Couples held up by COVID-19 turn to micro weddings

National

DEXTER, Michigan (AP) — Couples whose nuptials were put on hold by COVID-19 are turning to a fresh trend in the bridal industry: micro weddings.

Rather than wait, they’re getting hitched alone or with a few local loved ones looking on.

Ashley Schaar and Austin Butterfield were to wed on the campus of Michigan’s Saginaw Valley State University, not far from their Bay City home, but had to scrap their plans.

Instead, the couple opted to tie the knot in a “Tiny Wedding” at an Ann Arbor-area farm.

“It was perfect, honestly. Even though we were planning a really big wedding, this turned out to be absolutely everything that I wanted and more. So, I couldn’t be happier,” said Schaar, a 27-year-old business process specialist in pricing with Dow Chemical.

Before the pandemic so dramatically changed lives, 20,000 to 30,000 weddings happened every weekend in the U.S., with more than 550,000 originally planned for April, May and June this year. That’s according to data from the wedding planning site TheKnot.com.

The site says that worldwide, 93% of couples whose weddings are impacted by the virus are rescheduling, with only 7% canceling altogether. And the average cost of weddings pre-pandemic was teetering at just under $34,000, and the average guest count was at 131.

The Tiny Wedding package offered by Zingerman’s Cornman Farms costs $2,000.

“There were family members that definitely wanted to be here and didn’t understand when we say, ‘Tiny Wedding,’ we mean a tiny wedding,” Schaar said. “But I think once they see some of the pictures and they see what venue we had, they’ll understand and they’ll be happy for us.”

The Tiny Wedding experience lasts an hour-and-a-half. Couples get a venue rental, flowers, a photo shoot, a ceremony, an officiant, a wedding cake and champagne. Couples are permitted to invite no more than eight guests. Schaar and Butterfield had five.

Schaar and Butterfield, a 28-year-old secondary education student with a focus in theater and communications, would like to host a renewal ceremony in about a year, at a time when they hope to be able to invite more friends and family.

“I guess just to any other bride that’s had their 2020 wedding canceled: I know it’s hard. I know it’s heart-breaking,” Schaar said. “But try and be creative. There are so many options for you. You can have everything you dreamed of in 2020. I promise.”  

For most people, the virus causes mild or moderate symptoms. But it can cause severe symptoms in and be fatal for others, especially older adults and people with existing health problems.

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