Mastering the Art of the California Microwedding 

Introducing your silver linings playbook in four easy steps

Words by KELSEY McKINNON

The global pandemic left many couples in a quandary: postpone (or worse, cancel) the big day or forge ahead, navigating within a whole new set of parameters. Whether you call it a microwedding, a “minimony,”  or a good old-fashioned elopement, the intimate ceremonies that have emerged in the midst of turmoil have reminded us of what’s most important — family, close friends and a couple’s commitment to one another.

Those who have longed for smaller, more precious and less costly affairs, now have the freedom to design a modern celebration without feeling bogged down with traditions. As the world returns to normal and a vaccine materializes — hopefully making preceremony rapid COVID-19 tests a thing of the past — big weddings will return too, but the microwedding has secured its status as a Plan A option.

 

VENUE

An intimate ceremony at DOS PUEBLOS ORCHID FARM in Goleta. Photo by Pinnel Photography.

 

Quickie city hall ceremonies have always been synonymous with microweddings. San Francisco City Hall’s gilded 24-karat dome puts a formal twist on the elopement with by-the-hour wedding packages. Another favorite is Santa Barbara’s mission-style courthouse, where couples can tie the knot in the gardens or handpainted mural room. Beyond the civil ceremony, the pandemic has transformed backyards into intimate wedding spaces.

For those lacking ample yard space, look to a local botanical garden: Filoli in Woodside, Dos Pueblos Orchid Farm in Goleta and Ganna Walska Lotusland in Montecito are all available. Taking over a property is an option too: The Winston and The Landsby in Solvang both offer buyouts, as does the Frederick Loewe Estate in Palm Springs.

In oceanside Carpinteria, Klentner Ranch, which is also a working polo field, can arrange a “turnkey” elopement ceremony that includes everything from photography to florals and an officiant for events for up to 20 people. San Luis Obispo-based Embark Event Design offers a package at Hammersky Vineyards for up to 40 people, and another in partnership with the Santa Barbara Sailing Center, called the Nautical Elopement, which features a three-hour private reception cruise for two to 49 people.

 

FLOWERS

A bridal bouquet from an EMBARK EVENT DESIGN wedding. Photo by Amber Lynn Photography.

 

A scaled-down wedding may be the perfect opportunity to flex your DIY muscle. The DTLA and San Francisco flower markets are always good scouring grounds, but for those who want to go straight to the source, couples can order farm-fresh roses from Grace Rose Farm, a picturesque 10-acre plot in Santa Ynez Valley. Pick from over 25,000 rose bushes — ranging from pure white Boleros to pastel Koko Lokos and Distant Drums to vibrant Darcey. The owners, a husband and wife, are even open to hosting small gatherings on the property.

As for actually putting the arrangement together? Online learning portal If I Made makes available a slew of wedding floristry courses from top vendors, including Studio Mondine and Sarah Winward. San Francisco’s Farmgirl Flowers has posted dozens of styling videos on YouTube during the pandemic, and Ricci Candé of Rust & Flourish offers virtual workshops and pickup or delivery from its Oakland studio.

Of course, bouquets and table flowers can be outsourced entirely. In L.A., Isa Isa can create an Elopement Bridal bouquet inspired by a bride’s style ($285) and also offers custom dry bouquet shipping within the U.S. Lana Elie’s S.F.-based Floom, which also services L.A., has pre-assembled wedding bouquets and centerpieces.

For backyard ceremonies, think of making an investment in your landscaping by calling in a pro like Ground Studio in St. Helena and Monterey, or Scott Shrader, Inner Gardens and Hoffman and Ospina in L.A.

 

DECOR

A curated welcome box by GRATITUDE COLLABORATIVE.

 

Microcelebrations encourage couples to approach their wedding table in a way that is closer to how they entertain at home. Casa de Perrin has a low minimum for those in the greater L.A. area, and Heather Taylor Home now offers linen rentals and tablescape styling. A smaller headcount also allows couples to more easily splurge on custom details — think napkin rings, monogrammed linens, party favors and items to keep your guests comfortable (parasols, umbrellas, shawls, flip-flops and the like).

For curated welcome boxes, try California-based companies such as Gratitude Collaborative, Simone LeBlanc and newly launched Annie Clo. Napa-based La Tavola and its sister company, BBJ Linen, are now creating custom face masks to match a wedding color scheme. And for the getaway, Bonjour Fête (bonjourfete.com) in Pacific Palisades and Calabasas carries darling party decor, from balloons to confetti.

 

MENU

Cheese and charcuterie grazing cones by SLATE CATERING CO. Photo by Alexandra Chandler.

 

With the guest count slashed, the opportunity to do something truly special with the wedding meal is now a reality. A movable operation like S.F.’s Moonrise Standard can easily throw a seven-course feast at the beach, and 100 percent of the proceeds goes toward feeding migrants at the border. Ojai’s Thacher House cottage compound is available for wedding buyouts; most of the organic ingredients will have been grown on-site, and there is access to Thacher House’s heirloom linens, china, crystal and sterling flatware.

For those looking for more coronavirus-safe preparations (i.e. contactless delivery of individually packaged everything), Heirloom LA’s beloved single-portion lasagna cupcakes or Cake Monkey Bakery’s bite-size cakewiches have never seemed so apropos. Slate Catering Co. in Santa Barbara has also condensed its “grazing style” tables into individual cones and boxes. For any couple up to decorating their own cake, Santa Barbara chef/baker Loria Stern proffers pressed flowers from her organic Montecito garden ($40/box).

 

Feature image: A small ceremony setup at FREDERICK LOEWE ESTATE.

 

This story originally appeared in the Fall/Winter 2020 issue of C Weddings.

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