You've come to the decision to ditch the stress and overwhelm of planning a big "typical" wedding and are diving into planning a small micro-wedding. Or maybe that's what you've always been planning because honestly, you really don't want to spend the money on an elaborate event to entertain others and would rather just center the marriage around the two of you and your closest family and friends. So, you start to search for small unique wedding venue and quickly find that the search results lead you right back to those typical banquet-hall type of wedding venues built for the big wedding.
If you've read my story, I get it! In 2007, after 10 years in the wedding industry, I was planning my own small 25-person wedding and found that there weren't advertised venues. I had to do my own digging and research which was NOT easy. But, it lead me to an amazing adventure where in 2011, I decided to *only* plan small weddings of 35 guest or fewer, helping those that have similar challenges. Think: elopement, just with a few guests witnessing. Small weddings are different, and so are the venues. Here are 10 types of micro-wedding venues that you won't often see in glossy magazines or on the first .... or even third page of web search results.
1. (my favorite) Out in Nature
This type of wedding venue is as unique as they come! Its not an official site - simply anywhere out in nature that holds either a special meaning the two of you, or boasts incredible views. Pro tip: AllTrails.com - great for hikers, but even better for finding unique places, reviews of the surrounding trails, and directions. Best of all, many trailheads *don't* require a big hike, so that means Mom & Dad can be there!
© Photos by Andrea Flanagan
Think of all the great places vacationers like to tour in the destination you'd like to marry. Often, there will be observation decks associated with parks, observatories, scenic sites, and points of interest. Pro Tip: go to Google Maps for the region in which you'd like to say your "I-Do's" and simple search "deck".
3. Adventure Elopement
The hiking elopement is super popular right now. And there are many planners and photographers that know of incredibly beautiful scenic backdrops. There are a couple considerations though: yes, you'll need to hike, .... and, yes, your guests would need to as well. So, this by default means your wedding may be super super tiny - even just the two of you. But, if that is your vibe, strap up the boots, pin up the hair (and dress), and hike on!
4. The Vacation House
Okay, this is my other number 1 favorite. There are literally millions of vacation home options across the United States. Of course I'm biased, Colorado hosts some of the most stunning! If you want ultimate luxury complete with hiring a private chef, you'll never regret memories made at the vacation house. There are things to consider with this option, so please checkout the article I wrote on how to host a vacation house intimate small wedding.
© Photo by Jeanine Thurston
True, many mansions are commonly advertised to host your typical large wedding. But, there are many other smaller, unique mansions managed by historical societies that will be open to hosting small intimate events. Check out your local organizations. Many of them will have nice grounds and gardens too!
And, that brought me to of course.... your local botanical gardens. Again, think small. For example, in Denver the Denver Botanical Gardens is a premier spot for hosting weddings, and the price tag comes with it. But, think more local to find those sweet, accommodating and affordable small wedding gardens. Here's a give-away and example/alternative: Betty Ford Alpine Gardens in Vail, or the Benson Sculpture Garden in Loveland, CO
7. City or County Parks
Our city parks are totally underrated. They are AMAZING places to host events. And, many of them will have gazebos and shelters that are reservable for smaller groups. Another give-away: Denver City Parks has many unique properties - I'm wanting to do a wedding as Inspiration Point (is there anyone game for that? - please email me!)
Okay, city parks aren't the only sweet spot. Our State and National Parks have designated group spots. Many of them have built-in amphitheaters (for example Staunton State Park's Marmot Burrow Amphitheater and Maroon Bells Amphitheater). Please note: you do have to obtain permits in State and National Parks, and National Forrest Land. So please, be kind users of our natural resources.
9. Historical Properties
These are a GEM! Seriously. Historical properties can range from mines (Lomax Mine in Breckenridge) to mansions (Fleming Mansion in Denver), to former homes of famous people, to even chapels (America Mother's Chapel in Colorado Springs).
10. The Outrageous (best intentions here)
As cool as saying you "I do's" while jumping out of an airplane, it simply isn't something I've planned (but, I do have referrals to send if that's your gig). My style of outrageous (rather, my normal) is to say your vows on the ski slope, or on a snowcat/snowmobile ride. What do you love to do together? Is it running marathons?
BONUSES: the Bed & Breakfast Elopement, or the dude ranch, or the hot springs
I can't forget these options. Oh, there are so many! Let me know if you have any fun ideas for different for different types of places to exchange vows. I'd love to hear your stories, experiences and connect with you. And, of course if you are wanting to host your small intimate wedding or elopement in Colorado, please....
By Wendee Vezzetti
Mother, student, planner, gardener, mountain biker, entrepreneur, librarian, hiker, snowboarder, reader, dork, chocoholic, trail runner and creative.