The Rise of the Micro-Wedding: How Planners and Vendors Are Making Small-Scale Events Stylish, and Safe

Recently, Bronson Van Wyck, the renowned wedding planner and author of Born to Party, has been planning smaller events than he’s used to. The reason, of course, is COVID-19 and the rightful corresponding restrictions on crowd sizes. Many of his clients scaled their once-blowout bashes down to intimate affairs, with the idea that in a year or two they will once again host the party of their dreams. Van Wyck is hopeful that can happen eventually–he cites the rebound that happened after 2008, when the economic recession caused a dramatic drop in large-scale events. But in the meantime, he’s hard at work perfecting the art of the small, safe, and still fabulous soirée.

There was an outdoor 30th birthday where he arranged custom cakes—so no one had to share—with individual candles for each guest. Another party, for 18 people, included a COVID-test voucher in the artfully designed invitation. (Though most guests’ tests were covered by insurance, the voucher served as a clear reminder that testing would be expected before the event.) Then there was a tiny wedding, where the grandparents had a socially distanced sweetheart table, and wore masks.

“When you’re doing a wedding for 30 people, you can focus so much more on every detail and make every single aspect of it perfect and personal,” Van Wyck says.

As the pandemic rages on, these pared-back celebrations will likely be the new normal in the near future. It’s a trend not seen since the Depression-era parties of the 1930s, or the wartime nuptials of the 1940s, when grooms were often about to be sent overseas, or granted a brief furlough. During each of these eras, life, and its milestones, were subject to uncertain and unforeseen societal demands.

Especially weddings: Etsy found that, from June to July this year, searches involving small-scale ceremonies spiked on the site. There was a 67 percent increase in searches for courthouse and city hall wedding items, a 29 percent increase in searches for mini-monies and elopement weddings, and a 10 percent increase in searches for elopement announcements. Wedding website The Knot found in May that 27 percent of couples were planning ceremonies with just themselves or with a small handful of family. (Months later, that number has surely increased.) Meanwhile, on social media, large gatherings inspire ire, especially after an affair in Maine became a super-spreader event.

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