Couples turn to `minimonies' to salvage wedding plans

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This photo released by Erin Elliott shows the wedding of Melissa Todd and Jeffrey Hall in November 2019 in Chicago. The couple had seven guests, feeding a trend toward micro weddings that has grown stronger since the coronavirus pandemic sent millions into isolation. (Erin Elliott via AP)

NEW YORK – Couples trying to salvage weddings put on hold by the coronavirus are feeding a fresh trend in the bridal industry: the “minimony."

Rather than wait, they're getting hitched alone or with a few local loved ones looking on at a safe social distance as other guests join virtually. Then they plan to reschedule larger celebrations when allowed.

“We were about to put a $15,000 deposit down on a venue when coronavirus hit," said Kate Whiting, 35, in Northern California's tiny Lake Almanor Peninsula. “Why would I want to wait to marry my best friend?”

The 300-guest wedding of her dreams, and those of her 40-year-old fiance, Jake Avery, will happen once a COVID-19 vaccine is in place. For now, a close friend recently ordained will marry them in their yard June 6.

Their approach, born of necessity, is a play on micro weddings, the first choice for some couples looking for a more intimate experience or unable to afford splashier affairs.

Before the pandemic so dramatically changed lives, 20,000 to 30,000 weddings happened every weekend in the U.S., with more than 550,000 originally planned for April, May and June this year, according to data from the wedding planning site TheKnot.com.

Worldwide, 93% of couples whose weddings are impacted by the virus are rescheduling, with only 7% canceling altogether, the site said.

The average cost of weddings pre-pandemic was teetering at just under $34,000, and the average guest count at 131.