How To Plan A 'Micro Wedding' + 15 Best Packages, Destinations & Ideas

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What Is A Micro Wedding? Packages, Destinations & Ideas 2020
Love

With social distancing making huge weddings with tons of friends and family currently impossible, micro weddings have become 2020’s biggest trend. And the “less is more” approach may be here to stay. 

Focusing on flexibility and intimacy, couples are turning to hotels to package together seamless, stress-free weddings, making these uncertain times a bit more certain. 

With questions of new coronavirus waves not going away anytime soon, it appears micro weddings may become the norm. And it's making couples think about elopement ideas, for a wedding that's more low-key.

What is a micro wedding?

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“Often called tiny weddings, a micro wedding is a stripped-down version of a traditional wedding with 30 or fewer guests,” says Gretchen Culver, owner of Minne Weddings. “While destination weddings can be micro, they aren't always.”

These small weddings typically last two or three hours, which is just long enough to have your ceremony, says Culver, followed by drinks and light bites, with photos to mark the occasion.

A micro wedding isn't defined by location, rather by the guest count and duration, explained Culver. You can even have a micro wedding in your backyard! "Essentially, a micro wedding that is also a destination wedding is just a "traditional" wedding with a smaller guest count," said Culver.

The Difference Between a Destination Wedding vs. a Micro Wedding

Due to travel restrictions, micro weddings are typically held in the city where the couple lives, or close to it. Adds Janice Carnevale, owner of Bellwether Events, “Current micro weddings last a shorter amount of time to limit the circle of people each wedding guest is exposed to.”

Destination weddings, on the other hand, are typically in a far-flung exotic location, often with many days of activities and events to engage the guests and enhance their experiences. The pandemic has accelerated the small wedding trend, bringing micro weddings to the forefront for couples planning during this unprecedented time.

Choosing the Right Location For a Micro Wedding

Choosing a destination for a micro wedding is all about staying close to home, whatever that means for you.

That can mean a local hotel or rooftop, one a few hours away, or your own backyard. In addition, you need to choose a destination in a county that allows both an in-person ceremony and reception, as not all do.

“You want to limit the amount of travel required for both the couple and guests to keep people safe,” recommends Jamie Chang, founder of Let’s 'I Do' This!. “You also want to choose a destination that has great outdoor venues that are open, where you'd be comfortable outdoors given the season. That will also be much safer for everyone.”

One of the great things about a micro wedding is that the destination possibilities are truly endless. 

Is there a certain region or certain geographic features you're drawn to (i.e., mountains, forest, water)? Is there a town that the bride has fond memories vacationing in when she was younger? Is there a place the couple stumbled on together during a road trip and then fell in love with?

This gives a jumping-off point that can narrow the location in a bit.  

“I suggest couples start by narrowing it down,” says Christina Burton Babb, owner of Christina Burton Events. “I also suggest that couples look at areas that might have significance to them, either individually or as a couple.”

Streaming Your Micro Wedding to Family and Friends

COVID weddings include a technological component. Since there are less guests, that leaves the option of streaming or recording the wedding so loved ones not in attendance can see the ceremony. 

Technology is allowing couples to connect with loved ones long-distance. This is different than most destination weddings where the small guest count and privacy are a priority.

If you want to make your micro wedding a destination wedding, search for micro wedding providers in the city (or cities) you're interested in. 

With COVID being a deciding factor, says Culver, select a destination close to home, or one that is drivable for you and your guests. Because taking air travel out of the equation means more people may feel safer to attend.

“Couples are choosing to livestream or Zoom with their guests who can't make it. The Small Wedding Society offers a directory of small wedding providers across the country and can aid in your search,” Culver recommends.

Guest Count and Sizing

Pre-coronavirus, micro weddings were more limited to specific venues and spaces. But now, there are more options. “In our specific regional guidelines, we must keep tables of seated guests 6 feet apart from each other in max table groupings of 8 people,” says Juls Sharpley, owner of Bubbles & Bowties.

It sounds like so much space but, in reality, it's really great event spacing. Adds Sharpley, "It’s something I hope becomes more normal than cramming everyone together... areas that normally would have felt too big for small groups now feel full.”

A micro wedding must adhere to strict covid guidelines in their areas. Masks may be required during the ceremony and cocktail hour. Most buffets are also not recommended, unless the food stations are manned with staff.

Adds JoAnn Gregoli, owner of Elegant Occasions by JoAnn Gregoli, “Seating during the ceremony must be placed 6 feet apart, except for family members living in the same household. Seating at dining tables must be at half the amount that the table can accommodate. Dancing is not allowed during COVID weddings, and bars may not be visible to avoid lines. You must keep in mind that avoiding too many touch points is the secret to a successful COVID micro wedding.”

Hosting your event outdoors, under a tent, or on a covered patio is the best and safest method to host these weddings. Airflow is what mitigates COVID, and you will want to make your guests feel comfortable.

Checking Local Regulations During COVID

Many states have their own event coalitions started by industry professionals that provide resources for having a wedding during the pandemic, says Culver. You can find your local chapter via the Live Events Coalition website.

“Companies providing micro weddings should be taking all the guidelines and rules for their state into consideration when putting together their packages,” Culver reminds us. Many companies list information on their websites for you to reference. So, it's important that any wedding, micro or not, comply with the rules for everyone's safety.

RELATED: Why The Pandemic Didn't Stop Us From Getting Married

Best Locations For Micro Weddings

Whether you're exchanging vows on a downtown city rooftop, or on an exclusive beach in Cabo San Lucas, these locations are great for couples looking to plan (or re-plan) their weddings in a pandemic.

1. Loews Atlanta Hotel in Atlanta, Georgia

“At Loews Atlanta Hotel, we recently hosted a micro wedding with about 10 guests in attendance, all of whom were immediate and very close family members,” says Bill Baran, Director of Conference & Catering. "While the definition of a micro wedding is 50 guests or fewer, we see an average of 10-25 guests at the weddings we hold."

These events are less expensive than a traditional destination wedding, and you don't need to hire a dedicated wedding planner. For Loews Atlanta, micro weddings are a seamless fit, since they aren't a big box convention hotel where a smaller wedding would get lost. Their terrace area is beautiful for a ceremony, and a ballroom is available for a dinner reception.

2. The Nines in Portland, Oregon

The Nines is offering a first-ever opportunity for couples to say “I do” on the West Deck of the rooftop terrace at Departure, surrounded by views of the mountains and downtown Portland, Pioneer Square, West Hills and St. Johns Bridge. This lookout is usually set with tables and occupied by restaurant guests, but is now exclusive to a special wedding.

The Nines is a luxury, award-winning hotel situated within the top nine floors of the landmark Meier & Frank Building in the heart of downtown Portland. The package includes Chivari chairs for up to 20 guests, a champagne toast, and a 10 percent discount on food and beverage for dinner following the ceremony in Departure or an alternative space in the hotel. Couples will also have the rare opportunity to take their wedding portraits on the rooftop terrace deck.

3. Thompson Chicago in Chicago, Illinois

Thompson Chicago has cool, intimate venues in a big city. The Froines Room, which has an unforgettable backdrop of a clock tower window, is available for up to 60 guests. The bi-level Penthouse Loft Suites feature panoramic views of Chicago and Lake Michigan for up to 10 people, while other intimate event spaces on the 2nd floor private dining rooms provide even further seclusion. 

Thompson Chicago is now also offering simplified menus for stress-free dining decisions through Events by Nico, as well as an upgrade to a one-bedroom suite, welcome amenity for the couple and their parents, a wedding night amenity for the couple, and a late checkout.

4. Hyatt Regency Lake Tahoe in Incline Village, Nevada

This scenic hybrid micro-wedding experience allows guests to stream the ceremony from another area at the hotel or from off-site if they can attend in person, so couples can include loved ones.

This spot can customize your wedding to do seatings, rounded or chapel style, adjust the amount of people per table with social distancing in mind (or so that only family members can sit together), and even has wedding specialists on hand to help you plan every moment of the big day.

For anyone who wants to avoid venturing into town for salon services on the big day, there's also a salon and spa available onsite!

5. Le Blanc Spa Resort Los Cabos in San José del Cabo, Mexico

This is another celebrity beloved spot! Recently, MJ Acosta, a sportscaster, tied the knot here with her long-term fiancé, David Ruiz. Since Mexico is one of the few countries where Americans can travel to and from without heavy restrictions, many brides are turning to luxury all-inclusive resorts for micro-destination weddings.

For those family and friends who are not able to travel, they can still be a part of the celebration via Zoom or other social media.

6. Revel 32 in Poughkeepsie, New York

Revel 32 is a transformed Masonic Temple adjacent to 40 Cannon (including King’s Court Brewing Company, 1915 Wine Bar, Café 40 & Co., and Gallery 40). The venue has hosted a few micro weddings over the summer.

Bianca Hendricks, Event Sales Coordinator, says, “A micro wedding contains all the elements of a traditional wedding, including a beautiful venue, photographer, cake, and décor, but the difference is that the event is presented on a much smaller scale, typically with no more than 50 guests, often only including immediate family and close friends.”

At Revel 32, they also offer the use of the Grand Ballroom, Joseph Bar, Lauren's Suite and the kitchen.

7. Deer Path Inn in Lake Forest, Illinois

There's nothing quite as classic and charming as an English-style wedding. This spot just outside Chicago looks like the English countryside, but doesn't require a passport or a plane to get there.

The Deer Path Inn has seen an uptick in intimate wedding dinner receptions in the Garden Courtyard, which has the capacity to accommodate up to 50 guests and serves British cuisine with a European flare from the inn’s restaurant, The English Room. Why not have your own version of a royal garden wedding, complete with sophistication and romance?

RELATED: What It's Like Being Engaged During The COVID-19 Outbreak

8. Foundry Hotel in Asheville, North Carolina

Perfect for micro weddings in the mountains, The Foundry Hotel offers an elopement package that includes a stay in the Foundry Lookout Suite, located at the highest point of the property with views of the nearby Blue Ridge Mountains, an officiant, breakfast in bed from on-site soul food restaurant Benne on Eagle, a photographer, and plenty of other picture-perfect wedding goodies.

For the outdoorsy soon-to-be wed couples looking to live life on the edge, the elopement ceremony could take place flying over the picturesque mountainside in an Asheville Hot Air Balloon, or for the more tame couples, a guided hike to the elopement destination is available as an add-on, too.

9. The Atlantic Hotel in Fort Lauderdale, Florida

On Fort Lauderdale Beach, The Atlantic Hotel & Spa is a tropical paradise for couples seeking an intimate, domestic beachfront wedding.

Effortlessly blending laid-back tranquility with luxurious private, all-suite accommodations, The Atlantic offers an array of options from a toes-in-the-sand micro wedding on Florida’s breathtaking Gold Coast beach, a foliage-filled garden ceremony at the historic Bonnet House, or atop the fifth floor pool deck with flanked ocean views for miles.

10. Casa Marina in Key West, Florida

In Key West, Florida, Casa Marina, A Waldorf Astoria Resort, is a great location for a no-passport-required, Caribbean-inspired wedding.

Located on the largest private beach on the island with space to create an intimate toes-in-the-sand wedding set away from the resort, Casa Marina has recently welcomed couples relocating from destinations like Hawaii and Puerto Rico to enjoy the ease of travel to the island.  

11. Hotel Xcaret in Playa del Carmen, Mexico

This hotel offers sustainable tourism in the Mexican Caribbean, and has several outdoors natural venues ideal for having a wedding while staying safe. Capacity is limited to 50 percent, tables are spread out, and there are strict safety protocols, named 360° Xafety.

All wedding packages include a Minister, but couples can opt to have their ceremony at one of the 4 consecrated Catholic churches on site with a priests, have a shaman officiate a Mayan wedding, or have a Civil Registry Judge. All wedding packages include a wedding planner, the bride’s bouquet, wedding cake, and a toast with sparkling wine.

12. Cedar Lakes Estate in Port Jervis, New York

The 500-acre former camp consists of 18 luxury cottages, as well as camp-style houses and camper cabins. It’s known for hosting rustic, refined weddings and private events.

Owners Lisa and Stephanie Karvellas have put together a “Tiny Weddings” package, where those getting married can choose between options that include The Mountaintop, with endless views of the Shawangunk Mountains, in a field grass clearing peppered with wildflowers, or The Chef’s Garden, with its white picket fence and twinkling lights. A 50-person farm table sits on a reclaimed brick patio in the center of the garden. 

13. Boston Harbor Hotel in Boston, Massachusetts

The Boston Harbor Hotel has created a micro wedding package for groups of 10 to take place in the prestigious John Adams Presidential Suite, which has exclusive private entrance and non-stop elevator for total privacy. 

The John Adams Presidential Suite Micro Wedding Package is available in two tiers for a gathering of 10 and includes wine and champagne, wedding ceremony on the balcony of the suite overlooking Boston Harbor, all admin fees, service charges and taxes, use of the Presidential Suite, music piped in, and appetizers.

14. The Reach Key West in Key West, Florida

The newly renovated Reach Key West Curio Collection by Hilton has always been a destination wedding hotspot given its floating pier over the Atlantic Ocean and being home to the only natural sand beach in Key West. Now, they have launched new micro wedding packages for couples who are now eloping with just both of them or who want an intimate ceremony of only 15 guests.

Additionally, the resort offers a “toes in the sand dining” experience on their private beach and private sunset cruise. These packages are designed with an all-inclusive price for the basic options, with an array of different add-on possibilities.

15. Curaçao Marriott Beach Resort in Willemstad, Curaçao

Set on white sand beaches overlooking the beautiful Caribbean Sea, Curaçao Marriott Beach Resort is offering couples a fully planned intimate wedding for those looking to escape to the tropics to say their “I dos." 

Each couple will receive a personal stateside planner to assist with scheduling, and the package will also include a full ceremony set up, wedding cake, a licensed marriage officiant and more. If the couple is interested in inviting guests, there will be 25 percent off all room categories booked for the wedding party. 

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Aly Walansky is a NY-based lifestyles writer who focuses on health, wellness, and relationships. Her work appears in dozens of digital and print publications regularly. Visit her on Twitter or email her.