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....
Kevin and Jennifer met online and were instantly attracted during their first date of Mexican food and go-carting. After meeting, Kevin called his brother and told him "I think I just fell in love with a redhead."
At first, Kevin planned to propose on top of a mountain in Zion National Park but once he got the ring, he was too excited to wait. After a workout, he told her he had a present for her and couldn't wait to give it to her, so eagerly in their living room, he proposed and just as eagerly, Jennifer said “yes!”. He later ended up "re-proposing" on the top of the mountain a couple of weeks later.
The Planning Process
Jennifer and Kevin knew they wanted a small wedding because they wanted to celebrate their love intimately with family and close friends. Their goal was to keep the focus on them as a couple and the joining of two people into one, rather than a large event.
Before finding Custom Weddings of Colorado, Jennifer and Kevin struggled to find microwedding packages that weren't cookie cutter and corporate. After finding our team, they were able to sit back and relax as Wendee’s organizational skills and experience enabled the couple’s vision to come true.
Planning during the COVID-19 pandemic was the only hiccup in the planning process as things were constantly changing as to what was allowed. Our team kept in constant contact to keep the couple’s mind at ease and knowing it would all work out.
Wedding Day from the Bride’s Point of View
“The day started off wonderfully with hair and makeup in our resort suite. I got ready in one area of the suite while Kevin got ready in another. We were slightly concerned about the weather since rain was in the forecast, but it seemed to hold off. Our onsite coordinator arrived along with the photographer and we started taking pictures while I was getting ready.
Once I was ready, Kevin and I were ready for our first look. I was so happy I decided to do that as it gave us a very special moment to ourselves before anyone else saw us.
After that, we headed up to and overlook and began the ceremony. About 10 minutes into the ceremony, there was a VERY large gust of wind and it felt like the sky was going to fall at any minute with rain. But low and behold, it didn't (whew!). We had the most beautiful ceremony (complete with a bald eagle flying in the background) and we continued to take the most beautiful pictures. We then arrived at the Breckenridge Golfcourse and had the best ceremony with the best food and drink I could ask for. Our guests had so much fun as we pretty much had the place to ourselves.
All I can say is WOW! The cake was phenomenal, the flowers were breathtakingly beautiful, the photographer was super sweet, and our officiant was a very close family member, so that was an honor for us. We had an incredible team of people on our special day!
I am so grateful for how wonderful everything turned out and couldn't have done it without Wendee and her team!”
When asked what they would do differently, the couple said, “Nothing. Absolutely nothing, honestly. Our day was perfect!”
Jennifer and Kevin stress that during the big day, don’t sweat the little things. Focus on the reason for the wedding, your love and your marriage, and let Wendee’s and her team take care of the rest.
The secret to a successful marriage? To be patient, to think before you speak, and to put yourself in your spouses’ shoes. Include little things to show your love in your day to day life and have fun with your best friend. Always, always, tell your spouse how much you love them.
Their story: “Justin and I met our sophomore year in high school and began dating end of our junior year. We have been together for 12 years and have a 10 year old daughter and two German Shepherds. We love to go hiking, fishing and spending time together. We choose intimate Colorado wedding because it’s always been a dream to visit and we always wanted small, personal, memorable ceremony.”
Wedding details: Many times we work with couples who have never been to Colorado and their first time is to get married! We love showing off our wonderful state as there are so many activities any time of year. Samantha and Justin already had planned a trip to Central City when they contacted to to plan their Colorado Elopement Package. We met them at their resort and traveled with them to a nearby State Park where we had an elopement ceremony, just the two of them. Post ceremony, we celebrated with bubbly and some cake!
Thank you Kathryn Kim Photography - one of our amazing vendors in our network!
Their story: Anthony and Jen traveled from the Midwest to Colorado to get re-married in a private elopement ceremony. Yes, that's right. Re-married.... to each other. Having divorced years prior, their friendship continued. This time around, they wanted to keep things simple, and all about the two of them. They arrived, got married, and stayed in Colorado for several days to travel around for their second honeymoon.
Wedding details: We kept things simple for them with a mountain elopement package which is basically a scaled-back version of our intimate wedding package. We included elements that make it feel more like a wedding, and less of a courthouse license signing: a bouquet & boutonniere, a small tiny cake, the officiant, photography and even some music from our Bluetooth speaker for the ceremony. Liking pale colors but needing some contrast for the fall, we mixed some peaches, purples and blues with her white & cream florals.
NOTES: the couple stayed at a high-end condo in Breckenridge and decided to to cake post ceremony at their condo. They went out to dinner later that evening in Breckenridge.
Their story: it was the second time around for bride and groom + they like camping and hiking + their first trip together was Estes Park. What does that equal? A small tiny wedding (okay, really an elopement with two friends) in Rocky Mountain National Park on a gorgeous lake!
Wedding details: their summer style fit beautifully into a lakeside mountain wedding with a rustic bohemian garden style bouquet in bright colors to include pink, coral, yellow & blue with accents of white created with a mix of locally grown wildflowers and other seasonal blooms. They stayed at a cabin near Estes Park where we started the event by delivering their flowers and cake. After some pre-wedding cheers, we traveled to the ceremony site to exchange vows (and have more cheers - we see a theme here! Post-wedding they celebrated with dinner at Twin Owls Steakhouse.
Their story: "We met in Virginia and we are both in the Navy. We decided to elope to Colorado for the scenery and we love the outdoors. We’ve never been to Colorado, and wanted to elope somewhere memorable and have a great time." Just the two of them traveled to Colorado for a pure elopement (they didn't announce it to their families until after their wedding!).
Wedding details: We get many clients that have never been to Colorado - we love sharing our beautiful state! After consulting with the bride, we found that Summit County would be a perfect destination for them with hiking, biking, restaurants, and shopping, and more! Victoria's style is shabby-chic with whites, pinks, deep blue accents and greenery. We added-on a floral hair comb to match her bohemian-style ivory-champagne spaghetti strap dress. They choose cake flavors after our own heart's desire: Chocolate ganache (chocolate cake, rum flavor, chocolate mousse encased in ganache) and Peach Melba (white cake, Grand Marnier flavor, sliced peaches and whipped cream on one layer, raspberry preserve on another layer) - ooo-la-la!
By Wendee Vezzetti
Mother, student, planner, gardener, mountain biker, entrepreneur, librarian, hiker, snowboarder, reader, dork, chocoholic, trail runner and creative.