Something old, something new
Are micro weddings here to stay?
I’ve been working in the wedding industry for most of my life. My family business is a floral shop that prides itself on making couples’ dream flowers come true, and we’ve been doing it for sixty-nine years. Personally, I’ve been assisting on wedding installation since my early teen years when I had nothing to do on weekends and I was tall and competent enough to be helpful in this sort of situation. Never leave your teen at home when she can be dutifully pinning boutonnieres and placing centerpieces free of charge. Now, nearing my thirties, I work as a web designer and media manager for my family business but am still part of our wedding team when we need extra hands.
One of the last things I did before the seriousness of COVID-19 hit hard in New York State was meet with the micro wedding all-inclusive production team at Curated Love. Full transparency: I was pretty pessimistic about the micro wedding trend. I had seen wedding trends come and go, seen elopements come in and out of fashion, and I couldn’t visualize where a pop-up micro wedding would fit into the wedding world. If you wanted a small intimate gathering, you would have an elopement, and if you wanted your friends and family there, you would just bite the bullet and have a full-size wedding. Those were the rules; I didn’t make them.
Looking back on this in a coronavirus-saturated world, I realized that I was totally missing the point. Perhaps we were all missing the point of marriage pre-COVID. Now, thinking about the big theatrical style of wedding with more than 150 people would make most of us cringe in our newfound germophobic boots. The image of a packed dance floor and naked hands rummaging through a candy buffet elicits the same response as when you’re watching a pre-2020 movie and you find yourself uncomfortable with the actors’ unmasked proximity to each other. Not only have we been deterred from big gaudy weddings because of our new cleaning habits, but we have also found that under the fuss of planning a wedding there is a commitment worth celebrating with your closest friends and family without all the fuss. After scheduling, cancelling, and rearranging vendors all year, most betrothed couples have had enough with the planning and are ready to start their lives together.
The appeal of a completely curated micro wedding is looking like a dream come true to future newlyweds everywhere. “It’s a great opportunity for couples to have their visions brought to life without fussing over the details too much,” says Robin Copey, head wedding designer at Rockcastle Florist. “Couples have shifted their focus from trying to manage every detail to ‘going with the flow.’” After 2020 becoming a wash for big weddings, and the threat of a second wave of coronavirus cases spiking in the cold months, the idea of taking what remains of your dream wedding and dropping them in the hands of someone who can perfectly plan and execute a small-sized ceremony and reception seems like a miracle. Curated Love is not only planning beautiful small weddings with the luxuries of a bespoke ceremony, but they’re doing three of them in one day.
“There’s a lot of stress, spending, and pressure with traditional wedding planning,” says Casey Stevens of the management team. “Curated micro weddings alleviate much of the demand of a traditional wedding, so couples can focus on enjoying their engagement. Rochester’s average wedding spending is in line with the national average, $26,000 (according to 585wedding.com). As couples can have an all-inclusive, curated micro wedding for a fifth of this price, we think this will appeal to local couples, particularly those who are budget conscious.”
For Lea Countryman, the stress of planning a wedding during these difficult times is personal.
“After getting engaged, I felt like the wedding experience I was searching for wasn’t available close to home. We wanted to share this option with other couples who may be looking for something unique and affordable. Rochester has countless talented vendors and beautiful venues. Many of these cater to larger-scale weddings, with higher guest counts. It means a lot to us to be able to provide a unique perspective on weddings in our hometown.”
The Curated Love team creates more than just a small party to tie the knot, they also create visually stunning memories to show off for a lifetime. Their most recent wedding package, sold as a modern metal- and stone-styled shoot accented with marble and the stunning interiors of Kin Event Space, was a complete success with all three time slots booked by brides and grooms ready to tie the knot. Fitting three ceremonies and receptions into one day in one space sounds like a nightmare, but the appeal of a ninety-minute, fully styled wedding has proved to be a great business decision.
To say that the market for micro weddings has exploded is an understatement. “The amount of administrative changes to dates and orders has been unprecedented in 2020. We hope 2021 will be a better year for gatherings. We are currently almost completely booked for 2021 due to so many 2020 weddings shifting dates,” says Wendy Rockcastle, co-owner of Rockcastle Florist. Those committed to their big celebrations have taken up all of the dates in 2021, and now those couples who survived quarantine without killing each other are more ready for marriage than ever. More bespoke elopement and coronavirus-acceptable micro wedding companies are popping up in Rochester, hoping to make engaged folks’ stress-free dreams come true. I do have to wonder if the trend of intimate weddings with little to no customization is built to last the test of time. A year ago if someone asked me if I thought that styled mini weddings with little to no personalization would be profitable, I would have said no. Think about it: how many weddings have you been to with cocktails named after the couple’s pets and tiny statues made to look exactly like the couple to adorn the cake? Traditional weddings are rife with intimate glances into the personal lives of couples. Will perfectly packaged, prearranged weddings fit into the new landscape of a post-COVID Rochester?
The team behind Curated Love assures us that they’re not just a trend. “Curated micro weddings are here to stay! While they’re not for everyone, the ability to share an intimate, genuine experience with your nearest and dearest is something that will resonate with couples in the current climate and in the future.”
Despite being skeptical about micro weddings, I do have to admit that I think that they are a much-needed respite from the terror that a big wedding can be. Even an event under 100 guests can very easily become a swirling drain in your life, pulling in your time, money, and energy. Something that I also hadn’t considered is that not everyone has the creative mind to plan a beautiful wedding, but most people still want to have one. My engaged best friend is the intellectual yin to my innovative yang, and I often have found myself as the artistic translator for her while she plans her wedding. She doesn’t know how to match the table linens to the font style on the save-the-dates … she just knows she wants it to look nice. Curated weddings open the door for those who want to remember their special day forever and not waste their precious energy on planning, especially during an already taxing time. Plus, Rochester has so many unbelievably talented vendors and creatives; professionally planned little weddings allow them to show off the best of their work without working around the parameters of those who don’t share their vision. It appears that curated weddings are here to stay in Rochester, as long as the couples are there to fill them up with the love that makes a wedding magical.