There’s no generic, one-size-fits-all definition of a micro wedding—and that’s its beauty. For some, a micro wedding means limiting the guestlist to 50. For others, it’s about inviting a cherished few of your nearest and dearest. Either way, this particular species of nuptials is all about marking your special day in the select company of close loved ones. Without the staggering guest numbers, micro weddings create the space—and the budget—for the couple to focus on what really matters: celebrating their commitment with an exceptional experience that’s uniquely tailored to them.
A world-class hotelier that goes above and beyond to exceed the expectations of each guest, Red Carnation Hotels has been hosting perfect weddings for years. From prestigious tucked-away enclaves in the heart of London to a grand Irish castle in the woods, our range of beautiful destinations are the ideal backdrop to the big (or little) day of your dreams. Here, we visit the global collection’s top tiny wedding destinations and explore why bigger is not always better when it comes to planning a walk down the aisle.
The big day of dreams
The focus of a micro wedding isn’t on catering for huge numbers of friends, acquaintances and distant relatives. It’s about tailoring the occasion to the unique preferences of the couple. Cast aside preconceived notions of how a wedding ceremony should look—or simply cherry-pick the bits that you like and discard the rest. The bride can opt for a conventional frothy white gown and veil, or make her own mark in a stylish cream-coloured trouser suit or vintage silk tea dress. A silver service wedding breakfast might be served at one micro celebration, while another chooses to follow the vows with a woodland walk to a picnic laid out in a fairylight-strewn forest grove. When opting for a smaller wedding, anything is possible, and everything is up to the happy couple.
“Having a micro wedding allows us to uniquely tailor-make—even more than usual—the entire day to the exact specifications and tastes of the couple. When catering for larger numbers, there are one or two things, such as a soufflé dessert for 200 guests, which, despite the best will in the world, are just not possible. Smaller groups mean absolutely no restrictions apply and we are able to completely indulge the couple and fulfil their every wish,” say Jack and Alexandra Mackenzie, the General Managers at Summer Lodge Country House Hotel & Restaurant. “Although there will always be a demand for larger weddings, we are finding that prospective couples are really interested in more intimate groups to allow them to make the wedding a uniquely personal experience for them and their guests.”
“Special touches and bespoke elements that reflect the couples’ individual tastes are the essential ingredients of micro weddings at The Milestone Hotel & Residences. Many of these are organised in-house by our wedding planner. With all of the services provided in one place, it creates a smoother, more relaxed experience for the couple and their guests. Additionally, our attentive team provides a personalised service to each and every guest on the big day, as well as the happy couple, of course,” adds Andrew Pike, General Manager at The Milestone.
Why small is perfect
There are plenty of great reasons to pare back an invitation list. All too often, the couple struggle to ensure everyone feels included at larger celebrations. Moreover, being the centre of attention amidst a large group of people is an intimidating concept for some. The micro wedding eliminates these concerns, enabling newlyweds to feel completely at ease in the company of their most treasured friends and family members. Instead of trying to work your way around a crowded room, carefully dividing attention between each guest, relax into easy meaningful interactions with those that make you feel most comfortable. Everyone participates and feels welcome at a micro wedding. Those who have been married before are less likely to put on a big production. Instead, the trend is for a sophisticated and authentic affair which concentrates on the important matter of the couples’ affection for one another. An extravagant party is rarely the goal.
“There’s nothing more important than spending quality time with close family and friends on the big day. The couple get to enjoy ample time with their guests and each other when getting married at The Milestone, where the atmosphere is cosy and perhaps a little less daunting,” continues Pike. “Set within the original chapel of our Victorian mansion house hotel, The Oratory is blessed with natural daylight pouring in through its Victorian leaded windows and beautifully finished with arches of gypsophila and bespoke floral arrangements. One of the smallest wedding venues in London, The Oratory is ideal for intimate occasions and can seat up to eight guests. Following the ceremony, the couple and their guests usually make the most of the stunning photo opportunities within The Milestone and at nearby Kensington Palace Gardens, followed by a glass of Champagne on ice. Later, return to The Oratory for a private wedding breakfast that’s been laid on with fine silverware and crystal wine glasses.”
Couples with big families and sizable friendship groups can be pressurised into posting out hundreds of invitations, with the guestlist spiralling out of control. The emphasis at a larger-scale event can shift towards pleasing certain parties or compromising to suit a broader spectrum of tastes. But this needn’t be the case. The micro wedding never bows to social obligations. With a smaller wedding party, the budget can be put towards meaningful personal details, such as magnificent flowers, delicious British cuisine or a favourite vintage of Champagne.
“The cost of weddings has increased exponentially in recent years. So, couples are scaling down their guestlists in favour of more bespoke events. Booking weekdays instead of weekends is another trend that’s on the up,” says Pike. “Many of our bridal couples are not from the UK and invite only very close family and friends, which is perhaps less costly than throwing a larger celebration in their home country. I believe rising prices have greatly contributed to the popularity of the micro wedding and fuelled the desire for non-traditional ceremonies in unique locations. Half of our weddings at The Milestone last year could be deemed micro weddings. These can be organised far quicker than larger celebrations—most often three to six months in advance or less. This is great if the couple are short on time and would like to book quickly.”
Selecting a remarkable venue
When settling on that all-important location, fewer guest numbers opens up many more options. A micro wedding can take place anywhere in the world. Whether seeking regal sophistication in Ireland or a chic ceremony within an elegant London residence, Red Carnation Hotels offers a plethora of intimate smaller wedding venues.
The 800-year-old Ashford Castle and its picture-perfect Irish estate guarantees a day to be treasured forever. Arrange your nuptials at The Lodge at Ashford Castle and the photos can be set against the glimmering Lough Corrib, neatly manicured lawns or dense forest. A storybook English village, Evershot is home to Summer Lodge where a team of skilled wedding planners, a sumptuous spa for pre-nuptial pampering and exquisite surrounds make a wedding here a true delight. “From start to finish, it’s a uniquely personal experience between the couple and ourselves. Our mission is to ensure complete happiness for the couple on the day and to fulfil their wishes perfectly. Having a small wedding at Summer Lodge is as personal an experience as you could wish for,” explain the Mackenzies. “Guests start the day with treatments in the spa or just relaxing by the pool or in the gardens before they get ready. Wonderfully intimate spaces like the drawing room or the rose pergola make for the most fantastic backdrop to the special day. The combined efforts of our amazing kitchen, restaurant, wine and bar teams guarantees that all aspects of the day are delightful and effortless. The opportunity for personal interactions between the wedding guests and our world class sommelier adds a depth to the experience that a large wedding just cannot replicate and creates more memorable moments for the guests and couple to enjoy. Classic style, intimate spaces, luxury and charm make Summer Lodge the perfect venue for a micro wedding.”
Alternatively, city types can tie the knot right in the heart of London at Red Carnation Hotels’ exclusive, stylish enclaves. The Egerton House Hotel’s Dining Room can cater for up to 16 guests, with immaculate service, thoughtfully tailored menus and personalised touches promising an unforgettable day. As an extra special invite, pets are encouraged to join in on the big day. “From a service point of view, a smaller event allows us as a hotel to pull out all the stops and go above and beyond in making the day extra special. We provide an elegant yet homely surroundings for the wedding couple, paying attention to detail and the smaller things that make all the difference,” says Andi Raziya, Deputy General Manager at The Egerton. “We often get enquiries from people who are having their civil ceremony in Chelsea or Marylebone Town Hall and celebrating with immediate family and close friends.”
For an outstanding feast, The Curry Room at the Rubens at the Place is another excellent possibility. The finest spices and ingredients, some of which have been imported directly from India, are infused into the venue’s aromatic dishes. For foodie couples, this presents an exceptional and original culinary adventure.
Increasingly, couples are getting creative with less conventional occasions. We asked Arjeta Arapi about the exciting celebrations that The Montague on the Gardens puts on throughout the year at its refined base in Bloomsbury. “The hotel coordinates different pop-ups in its lovely outside areas depending on what season it is. Those getting married can choose between a Christmas-themed backdrop, reindeers and all, or a beach wedding featuring real sand in the heart of London come summer. We have it all. The Montague is the perfect place for a small and intimate wedding. We have separate areas that can be set up for 10 people or comfortably expanded to include 100. Our generous team spirit, combined with the benefit of having long-standing, experienced staff members that have been arranging weddings for many years, means all our guests are made to feel special. The wedding couple need only to tell us what they have in mind, and they’ll have nothing to worry about until the big day. Absolutely everything is organised by our team.”
Make yours a fully customised micro wedding to remember at any one of Red Carnation Hotels’ exclusive venues.