A lot of people dream of having a large wedding that looks like it could be plucked from a fairytale; however, thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic, couples have been forced to organize smaller weddings with reduced guest lists and smaller venues.
Although this may have been disappointing, having a small wedding actually comes with a variety of advantages that may sway your mind.
Although a small wedding may sound easier to plan than a large wedding, it can take just as much work because you have to consider all of the same elements on a smaller scale.
We’ve gathered everything you need to know about planning a small wedding and what you need to consider as well as some handy tips to give you some inspiration.
What is a small wedding?
So the first question you may be asking yourself is what is considered a small wedding? Small weddings are mainly defined by the amount of guests in attendance. The average wedding usually has around 100 or more guests in attendance so when planning a smaller wedding, you’ll most likely be planning a guest list of 60 people or less.
The amount of people you have depends on your preference but you could go for a tiny wedding with select family and friends with around 20 guests or have a private ceremony with a couple of witnesses.
Having a smaller wedding can help to make your special day more intimate by spending it with your nearest and dearest and although it may seem a shame to whittle down your guest list, it may prove beneficial in the long run.
Some couples know that they want a small wedding from the very beginning but for others, it may be difficult to know how small they should make their wedding. Here we discuss the advantages and disadvantages that come with planning a small wedding so you can know what to expect:
Advantages of planning a small wedding
As mentioned before, planning a small wedding comes with an array of benefits that are important to consider and can help to provide the incentive to organize the day of your dreams. Here are the advantages that come with planning a smaller wedding:
The first advantage to discuss is that small weddings are less expensive. The extra money that you do save can be put towards more lavish expenses in your wedding to make it an even better day or perhaps you can put it towards your honeymoon or for future savings.
Whatever you decide, saving money is the main reason why people opt for a small wedding in the first place.
Limited guest list
The limited guest list is a double edged sword as it serves as both an advantage and disadvantage. The reason why it can be advantageous is that you can whittle your guest list down so only people that you know well and really care about will be attending.
Having to encounter second cousins and other distant relatives you never really see can be awkward at best and being able to hold a conversation with your guests is a hugely important part of making your day special.
Following on from having a smaller budget, small weddings are great for the more creative types as you can incorporate more DIY into your preparation by making your own invitations, wedding favors and much more regardless of what your hobby is.
Whether you love to draw or knit, there are plenty of ways you can incorporate your skills into your big day.
Lastly, having a small wedding can open your venue options tremendously as you’ll be able to view more potential venues and be able to find somewhere that perfectly suits your vision.
Disadvantages of planning a small wedding
Planning a small wedding can be extremely fun but it’s important to be aware of the disadvantages that go with the planning process so you know what to expect and to prevent any stress or disappointment. Here are the disadvantages about small weddings that you should know:
Guest list cuts
As mentioned before in the advantages section, the decreased guest list also serves as a disadvantage in that you may find it difficult to reduce the number of guests, especially if you had initially planned for a large wedding.
Although some people may be easy to cut out, there may come a point where you start to find it difficult if you need to meet quota. This can also cause some people to be offended if they are not invited so be ready for a bit of confrontation.
This may not be a big deal to some couples but with less guests comes fewer gifts. If you ask for certain gifts such as money for a honeymoon then be aware that you may not get as much as if you have a larger wedding.
One of the first things you need to think about when organizing your wedding is the venue where you’ll be holding it. It’s important to make sure that not only does it fulfil your own expectations and criteria but also can cater for the amount of people you intend to invite.
If you had originally planned a large wedding then you’ll have to rearrange as the venue will be too big for the amount of people you’ll have to invite for a smaller wedding. Here are some venue ideas to give you some inspiration if you are unsure on the choices.
For those who want to keep their budget as small as possible then it doesn’t get much cheaper than getting married at the family home. If you live in a beautiful house or know someone who does, you can hold your wedding day there both indoors and outdoors if they have ample garden space.
A hugely popular kind of wedding venue are lavish estates but if you know someone who lives in a house like that then you can save a lot of money from your final budget and focus on the other aspects.
For those who love this idea but don’t have a home like this then you can choose to hire out an AirBnB for the day which is a much cheaper option than going somewhere more commercial which can cost thousands of dollars.
Following on from a family home wedding, you could always opt for a backyard reception. Great for those who are determined to get married outdoors and want to spend as much time in the sunshine as possible, a backyard wedding is the perfect choice for smaller weddings.
You can easily change any garden space to the perfect wedding reception area and still have a wonderful day. If your own garden isn’t suitable then maybe you know someone who has a larger garden area and will be happy to accommodate you.
Whatever your theme, this can save you a huge amount in the long run and make your wedding day more family orientated and less stressful.
For those who want a traditional wedding but don’t want to get married in a larger church then a small chapel may be the perfect option for you. The great thing about chapels is that they can cater to non-denominational couples if you want a traditional setting without the religious aspect as well as incorporating religious vows if you want to.
There are many cute options across the US that are sure to take your breath away and also some iconic institutions including a certain chapel in Vegas that is popular for eloping couples.
For those who want to spend the whole day celebrating then a great idea is having the ceremony in the morning and then hosting a special brunch filled with your favorite foods.
Not only is this a unique idea but it’s ideal for those who want to forego the traditional dinner time reception and allow you to set yourself apart from other weddings. It also means that you won’t spend the majority of the day feeling nervous about the ceremony and you can spend the majority of your day with your significant other.
If you are passionate about food and want to make sure that the cuisine plays a big part in your special day then having a restaurant wedding is the perfect way to do this. It could be a restaurant that means a lot to you such as where you had your first date or where you often frequent.
A lot of restaurants have an adjoining function room which you can rent for the whole day which will mean that your venue and catering is sorted with one booking and the decor can be done by the restaurant for you at an extra charge.
For those who have a bigger budget but want to keep their wedding small then a destination wedding is a great idea. Destination weddings have always been hugely popular and having a small wedding doesn’t mean that you can’t go abroad.
Although they cost more upfront, they can also double up as a honeymoon if you choose somewhere you have always wanted to go. You could also choose somewhere that means a lot to you.
Because of their high costs, destination weddings mean that the guest list will have to be extremely restricted and are a good incentive to reduce your list.
For those who want to take as much stress away from the planning process as possible then getting married at City Hall is the option for you. The perfect choice for those who want a lowkey wedding, City Hall provides a lot of versatility in terms of how many guests you want as well as what you can do for the reception afterwards.
A lot of couples also get married at City Hall and then have their reception at a later date if they want to splurge on a huge party but don’t have the funds to do so.
Other unique venues
Lastly, there are many unique venues that you can consider. Whether it is a local theater or museum, there are plenty of venues available for those who want to avoid the traditional pathway. You can really make your special day one that is specifically unique for you and your requirements.
Ideas to make your day even more special
Now that you’ve decided what kind of venue you want to book, there are plenty of other things you need to think about when you are planning to make sure that you have the day that you’ve always dreamed of. Here are some ideas to help inspire your planning to give you the best day and most enjoyable planning experience:
The first way you can make your small wedding even more personable to you is by incorporating your favorite foods into the menu. Whether you want to do a family style dinner or have dishes that you and your partner love to eat, making the dinner special to you is going to mean that you are having food that you actually enjoy.
This is hugely important, especially if you don’t want to go down the traditional route when it comes to catering. The food is a huge part of the day and it’s important that you choose something that you really enjoy. Just be sure to get dietary requirements from your guests and make sure there are alternative options for them just in case.
Cutting the wedding party
This may come as a shock to some people but cutting the wedding party is actually more common than what you would think.
For couples who want to cut the cost of their wedding and have already reduced their guest list, cutting out the wedding party means that you are saving a lot of money. This doesn’t mean that you don’t have your wedding reception but the party afterwards so everyone will be able to take part in your special day.
Smaller guest lists mean that you can add more personalized touches to your wedding favors and other aspects of your wedding. Whether you design your own personalized place cards for the table or the invitations, there is plenty you can do. The attention to detail is something that your guests will take notice of.
If you want to have a more relaxed reception then organizing and arranging your venue to accommodate a lounging area is a fantastic way to do so.
You can incorporate large comfortable couches or big arm chairs or perhaps floor pillows and blankets is more your style. Whatever style you want to exude, this can be done via the lounging area. It will also provide your guests with ample photo opportunities and help to make the space more inviting.
One of the most traditional parts of a wedding are the speeches. Usually important figures such as the best man and maid of honor will provide speeches but you can choose to make it an open mic if you have a smaller wedding.
This is because you will be surrounded by your nearest and dearest and they should be able to have something to say about you or your partner.
This does come with a level of risk as someone may say something demeaning or rude so bear this in mind if you have more conservative views. This suggestion is for the more relaxed and laid back couples.
For couples whose plans have been affected by COVID-19, you can incorporate virtual factors into your special day which is also a great money saving tactic. You can have a small wedding with limited family and friends in attendance but then reach out to a larger circle and invite them to join via apps like Zoom.
Not only does this mean that you save money by catering for those who are actually in attendance but it also means that no one is left out so there won’t be any disappointed phone calls or panicking about offending people.
As we have discussed, a smaller wedding means that you will have more money to spend on your guests to make it an even more memorable experience for them.
For those who have a larger budget and want to keep the wedding small, you can make it a weekend celebration. This can be done by opting for a destination wedding or you can keep it local and hire out an estate for the weekend so everyone can relax and have a good time.
Small ceremony and large reception
For those who love the idea of having a small wedding but want to have a large reception, you can! A lot of couples invite less people to the ceremony and extend invitations to even more people for the reception so they can celebrate with all their family and friends.
It is important to make it clear on the invite if you are inviting someone to the reception only and not the reception and vice versa. This can make your ceremony more special as you will be surrounded by your nearest and dearest.
However, remember that it can cause the reception to cost more as there will be more people.
What you need to consider when planning
Before you book anything for your wedding, you need to have a plan in place to ensure that you have control over everything. Not only will this help you financially but it will also mean that you can easily keep on track of everything and reduce the amount of stress that can come with wedding planning.
These tips will make your wedding planning more enjoyable and will mean that you can have the day you’ve always dreamed of without rushing into anything.
The first thing you will always have to think about when coming up with your plan is your budget. No matter what your wants and desires are, you have to make sure that your wedding day stays within your financial needs.
As previously discussed, smaller weddings can save you a lot of money so it is perfect for those who want to cut costs where they can. It also means that you probably won’t need the assistance of a wedding planner as you can do it all yourself.
It’s best to have the guest list completed sooner rather than later as this will help you to figure out how many people you plan on having. It will also help to take the burden away when it comes to cutting down your guest list as you can start to plan your wedding around the reduced guest list.
If you leave it too late, you may feel as though you have to invite friends of friends and distant relatives when you don’t have the space. Therefore, having a concrete list from the outset is going to benefit you enormously in the long run and take that stress away as you delve into the planning process.
Following on from your guest list, when planning a small wedding, you may find that you have to restrict the amount of plus ones allowed at the wedding.
The best way to decide if someone is allowed a plus one is by thinking about who they may bring. If you don’t know or haven’t met their plus one, then there’s no need to extend the invitation for them as the guest list is restricted enough as is.
However, if the person has been in a long term relationship with someone you know then you should extend the invitation to them.
Now comes the tricky part which is booking various vendors which includes your decorations, catering and flowers among many others.
You can opt to do as much DIY to help cut costs and make the day more personable as professional vendors can be quite expensive but for those who want to take as much stress away from the planning then vendors are the best choice as they do all the work for you.
Your wedding day is going to be one of the most special days of your life and adding in those personal touches will mean that your guests will remember it for years to come.
You can add plenty of details and personal touches in every aspect of your planning to make it a day that is extra special for you and your partner. Whether it is through the food by picking out dishes that are special to you to making the wedding favors yourself, there is so much you can do to make your day even more special.
Asking for help
A lot of people on a strict budget can’t afford a wedding planner or maybe you don’t want to have one at all. Regardless, don’t be afraid to ask for help from your family and friends.
If you’re wanting to make your wedding as much of a DIY experience as possible then getting lots of help is going to be necessary if you want beautiful results. It also means that you don’t have the entire stress of the wedding on your shoulders.
For those who want to make the most of their special day and continue it long after the reception is over then don’t forget to organize an afterparty. It can take place anywhere you want whether it is a restaurant, bar or even your own home.
Planning a small wedding doesn’t have to be stressful and can be such an enjoyable experience if you follow this guide. You now know everything there is to know when it comes to planning your special day so you can reduce the amount of stress and start to get excited without panicking about the little details.