Did you know that the average wedding guest count is slowly dropping? These days, the typical wedding size hovers around 130 guests, down from about 150 a little more than a decade ago. If you’re a proponent of fewer guests, you already know why this trend is gaining so much steam. Smaller weddings are much more affordable, require significantly less planning and can capture that cozy and romantic vibe that’s so in style.
What’s not to love? Indeed, while chopping your guest list in half may be one of the best things you do during the wedding planning process, it doesn’t mean everything will suddenly be a piece of cake. Intimate weddings still take money, effort and planning, and engaged couples need to be prepared for that. Here are a few things you should keep in mind before you start planning your intimate wedding.
1. You Should Have the Wedding You Want
So often, couples compromise their specific wedding vision in order to appease others. Your parents and future in-laws will undoubtedly have their own list of people to invite, so it’s important to know that you may have to set boundaries and prepare to say no. At the end of the day, you are under no obligation to mores or traditions. If you want a black wedding dress, a pair of silicone wedding rings or a wedding guest count of a dozen, you should have that.
2. You’ll Have to Be Exclusive
The biggest con of the intimate approach? You’re forced to be exclusive, hand-selecting only a few guests and leaving many others on the chopping block. Unfortunately, when you want to go the intimate route, you just can’t invite every single third cousin, old friend or co-worker. If you’re not comfortable with being forced to leave some people out, you may want to look for ways to have a cozy, intimate wedding with a higher, more inclusive guest count.
3. People Will Want to Know Why They Aren’t Invited
Unfortunately, if you have a big family or a large social circle, you’ll likely be faced with the ever-awkward question, “Why wasn’t I invited?” Or, more likely, you’ll be hit with some uncomfortable and passive-aggressive comments among distant relatives, co-workers, neighbors and anyone who isn’t within your inner circle. According to the etiquette pros, there is a proper and gracious way to tell someone why they aren’t invited, and it usually comes down to being honest about your wedding vision and budget. Here are some ways to handle it:
- Blame it on the budget. This is something almost everyone will understand and it’s often rooted in truth.
- Explain the restrictions of the venue. If you’ve always dreamed of getting married at a particular place, and that place just so happens to be small, it helps if you explain to others why it was so important to your wedding vision and why you were willing to compromise.
- Say you wanted a small wedding, plain and simple. Nobody is owed an elaborate explanation, and the truth is perfectly acceptable!
4. Not Every Venue Will Be in the Cards
One of the reasons many couples love the idea of an intimate wedding is that it opens up many more opportunities for wedding venues. The fact is that many restaurants, breweries, galleries, historic homes and parks have strict maximums when it comes to guest count. With that being said, just because you want a more intimate affair doesn’t mean that every single space should be considered. In fact, you will really want to rule out those large, sprawling spots, including big farms, barns and large catering halls. Too much space can make the reception feel cold, unwelcoming or overwhelming rather than intimate, warm and cozy.
5. Things Will Still Cost Money
There is no denying that a smaller wedding will equal a smaller bill, mostly because of per-person costs associated with the food, bar, cake and rentals. However, that certainly doesn’t mean you’ll be getting off scot-free. Remember, some expenses are fixed and don’t fluctuate no matter how many people are on the guest list. The venue, the band or DJ, the officiant, the wedding rings, and the ceremony flowers all cost roughly the same amount regardless of your final headcount.
6. You Will Need to Consider Other Events
For most couples, a wedding isn’t just a single event lasting a few hours. It’s usually a year’s worth of events — the engagement party, the bridal shower, the bachelor and bachelorette parties, the rehearsal dinner, the wedding, the morning-after brunch. When deciding who to invite to these things, consider the wedding ceremony and reception guest list above all. It’s considered rude to invite anyone to your shower and other events that you do not plan to invite to the wedding. So if you want a big shower or bachelorette party, you shouldn’t leave those attendees out of the main event.
7. Intimate Shouldn’t Mean Unadorned
Unless you’re going for that ultra-chic minimalist vibe or generally prefer a plain look, don’t skimp on the extras simply because you won’t be having that many guests. In fact, a lower headcount may open up the doors for some special finishes you might not otherwise be able to afford, such as gorgeous centerpieces, extra-special favors and unique reception décor.
Intimate Is In, But It’s Not the Only Way
Intimate weddings provide a special, affordable approach to saying “I do,” and they’re getting more and more popular because of it. But that doesn’t mean it’s the only way to tie the knot! Your wedding should be a reflection of you and the people you cherish, so you want to take the extra time to think about what feels the most like you. Whether it’s a 15-person backyard affair or a massive soiree at an events center, as long as it represents your love, you can count it as a win!