An Ode to the Micro-Wedding

By Cathleen Freedman

Marriage in the time of COVID-19 defied so many couples’ expectations of what a wedding should be. Forget receiving lines and crowded dance floors. There was suddenly no need for a ginormous four-tier wedding cake. By the end of spring 2020, large weddings were not only dangerous but also prohibited. Nevertheless, the Zoomly-weds of 2020 and 2021 did not let these circumstances silence their wedding bells. Unlike a large wedding, love cannot be canceled, delayed, or postponed. If there’s a will to wed, then wed you will!

Pandemic weddings taught us all that bigger doesn’t have to be better. Couples did not merely “make do” with smaller weddings this year, but actually made their nuptials even more special than they could have ever anticipated otherwise.

Depending on who you ask, the typical micro-wedding guest list consists of fewer than 50-30 guests. Unlike a run-of-the-mill elopement, the guests join the newlyweds for a reception.

Out of an abundance of appreciation for micro-weddings, let us espouse their virtues and reminisce over a few of our favorites!

Meaningful and Intimate Venues

Practically everyone who’s seen Father of the Bride knows how alluring an at-home wedding can be, and so many couples lived their Father of the Bride dream this year. With only a few guests to accommodate, most weddings could take place in the bride or groom’s childhood home. Laura and Henry had an Urban Outfitters-influenced ceremony at her parents’ Tudor home. So many couples said “I do” in other cozy milieus too. Backyard weddings abounded. There were even a few shoreside ceremonies! Uniquely compliant with social distancing practices, friends of the couple cheered from boats at this Bell Island micro-wedding.

Maximize with a Micro-Wedding

Just because it’s a micro-wedding, there is no need to wear a minidress or sell yourself short. Micro-weddings can be glamorous and lavish. OTM bride Grace had not one, not two, but three outfit changes. OTM bride Ashley wore her original exquisite Mehndi lehenga during her five-day Indian micro-wedding. Despite having twenty guests, OTM bride Grace had a tented reception for her wedding. You can still have it all!

Many brides even used OTM’s styling services to snag the chicest micro-wedding bridal outfits. After working with OTM’s Anny Choi, Callan Vessels wound up wearing a Markarian dress with Adelaide Harris pearl earrings. Just in time for her Charleston micro-wedding, Emily found her stunning Alexia María dress on Over The Moon.

Pay Attention to the Micro-Details

A micro-wedding lets you focus on the micro-details. OTM bride Molly’s bouquet featured flowers with special connections to her and her groom. Each groomsman at this Carmel micro-wedding received custom cowboy boots. OTM bride Kessiana had monogrammed masks, hand sanitizer spray, and branded face visors for her twenty guests at her Lagos wedding.

Prioritize What’s Important

Set your priorities. A smaller guest list means you can splurge on vintage postage. Or perhaps, you’d rather devote your resources toward the culinary component of your big day. With a reduced guest list, you can indulge in a three-course sit-down dinner—if you feel so inclined. Sarah and Brenden listened to their hearts and forewent cake for an epic ice cream sandwich bar. Maybe you and your betrothed love live music. If so, follow Garner and Permele’s lead and hire a quartet for the processional, recessional, and reception.

Quality Over Quantity

An intimate micro-wedding offers so many opportunities to savor time with your guests. At large weddings, brides and grooms can scarcely recall who they talked to during the reception. But at smaller weddings, tête-à-tête conversations with everyone in attendance are possible. Plus, just think of all the gorgeous tablescapes you can design with fewer tables. OTM bride Grace used an assortment of her mother’s china and linens at her South Carolina wedding. Oh, and another perk of fewer guests? More elbow-room at dinner and more space on the dance floor.

Defy Tradition

There is something about planning a micro-wedding that makes you bolder. Once couples subverted the expectation of a large wedding, they utilized the chance to break the mold and forgo formalities. OTM bride Airlie wore a magical blue-and-white printed Cara Cara dress instead of a standard white gown.

They’re So Romantic

Micro-weddings are inherently romantic. Walking through your childhood backyard while a handful of your closest family members and friends watch on? Exchanging heartfelt vows with such a small audience in attendance? Listening to thoughtful toasts from every guest at the candlelit reception? Be still our hearts! Merely click through Lesea’s wedding photos for confirmation–an intimate micro-wedding is supremely dreamy.

They’re So Responsible

These socially distanced ceremonies minimized the potential spread of COVID-19. Micro-weddings also showed us that CDC-approved masks go with any bridal outfit. Just ask writer and Jane the Virgin actress Shelly Bhalla. At her “bandit-style” micro-wedding at the Santa Barbara Courthouse, she wore an Etsy mask to complement her Jonathan Simkhai suit dress.


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Everybody’s Doing It

Even the royals! Who could forget Princess Beatrice’s summer micro-wedding in Windsor?

Micro-wedding brides and grooms agree. They didn’t sacrifice anything with a smaller ceremony. While some couples were initially disappointed they couldn’t throw the large party they always envisioned, they ultimately realized that a micro-wedding was far superior. OTM Bride Katy had to scale her guest list from 300 to 30. While reminiscing about the day, however, she says, “It was the fairy-tale wedding that I dreamed of when I was a little girl…but even better.”

The micro-weddings from this past year have brought so much joy to newly-weds, their families, friends, and even their virtual guests who live-streamed the event. As the vaccine rolls out, couples who postponed their original large weddings are slowly dusting off their address books and pulling out their stationery. But after seeing how truly special micro-weddings can be, they might want to reconsider those lengthy guest lists and pivot toward a smaller, more intimate celebration.

Regardless of what the “Soaring 20s” bring, we hope the micro-wedding is here to stay.