As a woman in my early thirties, I’ve been a guest at several weddings, and while I’ve never been one of those giddy, wedding-obsessed people, I do enjoy a celebration of love – especially if there’s an open bar and a food truck.
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As the nuptials unfold, I’d watch on as kids dance and families hug and coo over the happy couple. Sitting with a mini burger in hand praying the DJ has some material from 2003, I’d think to myself, could I do this? Could that be me in the white dress? Attending weddings, unmarried, with your long term partner invariably gets you (and everyone else) questioning whether you’re next.
I knew a traditional wedding wasn’t for me
The resounding answer, as an introverted only child with divorced parents and no other family, was… absolutely not.
Aside from the nauseating thought of my divorced parents being in the same room, the fear of walking down the aisle, or how on earth I’d plan a wedding when I can’t even seem to keep track of my AirPods, I couldn’t imagine paying the tens of thousands of dollars that a wedding costs. Thankfully, my partner felt the same way, which was convenient because we didn’t have much to spend anyway.
Enter the micro wedding
My partner and I discussed our options. We thought about eloping, but that didn’t really feel right either. And then we discovered the concept of a ‘micro wedding’. An intimate, simple celebration without the bells and whistles or the cost.
The definition of ‘micro wedding’ is hotly debated. Someone recently told me they were having a micro wedding of 70 people. I howled. I think the absolute upper limit to be considered a micro wedding is 50 guests, but more commonly you’re looking at numbers of 5 - 30 people (including the couple).
Micro in more ways than one
But the ‘micro’ nature of a micro wedding is about more than just the guest list. It’s about simplicity. The guidelines vary by provider, but broadly, ceremonies are simple and to the point. Guests may stand rather than sit. There’s minimal, if any, accessories or decor. And often, you’re in a public location like a park.
Just weeks after first finding out about micro weddings, we booked our beach ceremony through Just Married Weddings.We booked it online one Sunday morning by selecting from a drop down list of time slots fifteen minutes apart, it was as simple as booking a table at a restaurant. You just have to ensure you book at least 30 days in advance to meet the requirements for filing a Notice of Intended Marriage form.
A beach wedding for $975? Yes, really!
We paid $450 for the ceremony, which included the celebrant and all the legal paperwork. We then add photography from their partner providers, which cost $525 for an hour’s wedding photography, taking the total to $975. I was sold.
The ceremony was as hassle free as I’d dreamed it would be. Aside from a brief bit of admin to organise meeting our celebrant and photographers on the day (for the first time), there was nothing else to do. Our only concern was whether we’d be able to get an Uber. We had six guests, which with us and the celebrant took us to nine – well shy of the limit of 20 given to us by Just Married Weddings.
What happens at a micro wedding?
The ceremony took about 20 minutes, we signed the paperwork, and sent our guests off to a restaurant we’d booked for lunch while we had some photos taken. Given how affordable the ceremony was, we went fancy for lunch, opting for St Kilda’s infamous Stokehouse.
I requested two bottles of $200 Pol Roger champagne to be on the table when we arrived, and told our guests to order whatever they wanted. Cocktails flowed, three courses were devoured, teas and coffees followed. The bill, including tip and Sunday surcharge, came to $2,200.
The day had few other costs. I did my own hair and makeup and bought a dress online for $220 while my husband wore an outfit he’d worn as a best man earlier in the year.
All up, it brought our beach wedding total to just under $3,500. Much of this cost was loaded in the lunch, of course, which could’ve been reduced by choosing a more affordable restaurant to account for more guests if we wanted.
Understandably, a micro wedding isn’t for everyone. But interestingly, of all the people we’ve told about our wedding in the past six months, several people gushed that they wished they’d done something simpler but not one person who had a simpler wedding expressed any regret for not going bigger.
Sure, it’s anecdotal evidence. But it’s something to think about.