In contrast to all the over-the-top, grandiose wedding trends, there is one that favors the smaller, more intimate details: the micro wedding. Categorized by wedding planners as a nuptial affair with 50 people or fewer in attendance (with some planners even going so far as to say that “micro” means fewer than 20 people), these smaller-scale celebrations are considered a kind of hybrid between an elopement and traditional wedding. While smaller weddings have been an up-and-coming trend for a few years now, many are wondering if these more intimate celebrations will become the norm because there’s no clear end in sight for social distancing rules due to coronavirus (COVID-19).
Because limiting large gatherings also limits the opportunities for transmission of the virus, micro weddings may become more popular out of safety.
On March 15th, as a temporary precaution to help stop the spread of the virus, the CDC recommended the cancellation of events with 50 or more people for the following eight weeks. This was followed by several states banning large gatherings entirely. As a result, thousands of couples were forced to cancel their weddings, host a virtual wedding, or postpone their “I do’s” until next year—or potentially even later.
With no hard-and-fast rules for when it will be safe to hold large gatherings again, this has lead tons of eager, hopeful couples to anxiously anticipate what their new day might look like. Potentially, that new day will mean cutting down that pages-long guest list.
“Post-coronavirus, weddings will decrease in guest count,” predicts North Carolina-based wedding planner Emoré Campbell. “Instead of 150 to 300 guests, we expect more like 40 to 125.” That’s because industry professionals are expecting less travel from elderly or adolescent guests—which can make up for a large part of your guest count—out of fear or precaution.
Until a vaccine for coronavirus is available, guest lists may automatically be limited due to social distancing protocol from venues as well. Unfortunately, this could mean reducing the number of attendees to the number of people that can be safely seated six feet apart.
That doesn’t mean you can’t still have your big day, though. Hosting a smaller wedding gives you the power to hand-select the people most important to you who are able to attend. Perhaps one of the biggest benefits of the micro-wedding trend is that it takes some of the pressure (and undue stress) off of having to give everyone (i.e. family, friends, your random aunt or uncle) what they want. And having fewer people attend doesn’t mean you have to skimp on important experiences like cake cutting, toasts, and dancing.
“Smaller weddings allow the couple to spend more quality time with their guests, creating memories that will last for years, as opposed to a ‘drive-by’ hello when there are hundreds of attendees,” says destination wedding planner and industry expert Larissa Banting.
Not to mention, a smaller guest list frees up the budget to include more lavish touches. Plus, you can spend more per person—be it on the food, wine, furniture, gift bags, or accommodations. With fewer people, it may be easier to achieve those Pinterest-worthy details without completely breaking the bank.
“Micro-weddings can be full-on experiences in a way larger weddings can’t be, simply due to budget constraints,” points out Banting.
Since canceling or changing a pre-planned wedding isn’t cheap (and because so many couples are experiencing financial instability right now), you may have to re-think the original budget to account for some sunk costs. According to The Knot’s 2019 Real Wedding Study, the national average cost of a wedding is $33,900, while a micro wedding can cost a fraction of that, depending on guest count and location.
Even if your budget changes and you can’t go as luxe with the touches, a mico wedding gives you the freedom to potentially still use some of the vendors you had originally booked—just on a smaller scale.
Being able to focus on your future spouse, the few people who mean the most to you, and whatever small details you can afford gives an entirely new perspective to the nuptial process. It can be more about celebrating making it through this uncertain time and less about “showing off” just for the sake of it.
As N.Y.C.-based wedding planner Tracy Taylor Ward tells us, “In the future, when COVID-19 has passed, I do anticipate that a lot of people will come to realize that a smaller wedding was always the best fit for their needs, and they no longer will feel the need to have the big party just for the sake of doing what was more popular.”