Looking to “go small” with your wedding? “Small wedding” is a relative term, as some consider “small” to be under 200 people, while for others it’s less than 30! Few or no attendants are also associated with small weddings. If interested in throwing a small wedding with only close family and friends, check out a few tips for getting the party started:
Dealing With Reactions
Before anything else, you’ll be alerting friends and family about your decision. Some will find the concept of a small ceremony delightful, while others may complain or feel left out about no attendants and the like. This doesn’t mean you have to change your plans, but it does help to deal with everyone in a polite and respectful way. If you know certain friends and family members have been excited about your wedding for a long time, you can find ways to include them in the ceremony and reception while still keeping things on the small side. This includes readings, official “Mr. and Mrs.” announcements, and anything else you want to do. Remember, it’s your wedding, so do what you want!!
Ceremony and Rehearsal Ideas
Have your wedding in a small church and banquet hall, or opt for commercial venues, such as hotels that don’t mind hosting parties of 120 people or less. Restaurants, gardens, bed and breakfast locations, historic homes, meditation chapels, historic inns, trains, boats and museums also work. Home rehearsal dinners and weddings are ideal if “going small,” and they’re cheaper! You will have to rent chairs and tables if you opt for home events, however.
Destination weddings are perfect if inviting only a few people, with options including Mexico, the Caribbean and Martha’s Vineyard.
More Ceremony Ideas
Check out a few small ceremony suggestions:
Do a wine and cheese “hour” instead of a processional, and give a toast to start the event.
Provide friends and family with one flower each and have them line the aisle.
Consider having everyone stand for the ceremony in lieu of attendants.
Entrust one or more family members with readings.
Incorporate family or ethnic traditions as desired.
Turn your program into a keepsake and include messages to guests.
Be your own usher along with your groom.
Encourage guests to use entire pages of the guestbook.
Some reception ideas for small weddings:
Have a wedding “supper” at a restaurant instead of a reception.
Rent a trolley, carriage or other interesting transportation option for guests.
Have your photographer capture moments with guests–all of them.
Have a tour guide show guests to the reception area if it’s in a historic home or inn.
Hire a harpist or other unusual musical performer.
Prepare a slide show of photos from childhood up until your meeting.
Wisdom From Others
Use the following tips from others who went the small wedding route!
“At some small weddings, the entire congregation has been invited to stand at the side of the bride and groom during the exchange of vows. Another thing that personalizes a wedding would be to ask each member of the congregation to say a few words about the couple – wishing them well, or telling a sweet story about them.” –Anna S.
“My sister had a small wedding for her second marriage (which was her husband’s first). They were married at a winery in a banquet room that the winery had in the back of their facilities. The room had floor to ceiling windows all around the outside walls. Since they though a simple ceremony was in order, they hired a justice of the peace to perform the ceremony, which included a part where a family necklace was giving to my nephew by his new stepdad. My sister carried flowers and wore a very simple white dress (just past the knees in length). There was one attendant on each side. Both the best man and the groom wore simple grey suits that they owned and I, as maid of honor, wore a pink dress that my mom made for the occasion. I also carried a simple bouquet. They had a photographer, but no videographer.” –Kara W.
“You might check out the Martha Stewart Entertaining book for some ideas. While the book is kind of dated (1980s), it will give you some idea as to how to have a non-traditional wedding & reception.” –Rachel P.
“[Try a] beach wedding…with NO beach! Happened in the San Joaquin Valley, between San Francisco and Tahoe. No sand or water, but the “strict” dress code was shorts and a hawaiian print shirt for the men, and anything “springy” with a similar print for the women.”–David J., a wedding planner
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