Amanda & Michael decided to tie the knot on their original wedding date, the ever-popular: June 20th, 2020. Their original plan was to have a modern barn wedding, guest list hanging around 175. Our design was extensive, pulling together their two amazing cultures: Lebanese and Italian. Up until COVID-19, it had been an exciting process of pulling together a Mediterranean menu, creating hookah lounges & backgammon tables, transforming the barn to an eclectic and warm hub of mingling and multi-cultural wedding glory.
Realizing the global pandemic wasn’t a 2-week fix, we quickly worked out a backup date in the event the June wedding date needed to be cancelled. I worked with the stationer to design an insert communicating when the decision would be made about 6.20, where they could find the information and when the final decision would be posted. We sent out invitations on our original timeline and depending on our communication to ease the concerns of the guests.
As we got closer to that date we realized the original June plans wouldn’t be able to happen. So the question became clear: when do you want to get married?
Amanda & Michael quickly knew they wanted to get married on their original date and celebrate it as their anniversary every year thereafter. And they would keep the backup date for the big party if it would be made possible by October. What next? We went back to their priorities, figured out what was most important to them on their actual wedding day so our design, our timeline and our budget could fall in line. (If you would like help discerning your priorities for the wedding and the journey, you can grab our freebie here!)
Here’s how we did it:
We decided to keep a lot of the elements and ideas we had for the original wedding, just scale them way down. The couple found a great Air BNB to rent for their family (and another near by) to accommodate their party of 12. All family agreed to test before coming to the event so they could all relax and enjoy life COVID free.
A small shift in design came when Stacy (floral designer of Stacy K Floral) and I talked about how June and October could embrace this design a little differently. How we could make June a bit more light and airy in the same color palette and let October be naturally a bit deeper into the color scheme.
The day off, bringing all the pieces together, I was beyond thrilled at the results– and then Amanda & Michael saw it all and melted my ever-loving heart!
One of the biggest priority items to the couple was the cuisine. It was a wonderful place to explore the family’s cultures and steer away from the usual wedding fare. With the intimate group we knew we could be a bit more courageous in the selections and experience. Also, with an intimate gathering like this, the time of the event is mostly spent on food! So when I presented the idea of a many-course meal, they were game! We ended up with a 5 course menu, designed by Chef Luke at Pure Catering & Events and THEN had dessert! It was a delicious way to celebrate, in line with the couple’s desires and priorities and made the occasion unforgettable.
Now, the “Event” design, even though I can gush, was only a portion of the day. One of the most important elements we intentionally designed was time. Time can be a friend or a foe and I’ve spent a decade becoming best friends with it.
Once we establish style, budget and priorities, we enter into shaping the day with time. The way you use time really does have an effect on the feel and flow of the day. We knew we wanted the day to feel relaxed, we knew it was the longest day (almost!) of the year and we knew we wanted to enjoy most of the day outdoors. I’d like to walk you through the whole of the timeline on the next post, but here are a few things that were important to the couple that we kept: first look followed by a portrait session just the couple; a celebratory cocktail hour (might feel like there’s too few people to have a cocktail hour? Nope!) and an incredible multi-course, multi-culture meal with their immediate family! Let your priorities steer how you spend your time.
The overall budget decision was that whatever we spent on the wedding day would be taken out of the bigger nugget that was now moved to October. There are two main variable to any budget: there’s really a base price of the items that don’t flux based on guest count like planner, photography/videography, venue, band, etc; and the second is per head or quantity-based items like beauty services, rentals, catering, favors, cake, and the like. We know that October is a long ways away, but it’s also likely that if we can have events in full, all 175 people of their guest count are unlikely to attend. So immediately their budget would be decreased for the big shebang in the fall, hopefully making it easy to fit in all they hope to with the fall event and still make the wedding day everything it should be.
It’s hard to master the mind game here. You might think “oh it’s only 12 or 20 people” we shouldn’t spend thousands. Going back to that base price, you do need to spend thousands (just think, one vendor, like a photographer should be thousands) and that’s just the start. Looking at micro weddings as a ‘cheap option’ is correct in comparison to a big budget spent on hundreds. However, my suggestion for your perspective is to think of the value of the day big picture, not on just how many people attend. Big picture is “it’s your wedding day!” It’s THE day you are getting married. Even if you do it again for a bigger crowd, have a bigger party in the future, you will always celebrate the day you got married. You’ll feel different on this date, nothing is like it! And if you had already allocated tens of thousands for your wedding day and still hope to have a big hoorah at some point, pull back your big hoorah and compromise a bit to make them both work. It’ll be worth investing in your wedding day, no matter how “small,” it’s still monumental!
Navigating around COVID is TRICKY! The couple worked closely with the owner, which was best for both parties to feel comfortable and within the restrictions to be safe as possible. We were hoping we would be up to 20 by the time the wedding came, which it was, which was a relief. We did have a plan for staggering vendors, etc. to keep us to a minimum if necessary. The family was tested for COVID before arriving to the wedding venue (an Air BNB so they were staying for a long weekend) and vendors used masks if they couldn’t social distance. We forewent some ideas we may have done if we weren’t navigating a pandemic, like a charcuterie/harvest table for appetizers to limit food exposure, etc.
Obviously the guest list was limited, the couple had 12 of their intimate family members present to witness their day. They didn’t want to do anything particularly “public” for their full guest list, especially because they still had hopes they might celebrate in full later in 2020 with a different kind of ceremony (as opposed to just a party). But we did make it possible to zoom in some of the VIPs and record the ceremony, which is the amazing luxury we DO have with technology these days. There’s so many ways to incorporate technology, but for any one who wants to keep it discrete, it’s totally doable. Present, but not distracting and mainly present for the ceremony and later toasts.
This day was beyond words. I’ll try and do it justice as I talk about the experience (catch our IG TV episode) and sharing further information from all we learned that day. HUGE shout out to the dream team vendors that made it all possible and came with their A-game to make this dream come true! And thank you to Amanda & Michael for trusting me to craft a day to their vision and personalities and priorities, it was a journey I was honored to be a part of. Hope this helps you friend– anything shift for you as you read and listen to our experience on this micro wedding? Comment below, we’d love to hear!
Love Always, Love Well.
Dream Team Vendors
Photography: Brandi Toole Photography
Floral Design: Stacy K Floral
Specialty Rentals: Brown Built Rentals
Catering: Pure Catering & Events
Bride’s Makeup: Glam by Michaela
Bride’s Hair: Bloom on Willow
Design, Planning & Wedding Day Papers: LoveWell Weddings