February 9, 2021

How to plan a micro wedding you’ll never forget

Planning a Micro Wedding in Cleveland, Ohio

A lot of couples are hearing the term “micro wedding” for the first time but the reality is that micro weddings are not at all new on the scene. There can be a lot of misinformation about what a micro wedding is and I want to talk to my couples in Cleveland about how to plan one and what to consider if this is an option you’re thinking about for your wedding day. 

First off, spoiler alert. I’m a fan. 

To me, micro weddings are a way to have the best of both worlds, although to be fair I’m raising my hand as an introvert here so the idea of being the center of attention in a room of 400 people has never really been on the top of my list. But aside from being an introvert’s dream, a micro offers so much of the beauty and tradition of the wedding day without a lot of the stressful parts. 

Difference Between a Micro Wedding and an Elopement 

Before we really get into this I want to clarify the difference between an elopement and a micro-wedding because I know this can be confusing. You’ll also hear the term “intimate wedding” which is really used interchangeably with the other two so if someone you’re talking to is using that term you’ll probably need to ask them to clarify what they’re talking about. An elopement is almost always just the couple and an officiant. Occasionally there will be a friend or two but usually, it’s just a small handful of people. It can be anywhere, the Cleveland Courthouse, the mountains of Peru, or in someone’s backyard! It also usually doesn’t have any type of reception afterward. It’s about being married and being on an adventure together. Whereas a micro wedding is literally just like it sounds, it’s a full wedding, sometimes even far more elaborate (because you have the budget for it) only instead of 300 people you might have 30 people. 

Top Benefits of a Cleveland or Destination-based Micro Wedding 

  • More time with family and friends. 
  • A much larger budget (more on that shortly)
  • Less stress planning
  • Pandemic friendly (this is why they became mainstream again!)
  • Can be extremely opulent 
  • Gives you space to enjoy a different experience you wouldn’t otherwise be able to 
  • More open timeline and a slower-paced day (or days)

Creating an experience for your guests

Micro weddings can be anything from the most gorgeous outdoor setups under tents, with live string music watching the sunset. To multi-day events that include games and events for your guest to enjoy. One of the coolest things about micro weddings is that you can create an experience for your guests that you would never be able to create if you were planning for a much larger crowd. The creativity is nearly endless and this is of course where you would really benefit from a great team of wedding professionals to help create your vision and bring it to life. But the main idea here is you don’t have to copy a larger wedding you can create something truly unique and intimate, something that your guests will enjoy and talk about for a long time. 

Multiday events

I touched on this a second ago but micro-weddings can be multi-day events and mini-vacations for everyone. This is going to work best when you’re doing something out of Cleveland and a more destination-style wedding. But again, the possibilities here are pretty wide open. Events and activities for your guests, or relaxing time away. Brunches on the beach, or wine tasting in the vineyards. There is so much you can do with this! As a side note, when you’re planning a destination event it takes care of pretty much all of the pressure of the guest list concerns, no one you work with is expecting to be invited to Napa with you for your wedding, so it almost logically becomes a micro event. 

Your budget can go so much further

One of the most misunderstood things about micro weddings I think, is actually how much further your budget will go planning a micro wedding vs a traditional wedding. If you think about it, a tremendous amount of the cost of a wedding has to do with the cost per plate. If you’re spending X amount of dollars per plate (or in reality per guest) and multiplying that times 200 people that number gets big fast! Not to mention finding a venue space large enough to accommodate them. When you take that same budget and apply it to a much smaller scale event you’re pretty much able to have as simple and relaxed, or as opulent and extravagant a wedding as you’d like. Your budget goes so much further

This can be HUGE for some couples who want to create a really gorgeous wedding but find themselves compromising constantly for the sake of the budget. I say this all the time, but I’m going to note it again here, your budget is essential, budget is not a bad word! You need to consider what really matters to you, and what you want to invest in. Always frame it in a 20-year perspective… 20 years from now, what will I care about? Whether Bob from accounting made the invite list probably isn’t in that scenario. Having memories that you treasure from marrying the love of your life? Probably. Creating the wedding of your dreams that you and your partner enjoy every moment of? That’s big. Everyone has a budget of some kind and if yours is more limiting but you have grand visions of something that involves hanging glass chandeliers (hypothetically… of course) a micro wedding can be a really great solution. 

The 30 people you’ll absolutely want by your side in 30 years

But who would I invite? So here is that 20-year question again… or better yet let’s do 30 this time. In all seriousness, think about the people in your life right now. 30 years from now, when you’re thinking back to your wedding day, who could you not imagine standing there with you? Honestly? It’s probably not more than 20 people. 30 or 40 If you come from a large, close family. The reality is that we can only have so many deep relationships in our lives. Those are the people that need to be by your side. It gets a lot clearer when we look through the lens of time. 

Micro wedding inspiration 

There is endless micro-wedding inspiration out there but Pinterest is a great place to start. A lot of the inspiration you’re going to want is going to be location-based too, so you’ll need to start by deciding if you’re going to get married in Cleveland or in a destination somewhere. Once you choose your destination, next up is your wedding venue. I cannot recommend a full-service planner enough to help you with this process and if you need recommendations we are happy to pass along our absolute favorites. Ultimately though, the location and venue are the absolute first places as far as your feel of the celebration. 

Micro wedding venues 

The fun thing about micro wedding venues is that this is an outside-of-the-box kind of moment! When you’re not trying to accommodate 200 people the possibilities are endless. We’re HUGE fans of destination micro weddings and have had the privilege of photographing weddings of all sizes all around the globe. Local to the Cleveland, Ohio area there are a few clear favorites. The Western Reserve Historical Society is well known for the Hanna Courtyard Garden but most people don’t know that they also are home to the Hay-McKinney Mansion which is literally tailor-made for micro weddings of about 60 or under. It looks like you’ve stepped into old-world Europe and you will find all the accommodations and conveniences of University Circle. From its stunning gardens to its incredible reception hall it’s a perfect space for an intimate wedding. Did you also know you can get married right in the Cleveland Cultural Gardens? Or the Old Courthouse is available for super small events and a shockingly great price point? The possibilities are literally endless. 

Hay-McKinney Mansion at the Western Reserve Historical Society
Hay-McKinney Mansion at the Western Reserve Historical Society

Wedding dress

It’s funny how often people search for “micro wedding dress” but the reality is there really isn’t such a thing! You can choose a style that reflects your overall vision for your micro wedding of course, and that might have a very different look than a ballroom wedding… or it might not. Your wedding gown is going to be something you’re madly in love with and truly, there are no rules! I will say that BHLDN is a great place for more untraditional bridal looks and shorter dresses if that’s something you’re hoping for. Pro tip: Choose something you adore, that’s all. 

Hiring a planner

The last piece of advice is a bit of a repeat simply because it’s so important, if possible, hire a wedding planner. A great wedding planner can not only save you time, money, and stress, but they’ll have ideas that you’ve never even thought of. I would even go so far as to say if you’re planning a destination micro wedding you can’t do it without a wedding planner. They’re just that helpful! A note of caution, not all wedding planners are created equal, but the great ones are worth their weight in gold! If you need recommendations on wonderful planners just send us an email and I’m happy to pass on our favorites. There are some amazing planners in this area that we completely trust and love working with! 

Micro wedding services and collections

If you’re wondering how to book micro wedding coverage with us, or if there are special collections that pertain only to that type of event… The short answer is yes… and no. When it comes to wedding photography a lot about a micro wedding tends to be really custom. A small immediate family-only gathering in Cleveland is going to have radically different needs than a week micro-wedding in South Wales with a group of close friends. We customize all of our wedding photography and cinematography collections for each of our couples which means that we can’t have “micro-wedding collections” we simply would love to hear about your wedding plans and see how we might help.  If you’re planning a destination gathering we’re quite good at making the adjustments for multiday and travel additions easy to manage. If you’re interested in connecting we’d love to start a conversation with you here or if you’d like to review more of our style and work you can start with our wedding work here. The bottom line is we love telling stories that you can share with the people you love and we’re thrilled to hear all about the adventure you’ve got in mind to see if we can be of help.

Below you’ll find some micro inspiration that will hopefully get you dreaming about the possibilities if you’re considering this option for your wedding day. Have fun planning and don’t hesitate to reach out if you need a little guidance. 🙂



Weddings are beautiful. Not because of a guest count but because of the intention behind the moment of two people choosing each other, for the rest of their lives. They come in a lot of different shapes and sizes but one thing is for sure... A guess list of 400 and an intimate micro wedding of 20 people are going to need a whole different approach and a team that understands that. We do. As a matter of fact, we do things a little bit differently around here. We believe in savoring moments, enjoying the people you love, and starting your legacy however you envision it to be. Plus, we're fans of really, really, great food and we all know the food is usually better at micro weddings... If you're looking for a photography team, we'd love for you to learn more about us.

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