For some people, having a small wedding is the best route to go down for the big day. They can be more intimate and aren’t as stressful to plan making them great for those who are on a budget or who don’t want to spend a lot of time finalizing lots of little details.
Especially with the 2020 global pandemic, lots of couples have had to shift their larger wedding planning to smaller events to cater to the social distancing rules.
Smaller weddings are a safer way to allow you to enjoy your day with those who are nearest and dearest to you. Luckily, there are lots of venues that can be customized for smaller ceremonies and receptions and still maintain the magic of your big day.
Even if you have a large budget and have big plans, it is easier to alter and tweak certain ideas to cater for a smaller number of people without having to compromise on any aspect. We’ve gathered everything you need to know about planning a small wedding from the budget to the execution.
What is a small wedding?
A small wedding is defined by the amount of people that are in attendance. On average, regular weddings have around 100 guests in total whereas smaller weddings will have around 50 to 60 guests.
Some even go as small as having 20 guests or less for a super tiny wedding or those who don’t really want to make a splash have a couple of people acting as witnesses and leave it at that. Whatever you want to do, you can have a small wedding catered to your own preferences.
If you’re planning your small wedding, you will find that your guest list can quickly grow from immediate family to extended relations as well as factoring in plus ones. Therefore, you want to make sure that you choose a number and stick to it. This will save you any problems in the future when you’re planning the finer details.
You may find yourself cutting off extended relatives you never see and keeping it a close affair filled with close friends and family.
Just because you’re organizing a smaller wedding, doesn’t mean you have to compromise on planning an amazing day regardless so why not make it extra special for those who mean the most to you.
A popular kind of small wedding is to have a backyard wedding. This is particularly great if you live somewhere that has a lot of greenery and beautiful scenic views.
Since the pandemic has spread, there has been a huge increase in backyard weddings because the outdoors has proven to be one of the safest options as you can easily follow social distancing measures.
Backyard weddings are a great choice for those planning a summer wedding as it will make the perfect backdrop. You can incorporate unique catering experiences this way including food trucks or lawn games for all ages and even have a fire pit to keep everyone warm during the evening.
Family Home Wedding
Another brilliant option is having a family home wedding. This is one of the most affordable ideas for those who are on a strict budget and want to hold their ceremony and reception indoors.
It doesn’t necessarily have to be your own home as you may have a relative who owns a large beautiful house. This is a great way at replicating an estate wedding if you know someone who has a large house.
Bear in mind that you want to make sure that you make sure that your guests can practice social distancing if your wedding is soon.
If you are able to pull off a family home wedding then you will save an extraordinary amount of money and can put more money into the catering should you wish.
For those wanting a small and unique wedding then look no further than a brunch wedding.
If you want to make a mark without doing lots of planning then you can simply get married in the morning followed by a lovely brunch or lunch. You can have a reception brunch at home or maybe your favorite restaurant.
This means you don’t have to worry about spending lots of money on an expensive venue or spending the entire day celebrating your wedding if that isn’t your thing.
For those who want their small wedding to be more traditional, a chapel wedding is a great route to take.
Chapels are not as large as regular churches and are non-denominational so you don’t necessarily have to incorporate a religious aspect if you don’t want to.
Chapels often have interesting and charming architecture and can be a lovely backdrop for an intimate wedding. If you are wanting a super tiny wedding or plan on eloping then a chapel is a brilliant choice for you as well.
Maybe you don’t want to get married close to home. If so then a destination wedding can double up as a holiday and your big day in one go.
You could choose somewhere you and your partner absolutely love or somewhere you have always wanted to go.
Whatever you decide, you can easily plan and curate a destination wedding for a small group without dealing with a lot of stress.
Destination weddings are a great way of incorporating the trip of a lifetime into your wedding for you, your partner and your close family and friends.
If travelling from one venue to the next is not what you want then hosting your wedding and reception at a restaurant is a great way to commemorate your big day.
It could be a restaurant that means a lot to you and your partner with many restaurants giving options to hire a private room or the whole space for the day depending.
You can have a menu curated for your big day as well as ensuring that the food is going to be suitable for all guests.
Also, you can ensure that social distancing is practiced as restaurant seating can be spaced out accordingly to suit small weddings.
City Hall Wedding
For those who really want to minimize their wedding planning or want as little fuss as possible, getting married at your local City Hall is both a wonderful and affordable way to wed.
For those who want to focus more on their reception than the ceremony itself, City Hall weddings allow you to focus your planning accordingly whilst also allowing you to be wed by a Justice of the Peace.
For those who want to plan a larger reception after the pandemic is over, you can get married at City Hall and put all of your energy into a lavish reception later down the road.
An advantage that comes with smaller weddings is that you have a lot more options when it comes to venues.
For those who want to inject a bit of uniqueness into their special day then taking the opportunity to pick an unconventional venue is a great way to make your day memorable and special as you can have a lot of fun with different ideas and kinds of venues.
This way, you’re making the day all about you!
For those who want to plan a really intimate small wedding then there is nothing more homely than hosting a lovely family dinner to celebrate your special day.
There are so many ways to interpret this idea as you can have a buffet or share a large meal. The best way to pull off this idea is by having one long table so everyone can sit around it and see each other.
If family is an important part of your life then maybe you want to incorporate special family recipes and foods into your day to make it extra nice. You could also host games, feature sentimental centerpieces filled with photographs of both parties from when they were young or when they first met.
The great thing about family dinner settings is that you can accommodate different amounts of guests. Whether you are having 10 guests or 50, there are plenty of seating options you could consider as it is a fairly simple reception to plan.
You could have a U shaped table for larger parties which can also save on space.
Low Key Wedding
Large weddings are not for everyone as they do involve a lot of planning and can cost a substantial amount depending on how many guests you are having.
For those who want a small wedding without all the bells and whistles, a low key wedding is a great way to make your day less stressful and more relaxed. Opting for a more casual vibe will help to ease everyone into the atmosphere as well as saving you lots of money.
The best thing about low key weddings is that you can be informal with all of the arrangements and serve food that you genuinely enjoy.
A lot of traditional wedding food is expensive and very particular whereas you can serve comfort foods or finger foods such as sandwiches and pizza. This is great for those who don’t want any fuss or fanfare and want to enjoy their day without worrying about everything being exact.
No Wedding Party
Lastly, you may not even want a party at all and that is okay! For those who have a small guest list, you can just have the ceremony and leave the day’s celebrations there.
You can still include details such as wedding favors and place cards for the ceremony but for those who want to minimize their budget and don’t want to spend the whole day fussing then cutting out the wedding party is a great way to achieve this.
Having a smaller wedding allows you to get more personal with your guest list.
You can make your own wedding favors or place cards at the table among many other options to inject that extra bit of personality into your wedding.
This is guaranteed to put a smile on your guests’ faces and will make your special day even more special.
Following on from your personalized touches are the special details so you can allocate your budget to splurge on aspects that you care about.
For example, maybe you’re a florist or avid gardener and want to spend a lot of money on the floral arrangements for the day or perhaps you are a keen foodie and want to make sure that you allocate a huge portion of the budget to the catering.
Small weddings are fantastic because they allow you to really think about what you like and what interests you have and give you the opportunity to inject it into your day.
You can choose to have a live band if music is more your thing or perhaps include a photo booth.
There are many opportunities to incorporate those special details that you and your guests will enjoy and make the day even more special and memorable.
Setting up lounge areas at your reception is a great way to allow your guests to relax and socialize.
The best thing about lounge areas is that you can set them up to any taste so whether you want a traditional setting or are looking for a more relaxed boho feel, your lounge areas can reflect that and enhance your theming.
One of the most important parts of a wedding are the speeches.
Traditionally the best man and maid of honor give speeches at larger weddings but when planning a smaller wedding, you can open the floor to your nearest and dearest. This will give your guests the chance to say a piece and have some input into your special day.
Of course, there is always a risk that someone may bring up embarrassing memories or incorporate unflattering and inappropriate jokes so if you have conservative family members, this may not be a wise choice.
However, if you want an informal and relaxed day then allowing anyone to make speeches is a great way to bring your guests into the big day.
A great way to save on your budget is to invite your guests virtually. This way, you’re keeping the wedding small while also being environmentally friendly and not having to stress as much about organizing your invites.
You also don’t have to worry about your invites getting lost in the post and a virtual invitation will arrive instantly.
If you have a large budget but are set on a small wedding then why not take advantage of celebrating for the entire weekend.
This is a fantastic way to extend your big day and you can arrange a variety of events whether you are having a destination wedding or keeping it local.
Small Ceremony, Large Reception
Just because you have a small wedding doesn’t mean that you have to compromise on your reception.
You can invite your close family and friends to the ceremony itself but extend more invitations for guests to attend the reception.
Make sure that you make it clear in the invitations if the guests are only invited to the reception.
Small weddings have an array of advantages that encourage you to consider planning one with the main pro being that they are less expensive overall. This is because you will have fewer guests to cater for so all of your prices are going to be reduced accordingly compared to larger weddings.
Smaller weddings also allow you to invite those who are nearest and dearest to you. This saves you the inconvenience and stress of inviting extended relatives that you have only met twice in your life. This means that you will know every single person you invite and be able to hold a conversation with them.
Another advantage is that they allow you to incorporate more DIY into your special day which is great for those who are more creative and want to bring in their personality into their invitations, decoration and favors among many other aspects.
You will also have a larger array of venues to choose from as the majority of venues can cater for smaller amounts of people. Larger weddings demand larger venues which can be difficult to source.
Lastly, the money you have saved by hosting a smaller wedding means that you can put it towards the honeymoon. If you’ve been wanting to go on the holiday of a lifetime and have been worrying about the demanding costs that come with a wedding, smaller weddings mean that you don’t have to choose one or the other.
You can still have the day you want and go on the holiday you always dreamed of.
There are a few disadvantages that come with organizing a small wedding with the main con being the guest list cuts.
If you were planning a larger wedding and are having to cut the list due to the pandemic then it may be difficult for you to cut down the list, especially if you have a lot of family and friends you were wanting to invite. This leads into another disadvantage which is that some people may be offended by your decision to have a small wedding and not invite them.
The next major disadvantage is that although you will be making huge savings compared to organizing a larger wedding, you won’t receive as many wedding gifts because you will have fewer guests.
When you start planning your wedding, it’s important to have an idea of what budget you are planning to and to keep a record of any financial spending you make.
This will stop you from spending too much money and going over your budget early which can affect other factors in the pipeline. The last thing you want to do is compromise any part of your special day.
Sorting out your own wedding means that you will be able to plan the event yourself without the help of a wedding planner.
The guest list is often left to the last minute for some couples, however, it’s important to get this done as soon as you can as you will be able to sort everything out around this.
You may find that writing a guest list will uncover many extended relations or plus ones so if you’re wanting a smaller wedding then you’ll find yourselves being a bit ruthless when it comes to deciding who is getting cut from the list and who can be invited.
Plus ones can make your small guest list spiral out of control fast. Be strict about who gets a plus one and who doesn’t.
A good rule of thumb to follow is that if someone is single or in a new enough relationship that you haven’t met their significant other, you don’t necessarily owe them a plus one.
If a guest is married or has been in a serious relationship for a long time with someone you know, you should give them the courtesy of a plus one.
For some people, the venue has already been chosen and you can come up with your guest list according to how many the venue can accommodate.
However, for those who have written their guest list first, it’s important to look up venues that can fit in your guests with ease.
With smaller weddings, finding venues can actually be a lot easier but be mindful not to book too large a space as the room will look empty and uncomfortable for all.
A variety of vendors are often booked for larger weddings but when it comes to smaller weddings, you’ll find that you can cut out the middleman easily.
This will save you time and money in the long run as there are a lot of things you can do yourself when it comes to planning a smaller wedding.
Whether it is organizing your own flowers or DIY decorations, cutting out vendors is a great way to save money.
Small touches are what make your wedding extra special.
Whether it is the favors for the guests or incorporating a unique theme, the small touches are what will make your special day memorable for you and your guests.
They don’t have to be extravagant but they can make all the difference to your decoration or your theming.
Planning a small wedding can be overwhelming for some whether it is related to the financials or the actual planning part.
Either way, do not be afraid to ask for help from your family and friends. A lot of people have been in the same boat before and will want to contribute to making your day extra special.
If you plan on incorporating a lot of DIY into your special day then you can ask for help from others to help speed up the process.
For those who want to party as long as possible, you can always host an after party for after the reception.
You could invite a select few people to continue the celebrations at a bar, restaurant or at your house.
Planning a small wedding needn’t be a stressful endeavor and even with the ongoing pandemic, it’s still possible to have the day of your dreams without having to compromise.
By taking your time with the finer details, you can easily spread your planning without feeling any stress whilst also keeping your spending within your budget.