Micro weddings have become way more popular in the last two years. While the initial change resulted from the pandemic, people are finding there’s a lot to love about being unencumbered by the trappings of traditional weddings. The wedding becomes about the couple and what really matters to them. People are even creating new ways to incorporate family traditions into their micro weddings. I was lucky enough to be asked by Afrik Armando to shoot Vilinny (who goes by Nina) and Chris’s micro wedding. They found ways to combine a condensed Cambodian ceremony with a modern reception for their special day in Philadelphia.
A Cambodian Micro Wedding Philadelphia
Originally, Nina and Chris had planned a full Cambodian wedding. It was going to be a two-day event accompanied by a vow exchange and reception at the Loews in September of 2020. After losing several family members, the couple decided that the safest thing to do would be to scale back in a big way. A micro wedding was the perfect compromise.
Having a micro wedding allowed Nina and Chris to do all the Cambodian traditions that mattered most to Nina’s family. They honored their ancestors, an important element of any large Cambodian family gathering. Honoring their ancestors includes a ritual of offering food to the spirits. The family also introduces the ancestors’ spirits to the new family member (Chris) and seeks a blessing.
Nina and Chris’s micro wedding also had a strong emphasis on traditional food and clothing. There was a full roast pig. Even this tied back to ancestors in that Nina’s family wanted to present themselves well out of respect. Nina’s mother appreciated the attention paid to these traditional elements since they scaled back from their original plans. Nina is her only daughter, after all!
A Modern Reception at Philadelphia Brewing Co.
Moving from a big hotel reception to a micro wedding in Philadelphia meant that Nina and Chris had to rethink the venue for their reception. They explored plenty of outdoor venues and even considered having it in Nina’s parents’ backyard. Nothing felt quite right.
One day they were walking through their neighborhood and noticed that Philadelphia Brewing Company has a big outdoor space. The couple toured the venue and were charmed by the large barn window. In addition to being the right vibe, it was just around the corner from their house. Keeping things simple for their micro wedding allowed them to be present with their family and friends.
On the day of their micro wedding, Nina and Chris transitioned from Cambodian traditions to modern dance party vibes for their reception. They went to a bright, modern Air BnB in Fishtown to get ready together. Having everyone in the loft made it feel more intimate and spontaneous.
The couple then headed to Philadelphia Brewing Company where they exchanged vows before turning the reception into a discotheque complete with mirrorball. Chris, a DJ himself, even jumped in to take over the music at one point.
Even though the reception had much more of a party atmosphere, the decor tied in colors and motifs from the condensed Cambodian ceremony. Bird Seed Florals created modern minimal table arrangements in vibrant fall colors. They paired the floral arrangements with fruit and fabric in the same reds and oranges to give the space a festive, feast-like feeling.
Candid Film Wedding Photography
This micro wedding in Philadelphia balanced tradition with contemporary tastes throughout the day. There’s no better way to capture that than with candid film photography. Film is warm and intimate. It’s perfect for those playful moments.
After her micro wedding, Nina said that she really valued hearing the great stories of her friends and family meeting. The love was palpable for days afterward. The photos helped Nina and Chris remember the best parts of their wedding day, which ended up being the little in-between moments. They’re just as important as the big events because those are the times a couple gets to enjoy each other’s company.
Nina and Chris’s micro wedding in Philadelphia was full of little surprises. On their walk from the getting ready location to the reception, a soft serve truck stopped to offer the newly weds complementary ice cream. It’s the kind of unexpected occurrence that people tell stories about for years afterward.
One of my favorite moments of the reception happened when Earth, Wind, and Fire’s “September” came on. All the guests got on the dance floor to do a choreographed dance! This photo of Nina’s dad perfectly captures the joy of the moment. Even the light leak on the film shows the energy and excitement.
Nina said she was “so thankful to have photographic memories of how we felt in between all the chaos.” I can’t think of a bigger complement for a photographer who strives to capture authentic emotion in small interactions.
Are you interested in having me photograph your micro wedding in Philadelphia? Get in touch, and let’s begin this journey!
Thanks to all the vendors who made this day possible:
Second photographed for: Afrik Armando
Florals: Bird Seed Florals
Makeup: Deanna O’Hanna
Hair: Moa Sananikone at Seng’s Salon
Videographer: Roosevelt Nguyen
DJ: Leo Ryzhinsky