How to Plan a Micro Wedding That Still Feels Like a Grand Event

Here's your chance to make your guests feel extra special.

Over the past several years, wedding trends show the number of guests at a wedding has been slowly decreasing. According to The Knot 2019 Real Weddings Study, the average wedding size in the U.S. is currently 131, compared to an all-time high average of 153 guests in 2007. With overall guest counts going down, and the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic causing people to adjust their wedding plans to ensure more safety over the past year, micro weddings are becoming increasingly trendy. Micro weddings are intimate events involving no more than 50 guests and they can be just as special as an auditorium-filling event.

Whether you and your spouse-to-be aren’t big fans of crowds, are working with a smaller budget, or just prefer the vibe of a close circle event, a micro wedding could be the best route to take. Just because you’re working with a shorter guest list, however, doesn’t mean all the stress and logistics of planning a wedding go away. So, we asked wedding and event planners to break down the most important elements of planning a micro wedding.

Keep reading to learn advice on how to plan a micro wedding and decide if it’s the best choice for you and your future spouse.

How to plan a micro wedding:

1. Budget, budget, budget.

While hosting a smaller wedding may seem like an easy way to spend less money, it can actually end up being pricier. Virginia Frischkorn, founder and principal of Bluebird in a Box, flags that certain event costs—like food and seating—may be more expensive when you have a lower guest count. So, while the cost per head may be discounted when you surpass 100 or 150 guests, you may have to pay full price when you have fewer people.

Although, it’s so important to budget thoughtfully, no matter the size of your event. Wedding and events planner Jove Meyer says to start by making a list of everything that’s typically a part of a wedding and rate the line items that are most important to you and your partner. “So, if you are a foodie couple, go big on catering,” he says. “If you are a party couple, go big on the music. If you are a design couple, go big on the flowers, lighting, rentals, and stationery. Spend your money where it matters most to you both.”

Then once, you have your prioritized list of wants and needs for your wedding, Meyer says it’s time to then do some homework online to assign estimated costs to each item. “Add it all up and see where that gets you,” he says. “Hopefully, it’s to a number you’re comfortable with, and if not, then you need to scale back.”

2. Prioritize your guests’ experience.

The best part about having a smaller wedding is that you can have a more personal experience with your guests. So, both Meyer and Frischkorn agree that this is an important area to prioritize when planning a micro wedding.

With fewer guests to account for, it will (in theory) be more manageable to include personal touches, like writing notes by hand versus printing them out, throughout the event. “Think handwritten notes in the welcome bags,” or “unique place cards and a really special menu that is best suited for fewer guests,” Meyer suggests. For the after party, he adds, you can even add some of your guests’ favorite songs to the playlist to make sure everybody is having a good time.

These personal touches will go a long way and they’ll matter much more than the amount you spent on them, Frishkorn says. “Guests will remember if they felt taken care of, considered, and had a fabulous time above their memory of the weight of the paper from your stationery,” she says. “Things that enhance their experience from the quality of the food to the flow of the evening to small special touches to thank them for being there to celebrate with you are areas to prioritize.”

3. Curate your dream theme or aesthetic.

Don’t stress over picking and sticking to an exact theme. Instead, consider what will best represent you and your partner. “Lean into who you are as a couple, your style, personality, and love story,” Meyer says. “Your wedding should look like you, smell like you, and taste like you. It should be a collection of your favorite people, foods, colors, drinks, and music.”

To figure out what your wedding should look like, Frischkorn suggests that couples look through their closets and furniture at home. Do you and your partner have a favorite cozy blanket that you love to snuggle up in? Or maybe a jewel toned velvet couch that most defines your shared style? “Use your personal aesthetic combined with the feel of the venue as you start designing the wedding to make it feel most fitting and authentic,” Frischkorn says. “This is often much more successful than selecting a ‘theme’ because you like the idea of it.” If you aren’t settled into your dream home or that dream closet isn’t quite there yet, don’t worry. Use this imagination exercise to create that dream vision for your wedding aesthetic.

4. Make some cuts.

With a smaller guest count, venue, and overall event, you’ll inevitably have to cut back in a few areas. For example, Frischkorn says she’s seen some clients opt for a smaller musical ensemble instead of a big wedding band.

Don’t think of these cutbacks as losses, though. While it may not make as much sense to have a catered three course meal, maybe you could use the opportunity to get creative and hire a food truck to feed yourselves and your guests instead.

One area you definitely shouldn’t cut back on, however, is photography. “Your photos will last a lifetime,” Frischkorn says, so it’s worth spending the effort and money to hire a photographer that will help you remember your special day in the best way.

5. Take some risks.

When it comes to micro weddings, Frischkorn says clients often have the opportunity to take a less traditional route than that of larger weddings. “[Micro weddings] are often a safer space for clients to test boundaries than when they have a larger affair and have concerns about pleasing friends of parents and their in-laws,” she says. “Embrace this opportunity to design the wedding the way you want it and craft an experience that is truly reflective of you and your fiancé.”

No matter the size or style of your wedding, Meyer says this is the most important thing to remember: “If you are surrounded by those that love and support you and your significant other, then you are winning and will have a great time.”