Big SUVs, McMansions and the term “bigger is better,” are all things that used to connote living your best life. Now, consumers are shifting to the opposite end of that spectrum, including those who want to tie the knot.
Tiny weddings (aka microweddings) are a growing trend for couples who want to have their special day with less worry and spend less money (think $2,000 to $3,000) at a time when annual reports like those from The Knot state that the national average cost of a wedding is $33,931. The smaller ideal also comes at a time when families are picking up less of the tab for the big day and student-loan debt is infringing on wedding dreams and goals. The tiny wedding limits the numbers of attendees. The average wedding in the U.S. has 126 guests, according to the WeddingWire 2019 Newlywed Report.
Sonali Lamba, co-founder of Brideside, a five-year-old wedding retail business for brides and bridal parties based in Chicago, thinks that couples choosing to simplify the wedding process with tiny weddings is a trend that will keep growing. Having just opened a new location in Lincoln Park, she believes brides in Chicago and around the country are looking for personalization, and it’s really hard to deliver a personalized experience with 200 people at a ceremony.
“I think what’s so fascinating about this tiny wedding trend is that yes, it’s about the budget, but it’s also about prioritizing intimacy and personalization and I think that speaks to me more about what women are looking for, and less about saving money,” Lamba said. “Brides and grooms are not necessarily looking to deliver less of an experience for their guests, they’re just looking to deliver it to fewer people and still prioritize their lifestyle.”
Bristol Echeverria, owner and lead planner of Chicago-based Sustainable Soirees, will be adding small ceremonies to her wedding options this summer. Her company caters to couples who want to have an experience that is intentional and that has little impact on the environment. Tiny weddings for her firm means up to 30 people.
“If you have less people, you’re inherently just going to have a cheaper wedding, but that doesn’t mean it has to be boring,” she said. “If you have the money to do it, you can allocate it to providing some great entertainment or just having some really awesome food that doesn’t have to be the traditional surf and turf dinners. There’s so many high concept things to do; you can still provide this really cool experience for the guests that you invite.”
Sarah Toulouse attests that about 80% to 90% of events at her River West venue Creativo Loft are microweddings, which are limited to 30 people. She and her husband, wedding photographers turned venue operators, say that what used to be a day where the parents of the couple were running the show at banquet halls and a place of worship has turned into a day where religion is not the central focus.
“They’re having their own say; they’re doing what they want to do,” she said. “There has been a shift. I won’t say there hasn’t been … more people are doing them smaller because they want to be more frugal or they want to have it nice, just a smaller size.”
Zingerman’s Cornman Farms in Dexter, Michigan, just started offering tiny-wedding packages this fall. Couples can book all-inclusive wedding packages that range from $1,750 to $2,150 (depending on choice of wedding day). Touted “as simple as the courthouse, but a big step up in style,” the packages include a 1 1/2 hour rental of a designed venue space, a wedding coordinator, a ceremony for up to 10 guests (including the couple) and an officiant, a photographer, a bouquet and boutonniere, a wine toast, a tiny wedding cake, a farm animal visit and an individualized wedding keepsake.
Cassie Schroeder and Jason Grove of Bristol, Indiana, will have their nuptials at Zingerman’s on Feb. 1. The couple met at their workplace a couple of years ago. This being the second marriage for both, the pair have already had a big wedding their first time around and wanted less stress this time.
“We have been through a year of planning and trying to make everyone happy. We just didn’t want to do that this time,” Grove said. “A tiny wedding was perfect for us because what’s most important to us in a wedding is that moment in the ceremony where you celebrate each other’s love. All the bells and whistles just add stress and takes the focus off us and what we’re celebrating. We get the setting we want, with no stress, low cost — it was just the perfect thing for us.”
Grove said the final cost for their wedding is less than $3,000.
“We just want it to be simple and no stress,” he added. “There’s so much stress in everyday life. We wanted this to be something that’s fun and enjoyable.”
“A microwedding is essentially designed for couples who want the simplicity and the affordability of a courthouse wedding, but want something that is beautiful and Instagram-worthy,” said Jamie Gray, marketing and communications manager at Zingerman’s.