1. Cut the Guest List…Again
A small wedding should only include your closest family and friends. Don’t invite coworkers. Don’t invite children. Don’t invite anyone out of guilt because they invited you to their wedding.
2. No Dates, Please
Skip the “and guest” for single friends and family members. You should still invite significant others of non-married friends and family members but anyone who is not in a serious relationship should not get a guest for the sake of reserving precious spots for people you care deeply about.
3. Choose a Max Number of Guests
Controlling the size of your guest list will be a whole lot easier if you determine the absolute maximum number of people you want to invite to the wedding.
4. Find a Small Venue
Why is this so important? A few reasons: you won’t be tempted to increase your guest list, you’ll have a great excuse when explaining to guests why they’re not invited and a smaller venue means a warmer and more welcoming atmosphere.
5. Foot the Bill
Why? You’ll have more control of the guest list. Anyone who financially contributes to the wedding (often the parents) will have some say over the guest list. If this is a concern for you, we suggest paying for the wedding yourself. If parents are contributing, discuss your small wedding plans with both sets of parents in depth right away.
6. Decide What’s Most Important
Identify what will make the day most special for both of you. Choose three things you’d like to splurge on. These things could be live music, top shelf liquor, awesome food, a professional decorator, a top-tier venue, etc. Create a max budget for each thing and agree to limit spending in other areas. Remember, you’re already saving money by having a small wedding, so good work!
7. Plan for Rentals
Having a small wedding often means finding non-traditional venues like backyards, public parks and barns. A non-traditional venue often requires that you supply tables, chairs, linens, plates, etc. Contact a local rental facility to get an idea of what these items cost. Sometimes it’s a better deal to pay more for a venue that provides these things, plus it’s less stress for you.
8. Consider a Standing Ceremony
Modern-day ceremonies are often fairly short and some couples choose to skip seating all together. Feel free to put out a few seats reserved for specific people like grandparents or anyone with physical ailments. You can even provide limited seating somewhere in the vicinity for anyone who arrives early or needs a rest.
9. Skip the Bridal Party
You don’t have to choose bridesmaids and groomsmen — it’s a tradition, not a requirement. Some couples choose a maid of honor and a best man, and some couples have no attendants at all. It’s totally up to you but remember that no bridal party means less people to inform and coordinate with throughout the planning process, which you might be thankful for in the end.
10. Make It Personal
Give your wedding some truly personal touches and make your guests feel like they’re at an intimate gathering to celebrate the two of you rather than a big party where they never see either of you. Family-style seating, acoustic music, personalized wedding favors are all great ways to create a warm and engaging atmosphere.