How To Make A Small Wedding Fun – Jaimie Mackey was the Real Wedding Editor from 2013 to 2015. She has also worked as a luxury wedding planner, producing over 100 high-end weddings and events in Colorado.
Overwhelmed by the thought of gathering 200 of her “nearest and dearest” for her wedding day? It may have crossed your mind to elope, but that’s not the only way to avoid the crowd. Instead, have all the accessories of a wedding, but on a much smaller scale. We are talking about 10 guests, 20 maximum (your
How To Make A Small Wedding Fun
Reducing the event to a cozy and intimate size ensures you’ll love where your money goes and creates the opportunity for great memories with every guest. But there’s more to it than narrowing down your guest list. There are planning changes to make, details to consider, and (yay!) a proportionately larger budget to work with.
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A small wedding is only small if the guest list is as small as possible. “Check your texts and calls, and invite only those you’ve talked to in the last three months,” says Jove Meyer of Jove Meyer Events. “We talk to those who matter most, simple as that.”
If you’re having a hard time narrowing down your guest list, consider whether you’d invite this person to a multi-hundred-dollar dinner or invite them over to your house for the weekend. “Thinking about how close your relationships are will help ensure that you feel really comfortable with the people you surround yourself with on your wedding day,” say Aleah and Nick Valley of Valley & Company Events.
With fewer guests on your list, it’s much easier to send handwritten invitations in beautiful hand lettering, instead of printing hundreds. Or you can even skip the formal invitations and opt to call each of your guests instead.
Of course, everyone will want to know that you have married. For those who weren’t on your short guest list, consider sending a wedding announcement or handwritten note. “Make a list of those who will want to hear the big news and send out a wedding announcement after the fact,” suggests Luke Wilson of Luke Wilson Events.
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Fewer people on the guest list means the world is your oyster when it comes to choosing a non-traditional venue, and a restaurant may be the perfect option. “They are unique spaces that have everything you need in one place,” says Meyer. Consider a place that you and your partner love to frequent. Just make sure you love everything from the style and menu to the existing decor, as restaurants often have restrictions on decor.
Consider using the backyard of your family home for an intimate venue. “Family homes can be very challenging for events with a large guest list, but they work well with a smaller group,” says Wilson. “I love the feeling of having an intimate affair in a place that is meaningful to the couple.”
Choosing an Airbnb place may be the perfect fit for your needs. Tiffany Rivera of Simply Breathe Events suggests looking for beautiful private homes (other than your own), which give you the flexibility to move between spaces and make your wedding day truly profitable.
Be sure to check with your preferred Airbnb host before booking. Some properties do not allow gatherings such as weddings.
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Traditional venues are filled with unexpected spaces that are perfect for smaller celebrations. “Consider areas that are often overlooked, like the library of a large historic property,” says Francie Dorman of 42 North. Smaller patios, theaters or galleries are also great options.
If you’re planning a smaller wedding in a large venue, it may be time to get creative with your ceremony and reception seating arrangements. “Making a large space feel intimate can be a lot of fun, as you get a chance to get really creative with seating and table layouts, plus add things like a lounge or creative bars and food stations,” says Meyer. “Consider an extra-large 20-person round table to fill more space, or mix up how the venue is typically used by having the ceremony where others might dine and vice versa.”
Whether you’re hosting a destination wedding, weekend celebration, or intimate night party, a welcome box is such a personalized touch for your small guest list. Incorporate items that you and your partner love, or bring in influences from your wedding venue.
No matter the size, having a timeline for your wedding is something you don’t want to forget. “A lot of thought goes into the details of a wedding, whether big or small, and a good timeline provides a framework that helps tell your story,” says Nick and Aleah Valley.
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Wedding planners or wedding coordinators are not just for big weddings. “It’s also a great idea to hire a wedding planner, even if it’s just for the coordination day,” Rivera says. “You’ll want someone there to ease the flow of the day so you can enjoy it instead of worrying about whether the alcohol is running low.”
As you determine the details and activities, decide what is important to you and your partner and leave out the things that don’t matter. “Many couples choose to forego some of the traditional dancing in a small wedding,” says Nick and Aleah Valley. “Know your audience and replace it with an activity everyone will enjoy, or keep it on the timeline if your loved ones love to dance.”
If you love to dance, you can splurge for a live band, but be sure to factor in the size of the band. “If your band has the same number of musicians as your final guest count, it will feel really overwhelming. Instead, hire a smaller group of musicians so you can have the formality of special dances without a crowd on stage,” Wilson advises.
A fantastic photographer is a great investment no matter how many guests attend, but a smaller guest list can mean more opportunities to capture intimate moments. “With fewer people at the table, your guests will really relax, creating an intimate atmosphere,” Dorman explains. “Hire a trusted photographer to capture the laughter, the tears and the clinking of glasses, as those are the moments you will treasure the most.”
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Creating an elaborate escort display is a really fun way to include guests on your big day. “Get hyper-personalized,” says Meyer. Opt for an escort display with handwritten touches, or even items that double as a favor.
A smaller wedding means you can go all-in on the details. “You can make each item really detailed,” says Meyer. “Remember to design the space, not just the tables – consider lights, plants, fabrics, and anything else that creates a mood.”
Think of ways to keep your guests interacting with each other. “Guests will be sitting down to catch up instead of cutting up a rug, so create a seating area where everyone can relax after dinner,” says Wilson. This is a great space to host a cocktail hour as well.
If you’re not feeding a large crowd, you have more room for a detailed menu. Whether you want a seven-course meal with expert wine pairing, an elaborate buffet, or a fun on-site food truck, the options are endless with a smaller wedding. “With a small group, you can really personalize every detail of the menu,” says Meyer.
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A long reception table can be a fun way to make everyone feel included. If you have a smaller group, it’s easier to say goodbye to the traditional round tables scattered throughout the room. “This will make everyone feel like family,” says Wilson.
Depending on your space, placing a table in a U shape may be the best way to facilitate conversation over dinner. This is a great way to work within a space, while also making guests feel connected.
Design a really beautiful place for each guest if you’re hosting a sit-down dinner. This is a great opportunity to go all out with an awesome setup. But you’ll also want to make sure they have the basics. “Make sure your guests have plenty of room to move around on their silverware and easy access to essentials (water, wine, and silverware),” Nick and Aleah Valley say.
Place cards offer plenty of customization opportunities, and with a smaller guest list, there’s less to do or buy. Opt for a personalized touch with hand-calligraphed place cards for each guest. Make them even more special by writing something that relates to your wedding theme.
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You may find that you have more room in your floral budget than you thought. Why not go all out at the tables? Nick and Aleah Valley suggest covering the table with an abundance of candles and ultra-lush low flowers for a vibrant display.
Don’t be afraid to go all out with a stunning tablescape. Adding items like bold table linens can give tables a more grounded and intimate feel.
A smaller wedding can mean more opportunities for guests to chat and connect, and you’ll want to leave space at the table for conversation. Britt Cole, also of 42 North, suggests raising the flowers and installing an overhead arrangement of flowers, moss, and low lighting. This
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