Tiny weddings on the rise, but so are costs

Cecilia Nysing

Hayley Bick’s summer wedding was picture-perfect – but smaller than she imagined it to be. 

She and her husband, Joe Bick, exchanged personalized vows on a Virgin Islands beach last August. Once the two shared their first kiss as husband and wife, cheers erupted – not from the 150 friends and family they had originally planned to invite to their wedding ceremony, but from a group of vacationers wading in the ocean nearby. 

The San Diego-based couple had been looking forward to a larger wedding in Ontario, Canada, but pivoted to an island ceremony without guests after the pandemic foiled their plans. They’re set to have a second ceremony with guests once the Canadian border reopens to nonessential travel, but Bick said she was happy with their initial wedding. 

“We were smiling the whole time,” Bick said. “It was nice to not have the pressure of other people there. … I’m just here with Joe, and at the end of the day this marriage is about us, and who’s going to be here at the end of this all? It’s going to be me and him.”

Industry experts say many couples opted for smaller, more intimate celebrations – sometimes referred to as microweddings – after the coronavirus pandemic upended their wedding plans.

The trend is expected to outlast the pandemic, but don’t let the size fool you into thinking couples are spending less on weddings.  

“Weddings are expected, in general, to cost a little more on the other side of the pandemic,” said Meghan Ely, president of the nonprofit Wedding International Professionals Association. “It’s a matter of supply and demand.”

►Did COVID-19 postpone your marriage? Here’s where to have an unforgettable small wedding

►Wedding planning:10 things you need to plan the perfect microwedding

Microweddings: A long-lasting trend

The coronavirus pandemic shut down businesses, upended travel and placed many people’s lives at a standstill.

Nevertheless, weddings persevered.

A recent report from The Knot found 93% of more than 7,600 surveyed engaged couples didn’t cancel their 2020 wedding celebrations altogether. 

“We saw a lot more people do that last year, just decide not to put life on hold,” said Liene Stevens, CEO of wedding business consulting firm Think Splendid.

Meghan and Dan Glewen on their wedding day in June 2020 in Milwaukee.

About 96% of the surveyed couples modified their plans in some capacity. Some, like Meghan and Dan Glewen of Milwaukee, had to cut down their guest lists to follow local health and safety protocols. The couple had just 10 immediate friends and family members at their wedding last June. 

“It’s not what I envisioned, but it was very special. … If I didn’t do anything on that day, it would have made me really sad,” Meghan Glewen said. “I’m glad we went through with it.”

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