I’m not usually a huge fan of buzzwords. But I’ve been hearing the term “microwedding” quite frequently lately and I rather like this one. The reason why I like it is because I finally have a name for the majority of the weddings I am involved in. I have planned well over two hundred weddings in Central Park since I started this business. Quite a lot of those weddings have been true elopements – ie just the couple are present and they have no guests. The odd few have been forty or fifty people or even a few more than that – that’s a big wedding for us. The majority of the weddings I help to plan have between five and fifteen guests. It’s not an elopement, and it’s not a traditional wedding. It is a destination wedding, but it seems that most people think of the beach when you say that. But to summarize the main features of the weddings I do, I would say that a) they’re in Central Park (obviously!), b) they’re smaller than average and c) they’re lovelier than average (OK that last one is just my opinion).
So, what to call these small weddings? Well, “small weddings” is OK, but not too catchy. Some wedding planners still call them elopements if they’re not near to the couple’s home and they only have a few guests, because it’s still kind of a similar vibe. But to me, it’s not the same at all – I’m involved with lots of elopements and lots of small weddings and I think they feel very different. Even a small audience as you make these big promises is still an audience, and when you’re having the wedding far from home, then if you have a small number of guests then that’s a very different trip with them there than if it’s just the two of you.
I recently exhibited an “alternative wedding” fair, and some of my weddings have featured on some blogs of the same theme. I’m all for being alternative and setting yourself apart from the norm, but what does that really mean? I suppose it just means non-traditional, and getting married outdoors with just a few of your nearest and dearest is quite non-traditional (by western standards in very recent times). But many of my couples are looking and saying and doing something fairly traditional apart from the location they do it in, which generally dictates a shorter guest list that they would have at home. Would my couples describe themselves as alternative? I doubt that most of them would.
Some people argue that a major reason for keeping the guest list short is that it keeps the cost down. And, while this might be true to some extent, and I’d argue that our weddings are cheaper than the traditional option at home, I don’t think people choose to marry in Central Park to save money. I think they do it because New York is an incredible, unique and fantastic city, and Central Park is iconic, beautiful and romantic. So I don’t think we can call them “cheap weddings” because that’s not always accurate either. What a smaller wedding can allow, is a couple spending more money on each guest because they have fewer of them. For example, they can go to an especially fancy New York restaurant if they only have a few people to feed, or their invites can be extra special since there will be far fewer of them to send out. So, rather than using these smaller weddings as a money-saving method, it can be more of a money-spending re-direction. A smaller guest list frees up the budget to spend on other things. So, instead of entertaining and feeding lots of distant family members who you last saw a few Christmases ago, you can get married in a spectacular destination, for example, and have wedding photos that really stand out.
Once theme I have noticed is that many of the weddings I am involved with have a relaxed feel to them, so maybe we should call them “relaxed weddings”. The couple who has decided to go away for their wedding, and not involve their wider social circle, but instead just those people who are closest to them, do seem to be taking it easier than the couples who are having a large wedding. But then again, I’m sure there are many couples who have loved every minute of their traditional wedding at home with absolutely everyone they know. It’s all about personal choice, and we’re all different people, so one person’s idea of relaxing could be someone else’s idea missing out. So many of the couples who come to me for help with planning a smaller wedding in Central Park tend to do so after having considered a traditional big wedding at home and have found it stressful. Perhaps they are fairly introverted people, so maybe we should call them “introvert weddings”. So many of my couples have said that a big reason why they loved their wedding was that it was stress-free. Many of my couples have described themselves as introverts, but if you bring a group with you for a few nights or a week and spend lots of time with them, then you would have to be fairly extroverted to enjoy it.
I have heard the non-traditional wedding being referred to as the “anti-wedding” or heard it implied that these smaller weddings or elopements are for people who don’t care about or don’t like weddings. This is just not the case at all, in my opinion. In fact many of these couples have made a conscious decision to turn the focus away from their wider social circle instead on to themselves as a couple, and chosen to put emphasis on the people, rituals and customs that are most important to them. They’re still doing many of the things involved in a larger wedding – getting dressed up, exchanging vows and rings, carrying flowers, taking photographs, eating great food and having a fabulous celebration. They’re just choosing to do only the things that make them happy and not doing the things that don’t interest them but they might otherwise have felt obliged to do if they were having a traditional large affair at home.
My second favorite term for these weddings is “intimate wedding” because that is the sense that these smaller weddings produce – they create a close and intimate feel for the couple and their guests. A couple might be far more comfortable making very personal promises to each other in their vows when their guests are only the people who know them very well. When couples bring a small group of their nearest and dearest with them to New York, the result will be that they will spend a lot more time with them than they would at a traditional, large wedding. They might do their own sight-seeing during the day, and then meet as a group in the evenings to talk about what they have done and seen. Or they might split the group in to a small hen (bachelorette) and stag (bachelor) parties in the run-up to the wedding. I write each ceremony with the couples and with these smaller groups, we can mention each guest by name in a ceremony if the couple wish to. In many cases, couples who do not spend time worrying about keeping a large number of guests feed and entertained and happy instead concentrate on making the ceremony and the whole wedding day more meaningful and unique to themselves.
The reason why I like the term “micro wedding” or more commonly all one word “microwedding” is that it implies quite clearly that the event is a wedding, as we know it, just smaller. Many of these couples are taking all the love and joy and celebration of any wedding, and then shrinking it, maybe even condensing it. They are keeping the ceremony and the festivities but just trimming of the stuff (and dare I say it; the people) they feel they can do without.
Couples have many reasons why they might choose a microwedding. Sometimes it is because they have a complicated family – perhaps parents who have split up and it’s too complicated to have them all together on this special day. Sometimes it is that the couple, or one of the couple, would really hate all that attention on the day. Perhaps they consider planning a big wedding an unnecessary hassle and excessive stress that they don’t need and wouldn’t enjoy. It certainly seems to be a trend to reduce wedding guest lists, and these microweddings are on the rise. I am all for it!
For more information to help you with planning your own microwedding in Central Park, (or even a big wedding!) visit our website, or “like” us on Facebook, follow us on Instagram and follow us on Pinterest where you will find lots of lovely photos and many more inspiring stories of real weddings, most of them small!