Micro Weddings and Minimonies and Elopements, Oh My!
Updated: Mar 4
Micro weddings vs. minimonies vs. elopements - so many terms that have become nearly interchangeable in the wedding world. But what actually is the difference? Which iteration of a wedding is right for you? And what are some of the benefits of a smaller celebration of your marriage?
Smaller weddings have been happening for centuries, but they have risen in popularity as a result of the covid-19 pandemic, mostly out of necessity, but I predict that they're here to stay! More and more couples are finding value in these mini weddings from more freedom and room for personal details to potential financial savings.
What is a Micro Wedding?
A micro wedding (the "trendier" name for an intimate wedding) is a smaller scale wedding typically under 50 people. It's pretty much right down the middle of a traditional wedding and an elopement, and the guest list usually is comprised of immediate family members and very close friends only.
Having a micro wedding is a fantastic opportunity to save a little cash. Less guests means less mouths to feed, less table settings to rent, less centerpieces to purchase, and so on. However, a growing number of couples are opting to keep a larger budget and instead go all out on their wedding day where they may not have been able to with a larger guest count. They're able to afford those gorgeous vintage water glasses and copper flatware for 30 guests whereas they may not have been able to drop that money on the same details for 150 guests. The same goes for food - they're choosing more courses, more variety, higher end selections, and beautiful plating to provide their guests with an incredible experience beyond the traditional steak and potatoes and even going for top shelf liquor and fancy signature cocktails.
Aside from having more flexibility with your budget, having a micro wedding also allows you more personal time with each of your guests. I personally only had 100 guests at my wedding, and I still found it difficult to find time to talk to all of them (which is why we had a big welcome party the evening before our wedding), but with a significantly smaller guest list, you will really get a chance to spend quality time with all of your family and friends. Not only does that make you feel more connected to your guests, it also allows them to feel more included and considered in the process. Keep this in mind too if you're very introverted or just generally dislike being the center of attention. A larger wedding can be overwhelming in those cases, so keeping it intimate might be favorable for you.
What is a Minimony?
Here's where covid has really come into play and popularized this wedding format... a minimony is exactly as it sounds - a mini ceremony that typically includes 10 people or less depending on local covid gathering restrictions. This is done sans reception and sometimes even over Zoom usually with the intention of having a larger scale wedding once it's safe to do so.
Technically, this doesn't have to just be for covid couples. It could also be used in cases of military couples seeking to get married before a move or those who just want to get married already and don't feel like planning a wedding just yet. To be honest, this isn't really my favorite option, but I do believe it's a great alternative for those couples who are just itching to get married and want to still have a big party later. #unpopularopinion coming... My personal feeling is that if you can wait, do it. There is something extra special about getting married and then getting to celebrate immediately afterward with all your friends and family. If you're doing it to avoid the pomp and circumstance of it all and take some of the spotlight off of you, by all means do it - or better yet, plan an elopement! But if you're doing it just to get married and throw a party later, just wait and have a big, fun celebration all on the same day! Trust me, it'll be worth the wait!
What is an Elopement?
I have a whole other blog post defining elopement and helping you to decide if elopement is for you that you can read HERE. So I'll keep this brief. Technically speaking, an elopement is between just you and your partner and sometimes a few witnesses or your children/ animals. However, it can be so much more than that! It is the ultimate reflection of you as a couple with absolutely no rules and no expectations other than making some sort of vow to marry one another. How friggin amazing does that sound? You get to do whatever the hell you want! Bar hop all day, go for a hike, visit museums, eat Taco Bell, do it in your backyard, go to another country, have it at night under the starts or first thing in the morning at sunrise. You get to do ALL THE THINGS! You don't have to worry about appeasing your guests, you have a flexible timeline, you can wear whatever you want... can you tell I love elopements?
The only downside I could see to eloping is that you don't get to have all of your family and friends there with you to celebrate. But who says you can't have a party when you return from your elopement or to celebrate a year of marriage? This is exactly why I totally recommend an elopement over a minimony even if you eventually want to have a big wedding. There is just something so extra special about a unique day crafted to revolve entirely around the two of you!
What about Traditional Weddings?
The great thing about the traditional "big wedding" is that you are no longer expected to follow traditions - except maybe by your grandma. Don't get me wrong, there are definitely certain expectations and courtesies that you should afford your guests when it comes to weddings - such as making sure they're well fed if they're going to be there during a mealtime, providing some sort of entertainment usually in the form of music, a ceremony, some direction so that they aren't wandering around confused all evening, and so on. However, nobody says you have to have your father give you away at the altar - try having your mom walk you down the aisle, or do it yourself! You don't have to cut a cake, you could have donuts or ice cream or charcuterie if you're not sweets people. You don't have to have a wedding party, and if you do, they don't all have to match. These and so many other "traditions" are perfectly fine to keep if you want to, and sometimes a little tradition is good and familiar for you and your guests, but don't be afraid to add some spice and personalization into your wedding day just because you have to consider all of your guests as well.
In the end, it's totally up to you! A lot of time, money, and emotion goes into planning your wedding celebration regardless of size or style. Enjoy it! And don't lose yourself in the process. Remember that you are marrying the love of your life, and nothing else truly matters more than that!
Meaghan is the owner and lead photographer of Rhode Tripper Photography, a moody adventure wedding and elopement photography company. She lives in Rhode Island, USA with her husband, Evan, and her rescue pup, Arya. You can frequently find her hitting up all the best foodie spots, barcades, and music venues around Providence, RI likely with her Fuji camera in tow.
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