Micro Weddings, Minimonies, and Elopements: Which is Right for You?

Micro weddings are smaller versions of traditional weddings meant for 50 people or fewer. Use this guide to decide if a micro wedding is right for you.

newly wedded couples kissing on a beach.
Photo by Le Image

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In the throes of wedding planning, it’s not uncommon for couples to think about throwing in the towel and eloping. Between the stress of choosing vendors, staying under budget, and managing expectations from family members, going with a smaller wedding style might sound like the better, less stressful option.

The good news? What was once considered a less common alternative to the traditional big wedding soiree, micro weddings are now embraced in the wedding industry as a common, favorable option (many wedding venues are even offering micro wedding packages!)—particularly since they make for easier social distancing. And as we continue to navigate the pandemic, micro weddings will only get more popular—making them one of the key weddings of the future.

Though the pandemic prevented thousands of couples from celebrating their big day how they hoped and planned to, many decided to let love prevail and celebrate in unique ways—including weddings with fewer guests. Instead of the larger weddings, intimate celebrations like micro weddings, minimonies, elopements, and plans for sequel weddings have become the norm for couples across the country (and the world!). These events allow the couple to send out a handful of wedding invitations to their close friends and family and celebrate their marriage—despite the ongoing COVID-related challenges.

If you and your sweetie are trying to tie the knot during these socially distant times, use this guide to decide which option is right for you.

What is a micro wedding?

First things first—what, exactly, is a micro wedding?

Micro weddings are quite literally smaller versions of traditional weddings—typically with for 50 or fewer guests. Just like a larger wedding, a micro wedding event timeline will start with the ceremony, followed by a cocktail hour and reception, and will include all the traditions that are important to the couple—just with a smaller guest list.

Micro weddings have become a go-to for many couples who had to rethink their original wedding plans due to COVID-19. Instead of trying to manage the logistics of rescheduling a large event (and having to stress about managing COVID-related risk), opting for a micro wedding them to both protect the health of their loved ones and have the wedding they dreamed of—just a smaller version than they originally planned.


Real Couples: “We both feel like we got all of the best parts of a wedding ceremony and reception without all the stress and excessive cost. If we could do it all over again, pandemic or no, we would opt for the intimacy of the smaller ceremony.” - Robert and Carly


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Micro Wedding Tips

As more couples host micro weddings, the benefits of having this type of event, pandemic or not, are more apparent. With fewer people comes a lower cost, simplified logistics, and more time spent with each guest. If you and your partner are planning a micro wedding, use these tips to turn it into the day of your dreams.

1. Limit your guest list.

The most difficult part of planning a micro wedding is choosing the guest list. Since these events are 50 people or fewer, only send invitations to your closest friends and family. When deciding who to invite, ask yourself the question, “Can I imagine my wedding without them?” If the answer is yes, save that invite for someone else.

2. Let people know you're hosting a micro wedding.

If you were originally planning a larger event, there are a good number of people you were planning to invite to your wedding that now aren't going to be receiving invitations. And if you want to prevent any hurt feelings or misunderstandings, it's important to let them know that you've decided to have a much smaller event.

3. Choose your space.

With 50 people or fewer, your venue options are endless. You and your love can host your nuptials anywhere from a small museum to a private beach. To pick the best spot, talk to your partner about places that make them happiest, and use those places as inspiration.


Real Couples: “We were able to really focus on the main reason why we were having the event in the first place — to celebrate our marriage and commitment to each other. I have zero regrets and we will no longer be having a large wedding because our intimate ceremony and reception turned out to be everything we could have wanted. It’s easy to get distracted by the flowers, event decor, band, and venue, but in the end, it's all about you, your partner, and your love for each other.” - Caroline Zalla


4. Hire some help.

Just because the event is small doesn’t mean that you don’t need help. If there’s room in the budget, we recommend hiring vendors to make your day extra special. With a smaller guest count, you can enjoy higher quality catering, wedding cake, and drinks, and there will be more money in the budget for the things that matter most to you—whether that's an amazing florist, an incredible wedding photographer, a wedding planner to manage all your event logistics, or the wedding dress of your dreams.

5. Make it your own.

Once you send your wedding invites, find your venue, and book your vendors, it’s time to finalize all the details that will make your wedding your own. Whether you want to exchange personal vows or start a beach-side surfing session, celebrate in meaningful ways with your closest friends and family.

6. Make time for your in-person guests...

The best part of having a micro wedding is the extra time you will get with your guests. In a traditional wedding, couples may only have a few minutes to speak with each person before they need to move on to the next. In a micro wedding, you can plan time to have meaningful conversations with each person.

7. ...and don't forget the guests who can't be there.

By definition, hosting a micro wedding means scaling back your guest list. But just because some of your wedding guests won't be able to join the festivities in person doesn't mean you don't want to include them at all (they made your original guest list for a reason!)

Look for ways to celebrate your upcoming nuptials with the people you aren't able to host in-person at your micro wedding. For example, if you decided to limit your micro wedding to family members, you might host a Zoom celebration with your friends a few days before the event. Or, if you don't want anyone to miss out on your "I do's," you can livestream your wedding ceremony—and send a link to all the guests you would have invited to a larger wedding so they can join in on your big day virtually.


Does a micro wedding still feel like too big of an event to manage—either because of COVID or because of the stress of hosting 50 people? Not to worry; you have other, more intimate options for your wedding ceremony and reception—starting with a minimony.

What is a minimony?

Minimonies are similar to micro weddings—just on a much smaller scale. Minimonies are small gatherings of 10 people or fewer and generally include just immediate family, close friends, and a few vendors (like an officiant and photographer). Due to social distancing measures, thousands of couples have opted for this type of ceremony instead of canceling their weddings altogether. The size and intimacy of minimonies make them the perfect way to honor your wedding date and keep your friends and family safe.

To host a minimony, gather an officiant, photographer, and your closest loved ones, such as parents, siblings, or best friends, and head to a ceremony location. This can be on the beach or in your backyard, as long as it feels special. Once you’re there, exchange your vows, take photos, and soak in every second of this special moment with your partner and loved ones.


Real Couples: “Our beach ceremony was intimate, meaningful, and low stress. Our words were for one another, without distraction. My memory is filled with my beloved, our children, the sea, snow-clad mountains in the distance, and our beautiful circle on the beach.” - Stacy and Markus


If a micro wedding or minimony sounds good for now—but you still want to celebrate with friends and family at a later date? Sequel weddings are a great way to have the best of both worlds.

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What is a sequel wedding?

Sequel weddings are large celebrations in honor of a couple that's already been married in a smaller ceremony. When a couple elopes or hosts a minimony, they can throw a sequel wedding at a later date. These events can take place one week, one month, or even several years after a couple officially ties the knot—whenever you feel comfortable and safe throwing a large event. Sequel weddings are a great compromise because they give you the knowledge that you'll be celebrating your marriage with all the important people in your life in the future—which can make it easier to enjoy a smaller, more intimate event in the present.

Your sequel wedding can be similar to a traditional wedding reception or it could be completely unique to you and your spouse. Choose a venue large enough to host your guests and decide on your timeline. And while there's no way to predict the future, it is important to note that we are still very much in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic—so if you're concerned about COVID, when choosing a date for your sequel wedding, make sure to choose a date far enough in the future that we're (hopefully!) in a better place with the pandemic.

Should we just elope?

For some couples, the thought of hosting an event of any size can feel overwhelming. And for those couples? The best option might be to elope.

When you think of elopements, images of couples running to city hall or heading to a dreamy mountaintop pass through your mind. While these options are romantic and beautiful, there are so many other ways to celebrate your union with an elopement.

Elopements are intimate unions, typically between the couple, an officiant, and a witness. If you and your partner want to get married quickly or just prefer to share this special moment in private, this might be the best choice for you.


Real Couples: “The biggest benefit of an elopement to me is that I’ve really been able to take back my wedding day! Even with a small wedding, others wanted to have a say in how things were planned or who was invited. Now that it’s just going to be the two of us and we can really do whatever we want. I’m looking forward to having our special day being just about us and the commitment we’re making to one another, which is what a wedding should be about in the first place!” - Kim Hefner


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Which option is right for you?

If you’re looking for a way to celebrate while social distancing or you just want an intimate celebration, use this flowchart to help you decide which ceremony is best for you. Sit down with your partner and ask each other these questions to make sure your goals are the same.

Just to refresh:

  • A micro wedding is similar to a traditional wedding, just for a smaller group; generally, micro weddings have 50 or fewer people in attendance.
  • A minimony is an intimate affair with 10 or fewer people in attendance (including the officiant and photographer). Minimonies are generally reserved for immediate family members and the closest of friends—and fall somewhere between a micro wedding and an elopment.
  • With an elopement, you and your partner opt to get married on your own—with an officiant and potentially a witness or two. This option is ideal if you want to get married quickly or with minimal planning—or keep "I do's" as a private moment between you and your soon-to-be spouse.
  • A sequel wedding is a larger event you host after hosting a micro wedding, minimony, or elopment. Sequel weddings give you the opportunity to bring together a larger group of your friends, family, and loved ones to celebrate your marriage at a later date—whether that's a few weeks, a few months, or a few years in the future.

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Whether the pandemic changed your plans or you want to host an intimate event, micro weddings, minimones, and elopements will be just as magical (maybe more) than a large event. Send wedding invitations to your loved ones and get ready to have the intimate wedding that both of you will remember for the rest of your lives.

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