7 lovely little Austin venues perfect for an intimate microwedding
The COVID-19 pandemic forced thousands of engaged couples to reschedule, cancel, reschedule again, downsize, and otherwise turn their wedding plans upside down.
What followed was a boom of elopements, backyard receptions, and “microweddings.” But even after the world reopened and vaccines became widely available, couples continued to opt for smaller, more intimate ceremonies.
Lorelei Starbuck, owner of Elope in Austin, a local elopements and microweddings company, says the smaller ceremonies are here to stay.
“The trend is moving in a very positive way in that people are saying, hey, there are alternatives to that big-venue wedding that I can’t afford or choose to afford,” Starbuck says. “The price point is extremely reasonable and affordable. So we’re seeing that market kind of shift on its heels, to people such as yourself, who now understand that there are alternatives, and they can have something different that’s not their mom’s idea of what their wedding should be.”
Starbuck is referring to my own wedding — a December 2020 affair that we had to downsize from 200 people to about 40 after my now-husband and I ran into some difficulties when we discussed rescheduling with our venue. Without reliving the whole sordid (and frankly, traumatic) story, the short version is this: We had a microwedding. And it was lovely.
Starbuck describes a microwedding as one having fewer than 50 attendees. Her company hosts around 30 to 40 weddings a month, nearly doubling that number in the busy wedding season between April and October. She says the lower price point is just one of the many benefits of hosting a microwedding or eloping.
“I think that the benefits are that you can create something that is personal to you,” Starbuck says. “You have a lot less stress. The stress just isn’t there for a microwedding or an elopement. Stress is almost virtually nonexistent.”
After I joke that I wish I’d met her two years ago, Starbuck goes on to say that with smaller weddings, you aren’t thinking about the food, the colors, or the florals. You’re focused on your partner and the handful of family and friends you have present.
For example, if I’d had 200 people at my wedding, the way my husband and I originally intended, we absolutely would not have gotten to spend quality time with each and every attendee.
But despite the hurdles (and many, many tears), and despite the fact that many people who we love and cherish couldn’t be there on our wedding day, we were still able to spend quality time with every single person who joined us that day, which is something I wouldn’t trade.
If you’re looking to host a microwedding or a smaller ceremony or reception, here’s a roundup of some of the best venues in Austin to check out:
Even before the pandemic, Chapel Dulcinea was the go-to venue for small weddings in Central Texas. For starters, it’s free to have your ceremony there (yes, really), and it overlooks the Hill Country, so it’s really hard to pass up. It’s a nonprofit venue supported solely by individual donations, and it’s been a winner of WeddingWire’s Couples’ Choice Awards for seven years running.
This Hill Country venue proclaims itself as the first of its kind in the area to specifically target micro events. It’s not just for weddings — you can host baby showers, bachelorette parties, birthday parties, meetings, and more here — and it does offer microwedding packages, starting at $1,050 for an outdoor ceremony, music, and photos, and ranging to $6,295 for the ceremony, appetizers, buffet dinner, and cake (a steal, honestly).
Despite its name, this is probably Austin’s worst-kept secret. It’s an abandoned garden and greenhouse in East Austin, and it’s used for parties, proposals, photo shoots and, of course, weddings. The venue is priced by the hour, but conveniently, this is one of the venues that Starbuck’s Elope in Austin company serves, so you can find some great information on the Elope in Austin website.
Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center
This feels like cheating because you can also host a big wedding here, but the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center is perfect because, well, look at it! It boasts acres upon acres of Central Texas’ most beautiful botanical life, making for the perfect backdrop for wedding photos and your ceremony.
The Lincoln Chapel
Georgetown has some of the most beautiful wedding venues in Central Texas, and the Lincoln Chapel is ideal for a microwedding, with a capacity of 30 guests indoors (more if you open the chapel doors). It’s so simple so you could decorate it almost any way you please as you enjoy a beautiful Texas night under the stars.
The Hall at Jester King
If you’re a fan of beer, this is your venue. The newly opened event hall at Jester King Brewery is a beer lover’s microwedding dream. According to Here Comes the Guide, it even offers intimate wedding packages ranging from $1,000 to $1,700 for a half-day venue rental and day-of coordination for up to 50 guests at a ceremony and reception.
The Chapel of Love
Owned and operated by Starbuck, who previously owned a wedding chapel in Las Vegas, this is perfect for an elopement or a super-small microwedding. The chapel itself only fits six people, or you can have up to 10 people in the grove of oak trees. And it’s absolutely picturesque!
Choose your own adventure
Just because your favorite restaurant, bar, brewery, or museum doesn’t advertise event space for rent doesn’t mean they won’t host a pop-up wedding for you. Just pick up the phone and ask!