Bigger is not always better when it comes to weddings. Plenty of couples are ditching the big banquet hall and instead, they’re planning a small wedding.
“There are so many creative ideas out there to make your special day the best it can be,” says Michael Fried from Sonacity Photography. “Having a smaller, more intimate wedding allows you to be closer to everyone there. It makes the time extremely special.”
Especially with today’s new normal of physical distancing, planning a small wedding could be a necessity.
“In the current climate, some guests are worried to go to large events like weddings. By having fewer guests the ones attending are likely to feel more comfortable if fewer people are in attendance,” says Brandy Douglas of Dragonfly Farms FL.
With that in mind, we have 5 tips for planning a small wedding that suits your needs.
Start from scratch on the list
Arguably the hardest part of a small wedding is deciding who’s not coming. Making a guest list can be a challenge when space is limited. The key is to invite those that make you the happiest.
“It can be all-too-easy to worry about making ‘that one aunt’ upset. A decent way to handle it is to start the list over. Sounds more daunting than it is,” says Rodriguez. “Rather than scratch names off the big list, add names to a new shortlist. It’ll help you stay positive and focus on who you want to be there vs who might miss out.”
If you’re still having trouble, contact your guests to double-check they can make it to your wedding.
“Give them a call to ensure they are willing and able to attend. After, follow up with your close friends and do the same,” recommends Illeana Mercedes from Rentaland Tent & Event Rental. “In the circumstances, we are living it is important to make sure your guests feel comfortable gathering and traveling if they have to.”
Pick a venue perfect for you
Smaller weddings offer you more flexibility on where to hold your ceremony and reception.
Smaller venues can mean more affordable options as well.
Never underestimate what can be done to a backyard to make it special for you and your guests.
“It’s all about creating the right atmosphere through romantic lighting, comfortable seating, and the right music,” says Williamson.
Of course, a small wedding doesn’t necessarily mean a small venue. It depends on your needs and comfort level.
“Look at the space and if the reception hall is too large you may want to add the catering in the reception hall or add a photo booth,” recommends Club Lake Wedding Venue, Natalie Perche. “Right now with the 6 feet distancing a larger reception hall and larger dance floor are ideal.”
Regardless of its size, it’s got to be a good fit for you.
“It really is more than a look but a feel,” says Douglas. “If the venue is in the budget, gives you the ‘feels’ and makes you smile, it’s probably the right venue.”
Set your budget
Speaking of budget, make sure you set one ahead of time. Smaller weddings do help offset the costs of several wedding necessities.
“The biggest costs when planning a wedding are catering and bar,” says Williamson. “With smaller weddings, your food and beverage bill will be significantly less as the cost is directly dependent on the number of people. Your floral/decor cost will be less as there will be fewer tables to design.”
But just because you’re having a small wedding, doesn’t mean it can’t get pricey.
“The overall cost depends on more than guest count alone, the quality and quantity of services booked can add up. A smaller wedding has just as many moving parts as a large scale wedding,” warns Lee from BLB Hacidenda.
Remember some vendors charge the same rate, no matter the number of guests.
“The officiant, the photographer, DJ, and others still have the same amount of time invested as a larger wedding,” says Pastor Mike.
“One common misconception about a smaller wedding is that they may not need a DJ. There will still be a ceremony and vows, in which a DJ provides AV and music. There will most likely still be a first dance and special dances, which your DJ can help create that soundtrack,” says Kristin Wilson from Our DJ Rocks.
You’ll have to think about how long you need certain vendors who charge an hourly rate.
“For instance, if you are having a photo booth experience you may only need 3 hours instead of 5 thus saving up to $500.00,” says Douglas. “With fewer people, the length of the reception, maybe 4 hours instead of 5 hours leading to overall budget savings for all vendors servicing your wedding.”
Plan to be more engaged with guests
The advantage of a small wedding is you get to spend more time with each guest.
“A smaller wedding means you have more quality time with the people you love that are there and you are not as distracted during the wedding having to make your rounds to say hello to people,” says Brittney Bouche from Orlando Wedding and Party Rentals.
Use that extra time to make the wedding more interactive for you and your guests.
“Incorporate intimate details that you may not be able to do at a large wedding, such as warming of the rings,” Lee recommends of this post-pandemic idea. “All your guests pass the rings along for a personal blessing. Getting photos with each guest is also priceless.”
Engaging your guests can help create a memorable experience for everyone in attendance.
“Small weddings are a unique opportunity to revel in the intimacy and spend quality time with a close-knit group,” Rodriguez tells us. “We always seek to create special moments of connection between myself and the guests, as well as the guests with each other. Smaller weddings make those moments all the more powerful and engaging.”
Add special touches
A smaller wedding also allows you to add extra touches to make your wedding day even more special.
“You can have a micro wedding, but provide a macro experience for you and your guests,” says Lang. “Smaller weddings are perfect for the couple who wants to focus on the details and the elements that are most important to you.”
If you saved money by having a smaller wedding, this is where you can use the extra change to make your day stand out.
“Some couples opt to keep their original budget and invite fewer guests allowing them to ‘spoil’ their friends and family with items like gourmet food, upscale take-home gifts, and/or an elevated bar experience to name a few,” says Douglas.
Smaller weddings have the opportunity to do things that couples with bigger weddings just can’t afford.
“Use your savings to add the items you weren’t considering before due to being over budget, like the specialty sweetheart table, or that candy display you thought was cute,” said Bouche.
So, if you can cut your guest list without a sweat, a smaller wedding might be right for you. It’s still a lot of work, but it can also provide a lot of fun. It takes out the stress of planning a large elaborate wedding and allows you to focus on what’s really important. “As an officiant, I tell couples that it doesn’t matter if there are five people, fifty people or 500 people in the audience, the ceremony is all about them,” said Pastor Mike. It’s important for you to look back on your wedding and not think of it as small, but big on love.
Written by Daniella Hume