Among all the wedding trends, perhaps the most confusingly named is a ‘micro wedding’. What exactly is a micro wedding? Is it the same as an elopement? Why would you have one?
The trend for having a micro wedding is growing, and if you’re after a small wedding with a focus on guest experience, it could be the right choice for you.
Read on to discover the pros and cons of choosing a micro wedding and five rules you need to know.
What is a Micro Wedding?
A micro wedding is a wedding with less than 20 guests. Being smaller in size, it’s usually cheaper, more relaxed and shorter in length than a traditional wedding day.
It differs from both an elopement and an ‘intimate’ wedding. An elopement is usually done in secret, will be attended by just the couple marrying and two witnesses, and is often a quick and simple registry office ceremony – whereas a micro wedding is a full wedding day, just on a smaller scale.
While it still could be the couple and two witnesses, it’s not done in secret or on a whim, but is a fully thought-through and planned wedding day, just for a smaller guest list. The ceremony will often not take place at a registry office either.
Micro weddings are also different from intimate weddings. An intimate or small wedding is generally considered to have between 30 and 60 guests. Micro weddings are much smaller than this, with guest numbers usually in the single digits or teens.
How Does a Micro Wedding Differ to a ‘Traditional’ Wedding Day?
The advantage of a micro wedding is that it doesn’t have to include all the components of a ‘traditional’ wedding day, like a cake cutting, bouquet toss or first dance. However, for many couples, traditions like speeches and the first dance are still essential elements and they’ll choose to have them. It all depends whether the wedding traditions are important to the couple or not. If they don’t resonate with your values or vision, there’s no pressure to include them!
A micro wedding will always have a ceremony and a reception, but that can take any form the couple like, for example, an outdoor ceremony followed by a casual BBQ or renting out the private room of a restaurant for a meal, speeches and dancing.
Why Have a Micro Wedding?
The reasons for having a small guest list vary hugely. Emma Caddis and her husband Paul own award-winning Cornish venue of Treseren, which specialises in weddings for up to 20 guests. We asked for the most popular reasons their couples choose to have a micro wedding.
1. You’ll Enjoy a More Relaxed Day
The average wedding now has 82 day guests and 103 evening guests. Planning an event that size is a huge undertaking that involves juggling multiple suppliers, chasing RSVPs, planning seating arrangements, and ensuring there’s enough food, booze and entertainment for your guests on the day. If parents financially contribute, they may feel it’s their right to have a say in your day, which can lead to conflict. Understandably, some couples find that pressure off-putting.
A small wedding of up to 20 guests is often much less stressful for couples. It strips the planning process right back to the things that are most important to you as a couple: the people you absolutely want by your side and the experience you want to create for yourselves and your guests.
“The main reasons our couples give for opting for a small wedding is that they want their day to be relaxed, they don’t want the stress of a big event,” Emma explains. “Some because they don’t like the idea of being in the spotlight, others because they want their day to be very personal and meaningful. It’s all about how they want their wedding to be and not about pleasing everybody else.
“There is something very relaxed and wonderful about small weddings – more time to chat, more time to just enjoy the spaces and time together. You get this incredible supportive, happy and warm atmosphere. A small wedding doesn’t mean having to compromise on style or the type of day the couples want. Our weddings always look beautiful and, although the guest list is small, they are big on style and atmosphere.”
2. You Can Save Money
When you reduce the number of guests at your wedding, the cost naturally goes down. If budget is a big consideration for you, a micro wedding where you only invite your absolute nearest and dearest might be the best choice. It’s also a fantastic idea if you want to focus on the quality of your guest experience.
Emma explains, “Budget can play a part, although that doesn’t mean a compromise on quality. We hear our couples telling us that they want a really fantastic menu with locally-sourced produce, good Champagne and a sense of treating their guests to a fabulous day. If there are not as many guests, then really great hospitality in a beautiful setting can be affordable. What’s great about doing things on a micro scale is that your spend per head can go up, but the overall cost go down.”
3. It’s Easy to Personalise
Micro weddings are the antithesis of a package wedding. They will most likely to be held in exclusive-use venues where you have free rein to transform the décor, decide your running order and create the atmosphere you want.
Sam and Natalie’s autumn micro wedding at Treseren is a great example of how they brought their passions and creativity to the venue. The house was filled with stunning dried flower installations; graphic designer Sam designed all their table stationery; artisan ice cream-maker Natalie teamed up with a local chef to create a menu and served her own ice creams with the dessert; a friend chose special wines to match their menu.
“This wedding had all the traditional elements, with families and friends coming together to celebrate, speeches, incredible food and, later, dancing – but done on a micro scale. During the speeches, their friends and family members who spoke complimented them on their unique and beautiful wedding, choice of venue and approach to the day which everybody felt reflected them as a couple so well,” says Emma.
One couple even held a Poldark-themed wedding at Treseren, which shows how immersive and unusual themes can really benefit from the size and freedom of a micro wedding. Such an event would be hard to recreate for 100+ people.
Sam and Natalie’s Wedding at Treseren
4. You Spend More Time With Your Guests
At a big wedding, couples are lucky to get five minutes to catch up with each guest. With a smaller number, you can interact with each and every guest, build deeper connections and make your guests feel more valued.
On top of this, venues which specialise in micro weddings are often exclusive-use and offer multi-day hire meaning a wedding day can become a wedding weekend with your loved ones.
Emma says an essential part of the experience at Treseren is a ‘Welcome Feast’ the night before the wedding where guests can come together and relax into the weekend. It’s followed by a communal breakfast the next morning where excitement builds for the day ahead, and breakfast the day after the wedding to reflect on the memories created.
5. You’re Not Restricted By Timings
Trying to get 100 people free on the same day almost definitely requires that you choose a weekend for your wedding. However, the beauty of a smaller number of guests is that you can be flexible with how and where you marry. A weekday wedding may suit you better and be a cheaper option.
If you choose to have a celebrant (and the legal part is done before), you open up even more opportunities for where you can host your wedding. A sunset ceremony on a beach, a picnic in a park, renting out a country house for a few days – all are possible.
6. There’s Less Eyes on You
Not a motivation for everyone, but for some, the thought of a hundred people watching you walk down the aisle and say your vows can be anxiety-inducing. Whether you have anxiety or are shy, it might feel much more comfortable for you to say ‘I do’ with just 10 people you love around you, and that’s a perfectly acceptable reason!
What Are the Disadvantages of a Micro Wedding?
The biggest disadvantage is that you may encounter pushback from friends or family. Guests who don’t make the cut can feel hurt by your decision to have just 20 people at your big day. You have to be really confident that this is the right decision for you, otherwise you may start feeling guilty about the people who are upset by your choice. It’s absolutely not something that should stop you from having a micro wedding, but it is something to be aware of.
You can mitigate any disappointment at not being invited by explaining the situation clearly and sharing photos from the day on social media. If your friends can see how private the day was, they’ll understand even better why they couldn’t be invited. Plus, they get to share in the joy you felt on the day by looking at the photos.
Emma suggests choosing a venue that specialises in micro weddings to take the sting out even further. “If you want to opt for a small wedding, it may be that you cannot invite everybody. The great thing about choosing a small venue with limited numbers means that people you don’t invite will not feel offended – they will understand that this is what you have chosen and should be happy for you. For those that celebrate with you, they will enjoy a really special and personal day with you.”
5 Rules for Having a Micro Wedding
1. Is the Guest List Big Enough?
Are there more than 20 people that you would have on your dream wedding guest list? Put aside the obligations you might feel to invite people’s partners and extended family members. If you can’t narrow down your list to less than 20, a micro wedding might not be for you. Don’t ignore this rule as you’ll regret it if you desperately wish a couple of other friends were there on the day.
2. Decide on Your Must-Haves
If you go ahead with a micro wedding, write a list of non-negotiables that you want at your wedding. You and your partner should each get to say three things that you won’t compromise on. It could be live music, an amazing photographer you’ve been following on Instagram, a top shelf open bar, an outdoor ceremony, a delicious meal, your dream wedding dress, providing accommodation for all your guests, a beautiful cake or flower installation. You’ll likely be working with a smaller budget so prioritise the important things.
3. Choose an Appropriate Venue
“A large venue saying they are happy to do small weddings may not be the right thing. You do not want to feel ‘lost’ in a setting that feels too big and amplifies the small numbers,” explains Emma. “You need somewhere ‘just right’ with plenty of space for everybody to relax, but the right proportions for the intimate atmosphere to be created.”
Choosing a venue that specialises in micro weddings, like Treseren, means the team there will really understand the vision of your day and their role. Because of the small number of guests, you need the venue staff to blend in and be unobtrusive. Visit the venue, meet the coordinators, imagine how you want your day to flow and the atmosphere you want to create. Go with your gut feeling of whether you can picture your day there.
4. Use a Wedding Planner
Just because your wedding is smaller doesn’t mean you can’t justify a planner if you want one. Having someone with great supplier contacts and who’ll be there on the day to make things run smoothly will reduce stress.
“It doesn’t have to be long and drawn-out,” says Emma. “In fact, we include planning and coordination on the day as part of our service and inclusive price. We have built up relationships with brilliant, local suppliers who also specialise in small weddings, and we can quickly put a team together for our couples, based on what they would like. This way it is stress-free.”
5. Wear Whatever Feels Right
Want a £10,000 dress? Do it! Want to wear a high street gown costing £250? Also fine! The size of your wedding is no indicator of how lavish you can go with the things that matter. If that’s a dress, go for it; but if the dress doesn’t matter, don’t feel like you’re wearing anything less wedding-worthy just because it’s from the high street. What you feel comfortable and confident in is paramount.
Our Favourite Micro Wedding Venues
River Cottage – Axminster, Devon
The iconic Devonshire farmhouse can hold weddings of up to 20 guests. Your ceremony can take place inside or in River Cottage’s walled garden, and then you’ll have full use of the Kitchen Garden, dining room and famous farmhouse kitchen from midday to midnight. Their chefs can whip up a delicious meal for between 10 and 20 guests to celebrate.
The Georges Vault – Rochester, Kent
Although this venue can hold up to 70 guests, it’s ideal for weddings of 20 and fewer too due to its cosy vibes. The Georges Vault is a 14th century wedding venue in the heart of Rochester, near the Cathedral. It’s split over three floors, but the one you want is the basement crypt which is bursting with atmosphere.
Fox & Hounds Country Hotel and Treetops Treehouse – Chulmleigh, Devon
Intimate micro weddings can be held in the Fox & Hounds Country Hotel’s amazing Treetops Treehouse. While this is usually the bridal suite for the newlyweds, it is also a truly unique venue for a wedding of up to 10 in total. It features a log burner and cute interiors that make it ideal for a rustic micro wedding.
New House Farm – Cockermouth, Cumbria
Located in the pictureseque Lorton Valley, New House Farm is a luxury country house that can host up to 20 guests for an intimate wedding. With open log fires and pretty, secluded gardens, it’s great for a wedding all year round.
Cherrytrees – Kelso, Lothian & Borders
If you’d like an outdoor micro wedding, Cherrytrees in Scotland is a wonderful outdoor wedding venue. It can hold up to 50 guests but is completely flexible and looks wonderful set up for much smaller weddings. You can have a sit-down meal or informal afternoon tea or picnic on the lawn.
Treseren – St Newlyn East, Cornwall
In a secluded spot in the countryside, just five miles from the beach, is Treseren. The country house is available for weddings of up to 20 guests, with bed and breakfast included at the house for 12 people. The house is licensed for civil ceremonies in their gardens and in their beautiful Wedding Room which has elegant French doors that open onto the terrace.
On a small budget? Don’t miss our guide to planning a wedding for £3,000.