So what is a small wedding, anyway?
As a wedding planner, I would suggest an intimate venue for any guest list of 40 or under. This is only my personal opinion so please feel free to ignore! But I find with any guest list of this size, a smaller venue is preferable simply because you may feel lost in a larger space. There are so many beautiful venues in this country; houses, manors, barns… all of which are the perfect size for an intimate wedding of 40 and under.
Smaller venues are often quieter in the off-peak seasons; it’s just the way it is. So always check when their off-peak season is (some venues are different) and you may find they have the date you are looking for at a much lower cost. With any venue, Monday to Thursday tend to be the off-peak days of the week but occasionally, you will come across a venue who also treat Friday’s this way.
Late availability is always worth a look, too. With smaller wedding parties, you can afford to wait until a little closer to your ideal date as there are fewer guests to get in touch with. I am finding that a lot of couples recently, especially with smaller groups, are creating online groups on sites such as Facebook or WhatsApp (though there are many options out there) with all of their guests on. Any updates are then posted to the group so everybody can see. Email in general is also becoming a little more popular for this.
From experience, a smaller wedding party can often mean a smaller budget. Who says a wedding has to come with loans and debt afterwards?! Your wedding day is a magical day. One during which you spend its entirety surrounded by friends and family, celebrating your love for each other, eating great food, drinking too much and laughing until your ribs hurt. This day does not need to cost a fortune. If you’re struggling to find a venue that can cater for your budget, try asking them for a bespoke package. Most venues really do appreciate it if you have a figure in mind and give this to them to work with; I know I do! When I receive a budget from a couple, I try my absolute best to work with it and create a package that is just right for them; 99% of the time, I find a package that suits them.
A great way to save on costs is by using the same space for your entire day – saving on room hire. A great example is of a wedding that recently took place at Cosener’s House. We had just fewer than 30 guests during the day so our bride and groom held their ceremony in our main dining room, overlooking our private gardens and the river Thames.
They then went outside for their photos and drinks, during which time we moved their chairs over to their large table for their wedding breakfast. After this, we split the large table into a few smaller tables ready for their evening reception – where they had just fewer than 90 guests.
This particular couple had a lot of additional guests coming in the evening only, which kept their costs down during the day but ensured they could have an evening reception too. I often find that with smaller guest lists and if there aren’t any additional evening guest’s coming, then it’s quite nice to end on a casual note in the early evening instead of having a disco/band with almost no atmosphere because there simply aren’t enough people in the room to create one.
Lots of couples keep their wedding incredibly casual if they have a smaller guest list. I have had parties of 20 or below who have their ceremony either in the registry office or a local church. They then come to the venue for some photos, drinks and some food. With parties of this size, I am often asked for something like an afternoon tea – which is a lovely, light, casual way to spend your wedding breakfast with your nearest and dearest. Afterwards, they may stay in the gardens and/or bar or even go home to continue celebrations with parents.
One of my favourite things about smaller wedding parties is that the happy couple get to see each and every one of their guests. There is no worrying about missing someone and you simply get to enjoy your day with each other. With larger groups, the evening reception is often taken up by couples ‘making the rounds’ and by the time they’re done, it’s nearly closing time! Don’t get me wrong, it’s wonderful to say hello to everybody and thank them for coming and to catch up with family and friends who you haven’t seen for a while but it is also nice to enjoy some time with your new husband/wife and just enjoy the love bubble…
The most important thing to remember, whether your wedding is small or big, is this; it’s your day. So enjoy it, embrace it and smile… because it’s yours.