‘Micro Wedding’ Trend Gains Appeal in Pandemic
Photo by Lucas Botz Photography

‘Micro Wedding’ Trend Gains Appeal in Pandemic

With large-scale gatherings off the table for the foreseeable future, Gretchen Culver, founder and owner of Rocket Science Events, launches Minne Weddings to help couples keep tying the knot.

People won’t be able to gather in large groups for the foreseeable future, but couples are still hunting for ways to include friends and loved ones as they tie the knot. Wedding planners are also getting creative in the ways they’re getting couples down the aisle.

Gretchen Culver, owner and founder of Rocket Science Events, last month launched Minne Weddings to help couples who want to keep their guest list short. The trend toward “micro weddings” started before Covid-19 struck. Culver notes that she’s been working on the concept long before the pandemic. But now, weddings have to be small out of necessity.

With dates on the books starting in August, Culver and her clients are aware they still may have to push things back if intensive restrictions continue. She also wanted to help people whose wedding plans were disrupted by the pandemic, so she plans to provide one complimentary wedding for a couple who has experienced unfortunate circumstances.

Even when things get back to some semblance of normal, Culver sees the events and weddings industry being permanently impacted by the pandemic.

TCB: How has your work been changed or disrupted by the pandemic? 

Culver: As far as Rocket Science goes, all of my 2020 clients have moved to 2021. That has allowed me some extra time to focus on launching and prioritizing Minne Weddings. The pandemic has decimated the events industry. It’s not going to be the same no matter what, when we come out of this. But, really, I think it’s the shift in our industry and the events industry on how we can do things differently. We’re thinking about things like virtual vows if people can’t be there. For a Minne Wedding, or even at a small elopement, how do we connect people and gather without actually being in the same place? Having a virtual component to the Minne Weddings was important to us as well; that’s an option for people if they want to be able to have people livestream their ceremony.

With Minne Weddings that was important to me to have videography included, because that way people can have their ceremony recorded, and they can share that with people and family and friends that couldn’t be there.

The statistics are showing that very few wedding couples are canceling altogether; they’re just postponing. But as far as all of my business and a lot of the other wedding planners that I know across the country, 2020 is looking real bleak. And I’m hoping that Minne Weddings will give me the opportunity to stay busy, and to have that work. But then also to provide a solution to getting married that wasn’t available before in Minnesota. It can be really beneficial to those who do want to get married now, even if it means not having a big party.

There’s going to be a new normal for events. The smaller wedding trend was already happening and now I really think that people are going to just prioritize differently when it comes to their wedding. This really allows people to have a celebration now, to get married now, have their ceremony, and gather with a small group of family and friends.

Q: Is there anything you’re able to do right now to compensate for some of that loss or postponed work? Is that what Minne Weddings is about, or are you doing other things as well?

A | Yes, I would say Minne Weddings is really my solution for a new revenue stream. And what’s really important to me, too, is that everybody is out of work right now; it’s not just wedding planners and photographers. It’s venues, it’s caterers, it’s bakers. So, really it’s important not only for me to find a new revenue stream, but also help support our community. So when I was thinking about launching Minne Weddings, I was thinking, “Well, this is a really great opportunity too for our other wedding vendors in the city.”

This is not something that’s going to be a huge revenue generator for a company like D’Amico, but they understand the value right now to our couples in Minnesota, as well as just the need to get people back to work and getting their staff working.

I’ve had a huge response actually from the wedding community. Vendors, venues, photographers, and a ton of people are really interested in the concept and wanting to partner in the future. I think this is going to continue to grow and just be more of a great new revenue stream for our entire community.

Q: Do you anticipate work bouncing back pretty quickly or are you bracing for the worst with the recession?

A | I am an eternal optimist. That being said, I’m also a planner, so I’m risk averse. So, I’m really anticipating that 2020 is a lost year. I encouraged all of my couples to move to 2021—the ones that are going to be doing the bigger, more traditional styles of weddings. I’m expecting that when we are out of the woods, that when there is a vaccine, events are going to bounce back. I think people are really seeing the importance of gathering and what it means to get together with your loved ones. And I think there’s going to be a desire to do that, and to celebrate, especially big milestones like weddings. I do think, though, that they’re going to be done differently.

I do think people are going to want to gather. I think the way they gather is yet to be determined. And I’m hoping that with both of my businesses that I have all the bases covered and can help all of the couples that are looking to get married in 2020, 2021, and beyond.

Q: Do you see any bright spots coming out of this crisis?

A | There are a few bright spots. One is the opportunity to really connect with the industry. Our industry has been hard hit. The events industry has been so hard hit. The wedding industry is a $78 billion industry––that’s just the wedding sector. It’s a big industry, but we don’t have a lobbyist in Washington helping us try and get those federal dollars. And a lot of us are small businesses, and so we are single owner-operators. A lot of us are women, and so it’s definitely taken a toll on our industry as a whole.

But, that said, we are planners and we are resilient and the bright spot has been connecting with all the other people in our industry to work together to figure out what’s next and be the change makers in the industry. … And we’ve been able to slow it down and connect.

It’s really been fun seeing everybody come up with creative ideas and pivot, especially venues that have a big overhead. Venues have a lot of overhead and right now they’re going to sit empty and they might sit empty for a long time. So, how are they handling it, and how can we help them? And vice versa.

Q: What’s your work at home setup like?

A | I have three kids, a dog, and a husband who’s also working from home. I, having been a small business owner for 10 years, had a home office.

I was pretty accustomed to working from home, but not working from home with my children and my husband. … We’re really just trying to create a routine. So right now, they’re doing their schoolwork, and I will go and check in with them and work with them on things. Every day at 11, we’re trying to do something active either outside or a yoga class on YouTube, or something like that. Then, I’m really trying to find time in my schedule for myself, because our entire family is together in this house. And I’m really just needing a little bit of a break sometimes, and just to be able to have my thoughts and sit and be quiet.

You know it’s really just about creating a schedule, and sticking to it as best as you can, but also being flexible, because this is a very emotional time. Our kids are dealing with it in different ways.

As a small business owner, I’m able to set my own schedule. So, I can work at night. I can work on the weekends/ I can, you know, take an hour off every morning to do a physical activity with my kids. I really feel fortunate to be able to have that flexibility and ease with my schedule. I definitely think that we’re all looking forward to the day where we don’t have to shelter in place and they can actually get back to school and our routine gets back to a little bit more normal.

But I do my best. We’re just trying to be grateful for the fact that everybody is healthy and safe.

Q: Any productivity tips for other folks working at home?

A | I think one of the hardest things about being a small business owner is creating a schedule and sticking to it. Because you can lose time very easily if you’re not structured with your schedule.

So, I think that the advice I would give is try and create a schedule that works for you, but then also don’t feel like you failed if you didn’t get everything done. I am an overachiever so my to-do lists are very long each day. And I have had to scale back tremendously the amount of work I thought I could get done versus what I can actually get done, because of the home schooling and the meal preparation and all that stuff. I was beating myself up for a while that I couldn’t continue the pace of work that I had been doing pre-pandemic. But I understand that this is an unusual time, and we’re all doing the best that we can.