For couples looking for a more intimate, affordable ceremony, look no further than the micro wedding.

By Wendy Rose Gould
Updated August 12, 2019

In 2017, the average cost of a wedding in the United States hovered right around $34,000, according to a survey by The Knot. Yes, $34,000. As in the equivalent cost of a brand-new mid-range car, a weighty down payment on a house, or a handful of international vacations complete with five-star accommodations. The blowout wedding surely isn’t going anywhere, but an increasing number of couples are bucking the norm and setting their sights on a celebration that’s way more affordable (and intimate): the micro wedding.

What Is a Micro Wedding

Don’t confuse the micro wedding with an elopement, which implies a spontaneous, quick wedding with few (if any) guests. The micro wedding contains all the elements of a traditional ceremony, including a beautiful venue, photographer, cake, and decor. The difference is that it’s on a much smaller scale.

Take, for example, Zingerman’s Cornman Farms, nestled in the countryside of Dexter, Mich., which debuted The Tiny Wedding Package this past spring. “We noticed that there was a significant number of guests who wanted to get married on our property with limited guests, limited planning, and limited budget,” says co-owner Kieron Hales. “Couple this with the rise in popularity of a minimalist lifestyle—in design, in food, and now, in weddings—and we knew we needed to offer a product that met the market’s demand.”

For roughly $2,000, Zingerman’s soon-to-be-newlyweds get a one-and-a-half-hour venue rental, photographer (who provides 45 digital images), officiant, flowers, small cake, and a sparkling wine toast. The all-inclusive experience was designed specifically for couples who desire the simplicity and affordability of a small wedding, but still want that traditional, beautifully curated experience.

Zingerman's isn’t the only venue offering such a package. Storybrook Farm Weddings in Jonesborough, Tenn. has a Fairytale Micro Wedding Package, which costs $4,000, accommodates 16 guests, and includes everything you’d get in a traditional wedding. And Tiny Chapel Weddings, which is essentially a petite, mobile chapel that comes to you, is quite literally the embodiment of a tiny wedding.

Even large hotel chains are getting in on the micro wedding fun. For example, Philadelphia’s Kimpton Hotel has a Minimalist Matrimony Package, which starts at $1,250 and provides “everything you need and nothing you don’t for the perfect, petite wedding.”

How Venues Are Accommodating “Micro Wedding” Requests

While other resorts and venues may not have a preset micro wedding package (it’s really only a matter of time), they are certainly feeling the increase in requests for micro weddings that toe the line between quickie elopement and traditional, wallet-zapping nuptials.

“We receive inquiries daily about hosting 30 to 40-person weddings here at The Colony,” says Elisabeth Munder, who’s in charge of event planning at the historic (and very pink) resort on Palm Beach Island in Florida. “Since we’re a boutique property, we can easily put together packages to accommodate these smaller, more intimate weddings. After setting a budget, we’ll sit down with each bride and groom to find out as much about them as possible. I always ask what their dream wedding looks like, what colors they envision, and how they want to feel when they walk down the aisle. Our goal is to ensure that these smaller celebrations are not approached in a cookie cutter way.”

The trend has, unsurprisingly, also reached international waters. For example, Live Aqua—an adult-only resort that overlooks the sparkling turquoise ocean in Cancun, Mexico—offers guests an intimate wedding via its Serenata Package. It’s $1,675 USD for the couple ($150 more per guest) and comes with an officiant, ceremony on the beach along with all the decor, a wedding cake, sparkling wine, a private dinner, and then honeymoon amenities including massage, private cabana, and breakfast in bed.

“The Serenata package is one of the most popular for our resort, as many of the guests that travel here to plan their destination wedding tend to want a more intimate ceremony and desire to spend quality time as a couple,” says Claudia Perez, Live Aqua’s on-site wedding coordinator.

Even venues that have always been, well, tiny, are also noting an uptick in business. For example, The Mohicans, a set of custom-built treehouses in Glenmont, Ohio, has gained momentum in recent years. And The Chesterfield Hotel, a historic, celebrity-laced boutique hotel in Palm Beach, Fla., tells us its Library is often booked with 20-guest gatherings, including weddings and vow renewals.

Bottom Line

Whether it’s an issue of budget, a desire for intimacy, or simply not wanting to fuss over all the grand details, not every couple seeks a huge wedding celebration, so why should they be pushed into either the big-party corner or the quick-elopement corner? The micro wedding offers a middle ground that allows couples to have their tiny cake, and to eat it with those they care about most.