I'm a storyteller who believes life is made up of the little moments and that the best photographs look for the in-between
If you’re reading this, I’m hoping that a micro/intimate wedding was always your dream. But if it wasn’t, and you’re considering this as an option because coronavirus crashed your traditional wedding and blew it to smithereens, I’m here to tell you, a micro wedding is NOT a downgrade, your wedding has NOT been ruined, it’s just going to be different.
And the more different you can make it, the more it will feel like something to be excited about.
Let me explain.
If you’ve spent MONTHS planning out a specific celebration with a specific group of people, with these flowers and those events, then any attempt to downscale will likely feel like a loss.
But if instead, you pivot and plan something totally different, while putting the original plans on hold for a little bit, there’s space to get excited about that new plan. Because now it’s a BOTH/AND scenario. You get BOTH the intimate celebration AND the big wedding. You get to have an adventure AND to party. You get the relaxed celebration AND you the traditional shenanigans. Truly, it’s an opportunity rather than a crisis.
So is this idea of a “BOTH/AND” way of celebrating even something you can pull off?
The short answer? It starts with you.
The Heart Exercise
Bear with me and run through a quick exercise – I call this a heart exercise. I want you to sit down with your partner and imagine what your day would look like if you rented a big cabin, had a potluck, went hiking or went swimming at a swimming hole (or both), visited a brewery, got up at dawn for private vows on the mountaintop, hired a chef for a super fancy, five-course meal for 12, hired a private band to play at a distance, while you dance around the fire, etc. When you begin to imagine this, how do you feel? What is your gut reaction? If your gut reaction is sadness and disappointment, everything I’m writing is probably not for you. You should likely just postpone your original celebration with the hope that it can happen the way you originally planned it, but at a later date.
But if you are running through these ideas and you begin to feel relief or excitement or possibility, then you WILL be able to pivot and have an amazing, different day that you can get really pumped about.
Whatever you feel when you run through the heart exercise isn’t right or wrong, but it will help you solidify where you stand and help you to make a decision about what to do. Because here’s the thing: I personally think going ahead and getting married is wise. I don’t think 2021 is guaranteed as a year for traditional weddings – I’m going to write more in depth about why that is later. But ultimately your wedding day should be something incredibly special that you can get really excited about, enjoy and remember for a lifetime. And that’s really important. You are investing a lot of time and energy into the day, it SHOULD be amazing and what you want it to be.
Part I: Find a Photographer or Planner
I’m putting this as No. 1 because, honestly, I have had so many last-minute bookings from people this year who feel totally lost with what to do with their day. I’m not a wedding planner by any stretch of the measure, but I am a Planner with a capital “P” …as in I like to plan, I’m a little type A, and I have a wealth of ideas. When people book me, I often spend a ton of time with them chatting about their vision and helping them to hone what they want their day to look like. So finding the right guide, so to speak, will help you tremendously as you navigate your new, amazing day. [Interested in booking with me? Click here to get in touch]
Part II: Find a Venue, Pick a Date – In That Order
So even if you postpone your original wedding, did you know most venues are offering micro wedding or elopement packages? Ask…you may still be able to use your venue on your original date if that’s something you’re interested in! But if you want to save your venue for the big celebration, here are some alternatives: Book a VRBO or Airbnb big enough for your group. When searching Airbnb, filter for “suitable for events” and for the number of people you are hoping to accommodate. Leave the dates free – this late in the year, you’re going to have to be flexible with dates if you go this route. Once you find a place you’re interested in, you can click on the listing and it will show you what availability it has. Book your date based on that (coordinated with your photographer’s availability, of course!) You may have to do a weekday. Weekdays can be delightful – everything is less crowded. I love weekday celebrations.
Find a bed and breakfast or inn. There are so SO many of these in Virginia, and many can accommodate small events. Many even have restaurants and will cater for you. I LOVE shooting at bed and breakfasts and inns. They have so much more character than big box hotels and are often situated on beautiful estates or close to landscapes where you can do an all-in-one…ceremony and celebration and great food at the same place. Here are two good roundups or you can search at www.bedandbreakfast.com.
As with booking an Airbnb, if you are planning a last-minute celebration it will likely mean having to be flexible with the dates. Another plus for picking a weekday: a lot more vendor availability, making it more likely to have your pick of who you want to work with.
Part III: Pick Your Guest List
Elopements for me are up to 15 people total and intimate weddings are under 50. A micro wedding typically has less than 25.
If you’re worried about loved ones contracting coronavirus, I highly recommend considering a two-person elopement. If your bubble already includes particular close friends, your parents or siblings, then include them too. But be conscious of how large you expand your circle and who those people will be interacting with. Coronavirus outbreaks HAVE been linked to celebrations, including graduations, birthday parties, soirees and weddings. You can ask people to get tested before they come, ask everyone to wear a mask, and, if they are able, ideally people are still quarantining before they come together.
Part IV: Plan Your Day, Keep It Simple
Weddings do not have to be elaborate. They can be really chill. You need to get married at some point, you’ll probably want some pictures, you need to feed people. That’s honestly it. Play cornhole, have a musical jam session around the campfire, rent a cabin with a pool. Get everyone up for morning yoga or to watch the sunrise at a local overlook with mimosas and pancakes. What do you like to do with your group of family and friends? Do that.
Alternatively, hang bistro lights from the trees, hire a chef or get takeout, and have an amazing boho backyard picnic. Let the fireflies come out, watch the stars, lay on a blanket and take it all in. You’re married. Congrats! The next time you come together, it will be for the best anniversary party of your lives.