What is a Micro Wedding? How is it different from an Elopement?

What is a small wedding? You will read slightly different opinions about the exact amount of guests at a wedding of a mini format.

Let us check the figures, first. According to The Knot 2019 Real Weddings Study, the average wedding size in 2019 was 131 (and this number has been slowly decreasing over the years). This average count gives us an approximate answer to the question above: logically, a small wedding may be half less than an average one. Therefore, a microwedding is a tiny celebration that only about 20-25 people attend.

Checking hotels’ and venues’ packages for micro weddings in California gives us almost the same figures. For instance, La Lomita Ranch in California’s Edna Valley offers the all-inclusive Micro-Wedding Collection with a maximum of 25 guests, including the couple. Or let us look at At Art & Soul Events, which offers a package for a 2-hour micro wedding in Los Angeles with just up to 15 guests (ceremony only). 

Micro wedding
Micro wedding

Difference between a Micro Wedding and an Elopement

As you see, a micro wedding is not a large scale event. But it’s not an elopement which usually involves only the couple and wedding official. Elopements are usually very affordable events and allow the couple to create a more intimate and personal atmosphere than in a traditional wedding. Also, the idea of elopement is focusing on the couple’s honeymoon, not on the celebration itself. 

In comparison to an elopement, a micro wedding can include the features of a traditional wedding. But a wedding in mini format is organized on a smaller scale and with a more relaxed vibe. Thus, to plan a small wedding you still need to create a guest list  :).


Why are Micro Weddings becoming more popular?

In 2020, safety restrictions have significantly reduced wedding numbers. For example, Simply Eloped — a company focused on planning small and affordable weddings — admits that they’ve had to cancel or postpone 350 ceremonies throughout the U.S. Nowadays, the wedding industry comes up with alternative ways that would allow couples to celebrate. It is time to adapt and therefore the popularity of micro weddings in the Western world has increased dramatically.

Micro wedding

Advantages of a Micro Wedding

Micro Weddings are for minimalists who care about the environment

According to the Green Bride Guide, an average wedding produces 400 lbs of garbage and over 60 tons of CO2. This logic is easy to follow: if you are having only a handful of guests that means less garbage, fewer amounts of carbon emissions (because you won’t have one hundred or more people needing to travel to the venue), and so on.

Be sure that by choosing a micro wedding you will help to save the environment and give a great example of conscious consumption.

micro weddings
micro weddings

Micro Wedding trend is perfect for couples on a budget

In 2019, the average cost of a wedding in the United States hovered right around $30,000 (according to the 2020 WeddingWire Newlywed Report based on a survey among 27,250 individuals). 

In 2020, there are a lot of venues offering all-in-one micro wedding packages at affordable prices (usually starting from $2000). Some venues make substantial discounts from Monday to Thursday for micro weddings. It may include venue rental with a limited count of guests, photographer, officiant, flowers, small cake, and a sparkling wine toast. Actually, there is everything you’d get in a traditional wedding but with the simplicity and affordability of a small wedding. 

what is a micro wedding
what is a micro wedding
what is a micro wedding

A Micro Wedding means less fuss and stress

Organizing a micro wedding for 20-30 persons will be easier than thorough planning for 100 or more. Here are a bit more statistics of recent years: in 2017, a wedding planning and registry company Zola surveyed 500 recently engaged couples and a whopping 96 percent of them admitted that wedding planning is stressful. Almost half of them used the words “very” or “extremely” to describe it. 

As you see, not everybody enjoys the pre-wedding stress that comes with organizing a large event: our life under quarantine is challenging enough. A Micro Wedding can be the wedding of your dreams and most importantly you will not crack under the pressure keeping your nerves calm. 

plan a small wedding
plan a small wedding
plan a small wedding

Everything you need to know about weddings in mini format 

Your Micro Wedding venue

Generally speaking, areas that were previously seemed to be too small for a wedding are getting a lot of interest in 2020. Further, I will describe some of the budget-friendly options for micro weddings in California. Here I just try to sum up ideas that you can use when choosing a venue for your micro wedding. 

A perfect venue for a tiny wedding will be:

  • an outdoor venue or a venue with a minimum of one outdoor location. Outdoor spaces offer more flexibility in creating event designs and floor plans that comply with current safety guidelines.
  • a venue resembling a getaway destination. For example, JW Marriott Marco Island Beach Resort has already seen an increase in requests for beach weddings.
  • with an option to spread festivities across multiple spaces. There could be small separated dancefloors, or a bar far from the main crowd, for example in the courtyard, etc. All in all, a great idea is a venue that places different things in different spaces.
  • the cheapest or even free wedding venue can be in a local park nearby, or on a public beach, or even in your backyard :).
Micro wedding
Micro wedding
Micro wedding

Your Micro Wedding attire

A micro wedding does not necessarily mean a micro dress. There is no rule here. Just use visual ideas from Pinterest or get inspired by the wedding venue you’ve chosen (for sure, a beach venue will require wedding attires of another format than a rustic venue). Some brides admit that it’s much easier to choose a wedding dress for a smaller, intimate ceremony than for a big event. 

Your Micro Wedding decors

A small socially distanced wedding can be very special in details. Wedding planners say that it is important to incorporate a breathtaking focal point into a celebration, especially for virtual guests who are viewing the wedding from afar. In a micro wedding, the count of guests or the large scale of celebrations are not wow factors but you can impress your guests with catchy wedding decors or creative setup ideas. Furthermore, venues and hotels usually offer additional decors and other customizations. We will not underestimate the power of a colorful floral display 🙂 that can be a great backdrop in wedding photos.

Micro wedding

Your Micro Wedding layout 

When you plan a small wedding keep in mind that any wedding nowadays has to be more spaced out than before the pandemic. This implies:

  • more standing space or fewer seats during both the ceremony and reception,
  • fewer seats at dining tables, 
  • seats are arranged by families and households rather than colleagues or friends, 
  • even separating guests by different parts of the venue.

The reception party layout is another big point to focus on. While some couples during the pandemic refuse to host a reception party at all, the decision for the micro wedding reception can be not so drastic. 

Some of the solutions may be:

  • organizing a larger dance floor separated from the band stage, 
  • redesign a dancefloor with small barriers like high top tables or markers on the ground, 
  • an adjusted seating chart to set tables at a sufficient distance, 
  • increased number of bars to limit gathering.

Besides, the decision to shorten the party or limit the count of guests will not be such a bitter pill, if you put more energy into other aspects, for example, favors or your dinner menu. 

what is considered a small wedding

Your Micro Wedding food and beverage menu

“Unfortunately, passed cuisine, buffet-style dining, and food stations are not totally aligned with social-distancing guidelines. Bar service has changed as well. Instead of offering refills, every glass should be cleaned after each use, and used glasses must be returned to an area other than where the initial drink was served”, wedding experts explain.

Together with experts’ advice, you can use the ideas below to organize a safe yet memorable wedding dinner:

  • seated and plated dinner service instead of a buffet dinner. It works perfectly with a small count of guests. 
  • smaller live-action food stations placed far from each other and with attendants serving guests the dishes.
  • focus on safety: in a micro wedding, it’s easier for a catering company to concentrate on safety practices they incorporated during the pandemic, on social distancing, disinfecting, etc., instead of trying to serve so many guests as possible. 

Your Micro Wedding with a virtual support

Most states in the U.S. do not allow virtual ceremonies to be legally binding. But we have some nice exceptions such as New York, California, Colorado, and so on, which have changed their rules. Over one-third of couples with weddings scheduled through October 2020 are considering having virtual weddings, according to Zola company. Many in the industry believe virtual weddings will remain even after the pandemic

Live Streaming a wedding is also becoming mainstream. There is no need to refuse an “offline” micro wedding celebration totally. You can just expand your wedding audience by using modern technologies. However, it’s not as simple as pressing a button and letting the camera roll. For couples who aren’t tech-savvy, or who don’t want to deal with this hassle I suggest professional Wedding Live Streaming. Using the latest studio software, cameras & audio equipment my team can live-stream your wedding ceremony, the party, or as much as you want to people you love.

Micro wedding

We use secure LTE connections. For our clients, it means we can stream from any location, whether that’s a cathedral, a hotel, a luxurious wedding venue, or an outdoor ceremony. We usually start the live stream about 10-15 minutes before the event begins and it’s available to watch again immediately after streaming finishes. 

Here are also some advice for your memorable Live Streaming event:

  • Decide whether or not you want your guests involved. If not, just send the event recorded to family and friends at a later date.
  • Create an atmosphere of a wedding even if you organize it in your living room.
  • During your live stream wedding, you can use any opportunities to make your guests feel more immersed than they would’ve expected by sending them favors (a bottle of champagne, etc.) in advance. 
  • Don’t forget that not only weddings could be live-streamed. A digital bachelor or bachelorette party has also right to exist 🙂
Micro wedding
Micro wedding

Budget-friendly Californian venues that are perfect for Micro Weddings

The first free wedding chapel in the world is located in Austin Texas. This is the chapel Dulcinea. However, in California, you can find also chapels at a very affordable price. For example, Albertson chapel with its price starting from $380 for the ceremony. Not to mention that they care a lot about safety and have live-stream video cameras for guests who are unable to attend in person.

California State Parks offer a variety of wedding locations, from historic gardens and mansions to ancient redwood forests and sandy beaches. Some of the spots there are exact for small weddings. You can find all the necessary information on their official page here.

Another interesting opportunity to have a micro wedding surrounded by close friends and relatives is a city hall wedding. Many city halls are housed in historic buildings, and you can be sure that at least post-ceremony photos on the front steps will be gorgeous. And yes, it’s super affordable, for instance, Los Angeles City Hall takes only $25 for the entire ceremony.

Finally, there are a lot of public beaches in California that can make your best day unforgettable. A public beach is governed by county rules. First, check the laws of the county where the beach is. Generally speaking, you will need a beach wedding permit, which can cost around $100-$150 (some are cheaper). It may also be an insurance fee. Besides, for a wedding, you’ll probably need to give a 15-30 day advance notice. 

Micro wedding
Micro wedding
Micro wedding

A Microwedding doesn’t necessarily mean cutting corners 

Yes, a microwedding can still save your budget, but some couples actually choose to create a lavish celebration spending their full budget on fewer people. According to The Knot 2019 Real Weddings Study, the average guest count was also down, while the average cost per guest went up. Some couples even book the hotel rooms for their guests, along with transportation and other options that usually will not be affordable for a larger-size wedding.


So, microweddings originally are not the kind of occasion where you have to cut corners. Focusing on your dearest and nearest. You can organize a gorgeous celebration that by a larger number of guests would not be possible. If your budget allows luxurious festivities, let your imagination soar and the wedding magic work 🙂



next one

ALL Mexican wedding traditions with 130+ guide photos