Imagine your wedding taking place in just an hour and a half—prep time included. After a 15 minute ceremony, you, your beloved, and two guests each get to enjoy one slice of cake and one glass of sparkling wine. You can also take photos for a half-hour in front of some artful dried foliage, designed to look as picaresque as a more traditional celebration. You have a hard deadline to be out by 3 p.m., though, because the venue needs to be cleaned up before the next couple arrives to be hitched. The total bill is about $2,000.
Welcome to the Tiny Wedding at Zingerman’s Cornman Farms in Michigan. The venue has slots to host 12 such ceremonies over three days in September, and it plans to do the same once each season. A Tiny Wedding doesn’t have to be so small: For an extra $45 a head, you can have up to eight guests, plus children under the age of 2 and a pet. A Tiny Wedding is also incredibly easy to purchase: When I tried out the booking process, it took me 20 seconds to select a time and a kind of cake before I got to the credit card field.
Zingerman’s Tiny Weddings join a field that includes Tiny Chapel Weddings and My Tiny Wedding. The New York Times offered readers advice for having a “microwedding” two years ago—decide what to prioritize, prepare to still pay a bakery wedding prices—because experts they spoke to surmised such events were on the rise. There are plenty of microwedding planners, too. A service in Colorado promises to help you pick from hundreds of “small-group friendly” venues, including breweries and park pavilions and a scenic overlook in Aspen. A resort in South Carolina offers a wedding package for up to 20 guests for a starting price of $5,000. (Somewhat confusingly, Zingerman’s also offers “elopements” that are larger and longer than their Tiny Wedding.)
If the microwedding is a pared-down version of a traditional American wedding, a Tiny Wedding is a courthouse wedding with more pizzazz. It seems, in fact, like a clever way to get folks who are interested in a fast, efficient ceremony to still fork over the cash required to please a parent. In a cynical view, the tiny wedding is the version of visiting Paris just long enough to pose in front of the Eiffel Tower—an Instagram algorithm’s idea of success. The photos on Zingerman’s site certainly suggests that its take will conform to many of the strict consumerist definitions of a successful wedding, with a carefully styled venue, an opportunity to wear a show-stopping gown, and a resulting album to last a lifetime.
What might be lost in the tiny-fication is space for elaborate religious rituals, or long toasts from friends, or, you know, dinner and dancing. While $2,000 is a bargain for a fancy-looking wedding, it is still $20 a minute, or upward of $250-ish a head. Thus, a tiny wedding is of a piece with other spendy kinds of minimalism, like $78 V-neck T-shirts, KonMari tidying consultants who charge three-digits an hour, and pared-down kitchens featuring pendant lights that cost $669 a pop. And that money could go far in planning a large but very low-key ceremony—a huge wedding doesn’t have to mean an expensive one—in a backyard or a public park, $2,000 could buy a vast supply of cheap rosé and a ton of sheet cake to facilitate an evening-long party between a hundred or so people you love.
But if you are looking for something traditionally luxurious—and keepsake photos really are part of the point of a modern wedding—this option seems a lot less stressful than many of the alternatives. Those include having your parents pay $165,000 for your celebration, or corralling a pack of bridesmaids who may or may not wish to spend their disposable income on a blowout for your big day. I feel like I need to mention that Tiny Weddings involve another delightful upside: Since it takes place on a farm, you’ll also have the opportunity to cuddle with a lamb.