How to host a micro wedding with intimate al fresco dining
Updated: Sep 21
If you love to daydream about Mediterranean landscapes with vineyards and Caribbean sunsets over the vast turquoise ocean, local farm-to-table dining and architectural designs that perfectly fuse with the surrounding nature, you're in for a treat.
First, let's talk a bit of terminology!
What are micro weddings?
A micro wedding is an intimate affair, typically with no more than 50 guests. They can feature a few staple traditions you'd see at a more standard wedding, but on a much smaller scale. This type of wedding favors simple but personalized approach, hand-picked designs and sustainable food options over a large scale generic wedding event with hundreds of guests.
What is al fresco dining?
The phrase al fresco is an Italian word for dining outside, or in the fresh air. There's no better way to take advantage of summer months than to dine al fresco, enjoying local farm-to-table fare and libations under the moonlit sky of Napa Valley or overlooking the dunes of Lake Michigan in Saugatuck.
Let's dive into the most important part of planning a micro wedding with 10 tips on how to make it an unforgettable intimate affair.
10 tips to throw an epic micro wedding
The sky is the limit, so celebrate wildly!
If you had to reimagine your wedding this year, make sure to take advantage of the fact, that you can literally get married anywhere. With your family and most cherished friends, without the pressures of a large wedding with a tight timeline. Imagine the bonding time with your loved ones witnessing your ceremony and sharing a meal under the stars with them. You can set off to a boutique hotel in Michigan or California and make a destination wedding out of it. Another option is to use an alternative venue for your micro wedding and support your local business: cafés, farm-to-table restaurants, local bars or galleries.
Keep the guest list short
One of my observations shooting large traditional weddings for several years, is that the bride and groom rarely have the time to interact with all of their guests. Spending thousands of dollars to invite hundreds of guests without having the opportunity to connect with seems like a major waste of money and energy. If you are having a hard time figuring out who to invite to your micro wedding, here are a few tips:
- Invite your closest friends and family who have been cheering you on from the very beginning.
- Invite people that have played a big role in your life and you simply can't imagine your wedding day without them.
- Invite only the ones you deeply care about and sharing your day with them will bring you much needed comfort!
Music, food and libations!
Music, food and drinks set the tone of any event and are the magical trifecta that makes or breaks your wedding! Music has a magical power to transform the mood of your event, so choose wisely! Do you enjoy deep house? Hire a European DJ! How about dancing the night away to melodies of a Balkan brass band? There are so many options, so make sure to avoid the generic. One of the best ways to figure out the vibe of your micro wedding is to imagine yourself in a movie and envision what you'd like to see. Personalized vows, carefree dancing, candle-lit dinner table, toasting with glasses filled with wine, sharing fresh, vibrant, local foods family style, laughing at your uncle's stories you've heard hundred times.
Splurge on what you care about and skip what isn’t important
Your finances will go further with fewer guests, so use those extra funds to enhance the elements that matter most to you. Create a truly unique and immersive experience you and your wedding guests will treasure forever. Upgrade your standard dinner to a fine dining experience paired with great wines and craft cocktails.
Design is everything
Making a space feel intimate provides an opportunity to get creative with seating, lounging areas, table layouts and food stations. If you're using the hotel's beach and spa area with pools to create a modern evening vibe, add lanterns, candles, flower arrangements. You can consider an extra-large community table to fill more space with custom made stationery, placeholders and table settings to add to the ambience. Incorporate family heirlooms like vintage china, silverware, or hand-embroidered napkins. Make sure your guests have enough elbow room at their place settings and the centerpieces don’t prevent them from seeing their dining partners.
Dress up in your wedding attire
Get gussied up in your wedding attire that makes you feel amazing! If you're planning an intimate wedding or adventure elopement, you might be looking for a beautiful, flattering dress that will allow you to move freely without feeling constrained all day. You are most likely not wildly interested in a fairytale ballgown from a traditional bridal shop, but a wedding dress that simply makes you feel you. But don't forget the one-of-a-kind accessories. For more inspiration, visit my blog post about Stunning down-to-earth wedding dresses for adventurous brides.
Create a personalized experience for your guests
Instead of sending out invites, personally call each of your guests to invite them to your micro wedding. You can also consider hand-painting each invitation instead of having them printed. To add more personality to your event, write handwritten notes and place them at each guest's seat. It’s much easier to add the unique touches for 30 people than it is for 300! And since you’ve gone through narrowing your guest list down, you’re guaranteed to have a close connection to every guest, making those little details more meaningful.
Make your wedding meaningful in every detail
I’m a huge fan of personalized vows in any setting, but especially at intimate micro weddings, when the couple feels comfortable sharing their words with a small audience. Don’t skip the chance to share promises with one another, surrounded by the people who are truly closest to the two of you, it will mean a lot to them! Include sentimental details, like wearing your grandmother’s veil or including your dog in the ceremony as the ring bearer. If you're not into spending your money on a luxury venue and a seven course dinner, opt for having an intimate affair in a place that is meaningful to you. Family homes can be challenging for events with a large guest list, but work well with a smaller group. You can also look into renting a beautiful home which will make your day more cost-efficient.
Hire a team of pros!
A team of professionals can really make your wedding stand out. Think about hiring a wedding planner, florist and a cake maker. If you like cocktails, make sure to hire a master mixologist that will develop concepts specifically for your wedding.
Hire a photographer
No matter how small your wedding is, hire a photographer who believes in your values and captures your day in an authentic and candid way. Invest in a documentary wedding photographer who specializes in capturing candid moments, who will be a fly on the wall without directing your day and will capture the laughter, tears, toasts and the overall atmosphere. You’ll want to document this day, no matter what, but that doesn’t mean you need an entire shot-list with family formals and a second shooter. Talk to your photographer about creating a custom package for your event that will reflect the unique vibe of your micro wedding.
Handpicked luxe hotel venues for your micro wedding ceremony and al fresco fine dining experience
Why not make a vacation out of your micro wedding? For some inspiration, I have hand-picked 6 gorgeous boutique hotels to host your intimate destination wedding on the beach of Caribe or in the Sardinian mountains. These hotels offer high end service, unforgettable setting and fresh local foods to experience the surrounding nature with your entire being. Even though the current world situation doesn't favor international travel, you don't have to wait until next year to plan your elopement or micro wedding in a luxe hotel. I am adding a couple of beautiful stateside options in the wine country and along the shores of Lake Michigan, as well as hotels in Mexico and Europe - just to let your imagination run wild for next year.
Solage - Auberge Resorts Collection
tried and tested
Battle Creek, Michigan
Hotel Punta Caliza
Isla Holbox, Mexico
tried and tested
tried and tested
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