Have you been thinking about planning a micro wedding? Whether you’ve dreamed of a lavish wedding with 300 guests since you were a little girl or always knew you would rather elope, things can change between dreaming and when it’s time for the real thing. In 2021, nearly 50% of couples reduced their guest list by half and spent roughly $15,000 on their wedding costs compared to an average of $38,000, according to the Real Wedding survey.

Not only is a small wedding an intimate option, but it’s often a budget-friendly alternative compared to a traditional wedding. So how do you plan a micro wedding? Start with establishing a realistic budget, creating a smaller guest list, choosing a private venue, hiring the entertainment, and selecting the food and beverage options best suited for your reception vision. Below we’ll break down a step-by-step guide on how to plan a beautiful and intimate wedding.

Four Images: Top left image of guests at a micro-wedding standing in attendance. Top right image of couple on balcony reciting vows. Bottom left image of couple's first kiss. Bottom right image of couple in front of City Hall.

Establish a Realistic Budget

The first step to planning a wedding is establishing a budget and sticking to it. This is a critical element to planning your big day because the last thing you want is to hurt your finances, potentially disrupting your future together. Sit down with your partner and discuss a realistic price range of how much you can afford to spend on wedding costs. Once you have a number, break down the spending limit for each category. For example, the venue, attire, entertainment, and food or beverages are all categories to which you should allocate a maximum spending cost.

Next, determine how you’re going to pay for your wedding. Setting up a wedding savings account is the best way to save money. Whether you contribute money to the account weekly or monthly, you’d be surprised how fast the account adds up. If you and your partner own a home, applying for a home equity line of credit is a notable option as long as you have a credit score of 600 or higher and a responsible payment history. This option is much safer than taking out a credit card to pay for the wedding costs because it can potentially hurt your credit score if you cannot make the payments on time. Lastly, if you have family members willing to help cover some of the expenses, check with them to see how much they can contribute or what cost they’d like to cover. Once you have a budget established and a plan in place on how to budget and pay for the wedding, it’s time to build the guest to join you in celebrating your special day.

Two images: left image of  couple getting married by judge at City Hall. Right image of the few guests attending micro-wedding

Create a Smaller Guest List

Whether cutting your guest list in half or starting one from scratch, it might not be easy to decide who you want to share your memorable day with. Where should you start? How many people should you invite? There’s no minimum or maximum number on how many people you should invite to a micro wedding. You could invite as few as ten people to your wedding or fifty guests; as long as you’re happy with your guest list, that’s all that matters. Start with close friends, family, and loved ones that are priorities. Once you have started the list of people you must have attended, you can start adding more people one by one until you reach a point where deciding if you need them it is important. 

After you’ve finalized the guest list, it’s time to send out the save-the-dates. The name, date, invitation to follow, and other important information can be added. In general, designing, ordering, and sending the save-the-dates should be done at least six to twelve months in advance. This allows you to give your guests enough time to plan for the date well in advance.

Two images: Left image point-of-view from behind cactus at newlywed couple. Right image of couple in garden kissing.

Choose an Intimate Venue

When planning a micro wedding, finding a venue to host your ceremony or reception is important because you don’t want the space to be too big or small. By not having a traditional 100-person guest list, you have more freedom on where you’d like to host your wedding. A home wedding, local brewery, barn, or renting out a restaurant are all great options. When searching for the venue, be sure to compare the packages, details, dates available, indoor, and outdoor availability to one another. The last thing you want to do is settle on the place just because the price might be a little lower compared to another venue.

Just because you’re planning a smaller wedding does not mean you have to miss out on the details and decor for your ceremony and reception. By having a smaller venue, you’ll be able to personalize the reception space more and create a warm and intimate atmosphere. Think of colors, themes, centerpieces, and flower arrangements with which you want to decorate the space. After finding and booking the venue, the next step is to explore the different entertainment options you’d like to hire.

Two images: Top image of guests helping with backyard micro-wedding. Bottom image of micro-wedding ceremony

Hire Entertainment Services

Just because you’re planning a small wedding does not mean you shouldn’t hire entertainment. Finding a professional wedding photographer is perfect for small group photo sessions that you may not have been able to get with a guest list of a hundred-plus people. By hiring a photographer, you’ll be able to have all the amazing moments captured that you can look back on. Consider hiring a DJ or band to play during the reception to keep the party going. This will allow you and your guests to dance and have fun while celebrating your special day. Other entertainment options you might want to consider having at your wedding are corn hole, croquet, photo booth, caricatures, karaoke, or cigar bar. Once you have an idea of the entertainment you’d like to have at your wedding, the next thing you should plan is the food and beverage options.

Two images: Left image of newlyweds in recessional of micro-wedding. Right image of couple with small guest list toasting with champagne.

Select the Food and Beverage Options

When selecting the food and beverage menu, get as creative and fun as possible. This is a bonus of having a micro wedding because everything can be a bit more personalized. A big thing you and your partner should discuss is if you plan to offer an open bar to your guests. Whether you plan to have an open bar or not, consider hand-selecting a beverage menu with your partner to share with your guests. When selecting drinks to include on your personalized menu, a few options could be a rose mojito, lavender vodka, fruity sangria, or a classic whiskey sour. 

Depending on the time of your reception, selecting the brunch or dinner menu for your wedding is entirely up to you. First, think about the serving style you prefer, such as family style, buffet, or a plated meal. Since you’re planning a smaller gathering, you can take it up a notch by having a selection of food truck options to serve your guests. 

No matter how big or small you go with planning your micro wedding, as long as it’s exactly what you wished for then that’s all that matters.   

If you’re looking for a photographer for your wedding, contact us today at 916.246.0546. We look forward to hearing from you!



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