5 Key Steps to Plan Your Microwedding

Whether you’re having an intimate wedding or elopement with just the two of you, there are some key steps to plan your microwedding that you’ll want to consider at the start. Microweddings allow for the kind of flexibility that most couples desire – not to mention a higher level of authenticity, personalization and intimacy too! But they come with their own unique set of challenges you might guess, such as family and friend reactions to start. The first decision you should make is undoubtedly your reason for a microwedding.

Do you have adventurous spirits that can’t fathom the idea of saying “I Do” anywhere except returning to those breathtaking cliffs where the proposal happened? Do you treasure moments of togetherness most of all and hate the idea of spending your entire reception bouncing from table to table greeting all your guests? Do you light up at the thought of a whole weekend experience in Tuscany, taking cooking classes together, falling asleep under the stars, lounging poolside? Whatever your reason for an elopement or intimate wedding near or far, stand firm in your decision. And never lose sight of the ultimate why for getting married at all! 

Charleston microwedding with a bride in a long-sleeve lace and beaded wedding dress inspired by a vintage silhouette holding an Icelandic poppy bouquet with roses and sweet pea; planning and design by Willow and Oak Events with photography by Kylee Yee

That being said, here are the 5 key steps to planning your microwedding.

1. Determine Your Must-Haves

Before anything, determine your biggest priorities for the day. It’ll be the fountain from which every other decision flows – yes, even the location! Chat together about your vision for the day, and think about those components you can’t live without. Maybe having a smaller wedding means that videography to capture all the details in motion is now possible! Perhaps it’s the family style meal incorporating your great grandmothers’ recipes that you’ve always imagined. Or maybe it’s a certain type of flower you want to carry in honor of your heritage or in remembrance of a beloved family member. Determining your must-haves will guide everything else from the budget and the season to the style of vendors and ceremony time. 

early spring boutonnieres in terra cotta clay dishes

2. Set Your Budget 

Now that you have a frame of reference for what to include, you can think about what you’re willing to spend and how to allocate the monies. If epic film portraits around Icelandic waterfalls are the ultimate dream, do some research on the photographers whose style you’re drawn to for a sense of what they charge, and let the rest of the budget fall into place accordingly. You’ll want to consider your ideal wedding location as well (city, state, country or venue) and be aware of those travel costs, plus typical vendor fees in those areas as wedding florists in Milwaukee will charge significantly less than wedding florists in Provence. And a French country house buyout will cost significantly more than a single day, local fete. 

bride and groom almost kiss shot with a vintage fur coat heirloom

3. Choose Your Location 

I touched on this a bit under the previous bullet, but this is perhaps the element that will have the biggest impact on your budget. Beyond that, the location you choose will heavily influence your style too. Particularly in terms of the venue! It’s always best practice to approach your wedding design + aesthetics from a perspective of enhancing/complementing what’s already there, rather than trying to cover everything up and start from scratch. It will simply feel like you’re trying to cover it up. The good news is, intimate weddings offer a stellar opportunity for unique wedding venues. You could utilize restaurants with eye-catching interiors, museums, art galleries, flower fields, exciting nature spots… there are endless possibilities when the guest list is under 20! Get creative as you brainstorm potential spots to say “I Do” and be conscious of the inclusions that might come with each. For example, restaurants will likely come pre-stocked with gorgeous dinnerware and furniture, though an al fresco feast in the middle of a flower field will probably mean booking your own rentals with delivery and having a larger catering fee since they’ll have to build their own mobile kitchen. 

Beyond this, location will also play a role in access to specific flowers + rentals, and perhaps have an effect on the time of year you choose since July in Paris looks very different from July in Florida! 

Charleston wedding ceremony beneath a live oak with spanish moss as bride and groom break the glass per Jewish wedding traditions; planning and design by Willow and Oak Events with photography by Kylee Yee

4. Curate Your Guest List

Once you’ve nailed down the budget + location, you can start curating your specific guest list. While traditional wedding etiquette says that you should determine set rules with your fiancé from the get-go to make things fair on both sides (I.e. if you invite plus ones for your friends’ spouses, the same goes for your fiancé’s friends too), you have a bit more flexibility with a celebration this small. We’d recommend keeping “rules” as consistent as possible, but you probably don’t want anyone sitting at your table who you don’t feel close to. Everyone invited should feel like an integral part of your lives – someone who you could call up any day of the week to chat with or have dinner with. Otherwise, you risk guests feeling like a B-lister or just plain out of place. The goal is for you to have a wedding day experience where you can enjoy the company of everyone there, eliminate the small talk and just make good memories together. As you think of who to invite, vet each person carefully and individually. This day is ultimately about YOU. 

family style wedding table with sage green linen, textured pillar candles, Icelandic poppy ikebana centerpieces and mini naked cakes at each place setting for an intimate Charleston wedding planned by Willow and Oak and captured by Kylee Yee

5. Structure Your Day Of Timeline 

This element can make or break your wedding day experience, but no pressure! The secret is to give yourself room to breathe. Especially with a smaller wedding, you have a bit more leeway for your timeline. You’ll want to of course stay on track with the ceremony and meal timings, but you have more ample opportunities for portraits, more flexibility for dancing and a more relaxed wedding morning experience for getting ready. Don’t feel like you have to pack everything in too closely together, and never underestimate the breathtaking power of Golden Hour (that sweet spot for light in those 1-2 hours before sunset resulting in the most gorgeous photos!). 

Charleston microwedding with a bride in a long-sleeve lace and beaded wedding dress inspired by a vintage silhouette holding an Icelandic poppy bouquet with roses and sweet pea; planning and design by Willow and Oak Events with photography by Kylee Yee

Intimate weddings and elopements have such incredible benefits, so I hope this blog post gives you a wonderful starting point for your own journey.

We’ve just launched a limited time, specialty offering for microweddings in Charleston ourselves: The Gather Together Experience. Essentially, all-inclusive weddings at Middleton Place for under 20 guests with semi-custom designs based on pre-curated inspiration boards following one of these moods: Old World Garden Romance, Flirty Modern Color Pop and Cozy Minimalist Earth Tones. Fill out our contact form to receive a brochure with more details about this offering. We also offer microweddings in Provence and England, so let us know if you’d like to chat!

’Til we meet again! 


All images by Kylee Yee Photography with planning + design by Willow & Oak Events // see more images from this wedding and the full vendor team here


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