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What Is a Minimony Compared to a Microwedding? Here's Why It Might Be Best for You

Minimony vs. microwedding vs. elopement—which is right for you?
what is a micro wedding and covid wedding ideas
Vadym Pastukh / Shutterstock
Esther Lee - Senior Editor, The Knot
by Esther Lee
Esther Lee - Senior Editor, The Knot
Esther Lee
Senior Editor
  • Oversees all news and trending content at The Knot.
  • Defines new terms for the wedding industry.
  • Thrives in interviews both for her stories and in reverse, for the brand.
Updated Sep 22, 2020

As some couples are choosing to wed in smaller size, intimate celebrations, elopements and microweddings have increased in popularity. In the time of COVID-19, the latest type of nuptial introduced by The Knot is the "minimony," eventually followed by a sequel wedding. There are key differences between the various types of events. While some are fundamentally smaller in guest count (elopements are considered more secretive and of-the-moment, whereas microweddings are full-on nuptials with up to 50 guests), only about 10 percent of all weddings in the U.S. in recent years fit into either category. More prevalent in 2020 during the coronavirus pandemic is the option of a minimony with a postponement to your eventual wedding date. Find out which option, whether it's a minimony or a microwedding, is best for you and your partner.

What Is a Microwedding?

A microwedding, like its name suggests, will typically include a guest list of up to 50 guests—often immediate family and super-close friends only. Though tiny in guest count, a microwedding differs from a minimony. Plus, it isn't an elopement, which is usually planned and attended only by the couple (and a witness) and often performed in secret (though not always). Think of a microwedding as a cross between an elopement and a big, traditional wedding—and it might just be the perfect compromise to suit your style.

"More is not always necessarily more," says renowned event planner Stefanie Cove. "A microwedding is for the couple who wants to really focus and spend the majority of their budget on the smaller details, whereas it might be difficult to replicate the same experience for, say, 200 guests." 

While a microwedding can save you money, many couples are turning it into a macro experience. According to The Knot 2019 Real Weddings Study, the average overall guest count was also down, while the average cost per guest went up.  "Couples can certainly save money by going the route of microweddings, though many decide to actually spend their full budget. Only on less people," Cove explains. "Some couples will even take their budget and host the hotel rooms for their guests, along with transportation and other items that may not normally be affordable for a larger-size wedding." 

Microweddings, however, are not the type of occasion where couples should look to cut corners from the beginning. Many couples who throw microweddings will splurge on a top-shelf open bar and a savory sit-down dinner simply, with intimacy in mind. With a guest list of 35 of your nearest and dearest, a tropical destination weekend wedding, a designer wedding dress or a decadent brunch at a five-star restaurant becomes much more feasible.

What Is a Minimony?

What exactly is a minimony? It's exactly that: a minimony is a mini ceremony held with your loved ones, or simply a moment of commitment shared between yourselves. Given the uncertainty of the coronavirus pandemic, couples have been opting to move forward with weddings or mini ceremonies, now defined as minimonies, for a range of reasons. 

What makes this event different is its size and its meaning. A minimony is considered a commitment ceremony between you and your partner, and it can include up to 10 people—as long as you adhere to social distancing measures. The health of you and your loved ones should be priority throughout the planning and postponement process. Many couples who've had to postpone their nuptials (millions through summer 2020, in fact) are encouraged to consider a minimony to honor their original wedding date or to move forward with this option for legal purposes. 

A minimony usually involves an officiant (in-person or virtual), a small group of loved ones, along with select vendors your larger wedding would include. Your minimony would include an experience: handwritten vows, a first dance on your balcony, as well as snapshots of details culled from your larger wedding. This includes tapping your pastry chef to bake a mini wedding cake, ordering small arrangements from your florist, or requesting your photographer capture this special occasion from afar.

In states and precincts where the legality of minimonies may come into question, remember that this option is intended to be enjoyed primarily between you, the couple; whereas, your eventual sequel wedding will be for you and your other loved ones. We define that next.

What Is a Sequel Wedding?

After your minimony, continue prepping for your sequel wedding, or the original wedding that you had planned prior to the pandemic. The Knot first defined the term in 2019 largely for couples deciding to have two distinct weddings for cultural, religious and other reasons. However, the sequel wedding has evolved, taking on new meaning as the coronavirus pandemic has prompted many to-be-weds to reconsider the order of their life events. There is no better time than now to create your own rules. 

Having a minimony allows you to solidify your union or to honor your first proposed date. Further down the line, throwing a sequel wedding will bring your wedding vision to life, and be confident in this: all couples are welcome to have both. If anything, it's encouraged.

What Is an Elopement?

The definition of an elopement has evolved in the last five years especially as couples are increasingly personalizing every aspect of their lives. Traditionally, elopements were considered spur-of-the-moment and unplanned events involving an element of secrecy. Today, there is still an air of sweeping romance involved in elopements, but couples are taking the extra steps to personalize it too. 

"We always ask first about the memory couples want to create with their elopement," says Debbie Pribyl of the Moorings Village in Key West, Florida. "Then, we guide them with suggestions as if they're planning to produce their perfect dream wedding." The property asks eloping couples to pick dates that are meaningful to their love story, in addition to incorporating sentimental touches into their wedding vows. Of course, dreamy locations are easier to reach for a smaller size group. 

"I suggest all couples look for unique attractions at their chosen destination. For example, we have a lighthouse that's about four miles offshore in the middle of the sea," says Pribyl. "Couples can go out in a boat with an officiant, and get married on the bows of the boat in front of the lighthouse." 

Some properties will fully embrace the elements for elopements, like the Lodge at Blue Sky in Utah, which has its very own "Full Moon Ceremony." The wedding looks something like this: If a couple has witnesses or guests, everyone will travel up a mountain as they're guided by moonlight. Once the party arrives, a "full moon elixir" is served and witnesses watch the couple exchange vows under the moon and stars. 

In 2019, Kieron Hales, the co-owner of Zingerman's Cornman Farms in Michigan, came up with a concept called the "Tiny Wedding" to address the growing demand for both microweddings and elopements. "We noticed that there was a significant number of guests who wanted to get married on our property with limited guests, limited planning and limited budget. Sadly, we did not have the right product to offer them," he tells The Knot. "Couple this with the rise in popularity of microweddings and elopements, as well as the number of elopement planners popping up, and we knew the timing was right for several reasons."

After working with select vendors for years, Hales realized there was a middle ground. With a group of Detroit's top wedding vendors, his team produces a new aesthetic for couples each season, which lends itself to a sophisticated event. Similarly, Napa's Auberge du Soleil offers the "Petit Wedding," an option for 25 guests or less, and these events have been created with incredible thought and curation. "One of our couples had traveled to many of the world's wine regions during the time they dated. On the night of the wedding, we had a large world map with flags marking those visited wine regions coupled with a sommelier who walked guests through a tasting of wines from each sentimental region," says Jamie Lagoyda, Senior Manager of Weddings at the property. "We then took a ribbon connecting the flags to create a circle, similar to the "circular" rings they had exchanged earlier that day."

stefanie cove wedding sarah falugo under trees
Sarah Falugo Photography

How the Traditional Marriage Format Is Evolving

The format of weddings used to be one and done, but the order of events has changed as weddings have evolved into fully personalized experiences. "Marriage in the traditional sense is changing," says Emily Pilk of the Hotel Weyanoke in Farmville, Virginia. "Gone are the days when the success of a wedding was directly correlated to its price tag with a wedding that truly didn't fit your vision as a couple. Big is not always better." 

A smaller wedding and fewer expectations allows you to be more flexible and creative. You're free to change things up—for example, you won't feel pressure to include wedding traditions that have never really resonated with you. Also, a teeny, tiny wedding will be easier to coordinate, no matter where you are or what you're doing. You'll be able to reserve a private space at that top-notch restaurant you've always wanted to try, invite your chosen guest list into your tented backyard, or request the presence of your immediate family and besties at a location sentimental to you. "I find that the guests really get to know each other well and spend a good amount of time together," says Cove. "The clients are able to focus on all of their guests throughout the weekend." 

Though a massive guest list would make for a full and festive party, another potential pitfall is you wouldn't be able to catch up with everyone there. By choosing a minimony first, you'll share a memory with your immediate loved ones, while eventually savoring your sequel wedding later. With a microwedding or minimony, you'll be able to prioritize spending quality time with each and every loved one at your event. This is one case in which less is totally more. Whether or not you consider yourself a shy person, your dream wedding might be saying "I do" in front of 5 to 10 witnesses you adore, followed by cake and champagne at your favorite restaurant—with no pressure, just love. And you should absolutely do it. 

Finally, keep in mind: Having an intimate or large, black-tie or no-tie wedding is ultimately up to you. "I think couples may get worried about trimming their guest list to the microwedding level," Cove concludes. "I think it is best that they are honest and relay that they are having an incredibly intimate wedding with their closest family members and friends." 

In short, if you want to have a minimony first followed by a sequel wedding and your dream party with your loved ones, then so be it. Now is the time to lean into building the foundation for your marriage, while a celebration with your loved ones will most certainly follow. And if a microwedding or an elopement sounds like it's a reflection of you as a couple, then it's a great way to remember your wedding day in a way that was yours. Truly.

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