Maybe you’ve grown up dreaming about your perfect wedding and know exactly what you want on that special day; or, maybe you’ve recently gotten engaged and are thinking about marriage for the first time. Either way, you’ll want to put some thought into planning ahead and figuring out the best wedding to have that makes both you and your partner happy!

How To Have A Small WeddingIf you’re trying to figure out how to have a small wedding as opposed to the “Party of the Year” wedding event, here are a few very strong reasons to go the intimate route:

  1. You can celebrate with people you actually love and who love you! What better situation can you ask for on this special day?
  2. Weddings are notorious stress-inducers. But, by having an intimate, small wedding, you’ll likely feel more relaxed during the planning stages and on your wedding day.
  3. Having a smaller wedding will save you tons of money—another way to alleviate stress!
  4. Piggy-backing on #3, with more money saved on otherwise having to feed hundreds of people, provide seating for them all, and more worries, you can splurge on highly memorable items of your wedding (more on this later!).
  5. There are more options for wedding venues.
  6. Your entire wedding is highly customizable; your special day doesn’t have to be a “one size fits all” situation when you can customize each aspect of the event.
  7. You can spend more time with your guests. No worries about making your rounds through a ballroom to say a quick “hello” and “thank you for coming” to each person.
  8. Your guests will feel more at home, comfortable, and relaxed and you can get your guests involved in fun activities, games, personalized guest books, and more.
  9. People will remember your unique and heartfelt wedding for a long time.
  10. There are fewer expectations for how the day should go so you can worry less about planning a minute-by-minute schedule of your wedding and more about having a good time.

If those 10 fabulous reasons for having an intimate wedding didn’t convince you yet, let’s talk a little about how you can get the most out of a small wedding!

One of the most important things to remember when planning a wedding is that this is your day to be creative and to make it special for you and your significant other! Have some fun with the seating arrangements by mixing and matching chair styles, opting for benches, floor cushions, or hay bales instead of foldout metal chairs. Another neat idea is to steer away from the traditional row-by-row seating and instead try a circular or spiral arrangement. With a circular or spiral arrangement, your guests can see all the action up close and from any angle.

SmallWedding_SeatingIdeasAn added perk of intimate weddings, like we talked about earlier, is that you’re saving money by having fewer guests and that leaves more budget room for splurging. Some of the most important orders of business are your wedding announcements and wedding invitations. With extra room in your budget to splurge on your dream wedding invitations, you have the freedom to choose between casual or formal, unique features and formats, and paper type.

When thinking about how to have a small wedding, definitely consider splurging on drink selections (no more bottom-rack alcohol or making your guests choose a drink from only 3 choices) and serving only the best foods for your worthy guests. While you’re at it and seeing room in your budget, consider incorporating a surprise piece of entertainment. If you have enough space, why not invite a belly dancer, a fire-eater, or tap-dancing duo to your special day?

Okay, time to get really real. There are always drawbacks to a small wedding, even if the pros are so awesome that you almost can’t resist! One of the biggest challenges you’ll have to face is minimizing your guest list. At the expense of hurt feelings though, you need to do what’s best for you. A few guidelines you can follow to help you and your partner make the tough decision of who to invite are:

  1. Pay for your own wedding or at least a majority of it; you have more say in the final cut
  2. Only invite the nearest and dearest
  3. Don’t invite co-workers (even if they invited you to their weddings!)
  4. Don’t invite people out of guilt (see above)
  5. Don’t invite children
  6. Don’t allow dates; only serious boyfriends and girlfriends
  7. Have a destination wedding
  8. Plan a post-wedding party so you can still celebrate with those who weren’t invited
  9. Pick a small wedding venue that has a lower limit for how many people it can hold
  10. Start your guest list with a maximum number of guests in mind. If you have a number to stick to, you’ll find it easier to cut people.

SmallWedding_VenuesTwo other challenges you might come across when determining how to have a small wedding are that (1) you’ll have to decide between more options and (2) you can’t rely on bountiful gifts or money to start your post-marriage life. A smaller wedding allows more flexibility and capability for the day because you have fewer people and space to worry about, but it also means you have more choices to make over the smaller things (like great food, drinks, table settings, etc.). Also, you might receive fewer gifts or money for the celebration. If you’re relying on gifts and money, you can always send out wedding announcements separately from wedding invitations allowing others to send a congratulatory gift. See how wedding announcements work by reading this post, “Hot off the press: wedding announcements.”

Lastly, we have compiled a list of tips and advice to help you start planning for your small wedding.

  1. Limit your guest list (this is a given and we’ve already covered it, but worth saying again!)
  2. Choose a small venue—don’t even consider hotel ballrooms or country clubs. Think more along the lines of country barns, small restaurants, art museums, or backyards
  3. Eliminate the need for ceremony seating and host a standing ceremony. Guests will naturally circle you and your soon-to-be husband/wife creating a close, tight-knit feel that brings everyone together
  4. Have your guests sit “family style” during dinner. One long table instead of multiple tables creates a more casual and intimate setting
  5. Don’t worry about hiring a wedding band that could draw attention away from you and your new special someone. Stick with an iPod playlist and a good sound system
  6. Choose vendors and coordinators that specialize in small weddings
  7. Make a list of the top three things you want to splurge on for your big day. It could be anything from food and drinks to eye-opening entertainment. Make a point to set aside money for those things or at least one of them so you can splurge!
  8. If you’re planning a backyard wedding: make sure there will be no construction going on near your home during the wedding—call your local town hall or ask someone who might know about upcoming construction projects. Also, inform you neighbors that there will be more than the usual amount of people parking on your block on that day.
  9. Rent tables and chairs (and linens, glassware, dinnerware, etc.) if you need to and do it plenty of time before your big day.
  10. Finally, be inspired to get creative to put your own spin on everything in your wedding!

Photo Credit: Seating Ideas: Jose VillaJemma Keech, Ryan Ray, Events of Distinction via Project Wedding, Barn Venue: 1985Luke Photography via Intimate Weddings, Museum Venue: Craig Photography via Style Me Pretty, Library Venue: Bellegala, Backyard Venue: Jen Dederich Photography via The Everygirl