how to plan a small wedding

Ever since the pandemic, many couples have opted to have a small wedding celebration in lieu of a large, traditional wedding. What might have kicked off as a trend due to safety precautions is now a long-term trend that couples now see as a more authentic choice to who they are and the kind of wedding they want to have.

If you think a small wedding might be for you, we’ve put together some reasons to keeping your wedding guest list small, and a few tips to get you started on planning a more intimate or micro-wedding day.

Benefits of Having a Small Wedding

The small or intimate wedding trend has become increasingly popular over the last few years, and for good reasons!

1. Quality Over Quantity

By narrowing down your guest count to the people closest to you (the ones you care about the most!), you get to spend more quality time with them. Larger weddings with 100 or 200+ guests can certainly be beautiful, but many times couples willingly admit how many guests they hardly spent any time with. Even with a four or five hour reception, it’s so hard to see everyone you love with everything going on.

And if your intimate wedding is a destination for most people to travel to, turning the weekend into a getaway can give you plenty of quality time spent with those you want to celebrate the most with. Consider keeping your guest count to less than 50 to get the most out of your experience that day.

2. Fewer Expenses

For every person you invite, you’ll have to consider the added cost of rental equipment, food, drinks, and decor. While some couples spend just as much on a smaller wedding as others do on bigger weddings, your money simply goes farther. For example, instead of having 10 small centerpieces, you could opt for dramatic, lush centerpieces filled with a variety of your favorite flowers on five tables instead.

Or you could use the money you’ve saved on guest counts to put towards your dream photographer, videographer, or honeymoon trip!

3. More Destination Options

Dreaming of a destination wedding at a resort in Costa Rica? Love the idea of a large cabin or lodge in the forest, complete with mountain views and a campfire?

Or a romantic waterfall backdrop for your ceremony? These options and so much more are all possible when you have fewer guests!

4. A More Relaxed and Personal Vibe

If you’re anything like me, you may not love the idea of having a hundred or more people staring at you while you say your vows. Or even being in a reception room with that many people watching your first dance!

Small weddings can be far more down to earth, more authentic to you and your love story, and far less stressful. Some people may love all the attention, but if that’s not true to who you are, you deserve a day that won’t give you all that anxiety.

benefits of planning a small wedding

5. Shortened Planning Process

While it can still be a smart idea to plan far in advance of your dream wedding date, smaller weddings can certainly be pulled off in a shorter time frame.

Whether you decide to book a large Airbnb for a weekend with your 20 closest friends/family for a few months from now, or choose a local destination with only your immediate family for next month, the choice is yours!

How to Plan an Intimate Wedding

Every wedding may look a little different during the planning process, but here are some of the basics to help get you started:

1. Finding a Location, Photographer, or Planner

Maybe you already have some location ideas in mind, and that’s a great start! If you don’t, reaching out to a wedding photographer and/or a wedding planner can be a huge help at the beginning of the process. As a photo and video team, we help couples all the time with planning their elopements and small weddings, since we have some of the best insight for venues and locations you may never have heard about.

Otherwise, some great ways to narrow your location search include Pinterest, Google searching, the Knot, and of course Instagram!

2. Lodging

Once you have a general (or specific!) venue or ceremony spot reserved, you’ll want to be sure to reserve overnight rental stays for you and your guests.

Although some people can get lucky with doing this last-minute, many places (such as Colorado, Florida and California) can be completely booked even as far as 6-12 months out.

3. Vendors

Some other details you may want to consider include: a romantic floral archway for your ceremony, a live band playing outside by your open-air dance floor, or a videographer to capture your favorite moments on film. No matter what you decide as you dream up your big day, find vendors who love working with small weddings to make your vision a reality.

On a related note: many couples also are opting for a friend or family member to be their officiant and we love it!

4. Inviting Your Guests

Narrowing down the guest list can sometimes be hard, especially if your family is pressuring you to invite many of their own loved ones. But at the end of the day, your wedding is just that: yours. 

Not your parents’, not your friend’s, not your aunt’s or uncle’s wedding.

We always recommend starting your list with the top 10 or 20 people you absolutely can’t imagine not being present on your day, the ones who have always been there for you and support you through and through. There are bound to be people no matter your guest size that will still feel hurt or jealous, but you can’t control how they feel. You should only be worrying about how you want to feel on your wedding day. 

There are plenty of ways to still have family be a part of your day even if they can’t be there. You can record the day on video to share with them after, you can set up an online live video feed on Facebook or Zoom, and you can share the news after the day of with a message thanking everyone for their support and love.

how to plan a small wedding intimate wedding

Colorful Wedding Photography for Adventurous Couples

Our photo and video team loves being a part of smaller, intimate wedding day celebrations! We love getting to know you and your loved ones even better, and feeling involved in the process of capturing your day is truly an honor.

Skyewater Photo + Film is a photography and videography team based in Washington that specializes in destination weddings and adventure elopements. Whether you’re looking for a meaningful wedding video or an adventurous elopement photographer, contact Skyewater Photo + Film for your big day!

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