5 Tips for planning a small wedding
2020 brought about a lot of changes for weddings. Perhaps the biggest change was the rise in small micro-weddings. In the summer and autumn of 2020, small weddings were more of a requirement due to local mandates. But as more and more couples started giving up on the big weddings they were planning and opting to fully embrace the more intimate and less expensive wedding with a smaller guest list, people started realizing just how much they enjoyed them.
Smaller weddings have a natural intimacy to them that you just can’t get at a larger wedding. Couples discovered they loved the freedom to do more of what they wanted and invite only the most special guests to their wedding. Smaller weddings allowed couples to spend more time with family members and guests to have more meaningful connections on the wedding day. With micro-weddings couples found having a smaller wedding party easier to manage. Destination weddings also became a more realistic option.
From a practical perspective, couples realized planning a small wedding with a reduced number of guests allowed them to have a smaller footprint on resources, allowing them to have a much more eco-friendly and green wedding. Fewer resources also allowed them to save money on the wedding so they could spend more on a honeymoon, home, or other long-term needs.
If you’re thinking of having a smaller wedding, then this post is for you!
We’re going to look at the top tips to make your small wedding the best it can be.
Before we start, it is important to know that the most important part of smaller weddings is there are no rules. You should plan for the wedding experience you and your partner want. That includes how many people are at your small wedding. For some people, that number is 4 – the couple, the officiant, and a photographer (who often become the witnesses). For some weddings, it’s 6 – the couple, 2 friends, an officiant, and a photographer. It can also grow to 8, with two sets of parents, or 20, 30, even 40 or 50 people can be a small wedding (especially if you were considering having 200 and reduce that number down to 50. For you, that would be a small wedding).
1. The Little Things Matter
There is a tendency to think if you’re having a small, intimate wedding that the little things don’t matter as much. That it’s only about the ceremony. But that is not the case! The little things do matter. For example, don’t dismiss where you’re getting ready.
TIP: Take the time to find a great hotel room, Airbnb, or even your own home if it’s what you want. You can even consider getting ready in the same room or house with your partner. Either way, find a place that’s relatively close to your ceremony spot. Have a great breakfast or lunch delivered, and invite your photographer to document this part of your wedding. You can also consider reserving it for an extra night or two and making it into a mini-moon. Remember this is your wedding, just on a smaller scale.
2. Location, Location, Location
With a smaller wedding, you’re afforded the luxury of a great variety of options for where to get married. This really is your time to go for what you want! Don’t feel limited to a traditional small wedding venue. Your backyard or your parent’s backyard can make a great location for a ceremony. If your ceremony is at your home, consider doing something special like planting a tree. It will serve as a great and timeless reminder of the special day. Also consider natural areas such as a wooded forest, a mountain top, a secluded beach, or a state park.
TIP: Mini weddings are easy to plan on any day of the week! Sheena & Paul picked a Friday afternoon to have their wedding in the woods at a state park. Their oldest mutual friend married them, and two additional friends came as witnesses. They also brought the champagne for toasts!
3. The Reception
Your big day doesn’t have to end with the ceremony. Most people will want to have some kind of dinner reception either at home or at a restaurant. It could be plated dinner, family style, or even have a food truck show up! With a low guest count, guests feel like they’re really part of your wedding. And just because your wedding is smaller, doesn’t mean you have to skip out on the traditions you were hoping for. Wedding cake, toast, first dance – they’re all possible!
TIP: Be creative. Rachelle and Kyle planned a mini wedding on a secluded beach with their parents and a few friends. They were originally going to just have the ceremony and then go back to the beach house to hang out. After talking with them, they realized it was possible to have a small dinner, mini cake, and champagne toast (with plastic flutes) on the beach after the ceremony. What was going to be a 15-minute ceremony, turned into a 3-hour mini wedding on the beach, with a sunset photoshoot to top it off.
4. The First Dance
The first dance is one of the most important meaningful moments often left out of mini weddings. I’m not sure why, but if you want one, you should definitely have one. And like everything mini, being creative is the fun part.
TIP: Don’t let weather or unconventionality get in the way of what could be a first dance more amazing than any traditional first dance. Rick & Shilpa didn’t plan to have a first dance at their mini wedding. But after dinner, and before cutting the cake, Rick escorted Shipla outside on the sidewalk, where a busker played Somewhere Over the Rainbow on a ukulele. They had their first dance in the rain as people walked by, stopping to watch and cry, at this impromptu first dance.
5. The Timeline
Micro weddings are definitely more simple, but regardless of the size of your wedding, you still need a proper timeline for the day. It’s important to map out everything you want (or need) to do on the day of and have a timeline for it. It will help save money with your vendors, and those who are part of your wedding know what’s going on, reduce questions and reduce stress.
TIP: When making your timeline, work backward from the ceremony time. You’ll want to include when each of you gets dressed, when you want hair and make-up to be over, and also to include travel time. Be sure to send out Google Map links to everyone for where they need to be for getting ready, the ceremony, and the reception. I can recall more than one wedding with less than 10 people which were late by over 30 minutes because someone was lost. Of course, with Wedding Day Timeline, it’s like having a personal wedding planner. You can have this all automated for you and have a perfect timeline (and Google Map links) in minutes! If you need help with your timeline for your small micro-wedding, sign up for one here.
Smaller micro-weddings are a great option for those looking to have the flexibility to do exactly what they want, with a limited number of people, while saving on money and resources.