decided 25 attendees it would be for the wedding day. This was when I began learning about the micro wedding trend.
What is a Micro Wedding Ceremony?
I’m not sure exactly when a small ceremony under 50 people got the name Micro Wedding but from the American History I know these grand weddings we consider somewhat normal now are actually a relatively new thing. Most people got married during the winter (so to not interrupt harvest season) and just their closest friends attended because of how difficult travel was. Two people said “I do” in the foyer, everyone said “Congrats”, they drank some mulled wine and parted ways.
From a quick search online it appears that around the 1830s is when upper class couples starting having larger affairs. It wasn’t until after WWII that a wedding outside of the house with a larger group of friends became the norm for the middle class. In the 1950s movies like “Father of the Bride” showed how to hire the caterer, spend more on flowers and get a professional to make the cake. The 60s and 70s toned back down while people bucked the patriarchal system and couples married with vinyl records, peasant dresses and grandma’s cake.
But then the 80s with the big hair, dying bridesmaid’s shoes to match the dresses and expensive flowers hit. I also can’t help but think that the wedding of Diana and Charles in 1981 might have pushed the whole “princess thing” into the spotlight. And suddenly a wedding became an incredibly expensive endeavor. With the average American wedding running at about $35,000 I would say the industry is doing well.
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What Is Frugal (And Isn’t) Frugal About a Micro Wedding?
Not everything is less expensive when you do it with less people. Be prepared for some things to just cost more than you would expect no matter what.
Things that can be less expensive with a smaller wedding
- Food– pretty much everything you eat and drink is cheaper with less people. A word of warning though- I discovered some caterers didn’t want to be bothered with an event as small as ours. So you may find some challenges when people don’t consider you worth the trouble.
- Venue– Our venue charges by the head count, not the space used. In our case having 25 people instead of 28 saved us $1,000 just on the venue.
- Flowers and Decorations– Since we decided to Save on the Wedding With No Bridal Party and have less space to fill flowers were significantly less. And they can get insanely expensive. The same rule applied to other decorations.
- Photographer– In our case my photographer only does micro weddings and part of that reason is the time. With less people to photograph she is actually on site less time and I believe her rates reflect that. I would think for some photographers this is not the case since if you tie up their Saturday they can’t take another gig but since we are getting married on a week day this worked for us.
Things that are the same price with a smaller wedding
- Clothing– His suit, my dress and all the things that go along with that cost the exact same amount except less people see them. Which can make spending that money seem even more ridiculous.
- Hair and make-up– No matter who is there the costs are the same. And again, less people see it.
- Musicians– In my case musicians didn’t care how many people attend. They are paid for their time and skill level, not for the audience.
How To Announce a Micro Wedding
I wish I had read a post like this before I started telling people about our decision. The reactions from people have varied wildly. Some people were slightly disappointed and some suggested we change our guest list to make it more fitting to who they think should be there. This was the first real test of us as a couple and standing firm in our decisions. Fortunately it was a decision we feel strongly about and with big financial ramifications so the temptation to cater to other’s desires wasn’t very strong.
Based on our experience here is what I would recommend before you begin to talk to people about it:
- Have your guest list pretty much figured out before you tell anyone. When we looked at our family members and friends who had been part of our love story it was easy to fill 25 seats. We had agreed fully on the list before we alerted anyone about anything. That way no one can wiggle their way in and oust someone you chose.
- If at all possible live stream the ceremony. Once many people found out that we are live streaming the ceremony they were absolutely fine. They would still get to see what they want from the comfort of their own home. Or at a ball game or wherever they wanted to be.
- If you can have a party or some other event for people to celebrate that helps! Because we will be having a large party for everyone to see us the next night most people felt they were still included that way. They just want to rejoice with us which is amazing and wonderful. It’s incredible to be so loved.