Sometimes, the thought of a big, expensive and lavish wedding is too much for some people. Gathering a load of friends, family and even acquaintances can be a little overwhelming, and you may just want to celebrate your love in a smaller, more intimate way.
The average wedding can cost upwards of $24,000, with an estimated $55 billion spent on the wedding industry in the US every single year!
This is why a small wedding can be so attractive for some couples. It cuts out all of the fuss, and any unnecessary guests that you do not particularly want there, whilst also making your wedding feel extra special for much less money.
In comparison, if you choose to have a small wedding, of up to 50 guests maximum, you are more likely to be looking at spending about $8,500. Whilst prices may vary depending on where you get married, how and the amount of guests, this is a huge difference to the average cost of a wedding.
This means that you can save so much more money for other things such as purchasing a home together, or having an unforgettable honeymoon to start off your marriage.
Luckily for you, we are here to help you cut down costs and organize the perfect small wedding. With our breakdown, hints and tips, you will know exactly how to budget, and ensure that your wedding is intimate, small and perfect.
Breakdown of Costs
Let’s be honest with ourselves. A wedding is still going to be expensive, big or small, as there are many things that you will have to account for.
There’s always going to be food to pay for, a ceremony, and a reception at least, so let’s take a look at the general costs of these things for a smaller wedding.
Typically, food will cost about $35 a person, which includes the dish, serving and delivery costs for the venue.
For 50 guests, this amounts to about $1750, but if your guestlist is smaller, then this cost can be reduced.
If you choose to have a limited bar, or have one where you buy the alcohol yourselves, then you are looking at spending about $750.
To keep costs down, we would not recommend an open bar!
Ceremony and Reception
For the ceremony, you will have to hire a venue, and you will need table and chair venues for the reception. This can often cost the most in a wedding, as you are looking at about $4000-$5000 depending on where you choose.
If you have a very small guest list, then you may be able to locate a small, intimate, and unique venue such as a museum, local gardens or farms.
If you want to save money on your wedding, then you can hire the attire.
After all, a wedding dress is only going to be worn for one day, so you do not have to spend thousands of dollars on this single item!
Keep a budget in mind, of say $500-750 for renting suits and attire.
You are looking at around $200-$250 for hiring a DJ or a band, or speaker equipment.
If you have a music savvy friend or family member, then maybe you can offer them a smaller fee for being the DJ for the night!
Photography is one of the parts of the wedding you do not really want to skimp out on, as these pictures will be there to commemorate the day forever.
The average cost of a basic photography wedding package is about $1000.
Hair and Makeup
You can save money by doing these yourself, but if you do want to be pampered for your big day, then you are looking at about $300.
Flowers, Invitations and Save the Dates
For these, you can be a bit inventive. You can make your own invitations, and save the dates or send them out over email, it is up to you.
You can also get crafty with some table centerpieces and wedding favors to cut the costs down a little!
We recommend that you save about $250-$400 extra, just in case anything goes wrong, or is more expensive than you originally anticipated.
The total for all of this is around $8500-$8750!
How to Cut Down on Costs
We can already save you money by having a smaller wedding, but there are also many easy ways to cut down on other costs and expenses!
For instance, you should think about all of the things you definitely want for your day, but also those things that you do not need.
Try not to organize or do things for the sake of tradition, or because your great-grandmother would want you to. It is your day, and you are paying for it, so do what you want to do. You do not have to make anyone else happy (except for your partner).
The best bit of advice we can give you is to keep in mind what you want, what the day is going to be like, and stick to it.
Do not listen to what anyone else says, if you want a small wedding, and a cost efficient wedding, then keep to the plan! You do not have to invite your fourth cousin, three times removed just to please your mom.
To cut down on costs, you could even choose to get married at a local park, public beach, or even in a family member’s backyard. Some places may not be traditional wedding venues, but with a few flowers, fairy lights and decorations, you really can make the most of them.
You can also rent or hire wedding attire for the day to save spending on a dress or suit that you will never wear again! You could also check places like Facebook Marketplace, or Gumtree for second hand wedding attire, as they have most likely only been worn for a single day!
Another way to cut down on costs is to just make your own amazing playlist instead of hiring a DJ or a band. This way, you also have full control over what songs are played and you will know what ones your friends and family will love anyway!
You can also have a camping party rather than a hotel wedding, where guests can pitch up and stay in a local campsite or forest, depending on your venue. You can decorate with pretty lights, and have a BBQ or potluck for a meal instead of paying for expensive caterers!
We recommend that the best way to save money on a wedding is to keep the guestlist short. With less people, you have to pay for less drinks, meals, party favours, tables, seats, and bouquets. You can also skip the flowers, and make your own decorations yourselves!
You could also have a limited bar, with self service. All you have to do is buy wine and beer at wholesale, and keep stocking the bar throughout the night. Guests can then help themselves from ice buckets, and you do not have to pay for a bartender!
Try to DIY things as best as you can. This will truly keep down the costs, but you should gauge first how much it costs to buy all of the craft supplies and items yourself, and the time it will take you to actually make things yourself.
This way, you can gauge whether it is worth the DIY or just paying someone to do some things for you.
Fun, Cheap Activities for Your Wedding
One of the greatest things about smaller weddings is that they are so much less hassle. You can focus more on spending time with family and friends, or valued guests instead of worrying about your big day!
With a smaller guest list, you get quality time with those people who matter, instead of trying to please 150-200 guests at once!
In addition, a small wedding allows you to have full control over what happens throughout the day. For instance, you can organize fun events, dances, and party activities for you and your guests to participate in.
For example, you can start a dance party, or a barn dance if you are having a small rustic wedding. You could also organize lawn tournaments, where you can pitch guests against each other in fun games, and really break the ice between people who do not know each other well.
We recommend playing games like beer pong, or giant jenga for a barrel of laughter and fun. You can also personalize your giant jenga blocks with a sharpie with fun questions, dares or drinking games to play!
We love the idea of a family nerf gun battle, or you could set up archery targets for a little fun activity for younger guests and big kids too.
You can play trivia games, or spin the bottle, or even start a potato sack race. Try pitching the bride’s guests against the groom’s to see who wins and who is more competitive! This will really be a conversation starter, and set up a fun, and family friendly evening.
We also recommend buying a load of film cameras, and placing some on each table, for guests to take pictures throughout the day. This idea is perfect for lowkey, smaller and intimate weddings as this can sometimes replace the need for a photographer, but also provides fun pics of all of your friends and family.
This could also work as a great backup, and offer some pictures for you to enjoy before the photographer sends you theirs versions.
Getting married should be a wonderful, joyful and memorable experience for you and your partner. The day is about celebrating the love you have for each other, and does not have to be a big, huge affair.
Sometimes, smaller weddings are great for spending valuable time with those who matter, whilst also cutting back on the expense of a wedding.
With a few of our tips, you can have a special day, no matter what the cost is.