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Keeping the big day small: The micro wedding trend hits Guelph

On Valentine’s day 2020, Dave Walker proposed to his girlfriend Lisa. She gave him one year to marry her. Then the pandemic took over.

When the year anniversary of the proposal came around, Walker asked for an extension for them to get married.

Walker then came across Elope Guelph, a business providing micro weddings, part of a growing trend of small weddings that also include minimonies and pop-up weddings: basically smaller, more intimate and less expensive than a traditional wedding.

Walker said it was perfect because he wanted a small wedding.

When he told his bride to be about the wedding plans, she said she was surprised he pulled it off. It was made easy for Walker because the wedding package for two was set up with the venue, private suite, photographer and wedding cake.

They were married on Dec. 28, 2021, inside a log house.

The couple had both been married before and had larger weddings. This time they wanted to make it small and more intimate because when they started planning their wedding the first time, friends and family all had opinions of what they should do. It started not to feel like their wedding but everyone’s wedding, said Walker.

“This actually really suited us that it was like, literally, a week of planning,” said Walker. “Even if COVID hadn’t happened I probably would have preferred a smaller wedding. I like the intimacy of it. I’m marrying Lisa, I’m not marrying her family.”

Their wedding was affordable.

“Love has no price, it truly doesn’t,” he said.

Walker’s daughter is planning her traditional wedding day and the estimated cost is $40,000. He said that’s 38 times the price his wedding was.

Micro weddings have become a trend over the last couple of years and have been popularized due the pandemic, when people weren’t allowed to throw large gatherings. 

“It was born out of necessity in the pandemic for many couples and many couples had been down the road of planning their wedding which was probably larger and a more elaborate affair,” said Alison McGill, wedding expert and podcast host of Aisle Seat.

“They wanted to go ahead and get married and they decided to have a micro wedding.” 

She said most couples would share their micro wedding was special and intimate in a way they never expected. 

McGill said pop-up weddings were happening before the pandemic but came into their own throughout the last couple of years. 

Pop-ups are a day where a wedding planner puts together a wedding ceremony set-up and have 10 weddings throughout the day with an all-inclusive package couples sign-up for. They are considered a micro wedding because they are often less than 10 guests.

“Pop-up weddings have become super popular and couples love them,” McGill said.

You have to be a person to have faith and not be type A since the decor is a surprise, she said. These styles of weddings are probably not for bridezillas who need to control every last detail.

McGill said the cost of flowers, vendors and wedding supplies have gone up, so keeping a wedding small has advantages.

She said with a more affordable wedding couples can play with their budget and spend it on floral installations, a gourmet menu or wear more than one wedding dress.

“Weddings are just a phenomena people can’t get enough of,” said McGill. “They plug into our emotions in a way that’s sort of unlike any other event in life I would say.”

Marriage officiant Mary Hughes owns three bed and breakfasts in Ontario and they specialize in small-style weddings. She started Elope Guelph in 2014.

After 25 years of being a journalist, she visited over 600 inns and bed and breakfasts in her career. She was a writer and editor for North American Inns magazine and Spa Life magazines. She said she saw an opportunity for small weddings as a bed and breakfast owner.

“There are a lot of people who are shy, people who don’t want the drama of family,” said Hughes.

She said over the last couple of years business has increased due to people wanting smaller weddings because of COVID restrictions. 

“I would say that it’s intimate, drama-free,” said Hughes. The weddings she has done are under 12 guests.

Hughes said both of her parents served in World War II and she remembers her mom telling her many people would get married in their parents’ living room because their boyfriends would go off to war.

She said with COVID something similar has happened with couples by not delaying their wedding. Hughes’ husband John Westerman married a couple who moved their wedding ahead by two months because the groom was going to fight as a Canadian soldier in Ukraine. 

Hughes married her nephew two years ago when there were restrictions of 50 guests, and originally his wedding was supposed to have 120. She said her nephew told her he was glad to have a smaller wedding with the people he loved in a more intimate setting.

“There’s no bigger thrill in my life, let me tell you, than seeing that happiness captured in a room.”

On Wednesday Hughes officiated three weddings in one day. 



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