Why you should consider a small wedding day
Is an intimate wedding the right kind of day for you? If you found your way to this post, I’m guessing you may be at a crossroads with your wedding planning. The question is…should you plan the big, traditional wedding? Or is your heart pulling you toward a more intimate setting?
By now, I’ve photographed enough weddings to notice a stark contrast in big days versus small. I can tell you, more than any other decisions you will make, your guest count matters the most.
And do you want to know the number one thing couples say they wish they would have done differently? Going big.
It’s an incredible feeling when a couple tells me one of the intimate wedding stories on my blog has inspired them to plan their day like that too. They had no idea it was even an option until stumbling across the photos. Some, even in the middle of planning a huge wedding, said “screw it” and went with their gut.
If you’re still on the fence, then maybe this list is exactly what you need to read right now.
1. Travel somewhere you’ve always wanted
With a smaller guest list, your destination options are endless. Your wedding day is one of the best excuses to check a new place off your bucket list…or revisit somewhere special to the both of you. After you decide on an intimate wedding, I guarantee the “WHERE” will be your next hardest decision.
2. Spend quality time with your inner circle
Does the thought of endless small talk on the biggest day of your life make you cringe? If you have 150+ people at your wedding, you’re limiting yourself to about 2 minutes with every guest. Instead of saying a quick “hello” before being pulled to the next group, imagine having one-on-one time with every single person. The people you love most will be right by your side and you’ll get to spend quality time with each of them. Wouldn’t you rather have meaningful conversations to mark this milestone in your lives? Think about the impression that will leave on the two of you and your people.
3. Create an experience for your guests
One of the most beautiful parts of planning an intimate wedding is the ability to turn it into an extended experience for your guests. Instead of just a wedding day, why not a wedding weekend? With a smaller group to manage, you will have more flexibility in setting up fun activities or excursions the day before or day after to include everyone, especially if people are traveling for you. How does a welcome pizza party sound? What about an intimate wine tasting, or maybe a catamaran tour?
4. Everyone can play a special part in your day
You can find ways to include everyone and make them feel like an even more important part of your day. From a guest perspective, I can’t express how meaningful assigning even a small role on the wedding day is. This will bring your community closer together in an intimate way. Imagine your best friend and sister building your bouquet, your mom officiating your ceremony, or your brother playing guitar as you walk down the aisle. I always try to emphasize to my couples, these are the details you’re going to remember…and the ones that will make your wedding uniquely you.
5. Enjoy the freedom of being yourselves
Does the thought of being the center of attention in front of 100 people make you squirm? We all wear masks depending on what our social circumstances call for. You may not be the same “you” in front of your work acquaintances as you are in front of your best friends. When you’re surrounded by your inner circle, you don’t have to worry about holding back emotions for fear of judgment. Let it out! The laughter, the tears, the weirdness. You’re not putting on a show or “keeping up appearances”. And you don’t need to check in on everyone to make sure they’re having a good time. In other words, you can just be you. This goes for your guests too. If everyone knows each other, they may feel free to let go too.
6. More flexibility with budget
Two of your biggest expenses with a larger wedding will be a venue to host everyone and the cost of catering to feed them. You’ll also be accounting for invitations, furniture rentals, place settings, etc. As your guest list grows, however, it’s inevitable the quality of things like your dinner and your decor will go down. It’s your choice whether to save big in these areas, or allot more of your budget to bigger priorities. Maybe you can take the honeymoon you’ve always dreamed of…or save for your new home together. You can splurge on that designer dress you’ve been eyeing or have both photo AND video capture your day.
7. Intimate wedding venue options are endless
Want to get married in the heart of a redwood forest? What about on the edge of a desert cliff? Or maybe the base of a waterfall? A lot of these places would be nearly impossible to host a big wedding for a lot of different reasons. For example, state and national parks usually impose a 30 or less guest limit to host ceremonies. Above all, you will also run into a lot less hang ups when it comes to arranging transportation for a smaller group to these places!
8. Intimate weddings = less drama
It might surprise you how many extended family members and friends will be expecting an invite…even if you haven’t spoken for years. Maybe this goes without saying, but by limiting the guest list from the start, you can avoid these difficult conversations. And you don’t have to subject yourself to as many unwanted opinions. You’re inviting people because you want them to be there, not out of obligation or guilt. You have the freedom to make more choices that honor your relationship…and the people closest to you will understand why you made those choices.
9. Your day will be more laidback
Even if all of your guests are the chillest people on the planet, when you put them together in the same space, it becomes a lot like herding cats. More people inevitably means more pressure to keep things moving along. It means more coordination and unnecessary stress over logistics. Big or small, your wedding day is going to go by so fast. I want you to have time to savor it all…and that means scheduling downtime in between events. That sense of pressure to squeeze in portraits between mingling will be alleviated. We can also carve out more time to visit a dreamy location.
10. Timeless photos of the people you love most
This is something you probably didn’t consider. When I’m photographing intimate weddings, it’s easier for me to focus on getting more, authentic candids of the people you love most. I won’t have to worry about delivering too many candids of the random plus one who got down on the dance floor. If there are less people, there will also be less overall group photos to take. Instead of a photo with each of your 20 tables, what if you could toast everyone at the same, long table? AND have a photo of it? I know you were intentional about your guest list and every person in attendance is someone very important to you. These are photos full of emotion, laughter, tears…the photos that you’ll keep close to your heart years later.
Still not convinced if an intimate wedding is right for you? If you need more reasons to consider a small day, check out some of these stories on my blog! Intimateweddings.com is another awesome planning resource!
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