For some reason movies and social media are over-populated with huge weddings! You know, the kind of weddings that have like 15 bridesmaids, 15 groomsmen and about 200 hundred guests in attendance. Like… dude, where did you get all these people from? did you invite the Trader Joes staff along with your entire high school graduating class?
I want you to know that it is so totally doable to have a wedding with a small guest list, and you can have it feel as intimate and small as you want. It could be that you have a small family, or a small budget, or both. Or simply, you want to personally have a bond with everyone you invite. If this is you.. then keep on reading, I have 5 tips for you on how to go about it.
Tip #1: Prioritize your top guests:
Before you decide how small or big to make your wedding, you need to list your VIPs. Who do you need to be there on that day? Who is 100% RSVPing yes as soon as you send out the invite? Make a list of these people as they will be a solid foundation for your guest list. Then, start working your way towards considering cousins, distant relatives, colleagues, and friends you do not see often.
The guests that you are not certain if they will come, or that are not a resounding YES get put into a B list. If anyone from your VIP list can’t come, or if more spots open up, then you will pull from the B list guests.
Tip # 2: Prepare for some backlash:
Chances are that when you are hosting an intimate wedding, some people will have to be cut from your wedding day, and it is very possible that feelings could be hurt.
Of course, if at all possible, avoid wedding talk in front of the non-invited people, but if the topic comes up, a great way to avoid hurt feelings is to have a prepared alibi. Whatever you do, don’t say that you only invited those close to you.. you may end up making things even worse. Maybe you could say your venue was very strict with the guest count, and that you’ve had to make some hard choices. Or perhaps, money was tight because you are saving up for xyz, so you decided to downsize the wedding. Maybe you could promise that you’ll definitely invite them to the vow renewal ceremony.. for sure! — I’m not saying you should lie… but this can be quite a sticky subject to deal with, proceed with caution.
Tip # 3: Stay away from big venues when location shopping
There is no use in going to hotels, or big wedding venues, if you already know your wedding will be on the small side. Most of these places will require a minimum guest count, and vast spaces will make your small group of guests seem scattered, and your wedding unattended. Great options to look at are bed and breakfasts, airbnb’s, restaurants (especially those with nice views, or patios), or even your own backyard.
Tip # 4 : Make it clear to your vendors from the get-go that you are looking to have a small wedding.
One of the first thing vendors ask for is your guesstimate on the guest count. Do not over-inflate the guest count in hopes of scoring that hard to get vendor, and make it a point to make sure that the vendors know how to work with smaller wedding venues. If you are a bride that suddenly changed their mind in favor of a small wedding, let your booked vendors know ASAP that you are planning on shrinking the list.
Tip # 5: Splurge where you want!
At an average of $90 per plate, most brides have to work with strict budgets if they want a big wedding. Since your wedding will be of smaller proportions, you can pick and choose freely where your money can go. Cutting 30 people off of your guest list, and getting catering from a local restaurant sure makes that $2700 designer dress seem much more attainable.
A smaller guest list could mean more room to personalize the experience for your guests. This could mean menus with the guest’s name, pictures included with the thank you cards after the wedding, or maybe a playlist that include’s everyone’s favorite song
Tip # 6: Do not go DYI crazy:
Just because it is a small wedding, does not mean you have to get your hands on everything. Personal touches are great, but when it comes to DYIing, proceed with caution. You should still delegate, you should still hire professionals, and you should still allow yourself time to relax before the wedding. This means that even if it is a small wedding, you should leave the food to the caterers, the hair and makeup to the artists and the flowers to the florist. Choose your DIY battles carefully. Trust me, your sanity will thank me later.
Tip # 7: Plan your wedding reception timeline freely.
Having less guests means that you will need to spend less time waiting for everyone to find their seat, herding crowds through buffet lines, or waiting for everyone to settle down before meals can be served. This extra flexibility could open up for a truly customizable experience for your guests. Maybe instead of 5 speeches, you could ask your nieces to perform a dance, or perhaps you can linger for a bit longer when you are visiting table to table. Maybe you could hire a mixologist and have the adults learn how to make your signature drink, and even include a magician or clown to entertain the kids.
Tip #8: Re-evaluate your wedding party.
If you are inviting 60 people (or even less) to your wedding then it would not make much sense to have 10 bridesmaids and 10 groomsmen at the altar with you. Consider shrinking down the wedding party, or even re-evaluate having one all-together.
Tip # 9: Expect to Receive Less Gifts.
A big plus of a large wedding is that there are more gifts coming home with you when it is all said and done. This means both material stuff, and cold-hard cash. This means that if you do splurge for your intimate wedding, you should lower your expectations of how much cash you will get back to repay your debt (if you took on any).
Tip # 10: Prepare for a Relaxed Day.
Hopefully everybody you have invited will be close to you, so you will feel personally connected to everybody who will be in attendance. This means that there won’t be as much pressure to perform, dazzle, and impress on your wedding day.