It’s not just the ridiculous cost of weddings these days that makes some couple opt to have a small wedding guest list. Whether you live far away from your extended family or simply can’t think of 200+ people you care enough about to invite, small weddings often make more sense.
However, just because your wedding is tiny in size doesn’t mean that it shouldn’t look and feel as glamorous as a bigger shindig. Here are some small wedding ideas that will make your intimate gathering look and feel as special as anything you might see on Pinterest or Instagram.
1Choose a destination in a far-flung place or hold your wedding somewhere local, but unexpected
Dinner party in a forest, anyone? With fewer people’s schedules to accommodate, your intimate wedding is the perfect opportunity to have that tropical island or Italian villa wedding you’ve always dreamed about. Alternatively, it also gives you more options for nearby venues, too. Unlike large-scale weddings, you won’t be forced to pick from personality-less banquet halls or expensive hotel ballrooms and can instead consider hosting your wedding in an offbeat but beautiful place, like an art gallery or in the middle of the woods.
You may also want to consider having an at-home wedding and putting the cash you would otherwise spend towards improvements and decorations for your house. Home weddings are the perfect fit for an intimate guest list, with celebs like Miranda Kerr and Jennifer Aniston opting for chic backyard nuptials.
2Brunch weddings are the new black tie
Likewise, a Saturday brunch wedding or a Thursday night summer garden party is easier to carry out with fewer people, and you’re likely to find that vendors are much more affordable and available during non-peak days and times of the week. Plus, with mimosas and doughnuts on hand, no one will miss a rubber chicken dinner and lame DJ.
3Skip the bridal party, if you’d like
For some, having your BFFs by your side during your big day is a non-negotiable, but for others, coming up with a bridal party can bring unneeded drama and awkwardness to your nuptial plans. (Remember Anne Hathaway’s character in Bride Wars?) If your wedding is on the petite side, it doesn’t make sense to ask half of your guests to stand up at the altar with you, so feel free to skip this tradition and make your ceremony just about the two of you.
4Have fun with your seating plans
Creative seating arrangements are all the rage on wedding blogs these days. Give your guests a better view of your face by seating them in the round or in a semi-circle during the ceremony, something that is impossible to do with 300 bodies.
During dinner, consider seating everyone at one table or a group of long, banquet-style tables that are pushed together. This gives you the opportunity to try another wedding trend – a garland adorned with flowers that acts as both your table runner and centerpiece in one!
5Get creative with the entertainment
For a big wedding, it’s kind of expected that you will have a DJ or cover band play popular music for your guests to dance to. (Because what else can a large group of people comfortably do together in a ballroom situation?)
However, with an intimate wedding, you can be more thoughtful with your entertainment choices. Are your wedding guests not the types to dance anyway, or are they mostly an older crowd who’d be more inclined to stay seated and chat? Then, perhaps you might want to create a dinner party vibe and have a guitarist or jazz band play background music.
Or, you could forgo live music all together, fire up a Spotify playlist and do something entirely different. For example, you could put out lawn or board games, have an expert host a beer or wine tasting, set up a DIY floral station for guests to make their own boutonnières and flower crowns, or even hire a live painter or a balloonist to entertain guests.
6Have your photographer take a big group shot
Although photographers typically try to capture portraits all of the bridal VIPs, it’s easy for them to miss capturing the majority of your guests with everything else that’s going on throughout a wedding.
A modest wedding is the perfect opportunity to rectify this situation. After all, 40 people can more easily fit into a frame than 125. Towards the end of cocktail hour, ask your photographer to round up everyone. This is the ideal time to do it as your family and friends should be in high spirits and have a cocktail in hand. Then, have your photog stand on a ladder, if needed, and take one “serious” posed photo of all your guests and then a few goofy ones. These will likely end up being some of your favorite photos from the night. Bonus points for successfully getting your guests to stand in a heart formation!
7Host an after-party following a restaurant reception
If you’ve decided to host your reception at a restaurant, your wedding isn’t doomed to end as soon as the dessert course is served. An after-party is a great way to keep the good times going and so much easier to arrange with a smaller guest count. Instead of renting out a private space or house, consider taking an Uber to a local nightlife spot. Some bars may only require a reservation or heads-up that your group will be coming in.
Or, if you’re determined to end your big day with drinks and dancing until the wee hours of the morning, a nearby nightclub is your best bet. You may even want to splurge on table service to ensure your guests are able to get in and have a place to rest in between songs. After all, if you don’t deserve a sparkler-adorned bottle of Dom Perignon at your wedding after-party, when will you?