How To Plan A Small Wedding

HOORAY! Congratulations! You are engaged and have started to plan your wedding. You and your partner started planning the wedding and thought about the number of guests and the location.

It can be a bit daunting to plan a small and intimate wedding. No matter what kind of wedding or who is planning it, planning a wedding can be stressful. But planning a small wedding comes with an extra level of stress.

“We Can Just Elope …”

You could . If and when my partner decides to marry me, I will be doing exactly that. Over the past couple of years, we’ve had many “what if?” conversations about our wedding. We decided that eloping was the best option for us. It’s not true for everyone. I am an intimate wedding specialist and have a wealth of knowledge about what couples look for in their intimate wedding.

How do you know if a small wedding is right for you?

  • You find the idea of a large wedding unappealing. It’s a pretty obvious choice. A small, intimate wedding may be the best option for you if the idea of a large ballroom filled with tables that hold 8-10 people each sounds like a logistical nightmare. A small wedding is perfect for those who do not want to manage and organize an event that includes 100+ guests but still want their VIPs at their wedding.
  • The focus should be on the interpersonal relationships between the couple and their guests. The focus is on the love between the couple and their guests.
  • Your wedding budget needs to be more flexible. You may not have enough money for some aspects of the wedding. You can be more flexible with your budget if it’s an intimate wedding.
  • A bespoke wedding experience is what you want.

You’re probably wondering what to do now that you’ve decided you want an intimate wedding. Don’t worry! You can plan the wedding you want with confidence if you follow my tips!

How to plan a small wedding with a large family

These tips are helpful for anyone, but they can be particularly useful if your future spouse or you come from a large family.

  • Set Expectations Early: I’ve been open about our plans to elope one day. That way, no one will be hurt if they don’t receive an invitation to my wedding. The same should apply to your intimate wedding. As soon as you decide to keep the wedding small, spread the word. This will make everyone in your circle expect and not. If and when you do get an invite, they will feel very special.
  • Make sure you carefully consider your guest list: If you decide to have a small wedding, each guest should be someone you can’t imagine your wedding without. Even if you enjoy spending time with Cousin Becky, it doesn’t mean that she should be a guest at your wedding. You can reflect on your relationships and think about who you want to be present to witness the most important and meaningful moment of your life. If you’re having trouble deciding who to invite, take a look at these tips.
  • Guest Intentions, Part 2: You should not only do what you want to do, but also for everyone else. This isn’t a rule; it’s more of a guideline to prevent hurt feelings amongst your family and friends. Your guest list will be so small that it’ll be obvious if someone “shouldn’t” have attended. If you decide to have only parents and siblings on your guest list, and Partner A has 2 parents and 1 sibling, and Partner B has 3 blood siblings, and 2 step siblings, you shouldn’t invite Partner A to bring in a bunch of people to make up the difference.
  • Set and hold boundaries: Unfortunately, many couples with a smaller wedding are pushed or pressured to have a larger wedding. It could be from friends or parents. Or it might not even be intentional. If this is something that happens to you, you should set boundaries and let people know that this is your wedding that you chose. You would prefer their support than their criticism. Don’t hesitate to ask your vendors for help and support.
  • Kid Policy: You probably love your nieces and/or nephews but they may not be your wedding guests. Maybe they are. You should discuss the kid policy and decide together which children will be included on your VIP guest list for a small wedding. Children need babysitters and this is one way of losing a guest who would be a great addition to your wedding. You can ruin a friendship if you sister isn’t allowed to bring her children but your best friend is.
  • Think About How you can include the uninvited: You can include those who were not invited in many different ways. Some people throw backyard barbecue parties for those who would normally be on the guest list of a large wedding. Some people send lovely post-wedding messages with a link leading to an online gallery so guests can share the event through pictures. You could livestream or record the ceremony to share later. It’s entirely up to you.
  • Some People Will Not Get It. That’s OK: You can be firm about your boundaries if you have a friend or family member who is persistent in asking why you don’t invite them to an event. Remind yourself that they are the ones being persistent, not you. Honesty is best if they continue to ask why they’re not on the list. You can tell them you are trying to keep the wedding small, so not everyone is invited. However, you would like to have them celebrate at another time.

Tips for choosing your small wedding venue

You can start looking for the right venue once you have a rough idea of how many guests you will be expecting.

  • Consider venues that are not conventional. Many traditional wedding venues require a certain number of guests to be present. Instead, look at bed & breakfasts, restaurants with upscale decor.
  • Choose the mood you want your wedding to have. Think about activities that you would like to include. One of my clients held their small wedding in a ski resort near them so they could share their passion for mountain biking on their wedding day.
  • Do you have a special place in your life? A lot of my couples who are planning intimate weddings choose their locations according to the importance they hold for them. You might choose the inn that your family visits every year, or a location you and your partner visit often. Or you may even select your backyard.
  • Consider what is included or not included in the venue. Planning a backyard wedding can be a great option, but it also means that you’ll have to account for and plan a lot of other details. When you decide to hold your wedding in a country house, the tables, chairs, and food will be taken care of.
  • Don’t forget the weather! You may be influenced by the outdoor setting or scenery when choosing a venue. One cannot predict the weather in advance. If you are planning a backyard wedding, be prepared for the possibility that it may rain on your big day. Ask your venue about indoor options or a backup rain plan (like a canopy) in case of rain.

Tips for choosing small wedding vendors

Some vendors will not be a good match for a small wedding. Consider these tips for choosing the right vendor for your wedding.

  • Wedding planner: To some, it may seem frivolous to spend money on a small wedding. But a good planner will save you time, stress and money. You should look for planners with a lot of experience in backyard weddings and small weddings. They are more likely understand your vision during the wedding planning process.
  • Wedding photographer: Select a wedding photographer who’s portfolio matches the mood you want to create for your big day, and with whom you feel comfortable. You’ll be with your photographer for the majority of your wedding, so make sure you like them and they understand and appreciate what you want to achieve ( as I do).
  • Catering: If you have a restaurant at your venue, then hurray! If not, you may want to consider this: some caterers have a minimum number of guests for their service. You can also get creative with catering and choose to have a more family-style buffet, hire a mobile food truck, or opt for a different type of catering, such as a barbecue buffet.
  • Entertainment: For large weddings, there is often a DJ. You may still decide to have one at your small wedding. If you do not plan to have a dance-filled reception, hiring live musicians for ambiance music is a great alternative. You can also include lawn games in your cocktail hour or reception activities.
  • Florist: Select a florist that can see your vision and will work with your on small floral design requirements for your wedding. You may not have bridesmaids who need bouquets, and you’d rather spend that money on a floral installation. Some florists will work within your budget and have a set minimum.
  • Officiant: This is someone you will want to be sure that you are comfortable with and understands your small wedding. You can choose to hire an officiant or a Justice of the Peace, or a person who has been ordained. Or you can choose a friend or family member via ordainment.
  • Glam squad: It is highly recommended that brides hire a professional makeup and hair artist to create their wedding look. This is your chance to be pampered. But I’ve also seen brides and bridesmaids doing their own makeup and hair for a smaller wedding and they looked just as stunning. What matters is the experience and look you desire. You may find that DIY hair and make-up for your wedding can take more time than you expect, regardless of whether you do it yourself or ask a friend to help you. HMUAs have been professionally trained to achieve the look that you desire in a timely manner.
  • Where To Stay: Your wedding day is a special occasion and you want to be able rest your head in a place that will make you feel relaxed. You may want to consider your own home for a backyard ceremony, the wedding suite in your country-inn venue or a completely different location. When you choose a wedding that is off the beaten track, finding a place to stay may be more difficult.

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