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Published June 6, 2022

Are Micro Weddings Here to Stay? What to Know Before Planning One

Micro weddings — all the rage during COVID's social distancing restrictions — will likely outlive the pandemic, but not necessarily because they're cheaper.

Amid the social gathering limitations of the pandemic, interest in micro weddings — celebrations with just a few dozen guests — soared. But does this wedding trend have staying power? The advantages seem obvious. Fewer guests mean less stress and fewer costs, right?

Sure, shrinking the guest list may help you save money. But there’s more to the intimate micro wedding than meets the eye.

NerdWallet Canada talked to real couples and wedding planners for an up-close look at micro weddings, including how much they cost and what tips and tricks you’ll need to pull one off.

What is a micro wedding?

A micro wedding is a celebration with 50 or fewer guests. For comparison, pre-COVID Canadian weddings in 2019 averaged 154 guests, according to Wedding Wire’s Global Wedding Report.

But what else makes these intimate celebrations unique? Besides a guest list that’s short and sweet, not much, according to the experts.

“You still have to hire all the necessary vendors,” Alexandra Slawek, owner of Boutiq Weddings & Events in Calgary, Alberta, said in an email. “DJ, photographer, florist, caterer.”

Of course, there’s no one-size-fits-all approach to weddings, which holds true for those of the micro variety as well. For evidence, consider the multitude of micro wedding packages offered by event venues across Canada: exposed-brick lofts in downtown Toronto, rustic cabins with mountain views in Banff, and just about everything in between.

Cost of a micro wedding

The average cost of a Canadian wedding was $29,059 CAD in 2019, according to Wedding Wire’s report. For couples looking to trim expenses and keep things intimate, a micro wedding may be the answer — but you may not save as much as you think.

Slawek suggests the typical cost of a micro wedding is $15,000 to $25,000. And this estimate seems to hold up. We spoke to newlyweds who had micro weddings in Toronto, Muskoka, and Vancouver, all of whom said the cost of their celebrations fell within or slightly above this range.

The bottom line? Micro weddings may reduce your overall wedding costs, but not by much.

Twenty-nine-year-old nurse, Abby Guina, celebrated her wedding in Toronto’s Shangri-La Hotel in 2021. “[A micro wedding] does not automatically mean that you’re going to have a less expensive wedding,” she said in an email. “A lot of your vendors, such as the DJ, videographer, and photographer, will cost the same, whether you have a huge or a small wedding.”

Is the micro wedding trend here to stay?

Fewer guests may simplify wedding plans, but are Canadians eager to leave pandemic restrictions behind and party like it’s — well, like it’s 2019? Despite mask mandates and gathering restrictions easing across the country, wedding industry professionals think some couples will continue to opt for small, intimate celebrations.

“More and more couples are interested in saving their money for their new life together rather than spending it on a large wedding,” Eron Jaskow, owner of Encore Events in Maple Ridge, British Columbia, said in an email. Micro weddings allow couples to have a beautiful wedding without eating up their savings, she said.

This same sentiment is echoed in TD Bank’s 2022 annual Love and Money survey, where one in three Canadian couples surveyed said they think buying a home is more important than hosting a wedding.

Saving isn’t the biggest benefit, couples say

If you don’t stand to save much by hosting a micro wedding, why bother? For some, it’s about spending quality time with a few folks rather than reducing the cost of the celebration.

Guina and her partner initially planned to invite over 100 guests to their Shangri-La wedding. “We realized that a lot of the guests were mostly courtesy invites,” she said. “We wanted to be able to celebrate with the people we really hold dear to our hearts.”

Twenty-six-year-old student Thalia Belford, recently married in Muskoka, Ontario, agrees. “It was just the 23 most important people in our lives, at a beautiful resort for the weekend together! It was so magical,” Belford said in an email. “I couldn’t recommend a micro wedding enough.”

3 micro wedding tips

If you’re interested in having a micro wedding, here are tips and tricks from those that pulled it off themselves.

1. Don’t overcompensate

Some couples — especially those that began with a larger budget and guest count and have since had to recalibrate — may feel pressured to turn their smaller gathering into a lavish celebration.

“We felt that we had to do or offer more because we were ‘only’ having a small wedding,” Guina said. “We decided to do the upgrade for the guests’ meals. It was too much, to be honest. Do not feel the need to compensate because you’re having a micro wedding,” Guina warned. “A wedding is a wedding!”

There’s no need to feel guilty if a micro wedding allows you to reclaim some of your wedding budget. Especially if the money you save on your big day is tucked away for future expenditures — like a honeymoon or down payment on a house.

2. Dare to DIY

Whether you’ve got Pinterest boards aplenty or Post-Its peppering a stack of bridal magazines, you can make your decor dreams come true all on your own. And it’s a big potential cost-cutter.

Instead of hiring a florist, consider sourcing your blooms from a wholesaler like Costco, for example. You may also be able to order wholesale flowers from your local florist — it doesn’t hurt to ask.

“My best friend and I purchased flowers the day before the wedding from a few flower shops,” 36-year-old non-profit worker Megan Joyce said of her 2021 wedding at Toronto’s Rorschach Brewery. “We got bunches of flowers for our bouquets and for the vases on the tables. We filled them the morning of the wedding with another bridesmaid. They were all unique, and I let guests choose one to bring home with them, which was a big crowd-pleaser,” Joyce said in an email.

“We decorated the tables ourselves to save some money,” Belford said. “Instead of having our florist or the resort’s recommended decorators do the tables, we collected candles, greenery, table numbers, napkins and centrepieces ourselves over the year that we were planning. This saved us about $2,500 in florals and rentals!”

You’d be surprised by the wedding decor you can whip together with a bit of creativity and a video tutorial or two.

3. Spend quality time with guests

A smaller, more intimate wedding celebration affords you the opportunity to really connect with your guests.

“Nothing felt rushed, nothing was pressured,” Joyce said of her 32-person micro wedding. “I got to spend time with all my guests. I have memories with everyone who attended. I didn’t have to cut conversations short; I mingled and enjoyed the day.”

About the Author

Shannon Terrell

Shannon Terrell is a lead writer and spokesperson for NerdWallet, where she writes about a variety of personal finance topics. Previously, she was a writer, editor and video host for financial comparison company, Finder. Shannon has appeared as a financial expert on CP24 and has been quoted in numerous publications, including Yahoo! Finance and Black Enterprise. She holds a bachelor’s degree in communications and English literature from the University of Toronto Mississauga. She’s also a published author whose work has been featured in academic journals from the University of Toronto. Shannon is based in Brampton, Ontario.

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