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How to Plan a Micro Wedding (Part One: Catering)

Micro weddings are the new big day. Chicago-area caterer Big Delicious Planet weighs in with advice for planning a pint-sized feast you’re guests will love.

By Kelly Aiglon

Big doesn’t always mean best when it comes to weddings. Sometimes, intimacy is key, especially during a pandemic when small gatherings are the only way to go.

But the idea of “micro weddings” was gaining popularly far before COVID-19 came along. Small gatherings involving only your nearest and dearest are a way for couples to focus on the moment, instead of the sheer magnitude of it.

Couples choose micro weddings to cut out the complexity of planning or to take a more tailored, thoughtful approach to their celebration. Other people see micro weddings as symbolic and a “bridge” to the real celebration. “We’re receiving inquiries from couples who want to keep their original wedding date by having a small wedding of 10 now, and then a vow renewal and the reception next year,” says Heidi Coudal, owner of Big Delicious Planet, a Chicago-area catering company.

Whether you have a group of 5 or 25, catering is key. Certain things will be dictated by what local and state governments allow, from size limitations to health and cleanliness practices. Yet even with new rules, the dining experience can still be impactful and unforgettable. Here are a few things to think about when planning food and drinks for a small but stylish fête.

The Welcome

The first thing your guests may want to have? A drink in hand. Having a smaller guest list may allow the bartender to spend more time crafting creative cocktails, rather than simply pouring sparkling wine. As a couple, think about your favorite drink ingredients and ask your caterer to create a custom wedding cocktail for you. And when it comes to serving, keep things simple. “We’ve set up drinks on a bar as guests arrive, so they can take what they like, and we’ve had a bartender standing six feet back,” says Coudal.

The Menu

Seasonality is key for weddings, large or small. Ask your caterer what local farms they work with and what’s in peak season. The advantage is you may have access to smaller-batch ingredients and unique flavor profiles. Yet keep in mind: Just because your head count is lower, doesn’t mean the price per person will be. Caterers are going to invest a lot of time and energy into your experience (likely even more during a health crisis) and the bespoke nature of everything will come with a price tag.

The Service Table service currently reigns over buffets. Not only because of the current health and safety standards, but also for the personalized feel. “Our preferred style of service now is displayed individual appetizers with a plated meal,” says Coudal. “For 10 people, we are leaving it up to the couple to decide what style of service they feel comfortable with. If they’re all family, they may be fine sharing serving utensils.”

The Element of Surprise Printed menus are fast becoming a thing of the past — to save paper, primarily. An eco-friendly alternative is seed paper, a type of handmade paper that has plant seeds in it which germinate when planted. It works triple-time as beautiful decoration, functional menu and wedding favor to be remembered in your garden long after the event has passed.

As you think about your intimate wedding day, above all, remember this: Your wedding vendors, from the location space to the caterer to the florist, are your partners and want your day to be special, no matter its size. You’ll pull off an amazing event with a little patience, love and understanding — coincidentally, the very same things any marriage requires.

Happy wedding — and bon appétit!

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