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This past year, we've all seen couples downsize their large nuptials to host smaller affairs in light of the coronavirus crisis. But what about the couples who always wanted a micro wedding, regardless of a looming global pandemic? Now that these intimate gatherings have become mainstream, we're introducing you to another level of the trend: the micro wedding marathon.
What's that, you ask? It's everything a real wedding has to offer, from the ceremony to the cake cutting, but with a few exceptions: The entire event lasts just 90 minutes—and you share the venue and planning team with two other couples.
What is a Micro Wedding Marathon?
A micro wedding marathon includes all the traditional elements of a wedding—from the ceremony to the cake cutting—but is broken into abbreviated time slots so couples are able to share a venue, planning team, and wedding day.
Sure, it sounds a tad unconventional but Wendy Kay of Birds of a Feather Events in Dallas is already proving that it can also be a perfect alternative to traditional wedding planning, especially now. The idea of hosting multiple minimonies in one day actually came to the planner long before COVID-19 transformed the wedding industry, but in April, she announced the new venture to cater to couples affected by the pandemic—and she was surprised by who actually showed interest in the marathon day!
You're essentially sharing your wedding day but you have your own time. You're not crossing paths with the other couples that are getting married that day!
"These [couples] weren't really displaced by COVID, per se, they just wanted something small to begin with," she tells Brides. "They wanted [their wedding] to be really nice. But they didn't want to spend a bunch of money just to have a small number of people come together."
And, as it turns out, they are not alone! Industry experts across the country are seeing a demand for this type of wedding—so much that Kay and 26 planners, from San Francisco to Nashville and New York City, have formed the Small Wedding Society, a network of professionals planning intimate events nationwide. Kay's micro wedding advice? "I would say go for it," she offers. "I don't know that it's going to be anything that [you] regret."
Keep reading for all the details on how a micro wedding marathon works—plus photos and advice from real couples who wed in socially distant, back-to-back weddings in October.
How Does It Work?
To streamline everything, Kay handles all of the details—from booking the venue to hiring the vendor team and designing the décor elements— of planning what she calls a "tiny wedding." This means minimal time planning and lower prices for the couples involved.
"Something like this is just a good alternative because you're spending way less than you would have spent if you had to take on all those contracts yourself," she explains. "You're essentially sharing your wedding day but you have your own time. You're not crossing paths with the other couples that are getting married that day!"
With a wedding such as this, couples don't have an opportunity to agonize over tasks such as who to hire as a photographer and how to decorate the altar, but, based on the package promise, they can expect a high-quality event. Case in point: When Kay hosted her first micro wedding with her new event company, Tiny Weddings Dallas, in Dallas in October, she worked with top local talent: photographer Charla Storey (a Brides best photographer!) and florist Maxine Owens of Max Owens Design.
What Does the Wedding Day Look Like?
In the case of such a micro wedding marathon, the location, date, and guest count are set by the planner or whoever is hosting it. From there, couples can choose the time of their event. In Kay's current package, she is offering four time slots, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., and each is 90 minutes with 30 minutes for cleaning and staging in between. Each couple is permitted up to 30 guests with an option to add-on an additional 15 guests.
Here's a breakdown of the 90-minute timeline:
- 15-minute ceremony
- 45-minute "mini-reception" with a first dance, Champagne toast, and cake.
- Grand exit
- 30-minute portrait session with your photographer
How Much Does it Cost and What's Included?
While the cost and package will depend on what the planner is offering, couples can consider the details of the wedding covered. And with costs for bigger budget items (like an epic floral arch!) split between couples, the bill means more bang for your buck.
To give you an idea, take a look at Kay's current package for a micro wedding in Dallas on April 25, 2021. It costs $6,850—a fraction of the average cost of a wedding today, which is $28,964, according to the 2020 Brides American Wedding Study—and includes:
- Floral Design
- Planning & Design
- Food & Drink
- Licensed Officiant
- Surprise Details
"We had a dummy cake that we used for display and then each couple had their own cutting cake to cut into," Kay says. Each cake cutting was followed by a Champagne toast for the newlyweds and their guests.
Guests were also served mini layered cakes and cans of Champagne—both individualized as an added COVID-19 safety measure.
Three Couples Who Said "I Do" on the Same Day
On October 4, 2020, three couples made it official at The Cliff House in Dallas. First up were Andrea and Chuck, a recently engaged couple with a baby on the way. Next, Rachel and Stewart came to tie the knot with the bride's young son by their side. And, finally, the wedding day concluded with healthcare workers Emily and John's sunset celebration.
"All of the guests were wearing masks," explains Kay of the COVID safety protocol. "People were all over the hand sanitizer station. We sanitized all of the chairs for the ceremony in between."
But what did this micro wedding marathon mean for the couples who said "I do?" The brides and grooms paving the way for this new ceremony style share their stories—and reasons why they would do it all over again in a heartbeat below!
Andrea and Chuck
Not only did Andrea and Chuck host a pandemic wedding, but they had a pandemic proposal, too—at home with candles, rose petals, and gold balloons reading "MARRY ME?"! As they began planning their wedding, however, they decided that a ceremony just a few short months after their June engagement was the right direction to go in—especially since they were expecting their first child!
"We decided Tiny Wedding Dallas would be the best option for us to start our life as husband and wife and prepare for our little bundle of joy joining us in 2021," Andrea explains. The micro wedding was made their own through a display of family photos, macaron favors, and a 1949 Rolls Royce getaway car. "It all really felt unique to us and timeless despite the fact that we shared our wedding day," she adds.
Why a Micro Wedding Was Right for Them: "We knew we envisioned a wedding with gorgeous florals, a charming venue, and lots of classy details. We originally planned to have a super intimate courthouse wedding due to the pandemic and then wait up to two years to have the big ceremony of our dreams, but once it was clear to us that there was no end in sight for the pandemic, we started seeing more and more venues hosting micro weddings that piqued our interest."
What Their Guests Thought of the Wedding Day: "There were mixed reactions. While some were hopeful that we would wait for the pandemic to end to plan a larger-scale wedding, a lot of our guests thought the concept was really unique! After attending and then seeing our gorgeous pictures from Charla Storey, our guests were raving about all the details. Especially the gorgeous florals!"
Words of Wisdom: "I highly recommend that couples who find themselves needing to downsize their plans consider partnering with Tiny Weddings Dallas. Wendy was incredible to work with and the end result was so beautiful! You can customize the wedding to meet your needs and style to an extent, but you mainly get peace of mind and a wedding designed down to the details from the beginning."
Rachel and Stewart
"We weren't really sure what we wanted our wedding to look like, but we knew we wanted something smaller," says bride Rachel. She and her now-husband Stewart hosted their closest friends and family for a socially-distant event at The Cliff House. And her son, Jude, had the most important role of all: walking her down the aisle!
But instead of celebrating with their guests after the ceremony, the couple chose to spend time with them beforehand, reserving the reception for just the newlyweds and Rachel's son. "It was nice to spend some time together that way considering there was nothing planned after," she says. "We decided to hand out Champagne to guests as they entered the venue for the ceremony and individual cakes afterward."
Why a Micro Wedding Was Right for Them: "It just made sense. We knew the vendors would do an amazing job and there would be much less stress than a traditional wedding."
What Their Guests Thought of the Wedding Day: "They thought it was a great idea! All of our guests had a wonderful time and very impressed."
Words of Wisdom: "I would 100 percent recommend having a tiny wedding. The attention to detail and creativity of the vendors will not disappoint. Stewart and I went and had a drink after the wedding and then a nice dinner."
Emily and John
"Before I met John, I never wanted to get married, much less plan a wedding," admits bride Emily. Healthcare workers, the couple met at a hospital in 2017 and were the third and final couple to partake in the marathon micro wedding in October.
Although most of the details were pre-planned for them (as frontline workers, they wanted a stress-free day, after all!), the bride and groom found ways to personalize the party. "We personalized the event by having my hometown preacher, whom I have known for twenty years, officiate our marriage," Emily says. "We also hired a string trio band to play during the wedding and reception as well as my niece and nephew were our flower girl and ring bearer."
Why a Micro Wedding Was Right for Them: "I found Tiny Weddings Dallas online and booked it within a month of us marrying on October 4, 2020. We were able to specialize aspects of our wedding if we wanted, but the majority of the details were pre-planned by the wedding coordinator and staff. By utilizing the micro wedding option it allowed the entire process to be entirely stress-free and fun.
What Their Guests Thought of the Wedding Day: "Of course, this is not a traditional wedding style but when I explained the micro wedding in detail, they stated that this was a perfect wedding style for John and me. Not a lot of people are aware of this option therefore I have been promoting it to people that I know who want to get married during this pandemic."
Words of Wisdom: "Remember the day is about you and your loved one becoming one. It doesn't matter if it is in front of one person or two hundred because the end result is the same."
Interested in hosting a tiny wedding of your own? Check out the Small Wedding Society for micro wedding planners in your area.