How Much Does It Cost To Have A Small Wedding?

Weddings can be a lot of fun, but there’s really no need to have a massive guest list if you don’t want to.

There’s nothing wrong with having a small, intimate affair with the people that matter the most to you, including family and a few close friends. It’s a plan that a lot of people have, but people tend to realize that their small wedding costs a lot more than they thought that it would.

In general, people pay $8,550 on average for their small wedding. In terms of numbers, this factors in a 50 person guest list. People usually cut the costs that would normally be required in a larger wedding when they have a small wedding too, which saves some money.

Of course, the price can vary quite dramatically based on the location of the wedding, the things that you include and more. Read on for a cost breakdown of what you are likely to be spending on a small wedding.

By looking at this cost breakdown, it can help you to cut out anything that you may not value as much.

It’s important to note that you are only having a small wedding if your wedding has less than 50 people in it – this is in accordance with Martha Stewart Weddings. In the event that you would like to have even fewer guests than this, you will likely save even more money. 

There are ways to save on the venue fees too simply by hosting your wedding somewhere else such as in someone else’s private property or even in your home. An outdoor wedding can be a great way to save a little money!

Breakdown of Small Wedding Costs

  • Food: depending on the food that you choose, it’ll usually cost around $35 per person, and this also factors in the cost of delivery and service. This equates to around $1750 for 50 people
  • Reception site and ceremony: including rentals of chairs and tables, this usually costs around $4,000. If you cut your guest list numbers then you can usually get into much more strange and interesting places such as museums, tourist attractions, community centers, farms, campsites and a lot more options.
  • Clothing: this usually costs around $500 if you’re smart. Some people will spend a lot more, but you can look great on your wedding day without spending a small fortune. You can even get some that are eco friendly.
  • Bar: $750 on average, and this is simply for having a limited bar and each guest buying their own alcohol. It will obviously cost more money if you are having an open bar at your wedding.
  • Music: it tends to cost around $350 to rent speaker equipment. You can save money by making your own playlist instead of having a band or DJ. 
  • Flowers and Decoration: $0
  • Save the dates and invitations: $0 – you can simply send an email and make your own graphics using a free online tool such as Canva
  • Hair and Makeup: $0 – you can use your own makeup and hair tools and do it yourself
  • Photography: $1000. This is usually the cost for a basic photography package
  • Other considerations: $300. This includes things like gifts and favors, and a little bit of extra budget in case things cost more money than anticipated.

Total: $8,550.

Saving Money On Your Small Wedding

One of the main perks of having a small wedding is that they generally tend to be less expensive than larger weddings. This is a big reason why people choose to have small weddings, so a price tag such as the one mentioned above may be shocking to some.

Of course, there are always ways that you can reduce your expenses if necessary. It ultimately comes down to your own personal mindset and feelings.

The first thing that you need to do is tell yourself that you will not have any elements in the event that aren’t needed just to make people happy or to uphold a tradition.

This mindset can be very powerful and save you a lot of money. By upholding this stance, you will find it a lot easier to reduce the costs and still have a fantastic day.

There’s no need to be harsh to people either – simply tell your family and friends in a calm manner that you have no desire to spend excessive money for the sake of just one day, so you’re trying to reduce your expenses in whatever way that you can.

If you’re looking to reduce your costs, here are just 10 ways that you can save more money on your small wedding.

Do Some DIY

You can easily do your own food and decorations. Of course, it’s also important to remember that it doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s going to be cheaper if you do it yourself.

The individual DIY items can cost quite a bit of money, and you will also be spending a lot of time doing it yourself. Sometimes it’s easier to let someone else handle the work so that you’re not stressed.

Use Your Backyard

You don’t have to go to some big and fancy wedding venue. Instead, you can get creative. This may involve getting married in yours or a family member’s backyard.

Perhaps you’d like to go to a beach nearby, a public park or maybe you want to rent a local hall nearby that’s available for a small price. If it isn’t a traditional wedding venue then there’s a good chance that it could save you a few thousand dollars.

Go Second Hand

You don’t need to spend thousands on a wedding gown that you’re only going to wear for one day.

Instead, shop around a little. Look for second hand gowns – they’ve only been worn once after all! You can also look online for affordable and eco-friendly wedding dress options that are available for a lot less money.

Go Camping!

Hotel weddings are great fun, but so is enjoying a camping wedding! These are becoming a lot more popular as time goes on. They’re great for casual, beautiful weddings – they’re also very unique!

Your guests can enjoy a stay in a hotel or a trailer nearby. You can make a real vacation out of your big day by doing this.

Potlucks and BBQs

In a small wedding, you don’t really need to spend a couple thousand dollars on hiring a fancy caterer. Instead you can enjoy an intimate BBQ or potluck with your closest friends and family. You can simply ask your family members to make some food for the big day instead of getting you a wedding gift.

Cut Down The Wedding Party

You’re only going to have a small wedding anyway, so do you need to have groomsmen and bridesmaids? There’s really no need to have a large wedding party, and by minimizing your wedding party you are also going to save yourself a lot of money.

You won’t need to buy bouquets, gifts, attire and so much more, and you will find that you’re a lot less stressed too.

Cut out the Band or DJ

DJs and Bands may make your wedding a little awkward if it’s only an intimate affair, and there’s really no need for one anyway. All you need to do is hire a speaker and create a playlist of your own.

The great thing about this is that you can also entrust the playlist to a select few members of the family that can choose what song is going to play. 

Don’t Do Decor and Flowers

There’s no need to use either of these – your venue will look great without the need for a lot of extra decoration. This is especially true if you are having an outdoor wedding.


Instead of paying for a bar, you can instead serve wine and beer that you have bought yourself for a low cost. You can just put it in some large metal ice buckets and your guests can self-serve as needed.

You can ask one of the guests to check every now and again that it’s fully stocked. You won’t need to pay the money for a bartender.

Omit the Save the Dates

If you’re only inviting a couple of people, don’t bother with save-the-dates. Instead you can send your invites over email. This will save a massive amount of money in the long run – invitations are expensive! 

Activities Costs

One of the best things about a small and intimate wedding is that it’s a good chance to spend a little bit of extra time with your wedding guests. This isn’t as easy to do when you are having a massive wedding consisting of more than 150 people.

You can also be a lot more creative and unique. You don’t have to push yourself – a small dinner is okay. You don’t have to dance if you don’t feel strongly about it.

Some things that you can do include organizing a tournament that you can play on the lawn. It’s a great chance to get friends and family to bond. Don’t force people to do it – it can just be a fun activity. 

There are a couple of other fun things that you can do with smaller groups. For instance, you could play giant jenga, or Bocce. You could also play giant connect four which is particularly good fun for small weddings! Here are a few more:

  • Strike ball – a great choice for particularly competitive family members!
  • Champagne pong – a good choice for a little bit of fun with alcohol. It’s a little more classy than beer pong, so a bit more suitable for a wedding. You can use wide rimmed champagne glasses. There are pre made versions on Amazon, or you can make your own. 
  • Corn Hole – this is a great game for the yard. You can do this yourself or buy a version that’s already been made on a site like Amazon.
  • Potato sack race – Remember playing this as a child? This game has been around for a really long time and it’s a lot of fun! You can even do a three legged race. You may want to change out of a bulky wedding gown for this though! 
  • Nerf Archery – get yourself a target and a nerf bow and arrow, taking turns at hitting the bullseye! It’s a really fun thing to do in a wedding, especially if you’re outdoors. It’s especially good fun when you’ve had a couple of alcoholic beverages! 

If you have young guests coming then you can create some fun things for the children to do. There are also activities that you can lay out on the tables as ice breakers. Ultimately it’s up to you!