Elopements have been around a long time but it is only recently that we have started to hear terms like “micro-mony”, “micro-wedding” or “tiny wedding”.  Even the term “Intimate wedding” seems new despite the fact your wedding is probably the most intimate experience you will ever have!

So what do we mean when we say “elopement”?  By definition, elopement has a somewhat negative connotation.  At its heart, elope means to “run away” and when we used it to talk about weddings, it typically meant “to run away to get married secretly, often without a parent’s consent”.  It can be viewed as terribly romantic as when two star-crossed lovers defy their controlling parents to run off to another state, find a judge or a preacher and tie the knot.  Picture a ladder up to a second-story window and two young kids speeding towards the state line with nothing but love to sustain them.  Or it can seem fairly misguided as “running away” is usually not a good first step towards most good things.  Elopements are also often thought of as “spur of the moment” and, while there are exceptions, happy endings rarely begin at 2 am in Elvis chapels, especially when alcohol is involved.

COVID has changed the landscape of weddings in ways we think will probably last long past any legal mandates.  Having been forced to down-size their weddings, many are discovering that it really is a great way to save money and stress.  Coronavirus has in many cases, freed us from the imperative of having a bigger, “better” celebration and allowed us to look at weddings through new lenses.  And we like what we see!  For many, weddings have evolved away from “the party” to focus more on the “marriage” and the true transformation that takes place that day.

Tiny or Micro-Weddings no longer represent a “running away” feel, but a conscious decision toward a new paradigm.

COVID pushed us toward them but more and more we are embracing these small, low-key celebrations.  And finding the extra money leftover is a great benefit

Micro or tiny weddings are not necessarily last minute or hurriedly put together.  They can take as much planning and contain as many details as you want.  But, bottom line, they don’t have to!  All the stressful accoutrements of big, traditional weddings, like table favors or bridesmaid dresses, are neither expected nor missed.  You can focus on those details that actually mean something and are important to you. Such as writing your vows or incorporating other traditions into your ceremony.  And, if you choose, your “reception” can be far more extravagant with so many fewer mouths to feed…opt for Dom Perignon and the lobster nibbles.  But that might not be your thing and that’s what is so freeing about having a tiny wedding…surrounded only by people who truly love and support you, there is no reason to try to meet anyone’s expectations except your own!

The adventure of the day on it’s own is an amazing experience. This day is all about you and with an elopement or micro wedding it truly is. Endless photo opportunities, the closest of family and friends, specialized foods and drinks, and not a care in the world. Which is exactly how it should be, and is often forgotten.

At Stonegate Manor & Gardens & Gardens, until recently, we hadn’t offered “elopements” or any type of micro/mini/petite wedding options.  It just hadn’t occurred to us!  We, like other wedding venues & vendors, had to pivot and adapt and we found we LIKED IT.   Initially, these were intended for couples whose plans had been disrupted and who were eager to quickly find an alternative.  Often couples brought their own previously contracted vendors but mini-sized everything

As time goes on, we are getting more and more calls from couples who aren’t desperately trying to save their weddings at the last minute but who want these small celebrations.  I cannot tell you the times I’ve heard something to the effect of “we were planning on having a big wedding next year but COVID made us re-think our priorities and we like the idea of a small, intimate wedding”.  Who would have thought a virus would have the ability to transform our vision of weddings?!

Michigan law now states that only 10 people can gather inside so our Micro-monies are limited to 8 guests.  We take care of all the necessities…the officiant, the flowers, the cake, a beautiful place to both get ready & to celebrate afterward and a magical Fairy Garden in which to hold the ceremony.  We are finding that to be a pretty perfect size.

For those who desire a bigger guest list and/or a bit more involved reception, our Petite weddings (<30 guests) provide a great alternative.

Yes we still get couples who, for one reason or another, want to know if we have any spots available “this week” and we love that we are able to offer them a beautiful alternative to a trip to the courthouse.  But we truly love sharing our elegant estate with couples who are eager to focus on the importance of the day and let us take care of the rest!

Co-written by Prudy Barrett Nelson Owner of Stonegate Manor & Gardens & Gardens & Elizabeth Graves, Marketing Manager