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One way to eliminate wedding-induced stress? Cut the guest list in half. Then cut it in half again. More and more couples are searching for ideas for micro celebrations, according to a recent trend report from Pinterest, and we totally get why. The rise of intimate ceremonies (think: 20 attendees or less) not only impacts the cost (the lower your head count, the less you spend on food and the venue) but allows couples to simply focus on each other—the point of the event in the first place!—and get creative in the process. 

There aren’t many guidelines for a micro wedding other than keeping the guest list to immediate family and maybe a few really good friends. It really comes down to a sense of intimacy. To sum it up: When Hilary Duff and her now husband, Matthew Koma, said “I do” at their Los Angeles home in December, they asked their tightknit crowd to gather around them in a U-shaped formation that was designed to “feel like a hug.” We asked three people who decided to pare down their seating charts how they made the most of their day. 

Hunt Down an Event Planner That Does It All 

A major perk of having an intimate celebration is that it’s more feasible to make it a destination event—or, really, a family vacation. Colleen O’Neil and her husband Brian hosted 14 relatives in Napa, California, with the help of Run Away With Me, an all-inclusive service that specializes in small weddings and elopements in the Sonoma area. All they had to do was select what kind of aesthetic they wanted and the company took care of everything, from the venue to the menu. “It made it incredibly easy traveling from New York to know everything was all set when I arrived,” says O’Neil. The trip out West also helped break up the long flight to New Zealand (followed by Bora-Bora) for their honeymoon. “I would do it all the same again,” she says. 

Put Your Phone Away  

Domino studio manager Brooks Corrigan and husband Jeremy Jankowski are usually the first ones to capture a ’grammable moment, but on their big day at City Hall, the pair decided to stay off all social media. “We love to be creative with Instagram and our clothing choices, but it was important to us to start our journey living in the moment,” says Corrigan. From getting ready with their parents at their home in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, to dinner at the River Cafe in Dumbo to their dream staycation at the Plaza Hotel, their notifications were switched off. Though that won’t necessarily be the story at their splashier celebration in Napa in September, which will entail a string quartet, a walk down the aisle, and dancing through the night. The best of both worlds does exist. 

Wear Whatever You Want

Shalayne Pulia always assumed she’d have a big, glamorous wedding with a white dress, an old-school getaway car—the works. “But when the time came, my husband and I thought, We are young, we are in love, and we want to start our lives together,” she says. A small ceremony in Long Beach, New York—on a deck at sunset—was the least stressful way to make that happen.

One of their best friends officiated the ceremony (“He killed it,” says Pulia), and the bride had two outfit changes. She said “I do” in a long floral gown (borrowed from a friend), then donned a vintage flapper dress she bought at a thrift store in Brooklyn for the party. The cake cost more than anything else, including her wardrobe. “When our guests got hungry, I made pasta, still in my party dress,” she says. That’s amore!

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