Virginia

Loudoun County Venues Embrace ‘Micro Weddings'

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Caitlin Marcheschi and Ryan Madden planned on having their dream wedding this April at The Barn at Willow Brook in Loudoun County, Virginia.

But like thousands of couples throughout the country, they had to postpone their big day because of COVID-19.

"I think there were a lot of tears and Ryan was very supportive during it," Marcheschi said.

Madden's mother and sister opened Willow Brook last fall, but had no idea their first busy season would be hit hard with stay at home orders.

Weddings are big business in Loudoun County, pumping about $118 million dollars into the local economy every year.

All of Willow Brook's spring weddings were canceled and half of their clients' summer nuptials postponed.

But their business and others like it in Loudoun County are adapting quickly for couples who still want to forge ahead.

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"Our goal has been to walk alongside each and every couple to craft their day and that is really why Willow Brook began and that's how it started
and the pandemic hasn’t changed that," Willow Brook's Kelly Prince said.

The venue is now turning to small ceremonies — the so-called "micro wedding."

"This is a new trend into these smaller, intimate weddings. So there is an elopement, there's a micro and then there's a mini wedding, and it’s just related to different sizes that the wedding might be and time frames," Willow Brook operator Betsy Madden said.

Stone Tower Winery, which has hosted weddings since 2013, has also seen the trend.

"We’ve had some couples that say, you know, we’re happy with 20, 30 guests and really designing these beautiful small, intimate celebrations as well," said Lacy Huber, with Stone Tower Winery.

Other vendors are also adapting. Photographers are offering smaller packages and videographers can live stream for guests who can't attend.

Both venues are hosting their first full weddings this week, but they expect next summer could be very busy.

"There are couples who’ve made it through quarantine and are ready to take that next step," Huber said.

Marcheschi and Madden's third round invitations tell the story of their decision -- their wedding is rescheduled for Aug. 1 with only about 30 guests.

"At the end of the day, we’re still going to be married. That's the most important thing. And if it's just celebrating with 30 people, that's going to be great," Ryan Madden said.

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