Wednesday, April 24, 2024

Two hours to ‘I do’: This new local business is providing fast, intimate wedding ceremonies

Event planner Sarah-Daye McDougall and photographer Gari-Ann Kia have started a new business to help couples plan small, intimate wedding ceremonies. (WYDaily/Courtesy Micro Weddings of Virginia)
Event planner Sarah-Daye McDougall and photographer Gari-Ann Kia have started a new business to help couples plan small, intimate wedding ceremonies. (WYDaily/Courtesy Micro Weddings of Virginia)

Weddings, for some, are a once-in-a-lifetime event, a very special moment that needs to be captured in all its glory.

And that means large gatherings with hundreds of guests.

But some prefer a small and more intimate event, and with the entry of the coronavirus this year, micro-weddings are seemingly becoming a new trend as social distancing measures remain in place.

The concept has been around for a while and although it wasn’t created in response to the pandemic, it’s gaining in popularity — and might become more popular in the foreseeable future.

Williamsburg is home to one such micro-wedding business.

Micro-Weddings of Virginia started last month by local event planner Sarah-Daye McDougall and photographer Gari-Ann Kia. The idea behind the business is to create a wedding event that happens in two hours with a limit of 30 guests.

“So our big thing is that we see a need,” Kia said. “Especially now but in any market there is a need for smaller, more intimate weddings. They want certain aspects of a traditional wedding but people might not have the budget or want a large event.”

Multiple ceremonies happen at the same venue at a micro-wedding event on the same day in two-hour blocks. During a couple’s time slot, they have time to come in and get dressed, do a 15-minute ceremony, 45-minute reception and finish with a 30-minute professional photography session with Kia.

Since the weddings are all done in the same location, the couples are essentially splitting the cost of the venue, ceremony and decor but still have the opportunity to bring any additional floral and decorations they want.

The Micro Weddings of Virginia team flip and clean the venue in between each wedding for the next ceremony.

Couples get to experience traditional moments such as a first dance and cake cutting while still keeping the event small.

“What we are pushing with these couples is that it’s quality over quantity,” Kia said. “So we plan this on being a special part of a bigger weekend. They spend two hours with us and then take their guests to a nice dinner or to explore Virginia.”

The dates for the weddings will only happen once each quarter unless there is a greater demand, Kia said.

McDougall said Kia first approached her with the idea several months ago when they were looking for a way to meet a different niche. Prior to starting this business, McDougall started her own event planning business, Night and Daye Events, and Kia had been doing professional photography on her own.

The pair knew each other from working in the industry together and really enjoyed each other’s business, which is why they decided to start a separate company on their own. 

“It was a very strategic decision on our part to not confuse the customer and make sure it was its own standalone business that sends its own message and brand,” Kia said.

But now that the coronavirus pandemic has put a screeching halt on most large gatherings, the pair expects there to be even greater interest in micro-weddings in the future.

“I think that overall within the industry, we have seen a lot of answers to the coronavirus that are gearing towards intimate weddings,” Kia added. “It could be an option for people to do now and then as far as having a large event, plan that for the future.”

The pair will run their own businesses separately which will help with couples who want to plan larger weddings. 

Both Kia and McDougal said they’re excited to expand their wedding businesses because they feel honored to be part of such an important moment for so many couples.

“There’s just something special about a wedding day,” McDougal said. “I think you just fall in love with the day.”

“You form a really good relationship with these couples,” Kia added. “So working with clients is one of the biggest rewards on their wedding day.”


Alexa Doiron
Alexa Doiron
Alexa Doiron is a multimedia reporter for WYDaily. She graduated from Roanoke College and is currently working on a master’s degree in English at Virginia Commonwealth University. Alexa was born and raised in Williamsburg and enjoys writing stories about local flair. She began her career in journalism at the Warhill High School newspaper and, eight years later, still loves it. After working as a news editor in Blacksburg, Va., Alexa missed Williamsburg and decided to come back home. In her free time, she enjoys reading Jane Austen and playing with her puppy, Poe. Alexa can be reached at

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