Make It Micro

Cutting the guest list doesn’t mean cutting corners.

The Athenaeum, Alexandria

For many couples, the days of inviting third cousins, mom’s book club, and everyone from the office are long gone. According to The Knot 2019 Real Weddings Study, wedding sizes have been trending down for a decade as couples cut the guest list so they don’t have to cut corners in other ways. Then the coronavirus pandemic came along and limited the number of guests who could gather at an event, cementing the micro-wedding (50 or fewer guests) in the pantheon of nuptial options. 

Small can mean simple, especially for couples who have scaled down or rescheduled a 2020 event. But many are limiting their lists from the beginning and then treating their guests to top-shelf liquor, elaborate plated gourmet meals, and entertainment like fireworks and performers. The event is both more lavish and more intimate as the couples spend meaningful time with their immediate family and closest friends. 

One unexpected challenge in planning a micro-wedding is finding a suitable venue. Sure, a big place can section off their ballroom, but you want something more special. Fortunately, Virginia is well stocked with options. Here are just a few to consider.

The Common House, Charlottesville & Richmond

  • Alexandria: Old Town Alexandria is known for its charm and historic buildings, and a wedding at The Athenaeum art gallery encompasses both. This self-proclaimed “jewel box” space can seat 60 people indoors or 50 outside.
  • Charlottesville: In the heart of the Downtown Mall area lies the Common House, which has three separate, intimate spaces to accommodate 25–40 guests. (Common House also recently opened a Richmond location.)

Glen Garden Weddings, Fredericksburg. Photo by Bonnie Smith.

  • Fredericksburg: Gardens are made for weddings, which is precisely why Glen Garden Weddings is such a gorgeous respite. With outdoor spaces that hold a maximum of 50 people, it also offers complete planning packages.
  • Harrisonburg: For couples who enjoy the outdoors, getting married surrounded by flowers at White Oak Lavender Farm is a dream. Separate areas for the wedding and reception each cap off at 50 guests.
  • Lynchburg: Atelier Studio & Gathering Space is a photo studio that welcomes events of up to 50 people. Floor to ceiling windows and open space allows for attractive options for styling your event.

Cyrus Ridge Farm, Waynesboro

  • Richmond: The Quirk Hotel is located in the heart of downtown and has rooftop, courtyard, and mezzanine spaces that hold up to 60 seated guests. The bright and airy feel of the areas highlights the hotel’s signature pink accents. (A location also opened last year in Charlottesville.)
  • Roanoke: Whether you choose the courtyard, garden, or front steps, Bent Oaks Manor is a gorgeous estate for saying, “I do.” The home can host 40 attendees for a plated dinner, although their outdoor space can hold more.
  • Suffolk: Located within walking distance of the historic downtown, The Truitt House is a stunning estate that can seat up to 25 comfortably indoors and up to 50 outside. One of the perks of a micro-wedding here is that guests can stay in the house itself.
  • Waynesboro: Cyrus Ridge Farm specializes in micro-weddings. The 50-acre property allows for guest counts of 25–50, although it’s perfect for two if you decide to elope.
  • Yorktown: For a truly unique experience, treat your loved ones to a private sailing charter aboard a Yorktown Sailing Charters vessel. Up to 50 people can enjoy seeing your nuptials on the water.

This article originally appeared in the February 2021 issue.

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