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The Wedding Officiant's Guide to Planning a Minimony

Published Thursday, Aug. 6th, 2020

Updated February 2021



What is a minimony?


The recently dubbed minimony is an intimate, bare-minimum-scale wedding with the focus entirely on the couple as they exchange their vows and words of commitment in a ceremony. Just a few wedding day elements and vendors are thoughtfully selected and incorporated to help commemorate the occasion. 


Minimonies can be legally binding or purely ceremonial, and are popular for couples who want to keep or commemorate their original wedding date. Because there are very few (if any) guests present, couples can still have a safe, unique, and memorable wedding day without the pressures and efforts of planning a full-scale event.


(Read 7 Tips for a Stress-Free and Socially Distanced Wedding Ceremony.



Planning a Minimony


As always when it comes to wedding planning, everything is optional, and aside from the ceremony itself, couples can include as few or many wedding day components in their minimony as they wish.


For example, the couple might hire their photographer to take some photos from a safe distance while they share a First Look and then exchange personalized, hand-written vows in their own living room. Then after saying "I Do," they can cut into a mini version of their wedding cake, pop some champagne, and share their first dance as a married couple by the fireplace.


(Note: Some couples are also using the word 'elopement' when referring to a very small ceremony. Unlike elopements of the past, which included only the couple and the officiant, these modern interpretations might also include a small handful of guests or witnesses -- making them very similar to a minimony. For elopement inspiration, Read Elope: An illustrated guide to an eco-friendly and empowered alternative wedding.)



The Venue



Image of a picnic or outdoor wedding ceremony in backyard or park setting.

Backyard weddings keep the focus on the couple.


There’s no reason couples can’t transform their living room, backyard, or nearby park into the perfect ceremony spot. It’s amazing what a few assorted candles, cozy blankets, and garden lights in the yard can do to create a romantic setting that’s photo-op ready. And little lakeside nooks at sunset make for the perfect, no-effort, all-natural backdrop!




The Guest List


Smaller guest lists make for a more intimate ceremony. Image of a wedding guest list for minimony.

A shorter guest list makes for a more intimate ceremony. 


Because the minimony is all about the ceremony and the couple, guests are entirely optional. Many minimonies have a guest count of Zero, though some may have a small handful of guests (typically immediate family) just to witness the ceremony portion of the event.


If couples wish to have guests physically present at this time, it’s important to keep attendance to the bare minimum, hold the ceremony outdoors, and encourage social distancing and the wearing of masks. The ceremony can also be livestreamed so that loved ones can witness the occasion safely from afar.




The Attire



A white wedding dress and suit on a bed as a couple chooses their wedding attire.

Don't miss the chance to wear your wedding day finery!


If this is the only chance the couple will get to wear their wedding finery – that knockout ballgown or that bespoke suit – then they should go for it! Couples should feel free to dress up (or down) however they'd like. If a large-scale sequel wedding is planned for a later date and they want to keep their outfits a surprise, they can just opt for a different look entirely for this event, and have fun creating their own unique minimony ensembles.


And officiants, same as always: discuss your own attire and have it approved by the couple, especially if you will be appearing in their photos and/or livestream.


(Read What to Wear -- and Not Wear -- as a Wedding Officiant.)




The First Look



A happy couple prepares for the wedding day first look during a minimony.

Don't peek!


Who says you can't have a First Look just because it's not the wedding day or First Look you initially imagined?! 


If the couple's ceremony's in a park, have the couple show up separately in secluded areas so the photog can catch them on their own, and then snap them seeing each other for the first time in their minimony duds. Alternately, if the event is taking place at home, the two can get ready in different rooms, and when ready, can come out to meet each other. There are so many ways to stage a fantastic First Look no matter where you are!




The Officiant & The Ceremony



Partners clasp hands in front of the wedding officiant at their microwedding minimony ceremony during COVID-19

Wedding officiants are just as important as ever.


Thanks to COVID-19, the role of the wedding officiant has expanded. While catered meals for 200 guests are no longer necessary to get married, there is still one wedding vendor that is a must in order to pull off a legal wedding ceremony: the officiant.


(The AMM Fall 2020 Survey showed that some officiants are seeing a decrease in their role, but it may be a result of simplified, smaller ceremonies. You can read all about it here.) 


With such an intimate setting, it’s imperative that officiants work closely with the couples’ vision to craft a ceremony that is meaningful and memorable. Couples might also need a bit of additional guidance when it comes to writing and speaking their vows - especially if they know they’ll be recorded or photographed - so don't be afraid to schedule an additional rehearsal session over Zoom!


Remember to all wear masks if you'll have to speak in close quarters (especially indoors), and wash and sanitize hands, phones, writing surfaces, and pens frequently. 


If the couple is considering having their officiant perform the ceremony via video conferencing, it’s important to remember that not all states allow wedding ceremonies to be officiated remotely. In most states, the officiant will likely need to be physically present in order to perform a legally binding ceremony. 


 The little things matter more than ever, and now is the time to pay attention to the details. Consider gifting the couple with a commemorative wedding certificate to mark the occasion. They will appreciate the gesture, and the certificate will remain a thoughtful keepsake for years to come.

Pro Tip: Make sure the photographer snaps a shot of the signing after the ceremony!




The Celebration Meal



An outdoor wedding reception celebration meal table set up in a park.

Enjoy your reception or celebration meal outside in nature.


Couples can set and decorate a sweetheart table, and order a special “Just For 2” version of their wedding day menu from their caterer to enjoy after their ceremony. If unable to order a meal from the original wedding day caterer, couples should purchase from and support a favorite local restaurant instead!


Same goes for the wedding cake. Couples can arrange with their baker to create a mini-version of their wedding cake. Or, they can consider a wedding cake alternative altogether like cupcakes, doughnuts, pie, or even a platter of petit-fours. Truly, it’s all about personal taste! (No pun intended.) 




The First Dance



A happy couple dances during their indoor minimony elopement ceremony during Coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic

Don't forget to dance!


Whether it’s in the middle of the living room (couch and coffee table moved aside) or under a gazebo at a nearby park, couples should still crank that stereo, hold each other tight, and share their first dance as a married couple!




The Memories



Wedding photos and videos are important during COVID. Hire a wedding photographer, a happy couple has photos taken at their outdoor ceremony.

Wedding photos and videos are a wonderful way to share the experience with friends and family who can't attend in-person.


And of course, couples should absolutely retain their photographer's services! As long as they maintain a safe distance, photographers can capture the minimony in all its glory, take portraits, and document the celebration meal, cake cutting, and first dance. Couples will treasure the photos for years, and be able to share some of the special moments and details from their minimony with others if they wish.




Minimony Order of Events (Example)


  1. The First Look

  2. Ceremony, Signing of the Marriage License

  3. Portraits

  4. Celebration Meal

  5. Cake Cutting

  6. The First Dance




Read Have You Considered a Micro Wedding? to learn more about microweddings and consider a Hybrid Wedding Ceremony, that combines a minimony and a virtual wedding ceremony for a perfect compromise. 


Or Elope With a Dreamy, Teeny-Tiny, Covid-Era Ceremony


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