Micro Weddings

What are they? Should I have one?

We live in Portland where micro weddings aren’t new – having a trendy name for it is. I have always defined micro weddings as 50 or less guests. In the times of a pandemic I think we can say if you were planning a 250 guest wedding that now needs to be 75 Max, you can call it a micro wedding.

So how do you plan a wedding when you don’t know what the hell is going to happen next month, nexts season, or next year? Many have been scrambling to change their wedding date to 2021. Many who are just getting engaged are avoiding planning yet all together or talking about eloping or a micro wedding.

One concern I have about people postponing for next summer is that while it may be all great by then, history and science tell us not to bet on that. Travel experts are predicting 2023 before travel activities are back to “normal”. To me, the only thing worse than planning a wedding for a year only to have to postpone it for another year, would be if we get to that date next year and nothing has changed – you still can’t gather with more than 100 people and vulnerable populations still can’t be at your wedding. While that is not what any couple wants to hear today, I’m a planner it’s my job to be an expert who tells you how to plan for what we know. When we don’t know, and we have no solid answer beyond “Don’t plan events or large gatherings above 100 people without a vaccine or treatment.” I’m going to assume we should listen to the experts who are telling us 12-18 months for best case scenario.

So how do you plan a wedding when at any given time we could have a 25 person limit, or a 50 person limit or a 100 person limit (including vendors)? This is my wheel-house. If you have a wedding you haven’t cancelled or postponed planned for June – September of this year here’s what you need to start doing right now:

  1. Decide if you will absolutely get married on time in a way that is allowed and a) cancel your original wedding or b) postpone your original wedding as an anniversary celebration. Or will you Postpone all together and hope for the best next year?
  2. Have a working Plan B and Plan C
  3. Inform your guests in a fashion that is appropriate

Making the call

How do you decide if you should get married on time? Set lists. Have a list of 10 (including yourselves and an officiant) then anyone you would and could have present if you elope and celebrate later. This might sound crazy when everyone is talking about reopening right now, but the reality is every reopening plan has a plan to go back to stay at home orders if hospitals reach certain capacity levels (so again, I’m a planner in the next 18 months to 2 years if you are planning a wedding you should have this as part of your plan).

Have a top 20 list – this is your back yard micro wedding list. These are the people you will have at your wedding if you decide to get married on time even if you can’t use your original booked venue. Next break each of the remaining groups from your original master guest list in to groups of 20 and rank these subgroups in this way (add to in person guest list if possible or create a separate celebration for this group). Make sure these groups of 20 make sense to have together (for example they all work with you or your spouse and live near by, they are all family and friends in one city who would have to travel to be present, etc.). Next brainstorm ideas for each group not in the core 20 for alternative later celebrations – a dinner at a restaurant, a backyard bbq, a brunch, etc.

When you finish this process, are any of these ideas and lists giving you a wedding vibe that is appealing to you, or does this all just sound awful and like you can’t do this and be happy? Ask yourselves serious questions so you can find the right answers. This will absolutely be different for every single couple. Next ask yourselves do you want a solid plan you can absolutely set or a floating Plan B and C that you can finalize just a few weeks before your wedding date? Again I’m a wedding planner floating plans and flying by the seat of my pants doesn’t stress me out. If it stresses you out choose a set path. That path will be different for every single couple.

If you decide you need your original wedding then postpone for a year and be ok postponing again if you have to next Spring.

If you decide getting married on time is important to you and you want set plans then plan a backyard micro wedding. Get keepsake invites made and mailed off to your core 20 list. Have extras you can send even to those who you know cannot and will not be there but who would like to keep one for their scrapbook. If you haven’t already, hire a videographer. You will need streaming capabilities and if WiFi is spotty a plan to post the uncut ceremony ASAP for anyone who can’t be there. Set up online invites for your separate lists, give them details of the change of plans info about how they can watch the ceremony online – if you will have a drive by parade for those who can’t be there at the ceremony to stick to numbers but they live near by you, include details about the timing for that (my next blogpost will be a sample backyard wedding and timeline). Finally invite them to a later celebration for their group. If the sub group is out of town and there can’t be a set date at this time let them know you will travel to them as soon as it is possible and details will follow.

If you don’t need set plans and there is a chance your booked venue will be operating on your wedding date with as many as 40-80 guests allowed have a Plan B and a Plan C. Plan B is 40-80 guests (in your original lists you should have had two of them that can be informed 8 weeks out that laws permitting they will be invited to your in person wedding stay tuned for confirmation). If your venue’s county is open for 50 on your wedding date you will have already sent keepsake paper invites to your core 20, now send digital invites to the 2nd core 20 after that. The rest will receive instructions on how to virtually enjoy your ceremony with details of a later separate celebration planned for that group. If your county will allow 100 (including vendors) invite your core 20 and your 2nd and 3rd core 20. If something happens and your venue cannot operate on your wedding date see the backyard Micro wedding details above – that is your Plan C.

Cancelling your original wedding

It is ok to wait to cancel your original contracted wedding agreements until you know what you will be doing and what will be allowed on your wedding date. If you contracted for 170 guests and the venue legally cannot host an event over 80 guests on your wedding date, you should either renegotiate for the event you can have or cancel and request a full refund to the extent allowed by law as your venue cannot legally uphold their end of the agreement and you cannot legally host an event with the number of people contracted.

If you would like to postpone for a later date, most of your vendors and your venue will likely be very happy to work with you to reschedule a date where they are still available in 2021. If they do not have a date that will work see above directions on cancelling. I am not a lawyer and cannot advise you on what to do exactly if a venue or vendor is unwilling to negotiate, but most must renegotiate with you if the original contracted event cannot happen by mandate of the state of Oregon.

My next post will be a sample backyard Micro Wedding and timeline. We will get in to ideas of types of Micro Weddings you can have at venues soon – but while nothing is yet open we are holding off.

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