Hi, friends, and Happy New Year! How’s 2018 treating you so far? I have to say, this holiday season was probably one of the best and most memorable for me, so I’m a little sad to see it go. But I’m also excited for a new year and a fresh start! I’m not too big on new year’s resolutions (mainly because I never keep them), but I do usually take the time at the beginning of each new year to set intentions and think about how I want the next year to go. For example, while 2017 was a lot of fun, it was also very stressful. So in 2018, I’m choosing to have more fun and stress less.
And for those of you planning a wedding in 2018, stress will likely be part of that process. As many of you know, Phil and I opted to have a small wedding with only 20 guests. While this certainly cut down on a huge amount of stress, there were still moments when I wanted to pull my hair out. I’ve put together my top 10 pieces of advice for those of you having a small wedding in hopes that it will help you focus on what’s important and to start organizing/prioritizing your to-do lists.
01. Be prepared to hurt feelings/make someone mad
Whether it’s a family member or close friend, someone will forget that your wedding day is not about them. The biggest issue we ran into by having a small wedding was hurting the feelings of those who weren’t invited. There were several instances through the planning process that I can recall family and close friends making passive aggressive comments about not receiving an invitation to our ceremony.
After losing my cool on one family member who did this, I decided that there was a better way to handle the situation. Any time someone had something to say about not being invited, I tried to gently remind them that Phil and I both come from huge families. Because of this, our original guest list was close to 500 people and paying for a wedding that size was simply unrealistic for us. When we tried cutting down the list to a number we felt more comfortable with, we were only able to include immediate family and some extended family, leaving no room for any of our close friends. So rather than picking and choosing who was more important to us (and likely still hurting feelings), we decided to keep our ceremony to just immediate family. Once I explained this, people usually understood a little better.
So here’s my advise for addressing those who are mad they aren’t invited to your ceremony: take it in stride, stick to your guns, explain your reasoning (if you feel it’s necessary), and move on – you’ve got bigger fish to fry.
02. Look for venues that specialize in small weddings
When we started throwing around the idea of having a small wedding, I found so many venues and elopement companies online who specialize in exactly that! The wedding package we chose at our venue included our officiant, the chairs for our ceremony, our photographer, our flowers, the champagne and cider for our toast, our cake, a 2-night stay for Phil and I at the venue in a beautiful and spacious room, breakfast in bed, and a wedding coordinator who spent the entire day helping us. We checked 9 items off our to-do list just by booking a venue – it was one of the best decisions we made!
03. Get married on a week day
Because we only had 20 people to worry about, we decided to get married on a Thursday afternoon. We picked this day for two big reasons: 1) it was cheaper than getting married on the weekend, and 2) it gave us time to come home and relax before leaving for our honeymoon. I’ve been in many weddings where the bride and groom have to drive straight from their reception to the airport, or have to wake up super early the morning after to catch their flight. I don’t know about y’all, but driving hours after an incredibly long day or trying to navigate an airport while hung over just didn’t sound appealing to me.
Our timeframe worked like this: we checked into the venue on Wednesday to meet with our coordinator, got married on Thursday and spent another night at the venue, came home on Friday, drove to Phil’s parent’s house on Saturday to spend the night and drop off the dogs, and then Phil’s sister drove us to the airport on Sunday morning. I loved how spaced out everything was. It allowed us to enjoy each moment and really take our time.
04. Still send save the dates and invitations
While we could have easily just texted/called everyone to invite them to our ceremony, I wanted the entire process to feel special so we opted to send both save the date magnets and invitations to our guests. I felt that save the dates were important since we were getting married on a weekday. This ensured everyone had enough time to ask off work. And because we only had 20 guests, we were able to really go all out on our save the dates and invitations, making them detailed and beautiful.
05. Still buy your dream wedding gown
A lot of people have the belief that a small wedding equals giving up everything that comes with having a big wedding. But as I said, I still wanted the entire planning process and our ceremony to feel just as special as it would have with 500 people there. I went all out on my wedding dress and I don’t have a single regret about it because I truly felt like a bride.
06. Hire someone to do your hair and makeup
While I’m usually pretty good at doing my own hair and makeup, I didn’t want to have to worry about that on my wedding day, especially if something had gone wrong. It was so nice to sit back, relax, and get pampered before saying “I do.”
07. Still register for gifts
Even though you are having a small wedding, I can guarantee you that people will still want to buy gifts for you. Take the time to go to at least one store or create a registry online so they know what to get for you.
08. Don’t back down from your vision
Phil and I had a very specific vision for what we wanted our entire wedding day to look like. From the time we woke up in the morning, to the time we went to bed, we knew exactly how we wanted our day to go. There were several times that our families offered us suggestions for the day after hearing our plans. We took some suggestions, but if they didn’t align with our vision, we just said no. It’s okay to say no. Remember, it’s your day!
09. Host a reception for extended family and friends
We thought it was important to include and celebrate with the family and friends who weren’t at our ceremony, so we hosted a big reception a few weeks after we got back from our honeymoon. We tried to keep this as simple as possible, as well. Our friend owns the restaurant where we hosted the event. He, his wife, and their staff made the amazing food, served and bartended, and cleaned up afterwards. The best part about hosting here (besides it being our friend’s place), was that we loved how it looked and all the decorations that were already up. We brought a few things in to decorated with, but for the most part, everything was already done for us.
The owners of the brewery Phil works at gave us beer for the reception as our wedding gift, and a close friend of Phil’s wanted to buy our wine as his gift to us. We didn’t give sappy speeches or force our guests to sit in assigned seats, we just hung out, ate, drank, and celebrated together. It was easy and I think it showed those who we didn’t invite to the wedding that we love them and wanted them to be part of this exciting time in our lives.
We also had a separate reception/shower with my dad’s side of the family since they don’t drink and are very conservative. We did this before the wedding day, but my step-mom and sisters really took the lead on this one. I basically just showed up, which I was extremely thankful for!
10. Stick to a timeline
Even though there is less to do when it comes to having a small wedding, especially if you find a venue that takes care of most everything, I would still recommend creating and sticking to a planning timeline. It can be easy to think there’s not much to do, but get just a few weeks away from the big day and remember a million little things you still haven’t taken care of. Do yourself a favor and stay organized, even if it’s just the two of you and a few guests.
I hope this was helpful! If you had a small wedding, what other tips do you have? Comment below and share them with us!