Why choose a small wedding? You guys, there are so many reasons…this is a topic I’m passionate about!
The exciting rush of an engagement, and all the dreaming that follows – what a fun time! I still remember the night that I got engaged, when I fell asleep, I literally dreamed of tulle wedding dresses floating all around me! But often the excitement starts to fade a little bit, when the reality of feeding 150 guests, or assigning the seating for 25 tables, or the old “well, if we invite these cousins, we have to invite ALL the cousins” decisions set in. Suddenly you are planning a day around, and spending your money on, people you haven’t seen in years (all those cousins!) and people who don’t have an impact on your day to day life (your dad’s co-workers, or his secretary!) Weddings are a little bit like a boulder rolling down a hill, they gain momentum as they go, moving faster and faster and can become hard to slow down or steer in the direction that you envisioned! It is so easy for wedding planning to start to feel out of your own control. So many decisions to make, so many people to please, so much money to make all of it happen.
It starts to leave a little pit in your stomach every time you think about the reality of your wedding day.
So the first thing to figure out, is how to narrow down your guest list. I think a great starting place is to ask yourselves – Who are the people that really matter in your life on a day to day basis? Who are the people that support and cheer on your relationship in tangible ways (providing advice, or babysitting for your date nights), who is always there for you? Creating an event, limited to these special people, can literally cut your stress, expense and workload by 75%
The simple answer is by being Truthful and Intentional. Stay focused on the kind of experience you want for yourselves, and explain it in a straightforward and truthful manner. “We got a little stressed out and overwhelmed with planning everything. So we’ve decided to celebrate with immediate family only. We’ll be hosting an informal celebration later this year, and can’t wait to see you all and share some of our favorite photos from our wedding day!”
This has been a really great compromise that many of our GHI couples have chosen. An intimate wedding, and then a larger much more informal event hosted later on. (Fun side note: I always try to make sure our couple has their photos and wedding film back in time to share and display for their informal event!)
If you have the time, the interest, and the finances to support creating a huge event, then I would say definitely go for it!
The couple who has a sinking feeling when they thing about their ballooning guest list, the couple who is trying to save for a home, and is having to max out credit cards to pay for a day that feels like it isn’t about them anymore. Listen to your gut feelings – in my experience, they are never wrong. If what you are doing is making you excited and happy, or calm and content, then you’re on the right track! If you feel overwhelmed, anxious, or out of control, then maybe it’s time to stop and regroup. Maybe it’s time to simplify.
I’ve previously written about whether or not to Include Your Dog In Your Wedding. Like everything, it’s a personal decision. BUT, it’s another set of considerations. My advice there was very similar to my advice here, and that is – the secret to a wonderful, stress free event, is to Introduce As Few Variables As Possible! The fewer moving parts, the fewer outside considerations, the fewer chance for things to go wrong, or feel out of your control. So cutting your guest count ends up cutting a lot more than just the number of people…it cuts down the number of guests you have to chase after for an RSVP. It cuts down the number of special dietary considerations for your caterer to work around. It cuts down on the number of crying babies during your wedding vows. (These things happen…babies cry during weddings – but if it is a baby you love and who is a huge part of your life, it will just become a funny story for the future. If it is the baby of your dad’s co-worker, who you don’t even really know…well that’s another story).
We work really closely with our GHI couples to plan their day out. To make sure they have enough time to get ready in the morning, and to make sure the vibe of their day, is reflective of what they want. If our bride has shared with us that she tends to be anxious, we’ll help her plan a calm morning, with a limited amount of people in the dressing suite, so she can relax and focus. If our bride is an extrovert who thrives on company, we’ll make sure she’s well supported, and has lots of helpers, and funny jokes, and laughter while she prepares for the ceremony. The important part is to identify what elements will make the day great for you, and make sure they are woven into your plans.
That every penny was well spent, on things that made you happy! That the “Perfect Wedding Day” (the fantasy that wedding magazines and Instagram, and bridal websites try so hard to sell you) is replaced by the “Wedding that is Perfect for You!” Only you two know what that is, and that is the fun part of planning this day – sitting down together and figuring out what is important to you, and saying goodbye to the things that don’t matter to you, or old traditions that don’t have any meaning for you.
So, to recap, a wedding day that feels right, is right! Some great questions to ask yourself as you begin planning are:
Guest List: Who are the people that impact our daily life and support our relationship?
Venue: How can we celebrate our union in an authentic way, that has meaning to us?
Timeline: What wedding traditions have meaning for us, and which ones don’t?
Budget: What is the most important part of the wedding experience for us…Time together?… Time with our guests?…A fancy meal?…Saying our vows?…A joyful party?
An intimate wedding keeps the day about you two! A smaller guest count, means fewer expenses. A smaller guest count means fewer expectations being placed on you by your guests.
And, fewer variables, (we really take this part seriously by being All Inclusive here at the GHI ) mean fewer chances for things to go wrong.
My favorite thing about an Intimate Wedding, is that the wedding couple themselves have the best day possible. They have a manageable amount of people to interact with and visit with. So time with their guests has quality, rather than a rushed hello. They also have moments where they can just be together and take it all in. They have time to sit down and actually eat the lovely meal, and enjoy the delicious wedding cake they so carefully chose. They actually get to enjoy the day they have spent so much time planning and designing!
So, include the people you love, the traditions that have meaning to you, and focus your budget on the things that mean the most to you…whether its great food, or an amazing photographer, or a special wedding film. Say goodbye to all the rest, to traditions that seem hollow (for me, the garter toss is just super weird!) or expenses that don’t fit your budget (receiving a wedding favor really doesn’t make or break how much a guest will enjoy their experience) and say goodbye to the expectations of the wedding industry, or Pinterest or your Great Aunt Sally.
I hope this blog has been helpful for you! Weddings, no matter how big or small, are a huge moment in your life! And just like real life, a wedding day is never perfect, no matter what Instagram or Modern Bride try to tell you. There will be a hiccup or an unforeseen circumstance. Hopefully, you’ll have a team like ours behind you, cheering you on, and supporting you every step of the way, so that the rain shower, or the mud on your hem are just a tiny blip on the radar, of a very special day created for, focused on, and celebrating, the two of you!
Magazine May / June 2021 Issue