Weddings have taken place for many centuries and as time passes, themes tend to evolve. Gown styles change, the destination can be all-inclusive, and a rapidly growing trend is small, intimate weddings, better known as “micro weddings.”
The popularity of micro weddings was accelerated during the pandemic, as couples adapted to changing restrictions and safety protocols. However, as pandemic restrictions have eased micro-weddings remain a popular option allowing couples to personalize their special day and spend more quality time with their closest loved ones
How many people are generally invited to a micro wedding? Well, the number for an event to be considered micro is 10 to 50 people. More than 50 and it becomes a typical wedding amount. Less than 10 and it will likely be labeled an elopement. It can be difficult to discover a venue that can meet the appropriate size for a wedding in the, “not too hot, not too cold,” realm. However, Wheeling has these gems hidden in plain sight. We spoke with three unique venue owners who offer couples looking for a more intimate spot to say their “I Do’s”.
Elizabeth “Libbi” Gramby is the owner of Table 304, which is already well-known for serving up delectable house-made coffee and charcuterie assortments. What you may not know is they are a bustling micro wedding and small events venue.
“It’s so pretty. We rent out the downstairs area, which is our main coffee shop,” said Gramby. “We have a really beautiful loft upstairs that has a peacock-shaped window – We feel so honored to be a part of people’s day,” said Gramby.
While Table 304 prides itself on hosting these events, it wasn’t always a thought when Gramby opened shop. “I didn’t ever think about a wedding at our shop. We are a coffee shop and we have snacks, but I never thought about the different venue aspects we offer. I didn’t even think of doing this on my own.”
One day the phone rang at Gramby’s quaint café with someone requesting their space for a wedding.
“I thought they called the wrong number!,” Libbi recalls. That call was over a year ago and Gramby has since hosted a number of weddings for the people of Wheeling. “I recently hired someone to be the event facilitator. I’m still hands-on with everything, but she has been doing it for a few months now and is doing a great job,” said Gramby.
“If you are renting the space, you can seat 30 for a shower and for a wedding, it can seat about 40 people. Often, people will opt to utilize our upstairs and downstairs areas for the wedding and reception.”
One of the perks of Table 304’s venue is wide range of amenities included in when you book with them. “Our space is a situation of quality over quantity. You can get married here, have the reception, host the cocktail hour with a grazing table and my daughter works as a photographer as well,” says Gramby. “We have everything for a sweet, intimate day and it is so elegant.”
Speaking of everything, Table 304 is currently working on an all-new package with different pricing options for brides and grooms. “We offer charcuterie for cocktail hour and they can bring in outside food,” said Gramby
Gramby’s favorite part about micro weddings is the more relaxed charm that comes along with them. “We don’t want stress for people on their special day – more good memories and less memories of how stressful it was. Smaller weddings have that factor and our venue is a great option for it,” said Gramby.
“With our first wedding we ever hosted, I was kind of nervous. I wanted to make sure we did a great job. The bride was so content and happy and with everyone in her party enjoying themselves in our intimate space, it was my favorite thing.”
With Table 304 quickly breaking into the local wedding venue market, Stratford Springs and Wild West have been staple venues in Wheeling for decades. While these joint locations can boast wedding sizes into the hundreds, there are also more intimate options at this hillside hideaway, according to Jeramiah Freeland, Director of Private Events.
“Our micro wedding space is called the Ballroom and is steeped in traditional architecture and has just been remodeled,” says Freeland. “Our covered Veranda at Stratford Springs is connected to the Ballroom. We have multiple ceremony and cocktail hour spaces.”
One reason Stratford Springs has remained a desirable wedding venue is that it is rooted in rich history. “Stratford Springs, built in 1909, has a beautiful façade that lends itself to any décor or style of wedding,” said Freeland. “We offer beautifully renovated spaces that include a bridal suite and groom room to be used the day of your wedding.” With this historical location surrounded by 30 acres of rolling hills, it is easy to fall in love with the ambiance alone.
Freeland, with nearly three years of wedding planning under his belt, has been lucky enough to watch true love take place at a multitude of intimate events. “My favorite was a small wedding we had last year for 40 people. It was so intimate and inviting,” said Freeland.
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“They had their ceremony on our lawn ceremony space, their cocktail hour on the veranda, and their reception in the ballroom. I loved this wedding so much because our staff ratio was one staff member per three guests, which makes the attention to detail and service impressive and something to remember!”
Stratford Springs and Wild West also pride themselves on providing robust options for thier weddings, regardless of size. “Any style of chair, china, and linen are able to be rented, but our in-house flatware, glassware, and china is included,” says Freeland.
“The level of service we can provide is rare. Each person feels as if they have their own butler and we are a one stop shop!”
In Centre Market, Under the Elder Tree is another out-of-the-ordinary venue for micro weddings. “We actually just hosted our first wedding this past December. It was the idea from one of our clients who regularly gets a massage in the Himalayan Salt Sanctuary,” said Carrie Eller, owner and operator of Under the Elder Tree.
“Her sister was on the search for a small, intimate, gorgeous and sacred sort of wedding venue and our locale ticked all of her boxes.” Under the Elder Tree is an apothecary with assorted candles, herbs, and crystals and provides a unique, whimsical layout for your ceremony.
“We hold the ceremony and after-event in the Himalayan Salt Sanctuary event space on the second floor. We also provide gorgeous private spaces for both the bride and groom to get ready on-site,” said Eller.
“For those on a small budget and want to fully run their own event, there is a small kitchen available for their use too. Both the upstairs and downstairs bathrooms are open for use to the party guests.”
While most venues primarily host very large weddings with an ongoing guest list, Under the Elder Tree has exclusively. “We are truly a micro venue. We can comfortably fit 25 people, including the bride and groom,” says Eller.
Eller also boasts other events that may be held at her apothecary year-round that are wedding-centric and beyond. “In response to COVID-19, Under the Elder Tree’s beautiful second floor morphed into a private, safe gathering space. I have acquired beautiful, ornate furniture and filled the space with flickering candles for a glowing, intimate ambiance,” said Eller.
“For the past few years, we have been hosting bachelorette parties, sweet 16 parties, birthdays, Parisian Masquerade, a Midsummer Night’s Dream party, and ‘just because’ gatherings. We have so many different options on our menu that we’ve created to fit both the most budget-conscious party to the most elaborate shindig.”
This venue comes with not only a beautifully individualistic atmosphere, but also endless connections to make your day that much easier. “With all the relationships I have formed with other local service-based businesses, we are able to supply and fully support the happy couple with photographers, caterers, stylists, florists, musicians and ministers. Here we are all about getting the clients exactly what they want, so sitting down to talk about their dreams and aspirations for the big day will totally get them the small wedding of their dreams,” said Eller.
“Or the party can simply rent out the space and do their own set up here. While it’s not published, I have seven packages that I’ve come up with from modest to outlandish. Come chat and we will make your dream come to life!”
Eller holds this style of wedding near and dear as she understands the enriching value of having a deeply personal event. “I think, for a lot of couples, the mindset has shifted in relation to weddings. Not as many are interested in the huge, traditional, stressful events with hundreds of people that were a thing of the past,” said Eller. “People crave intimacy, uniqueness, and just a minute gathering with the people who really, truly matter in their lives. I think that’s what was the driving force behind destination weddings. People want small, intimate, safe and close to home.”
So, whether you are considering a micro wedding for yourself, or are just looking for unique venues for your next special occasion, don’t overlook these unique Wheeling venues!
Have you been to a micro wedding? What are your favorite small event venues in Wheeling?
• With a background in journalism and being a true Wheeling native, Jessica Broverman was destined to work with Weelunk. She holds a degree in journalism with a minor in criminal justice and works with Williams Lea Tag as a legal proofreader. When she isn’t typing away for Weelunk or WLT, she is enjoying a coffee at one of her many favorite spots in Wheeling, spending time with friends, or having fun with her husband Zachary and their two cats, Proctor and Max.