If the mere thought of a big wedding with a huge guest list scares you, you are not alone. Some couples dream of a big celebration with several hundred family members, friends and acquaintances, others prefer to keep things intimate.
Small weddings can vary in size, but typically include around 20 to 80 people and are just as special – and potentially much cheaper – than large celebrations.
Wondering how to accomplish the perfect small wedding? TMRW went to the pros to get some tips. With their help, you’ll be checking off your to-do list and getting one step closer to marital bliss in no time.
1. Choose your guest list carefully
Narrowing your guest list to the bare minimum for a small wedding isn’t easy, but there are a few ways to make the process a little less painful. “Start with your must-have invitations – your parents, siblings, close relatives, members of your wedding party and significant other,” Samantha Iacia, Associate Editor of WeddingWire, told TMRW.
Sometimes when hosting a small celebration, family members and friends are quick to pressure you to make exceptions and add a few more people to your guest list, but sticking to your guns is important.
“Sit down with your parents or immediate family and understand how many people are invited and how you as a couple choose who to invite,” said Maggie Lord, David’s Bride vice president, director of partnerships and founder of the popular wedding blog, “Rustic Wedding Chic”. “One historical wedding advice that works well for a small wedding guest list is to only invite people who would host you for dinner at your home.”
If you feel guilty about not inviting friends of your parents, neighbors, or coworkers, feel free to stream your ceremony live anytime so everyone can feel included.
“Sending physical invitations to a virtual wedding is one way to make the ceremony special. You can add written instructions on how to attend the event or add a QR code that guests scan with their phones,” suggested Iacia in front.
2. Find a meaningful place
Small weddings are all about intimate, meaningful moments, and your venue can set the tone for the entire celebration. The options are almost limitless, but here are some small wedding venues that wedding professionals recommend:
- Local and national parks: “It’s hard to beat the epic views of Rocky Mountain National Park or the thick forests of Smoky Mountain National Park for your magical day,” said Janessa White, co-founder of Simply Eloped. “Just don’t forget to contact the park to see if a permit is required.”
- Barns, Gardens and Historic Properties: “These are perfect places for a small wedding as you can keep the glamor you want for the day without having to invest in a large space,” said Lord.
- Backyards: “Backyard weddings are a blast! You have the freedom to design the ambience and feel of your ceremony as you wish. If you’re not afraid to customize your ceremony, we are very supportive of backyard weddings, “said White.
- Make it personal: “I love it when couples hold their ceremonies in a meaningful place – like the place they got engaged or first fell in love. Sometimes places like this don’t have room for a large group. But when the group size is is smaller, a lot more venues are realistic, “said White.
3. Make the decor special
Working with a smaller guest list means you have more money to devote to details like decor and that can make the experience even more special and personal.
“Weddings are all about magic. Regardless of the size of the event, the decor should always reflect the couple’s personality and vision for the day,” Lord told TMRW.
If you give it your all and use bold colors and large flower arrangements, your small wedding will feel a lot bigger and give you the best of both worlds.
“The easiest way to make a big impact no matter where a wedding is going is to add great lighting like fairy lights, lanterns and loads of candlelight along with big floral statements. Flowers scream wedding, such big centerpieces, flower garlands and beautiful bouquets Everyone is helping to bring the day to life, “said Lord.
4. Make your reception sweet
A large, elaborate wedding cake may seem a little out of place at a smaller wedding, but there really aren’t any rules when it comes to your favorite dessert. Apart from that, small wedding cakes are practical for a more intimate celebration and still offer you the opportunity to use the coveted photo opportunity “cutting the cake”.
Still, if you want a small wedding cake for yourself and your spouse, you can get creative and serve your guests some ready-to-use dessert options.
“I love the idea of dessert trucks like ice cream trucks or cupcake trucks and they are perfect for a small wedding because there can be long lines at a large event making for unhappy guests,” said Lord.
Small weddings are generally cheaper than larger celebrations. If you want to offer guests a few desserts to choose from, you most likely have some leeway in your budget.
“You can serve cakes along with other desserts that suit your personal taste, such as cupcakes, cakes or donuts. Guests enjoy a few different dessert options, especially if there is a personalization aspect, such as an ice cream bar with do-it-yourself toppings or bite-sized petit fours in a variety of flavors, “said Iacia.
5. Remember how special a small wedding can be
Whether you’ve always dreamed of a small wedding or planning one due to budget constraints or COVID-19 regulations, remember that a small wedding can be just as important.
“For many couples, a small wedding is ideal because they can fully engage with each of their guests and choose a more intimate atmosphere for the day,” said Lord.
A smaller celebration usually also takes the pressure off the happy couple so that they can just enjoy their big day.
“Inviting only your closest friends and relatives to the wedding is a solution for newlyweds who may feel overwhelmed by the thought of being in the spotlight for an entire day or impressing hundreds of people with a grand celebration,” said Iacia.