ABOVE: The Matthews House in Cary offers a beautiful outdoor space for couples who are interested in a more intimate wedding ceremony. Photo courtesy of Morgan Caddell Photography.
Discovering the Microwedding Movement
BY KRISTEN SCHRUM
The 2020s introduced a new trend to the world of weddings—one enchanting couples with the promise of a more meaningful and intimate experience between family and friends: the microwedding.
Since the pandemic, microweddings have transformed the traditional notion of a grand celebration to prioritize quality over quantity and customization over conventionality. These small, private affairs appear to be catching on thanks to the ever-increasing costs of planning a traditionally large event.
Many Triangle couples are noticing not only how scaling down the celebration offers a unique and more personalized experience, redefining what it means to tie the knot—but also that reducing the size of their guest list results in significant savings. A 150-person wedding costs the average couple around $30,000, according to brides.com, so taking that number down to 50 or fewer guests can save the happy couple $20,000 or more.
According to Brooke Everhart with Mad Dash Weddings in Holly Springs, which specializes in elopements and microweddings, many couples desire a more personal and meaningful wedding experience. “People have gained a lot more perspective since the pandemic,” Brooke says. “Microweddings allow them to focus on what truly matters.”
By reducing the guest count to 50 or fewer, couples can ensure that every person present is someone truly important to them. They can infuse each detail with a personal touch that speaks to their desires, and curate an experience that reflects their unique personalities and tastes.
Sarah Chung, owner and lead coordinator at The Matthews House, a downtown Cary wedding venue that has seen its fair share of micro occasions, says a microwedding allows couples to actually “hang out with their closest friends and family.”
This intimacy is often lost at larger weddings, where couples briefly pass by crowded tables, snap a photo, cast a quick embrace and thank those in attendance. “I have seen a lot of people doing intimate sit-down dinners where everyone is at one table,” Everhart says, adding that microweddings are “more family-focused, and the wedding turns into this celebration of family and love.”
Microweddings also facilitate a high degree of flexibility and customization options. “With smaller weddings you can really focus on design and make them really beautiful,” Everhart says. Mad Dash Weddings couples have displayed decorative colored glass centerpieces and floral arrangements featuring unusual combinations, like baby’s breath and eucalyptus.
They have chosen to serve food on antique china or, for a unique twist, via food trucks. Other couples have offered guests intimate catered meals with companies like Southern Harvest Catering, which puts an elevated spin on Southern cuisine.
“One of the reasons microweddings have become so popular is because they tend to be cheaper and can be planned on a shorter timeline,” Chung acknowledges. However, that doesn’t mean couples have to compromise. Rather, they can actually include the features they want and experience it with the people who mean the most to them.
“Many microweddings we’ve seen love to stay local,” Everhart says. This helps avoid the expense of a destination wedding, and ensures the presence of family and loved ones. Other microwedding trends place more emphasis on the ceremony—and couples aren’t afraid to think out-of-the-box.
The Matthews House has hosted tree-planting ceremonies, during which a couple plants a tree together during their ceremony to symbolize their marriage. Wine ceremonies involve the bride and groom pouring their respective wines into a single glass, from which they both drink.
Merriam-Webster defines elopement as “running away secretly with the intention of getting married, usually without parental consent.” ElopeNC’s definition is a little different: “A vow exchanged between two people who are in love, with an intimate guest list.” This definition puts elopements in the same category as microweddings.
Stephanie Milosh, co-founder of ElopeNC and Beauty & the Budget Events, clarified this definition during a 2021 interview for a Honey & Hustle video podcast. “‘Elopment’ is kind of an icky word, and the first thing we are doing is getting rid of that,” she said during the episode. “A couple can go to the courthouse and call it a day. They can also spend the entire day doing their favorite things with their favorite people and do whatever they want. And so, we are really excited to just encourage that.”
ElopeNC allows clients and vendors in North Carolina to connect with one another in order to plan their elopement or microwedding on a limited timeline and budget, no matter how small the guest count. Milosh had her own microwedding in the “backyard of our church with 40 guests in attendance,” and has always loved the “intimate and more personal details” she incorporated into her special day.
As couples embrace the concept of microweddings, they are redefining how to celebrate love and marriage. These intimate affairs are filled with an abundance of charm. They allow couples to focus on what matters most, and offer flexibility and forgiveness if something goes wrong, since couples are surrounded by friends and family who are simply there to celebrate the cherished union.
“We had a microwedding recently where the power was on and off,” Everhart recounts. “And then of course the power went completely out. We ended up having to do a candlelight dinner.” Everhart says it only added to the wedding’s charm because the dinner proved to be even more magical and intimate in the flickering candlelight.
Microweddings give couples an opportunity to rest easy and enjoy their day without the stress and anxiety of catering to a large guest list. “There’s a different perspective with microweddings,” Everhart says. “Clients are always so grateful, and they focus on what really matters.”