Planning the Perfect Micro-Wedding: A Step-by-Step Timeline
Your special day is coming up, and you’re pulling out all the stops to plan an unforgettable, intimate celebration with your partner.
There’s just one question: What should your micro-wedding timeline look like?
We’re breaking down everything you need to know in this handy guide to micro-wedding planning. We’ll explore each step in the process and the timing of each one to achieve the most blissful big day.
Whether you’re planning your micro-wedding yourself or partnering with an event pro, this micro-wedding timeline will help you master your preparations and bring your vision to life.
Setting the Date: Choosing the Perfect Day for Your Micro-Wedding
Setting a date is perhaps the most important item on your micro-wedding checklist. And while locking in a date might feel stressful, it’s also an opportunity to reflect on your relationship milestones.
Not sure which date to choose? Consider:
- A date during your favorite season – Whether you’ve envisioned specific weather on your wedding day or love a particular season overall, try to refine a specific date during your favorite time of year.
- A special anniversary – Choose a date special to you and your spouse—perhaps the anniversary of your engagement, your first date, or your first vacation as a couple.
- A holiday – If you and your spouse share a favorite holiday (whether it’s Halloween or National Pancake Day), consider choosing it as your wedding date.
See related: Elopement vs. Micro Wedding
When Should I Set My Micro-Wedding Date?
Since your wedding date is so crucial to the rest of your planning process, it should be the first item on your to-do list once your preparations begin.
You’ll need a date set in stone to:
- Reserve a ceremony venue and reception location
- Hire vendors
- Send invitations
And, if you’re trying to speed up your planning process, you should choose a date and potential micro wedding destinations as soon as possible. Since some wedding vendors in your area might have a backlog, you should try to give potential vendors as much notice as possible during booking.
Crafting Your Invitation List: Selecting Your Most Cherished Guests
Once you’ve lined up a date, it’s time to curate your guest list. For couples hosting micro-weddings, the guest list can be one of the toughest to-do list items to tackle.
As you navigate who to invite to a micro wedding, remember that:
- It’s okay to expand (or reduce) your guest list – If you end up hosting a larger (or smaller) wedding than you anticipated, that’s okay! Your wedding vision (and ideal guest list) can change throughout the process.
- Your guest list is up to you – The only people in charge of your guest list are you and your partner. Want to skip some relatives you aren’t close with? Don’t want to invite plus ones? Want your wedding to be adults-only? Your guest list is entirely within your control.
Most importantly, think of whom you’d like by your side during one of the most exciting moments in your life. (And if you decide that you’d rather have a more intimate celebration without any guests, check out our elopement packages.)
When Should I Finalize My Invites?
As you curate your guest list, there are two key elements you’ll need to finalize during planning:
- The headcount – The maximum number of guests you’d like to host
- The invitees – The people you’d like to celebrate with
While your invitees only need to be finalized before you start sending the wedding invitation, headcount is the more important factor when it comes to booking a wedding venue and vendors. Vendors must know the micro wedding decor that’s needed and how much food to serve. So, you should establish a ballpark number as soon as possible—ideally at least two months before your date.
When should you send invitations? The more notice, the better, but wedding planners suggest:1
- Four to six months before a destination wedding
- Six to nine weeks ahead of a wedding local to most of the guests
- As soon as three weeks in advance for micro-weddings
But, remember that if you boost your guest list substantially during the planning process, it could impact your venue logistics. Any time your invite list increases or decreases ahead of your intimate wedding, you should notify any vendors who will be impacted.
Arranging the Ceremony Schedule: Meaningful Moments for Your Micro-Wedding
While you finalize your guest list, think about how you’ll bring your wedding vision to life: what will your ceremony look like?
Think about whether or not you want to embrace some wedding traditions, like:
- Walking down an aisle with parents or loved ones
- Inviting some close friends to be in your wedding party
- Sharing your vows in front of your guests at the altar
If you’re looking to curate an unconventional experience, you can always try out newer traditions, like:
- Walking to the altar with your soon-to-be spouse
- Opting out of a wedding party
- Sharing your vows in private before or after the main wedding ceremony
You certainly don’t have to plan every moment of your ceremony if you’d prefer an improved approach. But, if you have any specific ideas (a song playing after you and your spouse’s kiss at the altar, for instance), prior planning will help you bring these meaningful moments to life.
When Should I Finalize My Ceremony Schedule?
Depending on your wedding ceremony details, you’ll need to finalize some elements ahead of time—particularly anything that involves someone other than your spouse. Some parties who will need a run-down of your ceremony include:
- Your wedding party – Anyone who will join you at the altar or walk you down the aisle will need a play-by-play of where (and when) to stand during the ceremony. Consider hosting a run-through or a rehearsal dinner to get everyone on the same page.
- Your officiant – Whether you ask your officiant to prepare a speech or ask them just to cover the formalities, they need to know your expectations ahead of time. If your ceremony plans change, give them ample notice.
- Your DJ – If you’re planning to play music during certain moments in your ceremony, give your DJ (or whoever is handling the music) a run-down as soon as possible so that they can rehearse any cues.
- Your photographer and videographer – Giving your wedding photographer and videographer an idea of how your ceremony will work can help them envision specific shots and sequences.
Giving all of the above parties at least two weeks of notice will give you peace of mind as your wedding date approaches.
Organizing the Reception: Curating an Intimate and Memorable Celebration
As you plan your reception, consider:
- What (if any) entertainment you’d like to provide to guests
- What you’d like to eat and drink during your celebration
- Any speeches you’d like to request from friends or family
- How much time you plan to spend at your reception venue
These considerations will help you lay the groundwork for your ideal reception. But, it’ll also give you an idea of which vendors you might need to hire, like:
- A band, solo musician, or DJ
- A caterer and bartender
- Audio system rental providers
- Rental furniture partners
Since couples generally need the most vendor support for the wedding reception, many choose to partner with planning professionals during their reception preparations. A micro-wedding planner can offer planning expertise, a network of vetted vendors, and day-of support. If you’re looking to cut back on stress, consider partnering with a planning pro.
When Should I Plan My Reception?
If you need to partner with vendors to throw your dream wedding reception, consider ironing out some of the finer points sooner than others.
For instance, if caterers near your venue have a backlog, you’ll likely need to line up your caterer and menu choices with advance notice. But, bartenders near you might be in greater supply—in which case, your cocktail menu can be finalized closer to your wedding date.
Your reception planning schedule will depend on the available vendors in your area and their timelines. But, consider knocking out vendor relations as early in the process as you can. Ideally, your reception should be finalized at least a month before your wedding date.
Capturing Cherished Moments: Photography and Videography Tips for Micro-Weddings
Even couples hosting a DIY micro-wedding should consider partnering with either a photographer, videographer, or both.
There are numerous benefits to hiring these creative vendors:
- Quality – Professional videographers and photographers will produce substantially better images and clips from your wedding than you or your guests will.
- Scalability – You can have your photo and video pros take footage from start to finish—or you can have them take candids only during the ceremony. Photo and video services are highly customizable and scalable based on your preferences and budget.
- A phone-free experience – When you turn to the pros for photos and videos, your guests can put their smartphone cameras down and enjoy your intimate celebration.
When Should I Confirm a Photographer and Videographer?
If photo and video pros are booking multiple months out near your ceremony location, you’ll need to secure them as soon as possible. But, if there are loads of photographers and videographers in your area (or their schedules are relatively open), you’ll have more wiggle room in your wedding planning timeline.
For a micro-wedding, consider locking in your wedding photographer and videographer as soon as your date and ceremony location are finalized.
Plan a Stress-Free Micro Wedding with Simply Eloped
Getting a clear picture of your micro-wedding timeline is key to your planning process. Knowing which details you’ll need to finalize, and when they need to be locked in, can help you prioritize to-do list items and bring your vision to life.
There’s no question that planning a wedding yourself can feel like a full-time job (and then some). That’s why Simply Eloped is making it easier than ever to curate your dream celebration.
Our experienced micro-wedding and elopement planners have thrown over 11,500 intimate, romantic celebrations for adventurous, one-of-a-kind couples. And we’re just getting started.
Explore our micro-wedding and elopement packages and start your path to the stress-free micro-wedding of your dreams.
1 Masterclass. When to Send Wedding Invitations. https://www.masterclass.com/articles/when-to-send-wedding-invitations