Wedding Planning with CatPrint

A Step-by-Step Guide to Planning Your Dream Micro Wedding or Elopement

Congrats, you’re engaged!

You’ve found your soulmate and are looking forward to planning your wedding day together as the first step in a lifelong adventure. But... things look a little different right now, so what does that mean for your big day?

Don’t worry! We can help you navigate this new, uncharted territory and with tips to guide you through planning a more intimate celebration that’s perfect for the two of you.

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Micro Wedding or Elopement: What’s The Difference?

So, you’ve found yourself in the throes of planning a wedding for 2021 or 2022. Chances are you’ve heard about some new concepts in the wedding world: “Micro Wedding,” “Intimate Celebration,” and even “Minimony” are all terms couples will likely hear time and time again as you go about your wedding planning.

Outdoor and Garden Weddings in an open space

Micro Weddings

What exactly is a micro wedding, and how is it different from a traditional wedding ceremony? A micro wedding concept is to remain as close to a conventional wedding as possible, but with a much smaller guest count and, typically, a smaller budget. Hmmmm, with all the money you saved maybe a big vacation is in your future after all of this is over. Still, regulations and expectations will vary from state to state, county to county, so make sure you’re keeping up to date with laws and guidelines for your ceremony and reception locations.

Micro weddings typically have a guest count of between 25 and 50 people. While that may seem like a huge shock coming from the 300+ mega weddings we saw throughout the 00s and 10s, you can breathe a sigh of relief that the rest of your wedding planning will remain very similar to a traditional full wedding.

A micro wedding should center around the idea that you may be spending less or purchasing less for fewer people, but you’re also doing more for those closest to you at a much more intimate level.

Your wedding is a once-in-a-lifetime experience that should be special and memorable for all the right reasons. Many brides and grooms went through the same thing that you may be last year in 2020, and the end still experienced their happily ever after while adjusting to our “new normal.”


Traditionally, an Elopement was a secretive way of tying the knot with just the couple and the officiant present at the ceremony. without telling any family members or friends beforehand. Only after the vows had taken place would the bride and groom announce their marriage. Very “Romeo and Juliet.”

Nowadays, elopements have evolved into more of a small, intimate gathering of your nearest and dearest at your ideal wedding ceremony location.

Eloping in the Great Smoky Mountains

An elopement can be a spectacular choice for photography shoots! Be sure to ask your photographer to scout out the area with you beforehand for some picture-perfect scenes.

Many couples choose their ceremony location at a place most meaningful to them, such as a park where they first met, the site of their engagement, or a comfortable, familiar at-home elopement.

Domestic destination weddings are trending as well. Our treasured National Parks and State Parks are the perfect fantasy getaway right here at home. Joshua Tree National Park in California and the Valley of Fire State Park in Nevada have become the go-to destination locations for eloping if you’re looking for a desert feel. Glacier National Park, the Adirondacks, and of course, the famous Poconos of Pennsylvania are the perfect mountain getaways. We recommend you do your research if you’re considering eloping in one of America’s beautiful parks to choose one that’s right for you and your guest list.

Wedding Planning with CatPrint

Plan Your Micro Wedding or Elopement


Your Nearest and Dearest

One of the hardest parts of planning your intimate wedding will be narrowing your guest list to your closest loved ones. You may not think you know that many people, but when combined with your significant others’ and both families’ “must-invites,” you may be surprised to find that the headcount is higher than you would have anticipated.

The best thing you can do to ensure that there are no surprises (like your future mother-in-law surprising you at the last minute by inviting distant relatives) is to keep everyone involved and in the loop that needs to be.

Keep a spreadsheet document or email chain going between all parties to keep an accurate and firm tally. By laying it all out in the open, there’s less room for any uncomfortable discussions later on about why your second cousin once removed from Arkansas won’t be able to make it that day.

If You Need to Downscale or Postpone

With our current ever-changing wedding environment, it goes without saying that you should plan for the unexpected. As many couples experienced in 2020 that, unfortunately, might mean scaling back your guest list. It’s probably not something you would have thought to expect when you first envisioned your wedding day, but many couples have needed to alter their wedding plans as regulations and restrictions change.

Most guests will be understanding and sympathetic, so be honest and forthcoming. Consider sending a greeting card or calling your guests to let them know that while you want them to be there with you on your big day, it’s ultimately up to the current regulations in your area. We recommend making the announcement a little more personal than sending a text or email. Consider sending a photo wedding announcement of the two of you from your wedding day to let them know you were thinking of them and wanted to share that special moment. Remember, your guests have also been excited about your day, and it’s a kind gesture to let them know how much you appreciate them and wish they could be there with you if circumstances were different.

It’s important to remember that some things are ultimately going to be out of your control during these uncertain times. State and local restrictions change frequently, and while incredibly frustrating and disheartening, it’s something that you should try to mentally prepare for just in case. Keep open communication not only with your vendors but with your significant other about how you’re feeling throughout the wedding process. Remember, it’s okay to feel flustered, upset, and even disappointed. Now is the time to support each other and be open about how you’re feeling with your planning process changes.

If you choose to postpone your wedding for a later date, consider sending guests a Change the Date or Postponement Announcement. If you’ve secured a new date with your venue, be sure to include that on your Change the Dates. Otherwise, include a short snippet that you’ll be letting your invitees know the new date shortly. The sooner you let guests know, the better, especially for those who may need to adjust their travel and hotel reservations.

Try to remain optimistic, yet cautious, throughout your wedding planning. The 2021 - 2022 season is all about being overly prepared for whatever may be thrown your way. Have a realistic backup plan, and keep a list of what’s most important to the both of you regarding your wedding day. Ask your venue and other vendors questions about what plans they have in place for postponing if need be. Now more than ever before, keeping open communication with your guests, vendors, and significant other is the key to wedding planning success.


Choose Your Venue

You’ve narrowed down your guest list, and now you’re wondering what’s next. It may all seem overwhelming at this point, and that’s completely okay. Planning a wedding is tough! We highly recommend choosing your venue or location as the next step in the wedding planning process. But in these “different” times, the venues you tour may be a little different too.

While touring potential venues, be sure to ask a lot of questions related to your micro wedding. What is the occupancy capacity for guests? If your venue only allows a maximum of 15 people and you’re planning on a minimum of 35, then that venue may not be right for you.

Pinpoint what is most important for both of you before selecting your dream location. Ask about covid restrictions, the reception flow with CDC guidelines in place, and what extra precautions the venue is taking to ensure your guests’ safety. Maybe you’re torn between two locations, but you find out that one has expanded to allow dancing after the meal. Asking the right questions and preparing ahead of time will save you a lot of time and help avoid any unexpected last-minute surprises.

Outdoor and Garden Weddings in an open space

Garden Wedding or Local Park Wedding

Garden weddings are particularly en vogue for the 2021 - 2022 wedding season and work wonderfully with almost any wedding theme. You may be surprised to find out how many beautiful parks or outdoor restaurants there are in your area, especially now that venues have had time to adjust to outdoor guidelines.

Depending on your wedding date, an outdoor wedding and reception can be a safe way to hold your micro wedding al fresco. Plan for the weather, and always consider an alternative option when planning an outdoor wedding. Check the historical data for your area for your desired date, and have a backup plan if things go south. Ask your venue about options for providing a tent, or if there is an alternative location for your petite reception indoors if the weather doesn’t cooperate, and be sure to tour that as well if possible.

Backyard Wedding

When you think of a “backyard wedding,” the first thing you envision might be a grand old estate or plantation. But in the age of the “new normal,” a smaller backyard wedding may just be right for the two of you; no plantation needed. Many brides and grooms choose to host their wedding receptions right in their own backyards or parents’ backyard, as a comfortable, genuinely intimate solution.

Familiarity, convenience, and affordability are just a few of the perks of a backyard wedding. But just because it’s right in your backyard does not mean that it has to be any less magical. What you save on venue space, you can easily make up for with decorations and flowers without having to worry about adhering to the venue’s decorating restrictions.

Domestic Destination

If you’re looking for something unique your guests will be talking about for years to come, consider planning a domestic destination wedding. In these uncertain times, traveling long (or even short!) distances abroad can be a real headache or even possible. A grand destination wedding in the Bahamas may not be for you and your other half.

However, the good news is that the United States is home to a wide variety of over 60 National Parks and over 420 national park sites! From the rugged beauty of the Badlands to the foggy mountainscape of Shenandoah, chances are you’ll be able to find something that perfectly suits you and your significant others’ wedding dreams.

Even if you’re looking for something on a smaller scale, you may be surprised to find how many local parks and attractions have just what you’re looking for. Just be sure to check ahead of time. Most parks will require a permit to hold an event!

Bryce Canyon National Park

Unexpected Venues

You may find that a smaller guest list opens up venue possibilities that you may not have considered before. Your favorite restaurants may now have the capacity, or a winery you both always wanted to visit may now be something attainable and affordable.

Make sure to check with all venues about guidelines and restrictions before booking and be open and honest about your concerns. You should leave the tour feeling confident that your venue can meet your expectations on your big (petite!) day and that there will be no surprises.

Small wedding venues or restaurants like a winery Small wedding venues or restaurants like a winery With a smaller guest list, you may find that a whole new world of opportunity opens up for venue options!


Book Your Vendors

After you’ve chosen your dream venue for your petite wedding, the next step in the planning process is to book your vendors. You should go in with the same mindset as you did with your venue. Ask the critical questions about how they’ll fit into your day, but also test the waters a bit with the more difficult questions on how they’ve adjusted and are prepared to accommodate more petite wedding plans.

Listen to their recent experiences and recommendations. There’s a good chance they’ve already worked with a handful of couples that have put on a micro wedding in varying situations and styles. Their experience can be invaluable, and it may help put your mind at ease working with a team that already has a plan in place to make your micro wedding day extra special.

Remember, your vendors should be a resource for you and your special someone throughout the entire wedding planning process. It’s essential to pick someone who you trust and feel comfortable asking for advice when needed.

Questions to Ask Your Wedding Vendors and Venue

If you’re planning a wedding during the 2021 - 2022 season, chances are you have a lot of questions running through your mind about how your wedding day will look and what to expect. Whether you’re planning a traditional wedding with a larger group of guests or a more intimate affair, you may feel like you’re exploring uncharted territory when it comes to planning. But it doesn’t need to feel that way! Your venue and vendors are there to help to walk you through what to expect on your big day.

To assist our prospective brides and grooms, we’ve compiled a list of questions to ask your venue and other vendors before booking, because first and foremost, it’s always best to go in prepared.

For your venue:

  • What is your policy on postponement?
  • Are there any additional fees if it becomes necessary to change our date?
  • If we need to reschedule for a different date or season, are there additional accommodations available? (when booking an outdoor venue)
  • How far in advance will you consider postponement?
  • Will you keep us up-to-date on the venue’s response to changes in state/county regulations and restrictions?
  • What is the venue’s current capacity, and are we limited to a restricted number of guests?
  • If we need to change or lower our guest count, will the pricing change to reflect that?
  • In response to Covid-19, is there anything else the venue will be doing differently?
  • Will guests need to be tested or provide a vaccination certificate prior to the event?
  • Will you need a list of guests’ information for contact tracing purposes?
  • Will/when will masks be required?
  • What will social distancing look like at our wedding? Are there restrictions on table capacity, dancing, cocktail hour, etc.?
  • Will we be able to Livestream the wedding? Is there available Wi-Fi or internet access for streaming?

Keep in mind that as the season progresses and regulations change, that your venue should be keeping you up-to-date on how they’re accommodating weddings in an ever-changing environment.

For your vendors:

  • What is your policy on postponement?
  • Are there additional fees associated with rescheduling?
  • Will we be able to transfer our deposit if we need to reschedule?
  • If we need to postpone, what is your availability for the remainder of the year or next year?
  • If we need to reschedule, is there a time limit to reserve a new date?
  • If we cannot postpone the wedding or there is conflicting availability, what is your cancelation policy?

Always trust your instincts. When you speak with your prospective venue and vendors, you want to leave feeling confident that they have a handle on your event’s expected flow to avoid future headaches. It’ll save you a lot of time, stress, and money in the long run and will ensure that your wedding goes off without a hitch.

Be sure to ask questions about their experiences so far with other microweddings and traditional-sized weddings. You can gain a lot of insight by hearing different perspectives from those who work with other couples who are going through the same thing!


Your Wedding Stationery

Deciding to scale down for a more intimate affair doesn’t mean that you need to forego the many time-honored traditions of the wedding planning experience. Sending a Save the Date or a wedding invitation is a formality worth keeping to let loved ones know you’re hoping they’ll be a part of your special day.

While many stationers both online and offline often sell wedding invitations and suites in bulk quantities, some vendors like CatPrint allow smaller orders for couples with lighter guest lists. Ordering a smaller number of invitations helps to keep costs down, especially if you’re looking to splurge on some fancier stationery to “wow” friends and family. We highly recommend checking out our new real foil options and luxury paper stocks for a special look and feel.

You may also want to send out Save the Dates and invitations a little bit ahead of time, as travel restrictions continue to evolve throughout the year. Typically, Save the Dates should be in the mail no later than 6 to 8 months before your wedding date, but many couples are choosing to mail 12 to 14 months ahead of time right now. The same goes for invitations, which should be sent closer to 8 - 10 weeks out, as opposed to the usual 4 - 6 weeks.

Wedding inserts that provide additional details are highly recommended for microweddings too, in addition to the traditional wedding invitation and reply card combo. Consider including Accommodation cards in your wedding suite for out-of-town guests looking to stay in the area if you’ve chosen to reserve a block of rooms at a nearby hotel or inn. Be sure to include the phone number of the hotel, as well as a website if they have one so guests can find more information on what to expect.

Many venues will have their own regulations in place, and it’s important to communicate with your guests well in advance to ensure that there are no surprises as your wedding date draws closer. A Reception card outlining all of the necessary information on what to bring, such as vaccination paperwork or proof of a negative Covid-19 test should all be outlined so that there’s no confusion when guests arrive. The more information you’re able to share with your guests in advance, the more comfortable and prepared they’ll feel.

If you’re choosing to elope, you may want to consider sending an Elopement Announcement to share your exciting news with friends and family. An Elopement Announcements are sent after the fact, rather than before your special day, letting your loved ones know you’ve tied the knot. You may want to order these before your wedding so they’re ready to send out shortly after to avoid any post-elopement stress.

If you’ve decided on or are considering celebrating at a later date and time with a more extensive guest list, be sure to let invitees know to keep on the lookout for your Reception Invitations as well. Many couples are choosing to celebrate with their loved ones a year later in a Vow Renewal ceremony on their first anniversary so that family and friends can celebrate safely together as restrictions ease up.

We're Here to Help

At CatPrint, we like to consider ourselves the wedding experts in our industry and take a great deal of pride in assisting our brides and grooms as best we can.

We encourage you to keep an eye out for additional guidance from CatPrint through our upcoming blog and social media pages as the 2021 - 2022 wedding season continues to evolve. Our dedicated customer service team is here to answer any questions or concerns you may have regarding your upcoming micro wedding or elopement, as well as those you may have about your stationery needs.