Best Tips for Planning a Small Wedding


For many couples, a big wedding is not their style nor in their budget. Planning a small wedding can be very easy, but still cause a fair amount of stress. Having helpful tips available can help reduce your stress level and make your special day enjoyable and memorable. Read on for great ideas on a small wedding that everyone will be talking about for years to come!

Planning a Small Wedding: Setting Your Budget and Sticking to It

Definition of Small Wedding

A “small” wedding is based on cutting out a number of guests or money spent from the norm in your own social circles. You may have friends that had a $30,000 budget for 150 to 200 guests, so small for you may be $10,000 for 75 to 100 guests. It can also be $500 to $1,000 for 50 to 75 guests. Remember, the less people the less money you spend.

Consider Your Budget

With small wedding planning, the first thing you need to do is sitting down and making up your guest list. Decide what number is small for your budget, remember the guests you invite; you need to plan for food, dessert and drinks. Also, each guest will require a chair to sit in that may or may not be rental fee. Plus, your venue may have extra charges for extra people.

Intimate Venue Ideas for Small Weddings

Small weddings actually give you so many more choices, because you can include smaller and more budget friendly places. Here are some ideas for a small intimate wedding:

Churches with Halls

Look into a church that has a separate hall for wedding receptions. They may include the price of both in your fees and include tables and chairs in the hall without added cost.

A Local Restaurant

You may have a local restaurant with a banquet room large enough for a ceremony and reception all in the same place.

Inns or Bed and Breakfasts

These can be very intimate settings with historic appeal, gardens, and rooms for your guests.

Art Galleries

Some art galleries are willing to rent the facility for weddings and receptions. You will most likely need to provide your own tables, chairs, and catering.

Someone’s Home/ Backyard

Home weddings can be very comfortable and intimate, however you will need to find all of your own rentals and services.

Wedding Style for Small Weddings

Planning a small wedding doesn’t necessarily mean you have to skimp on style. Here are a few ideas to pull it off and look bigger than life:
  • Take advantage of the season for help with decorations. A fall wedding outdoors with the change of leaf color can be dramatic! You can also choose a beach wedding with the ocean as your backdrop!

  • Forgo on flower arrangements for bride and bridesmaid. Give your guests on the aisle a flower and have then hand it to the bride as she walks down the aisle.

  • Choose a venue for both wedding and reception. Set up the tables and chairs for the reception with the wedding aisle in the middle. Have guests seated at their tables for the ceremony and no need to have a separate reception area.

  • Have a close friend get ordained online and do your ceremony for you.

  • Make a new tradition instead of unity candle. Do a sand pouring or give flowers to your new mother in laws during the ceremony.

  • Search wedding sites to get ideas for DIY decorating and themes. From fall pumpkins to Christmas tree centerpieces.

  • Place disposable cameras on each table and let your guests capture the moments for you.

  • Get rid of the “head table” and sit with your guests to encourage mingling and spending time with each and every one who attends.

Small Wedding Catering Ideas

Your wedding budget will depend on what you want to serve your guests and how many people you invite. Here are some ideas to feed a smaller crowd, but keep elegance in your food:

Do DIY Appetizers and Finger Foods – A cocktail hour is quite elegant and can save big on a small budget. But an assortment of the following is also quite OK:

  • Block Cheese and Crackers

  • Fruit Plates with Yogurt Dip

  • Hot Dips and French Bread

  • Mini Quiches

  • Canapes

Serve a Buffet Brunch, Lunch, or Dinner – Choose more value priced items like chicken dishes, pasta, salads, and vegetarian selections. Stay away from higher priced foods like beef and fish.

Cater Your Own – Plan a menu and get together with friends in the days before to prepare your own foods. Tailor the food to your theme and budget.

What About the Cake?

Wedding cakes are usually charged by the number of guests per serving. Ask your baker approximately how many certain cakes will feed. When planning a small wedding, a few smaller cake ideas include:

  • Bake your own or have a friend do your cake. You can find all the supplies you need at major retail party suppliers. Some people do cakes for a hobby.

  • Have an upscale bakery do a very small elegant cake for your “showpiece” and for you to cut. Then have a sheet cake to serve your guests.

  • Do a cupcake tower. This is a popular new alternative to a large cake and you only order enough for you and your guests.

Let’s Party!

Usually after rentals, cake and food your budget is winding down. If you still want a party afterwards, there are some ways to fit it in. Here are some ways to keep things going to the wee hours without much more expense:
  • B.Y.O.B – Not your guests of course, but you provide them. If it is okay with your wedding venue, go to a discount outlet and buy your own booze for cheaper.

  • No Hard Liquor – Just skip the hard drinks and keep it to wine with dinner and champagne for a toast.

*Note: try to avoid a “cash bar” and exclude alcohol all together if you can’t afford it. It is considered “bad wedding etiquette” to ask guests to pay for their drinks, although some do it.

  • Bring Your Own Music – You can dance the night away with an I-pod and speakers. Create a special playlist for your wedding and hit play. Just make sure you choose soft music for dinner and cake and save the bumping dance music for later on.

Help! Budget Cutting Ideas

If you end up going over budge when planning a small wedding, you can find help in your talented family and friends. Here are some ideas to fluff things up for cheap:

  • Call on people that know how to cook or bake cakes. They can donate their time, food, or even cake as a gift to you.

  • Have a talented friend do your hair and makeup

  • Borrow a wedding dress