Micro Weddings Make it Big
August 2, 2023
If you know how to plan, price, and market for them, photographing micro weddings can be a huge pleasure.
Micro weddings have always been with us. Even before 2020, some photographers were noticing the growing popularity of intimate gatherings with no more than 50 people or so, but pandemic restrictions fast-tracked the little-wedding trend into mainstream acceptability.
For couples whose idea of a perfect wedding day isn’t sharing it with 300 of their closest friends, the new micro wedding normal gives them permission to slash the guest list and dispense with wedding parties, lengthy ceremonies, receptions, and rituals like the bouquet toss or the hora that were de rigueur for their parents.
Micro weddings are also exactly what a lot of photographers love most: They’re focused on the personal story of the couple and creating a beautiful, meaningful experience for everyone sharing their day.
Careful Planning Is Key
Because micro weddings have such a personal focus and often don’t follow traditional timelines, there’s a lot of variety among them. That makes careful planning vital to making sure everyone comes away happy and fairly compensated.
The person doing that planning might be you. Micro wedding clients often think they don’t need to hire a coordinator for a small-scale event. “If there is no planner involved,” explains Megan Breukelman from New York–based Megan & Kenneth, “the photographer by default becomes the planner because we’re the ones who are shaping the timeline and putting the day together.”
For some photographers, taking charge of planning makes perfect sense, especially when there are excursions or multiple locations involved. Seattle-based Henry Tieu can spend days hiking, flying, or boating with a small group on adventure micro weddings, and handling the planning can help him ensure everyone has a great time and is in the right place at the right time for great photography.
Tieu says the first step is making sure everyone understands they’re putting together a micro wedding and not an elopement. He often gets calls from couples who tell him, “We want to elope, but we also want to bring six friends with us, or 15 people with us, or 30 people.”
Breukelman gets those calls too, and points out that many elopements quickly snowball into micro weddings: “We book them for photography and then a few weeks later they go, ‘My parents have requested this, so now we’re doing it at a restaurant with 20 people.’”
She emphasizes that it’s important to give couples a little time to sort themselves out. “We don’t sign any contracts until we have a location and a date and a time. So when it comes to the actual work we’re putting in—the timeline planning and all that doesn’t really start until the couple has decided on what they really want.”
L.A.-based Mary Costa’s micro weddings tend to be design-focused gatherings held at a single location, and she encourages clients to hire a planner. “I just saw so many people get frazzled,” she says. “They’re worrying about: ‘Oh my gosh, the food hasn’t arrived and we still need to put out the place settings!’ You might only have 10 guests, so that’s not what you want to be worrying about on your wedding day.” She says having a coordinator to make it all run smoothly also keeps her from being recruited to help solve last-minute problems instead of shooting.
Micro Weddings Don’t Necessarily Mean Micro Pricing
Costa breaks her price structure out into elopements, micro weddings, and standard weddings, with micro weddings being events including six to 25 people. Since most of her micro weddings last as long as larger weddings, the number of photographers is the biggest factor in the price difference she sets between them. “On a typical wedding where you have more than 30 people, I have two photographers,” she explains. “With a micro wedding, because it is so small, I’m able to get all of that coverage myself.”
Megan & Kenneth offer more micro wedding price tiers that vary according to coverage time and whether they include videography, and all of their micro wedding packages are shorter than a standard wedding day. “Our packages range from $1,900 to about $4,000,” says Breukelman. Since they’re also doing planning, they account for that work. “When it comes to our pricing,” she says, “we are factoring in the hours we’re spending on the front end and back end, and on the day itself.”
Henry Tieu says he spends about the same amount of time on micro weddings as he does on standard weddings, with one requiring more planning time and the other more shooting and editing. “Because of that,” he says, “I charge both services exactly the same.”
Reaching the Micro Wedding Market
Being involved in planning can be a smart marketing strategy, too. Megan & Kenneth built their micro wedding business during the pandemic by sharing not just images but expertise on social media—especially TikTok, where Megan says a lot of Gen Z micro wedding fans are finding inspiration.
“Throwing education out there ends up bringing couples in to you, because you become a trusted person in the planning process for them, and then they want to trust you with their wedding photos,” says Megan. “If people are looking to either break into micro weddings or just keep the ball rolling with bookings, having a strong online presence is very key to that.”