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....
Nicole + Dusty | Boulder Colorado Micro Wedding Package | Planner, Photography, Florals, Cake, Officiant and more
Their story: Nicole and Dusty met through work at a health organization here in Denver. They became great friends, he helped here get out of several horrible Bumble dates, and she had always thought of him as just a friend. But then he quit his job and decided to make a move on Nicole. The rest is history! Nicole and Dusty decided to exchange vows in Boulder overlooking the Front Range - the place that they call home. Update Spring of 2021: our sweet couple welcomed their first child - congratulations!!!! You'll be wonderful parents.
Wedding details: Nicole and Dusty wanted a rustic style - rugged, natural and outdoorsy with a balance of soft elements with blush, grey, dusty rose and blue. They lodged in historic cabins at the base of Chautauqua Park where they had their intimate first look. Many of their pictures were before the ceremony up Flagstaff Mountain with views to the West of the Continental Divide. That way, after the ceremony they could do formal shots with #34 of their closest family and friends before heading down Flagstaff Mountain for dinner.
Photography: Kathryn Kim Photography
Florist: Pink Posey Designs | Baker: La Patisserie Francaise
Planner: Wendee Vezzetti
Their story: John is a project manager for a construction company in Jacksonville, and Shelby is an engineer. "We met at our previous jobs. We want a small destination wedding because our families are spread out across the country. We figured people will have to travel to come to the wedding no matter what, so we might as well have it somewhere amazing. We wanted something intimate where we can enjoy spending time with the people that can come to celebrate with us."
Wedding details: Before Shelby and John chose a site and destinations, they identified their priorities as an outdoor ceremony with some kind of uniqueness, and lodging were groups can stay together and have a central place to congregate. They ended up with an outdoor ceremony at Garden of the Gods in Manitou Springs and stayed at a nearby vacation home with killer views! Best of all.... can you believe that patio? Perfect for an outdoor chef! One thing to notice about their wedding flow: after their first look, they scheduled 1/2 hour to hang-out at the house and serve pre-ceremony appetizers and drinks - what a great way to make your guests feel welcome and set the stage for fun!
Their story: "Jason and I were setup by mutual friend. We were both older and had never married, but hoped to find that special person to build a family together. For us, it happened fast! After six months of dating, we found out I was pregnant. We now have a beautiful two-year-old. We love our little family: our motto - "three together!".
Wedding details: Jen and Jason contacted us three months prior to the wedding (yes, we can plan a wedding in as little as 5 days, or 5 months)! Breckenridge has always held a special place for them, having visited on family trips. Their priority was a simple, intimate outdoor setting with a scenic background. Family-focused and small: 6 adults, three kids.
Their story: “John and I actually met online. It was not ideal at first, but now looking back, it was easily the best decision that I ever made :) We both thought we would have a traditional wedding, but looked into possibly doing a destination wedding. I did not expect for it to take off as fast as it did. We chose Colorado, because we both are so in love with nature. We knew that the mountain view was right up our alley!"
Wedding details: Melissa and John took our base Intimate Wedding Package and the added several nice upgrades..... which, can we all agree their 3-year old daughter as part of the ceremony was the absolute CUTEST?!!! Whenever we have couples that want to incorporate their children into the wedding, we recommend they exchange vows with kids and give them a little token - piece of jewelry, nice keychain.... any other ideas? A couple of their other upgrades were chairs, floral ceremony arrangements, centerpieces at their dinner, and extending photography hours into the dancing and departures.
Photographer: Andrea Flanagan Photography
Their story: Family friends introduced Stacey and Monica over a tapas dinner in downtown Austin during fall of 2017. A friendship immediately sparked that evening! Monica is from Orange County, CA where her family still resides and Stacey is from Cambridge, England where his family still resides. "We wanted a small ceremony that our parents could attend as both sides would need to travel quite a ways to attend. We both love ski towns so when we found a company like Custom Weddings of Colorado who could take care of a small style wedding, we were very excited and impressed at the level of service they could provide us. Stacey and I look forward to our small wedding Vail!"
Wedding details: Monica and Stacey were a delight to work with. They have an adventurous spirit and that is what you need for a winter wedding in Vail. We started the day with getting ready photos and a first look..... with bubbly and their family! In Vail style, they boarded a shuttle and then walked through Lionshead Village to board the gondola for a ceremony at the top of the mountain. Yes, the weather at the top can be quite different from the base area - but, we had furs and umbrellas in hand. The snow actually made this experience more intimate. Post wedding, they celebrated at a local restaurant with warm spirits!
Photographer: Andrea Flanagan Photography | Florist: Pink Posey Design
Baker: La Patisserie Francaise | Planner: Wendee with Custom Weddings of Colorado
Their story: Alex and Olga met at a tiny coffee shop in Highlands for their first date. Olga let her passion for travel be known by inviting Alex to join her in Mexico City shortly thereafter. Since then, they have traveled the world and experienced many adventures together! At the end of the day however, they love coming back to Denver, which is why they decided to keep their small intimate wedding close to home.
Wedding details: Our favorite element of this wedding is obvious - the unicorn cake! At first I didn’t know how it would all fit and flow together, but as you can see from the images with grey, silvers and dusty sate greenery, it works beautifully! Our baker and florist made all their inspirational images come together. Though they only had nine guests, three of her best friends were bridesmaids. Their ceremony was held at a state park southwest of Denver, and they celebrated back at one of their favorite restaurants.
Wedding details: Kelsey and Ben’s closest family and friends traveled to Colorado to plan a small destination wedding at a Colorado vacation home. Eleven adults and a handful of kids stayed at a gorgeous vacation house in Breckenridge, Colorado. We provided a small wedding package for them that included some high-end upgrades, such as a lush succulent candle garland to compliment her maroon, navy, cream and grey hued wedding florals. A private chef cooked for the family at the house while we provided scrumptious wedding cake (top tier - chocolate mousse; bottom tier - strawberry mousse). The wedding day ended up being a bit snowy, but the warmth surrounding their celebration kept everyone toasty warm as they snuggled in fleece blankets while they exchanged vows.
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: Laura & Tyler met in 2011 when starting medical school at Florida State University in Tallahassee. After graduating in 2015, both moved to Houston to start residency training. Upon completing residency, they hope to move to Denver. "We both have always wanted to live in Colorado as our favorite thing to do together is go hiking. Tyler actually proposed to me at the top of the Angels Landing hike in Zion National Park last Sept. We have an adopted rescue dog named Bella who is our cherished fur baby!" We knew they were our type of client: Wendee's rescue dog is also named Bella!
Wedding details: sweet and structured in style, the purple bouquet adds natural colors found in the Rocky Mountain landscape - not to mention, we added material from her mom's wedding veil to the wrap. We added 2 bouquets and 2 boutonnieres for their siblings as their wedding truly focused on family. Notice the sweet notes and gifts the bride gave to all the women - so thoughtful! We started the wedding service at their vacation home in Estes Park - this place was amazing and you could have a wedding there! But, we traveled to the amazing Sprague Lake (maximum #15 guests - perfect for the micro wedding!). After their ceremony, we returned to the vacation home to a private chef who had cooked an amazing dinner. Their cake flavors: raspberry mousse on the top tier and chocolate mousse on the bottom.
Their story: "We have known each other since middle school, but started our relationship over the past several years. We want a small wedding because we've both been married before and don't want a typical wedding with all the hoopla that goes along with a big wedding. We think Colorado is a beautiful place to get married!"
Wedding details: it was very important for our couple to include their combined three kids in the wedding. So, they were involved in all the "first look" activities walking the bride down the aisle, and a special ceremony in which they made commitments together as a family. The bride wore a pale pink dress and wanted florals of pale pinks and ivories with accents of deeper pinks, possibly some plums and greens - we think it turned out romantically sweet!
Their story: "After meeting online, our first date was at a park to introduce our three dogs. The rest is history! We love the Colorado lifestyle and all the outdoor recreation it affords and feel very fortunate to now call this beautiful state home." From day one, Ashley and Michael were on the same page about wanting an intimate mountaintop ceremony with those closest to them in attendance. We are happy to have found this gorgeous couple to help pull it all together for them!
Wedding details: they rented at a large vacation home near Keystone, Colorado, overlooking Lake Dillon and hired a private chef to cook a celebration dinner for their small party of 12 guests. Her bouquet details: a rustic, voluptuous, garden style bouquet in pink, coral, peach, cream hues with accents of blue created with a mix of locally grown garden roses and other seasonal blooms and mixed foliage. Stems finished in rustic “burlap & lace” style.
Their story: "We met at a Thomas Rhett concert in Lincoln, Nebraska while in college at UNL. Kris went up and asked me to dance and the rest was history. We love our cheesy love story! We decided on a small mountain wedding because we both love the outdoors, being in the mountains and enjoy spending time with close family and friends - they get to know each other and spend time together in a more intimate setting. We plan on having an at-home reception in Nebraska two weeks after our ceremony where we will celebrate with 300 of our family members and friends!"
Wedding details: they stayed at a large condo in Keystone, Colorado and decided to have drop-off catering at the condo. This is a fun option for an intimate post-wedding celebration, especially since you can BYO wine! Michelle's color palate of whites with pops of wine, deep pink and lighter pinks, blush, greenery and pops of coral looks amazing with a summer backdrop. With our intimate wedding package, your florals and cake design/flavors are customized to your own unique style.
Their story: "We met through mutual friends, and actually walked down the aisle together at our friends' wedding! Later that summer, we started dating. We both love the outdoors and wanted a small outdoor wedding in a beautiful setting. Sprague Lake fit the bill and then some."
Wedding details: Recreate this summer look with a voluptuous garden style bouquet with pinks, ivories, pale yellow and peach, flowers created with locally grown garden roses and other seasonal blooms with accents of a couple succulents and mixed foliage. The cake: ribbon buttercream texture with artfully matched cake stand.
Their story: "We met on a blind date via mutual work friends. We have quite frankly a true love story. We both were married before and both in a place in life that we were comfortable with just ourselves. One blind date changed our future. We are each other's equal and enjoy how we each compliment our daily lives. We chose a small intimate wedding because we want to take in the moment that we become a spouse to each other rather than the "big hoopla" of getting married."
Wedding details: Planning a "rogue style" microwedding at the Maroon Bells takes special consideration. Our couple rented a nearby vacation home and drove in to the scenic area after the gates open at 5:00 pm (otherwise, visitors have to take a shuttle). They walked to a spot they liked, and their family-only guests (10 in total) stood around them as they exchanged vows. We celebrated after the wedding with photos. A private chef greeted them back at the vacation house where they celebrated with cheers and cake: raspberry mousse for the top tier, and chocolate buttercream for the bottom tier.
Their story: "I’ve already done the big, traditional wedding and wanted nothing to do with anything that even remotely resembles my first wedding. Hence our desire for an intimate, immediate-family-only kind of wedding. We wanted to do a “destination” wedding in the Colorado mountains because this is the state where we met and fell in love. Down the road, we will be throwing a party (instead of a reception) in Wisconsin and in California to invite everyone we left out." Luckily and happily, Fred's yellow lab also welcomed Ashley into the family. We are such lovers too for our fur-babies!
Wedding details: After consulting with Ashely and Fred, they chose to get married on the shores of Grand Lake - the western entrance to Rocky Mountain National Park. Ashley's style was blues and purples (multiple shades) together, with accents of pinks and white in a wildflower style with a rustic wrap. We did one of the most unique cakes for her: added purple edging to a standard buttercream ruffle design.
Their story: "We met in February of 2013 online - the funny thing is that we could have met in person because Josh was working with the General Contractor working on the remodel of my office at the time - haha! We joke that no matter what, we were supposed to meet! We decided on a small mountain wedding because we wanted something intimate in a pretty setting where we could involve our kids and parents and get away from the City. We love the outdoors and spending time in the mountains, so this seemed right."
Wedding details: An intimate and pretty wedding that incorporated their kids (standing up with them during the ceremony + a unity sand ceremony) is exactly what they got. With summertime weddings, fun florals were abound: a summer mix of pinks and purples with accents of ivory, dots of orange & yellow, pretty greens is what Ali requested.
Their story: "We have known each other since elementary school, but we have been together since 10th grade (since we were 15, almost 12 years!). We are both CO natives, and have always wanted a small wedding, especially since we are paying for everything ourselves. We thought a small, mountain wedding would be perfect! It is very important that we have our very closest family and friends there to celebrate with us."
Wedding details: We love hearing stories of couples who have dated a long time and have decided to tie the knot! One of the things that makes this package so great is that you get to have a wedding, without the huge expense of a traditional large event (TheKnot.com reports the average cost is $33,931!). Emily wanted white florals with hints of blush and pink, greenery and succulents. The sweet part: her cake flavors were Couronne (chocolate cake, flavored with coffee liquor, one layer of mocha buttercream, one layer of chocolate buttercream), and Peach Melba (white cake, Grand Marnier flavor, sliced peaches and whipped cream on one layer, raspberry preserve on another layer
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!
Their story: "We met through friends almost 20 years ago, and became fast friends ourselves. After waiting so long to get married, we aren’t sure how to best go about it, but we know we feel most comfortable when we are with our family and when we are close to nature. We continue to visit places in Colorado, discovering new places to add to our cherished memories."
Wedding details: Melanie was born and raised in Colorado, and many of her family still live here. "By fate or luck, all our family is able to come together this June." And, we love their story: after having dated so long, deciding to get married in a place they love. We enjoy capturing tiny details for our couples and found one in the note Melanie wrote to Doug: "We deserve this!" It was a total honor creating a micro-wedding for them in Rocky Mountain National Park. They lodged at the iconic Stanley Hotel. Post-wedding, they celebrated at a local restaurant in Estes Park that served cake with homemade ice cream! Embellishments to there package were wrist corsages for the women.
A surprise engagement AND wedding!
Their story: This was one of the most unique weddings we have planned - a surprise engagement followed the next day by a surprise wedding. What?! Yes - the groom and both his/her families were all conspiring a destination surprise wedding trip to Colorado, but the bride did not know a thing about it!
Allison and Zach met through mutual friends in college at South Dakota State University. They both love the outdoors, and over the years have bonded over many hours of hunting, camping, hiking, and fishing. They wanted to get married in Colorado because they wanted an unforgettable outdoor ceremony to start to their adventure as husband and wife. They chose an intimate wedding because, "We believe this day is about celebrating each other and the love we have for one another." They didn't want anything fancy - just us and some of their closest family. We custom designed a sweet June wedding package for them that included romantic florals: lush garden style with large blush & white flowers created with peonies, ranunculus, dusty miller and soft gray green eucalyptus foliage.
About the Couple: Brittany and Greg met six years ago in Fort Collins, having been introduced by mutual friends. "We hit it off right away, and after just a few dates...we knew we had something special." They decided to do a small wedding because it was always their vision to have a wedding with just our closest family members. "We wanted our special day to be exactly that...special! And by doing a small wedding, it allows us to really enjoy the moment with our closest loved ones, without all the additional stress that larger weddings can potentially bring with them."
Wedding details: Brittany and Greg were planning a micro-wedding of less than 12 guests. One of our favorite spots for this is in Rocky Mountain National Park. They rented a vacation home near Allenspark, Colorado where they returned after their wedding for scrumptious dinner prepared by a private chef. Because they enjoy spending time in Hawaii, their style, aqua color and inspiration is based on the sea, yet with a Colorado vibe. We designed a wild-looking bouquet with a couple of her favorites: succulents and lilies.
By Wendee Vezzetti
Mother, student, planner, gardener, mountain biker, entrepreneur, librarian, hiker, snowboarder, reader, dork, chocoholic, trail runner and creative.