Photo: Pexels/ Maria Lindsey

The proposal has been made. The ‘yes’ given. Now starts the planning, preparing, and panicking as the actual wedding preparations begin. In a world of bridezillas, budget-busting destination weddings, and bridal gowns that go for thousands, not hundreds, of dollars, it’s easy to lose sight of what a wedding is intended to be:  a gathering of your nearest and dearest who have a real desire to share in the fact that you’ve found each other and that a future together awaits. Pare down your nuptials to a small, simple wedding and you’ll enjoy a truly intimate, personalized affair with tons of memories, singular moments of joy, and time to really savor each and every second of your special day.

1. You can celebrate your life with guests who matter most to you

Photo: Twenty20/ @lu84za

Compile a guest list of people who hold a special place in your life:  beloved relatives, close friends, those with whom you have a cherished history. You’re celebrating the most important relationship in your life so it makes perfect sense to invite people who’ll want to share in your joy because they very much value their own relationship with you.

2. You can save money

Photo: Twenty20/ @IND

Your love may be priceless but wedding budgets have definite limits. With a small wedding you could save thousands of dollars and put the money you save towards something else, like a down payment on a house or a splurge honeymoon.

3. You can choose a unique venue

Photo: Twenty20/ @leah.arceneaux

Forego a large, impersonal reception room for something more charming and intimate — and less expensive — like a museum, art gallery, favorite restaurant, or bed and breakfast.

4. You can customize your ceremony and reception

Photo: Pexels/ Sergio Souza

Less is more, as the saying goes. A small wedding allows you to add more personalized and creative elements to both the ceremony and the reception afterward. You can allow your creative juices to flow and make your wedding a unique reflection of the two of you.

5. You can relax more

Photo: Pxhere

Being surrounded by those who care about you the most instead of a gathering of mere acquaintances and near strangers will make you feel more at home with your guests. Your wedding will feel like a warm celebration with close-knit family and friends instead of a carefully choreographed production.

6. You can splurge

Photo: Needpix

What are the things you love (besides your wedding partner, of course)? With a smaller, simpler wedding you’ll have fewer guests so you can splurge on the things that really matter to you and reflect who you are such as a five-course gourmet meal, a jazz band, or a designer wedding gown.

7. You can have a wedding that leaves an impression

Photo: Twenty20/ @debbieslizoski

Because your wedding won’t be the typical big bash with all the expected bells and whistles, your guests will most likely remember it as a unique event that will be exceptional rather than conventional.

8. You can spare feelings

Photo: Twenty20/ @criene

Will your fourth cousin on your mother’s father’s side whom you’ve only met a handful of times feel left out if they’re not invited to your wedding? Not if you explain that you’ve opted for a small wedding. You’ll have an easy out to tell people who aren’t invited why they didn’t make the cut.

9. You can have a destination wedding

Photo: Twenty20/ @maayan227

Whether you want to tie the knot in Tahiti or head to city hall for an easy-peasy elopement, you can choose the destination of your choice with a small wedding. There’ll be no need to consider the travel capabilities (financial and otherwise) for a 150+ guests.

10. You can enjoy an amazing honeymoon

Photo: Twenty20/ @amymarie.carpenter

Curtailing your wedding costs means you’ll have more to spend on a honeymoon that will have you, well, over the moon. Think of the places you’ll go and the things you’ll see once the final crumbs of cake are cleared from the tables and your guests have showered you with good wishes and happy thoughts.

11. You can work with a shorter timeline

Photo: Twenty20/ @sbohon1

A simplified wedding and small guest list give you the option of cutting down your wedding preparation timeline. Larger weddings often require booking venues many months — or even more than a year — in advance, which means more time to overthink, overdo, and overlook what your special day should really be about.

12. You can manage DIY projects better

Photo: Twenty20/ @dashapats

Making your own monogrammed heart-shaped favors with a hand-rubbed antique finish? Baking individual fresh fruit tarts topped with two doves carved from white modeling chocolate? Lovely ideas, but making 30 sounds a whole lot better than making 300. 

13. You can spend more time with your guest

Photo: Twenty20/ @mantc47

You know the feeling:  You’re at a wedding that seems more like fulfilling a social obligation instead of participating in a heartfelt celebration. A small wedding allows the bride and groom to spend time with each guest in a more meaningful way.

14. You can expect your guests to feel more relaxed

Photo: Twenty20/ @JoesBoilingPoint

Because you’ll be able to spend more time with your guests, they’ll feel more personally welcomed and appreciated at your event. A smaller wedding also allows for guests to easily mingle with others, adding to the social vibe of the day.

15. You can steal a few moments (and a private kiss or two) on your Big Day

Photo: Twenty20/ @dashapats

With a small and simple wedding you don’t need to worry about every moment being choreographed. You and your beloved can slow down, take it all in, and focus on simply being in the moment — not on being master/mistress of ceremony.

16. You can be eco-friendly

Photo: Twenty20/ @meghansmolka

Big-scale weddings can also be big on waste. You’ll be doing Mother Earth a favor by having less trinket favors, food and paper waste, and disposable items that are often the hallmarks of over-the-top weddings. And while you’re eliminating needless big wedding trappings, consider animal welfare and skip the release of caged doves.

17. You can plan a wedding, not a reunion

Photo: Twenty20/ @thetiffanygalloway

Why pay $100 per head for a dinner to rekindle old friendships? Invite your current friends and closest family members and your wedding will be a celebration of your walk down the aisle not a stroll down memory lane. Leave the high school and college reunions to your alma mater.

18. You can cut loose

Photo: Twenty20/ @foksia07

When your guests feel at ease in a comfortable setting you’ll feel free to play music you actually like, mingle, dance, and just enjoy downtime. You’ve put in the hours of planning; now it’s your time to just delight in the day.

19. You can get great photos

Photo: Twenty20/ @marinausmanskaya

Smile and say cheese or, in the case of herding guests into posed and unimaginative group shots, cheesy. Small and simple weddings allow photographers to go for the unique shot that tells a story and conveys an emotion. You’ll look back on your day and relive a sense of warm affection rather than staged pretention.

20. You can make small talk with people you actually care about

Photo: Twenty20/ @lira_n4

A small guest list means you won’t find yourself having to chat on the big day with people on your Facebook friends list whom you like but don’t necessarily consider besties, co-workers you’re not close to, or a cousin that you haven’t seen since the two of you attended a summer carnival when you were kids.

21. You can forego hiring a wedding planner

Photo: Twenty20/ @beachbumledford

With a simple wedding everything is…simpler. You can handle the details yourself and pass on hiring a costly wedding planner who might try to talk you into things that aren’t really your cup of tea. You’ll have more control over everything from dining to dancing.

22. You can skip formal invitations

Photo: Twenty20/ @makenamedia

Choosing the paper. Selecting the typeface. Designing the RSVP card. Deciding just how your words of love will be artistically presented. Printed invitations consume both time and money; with a small wedding you can opt to simply call your guests personally or send a handwritten note.

23. You can customize the venue design

Photo: Twenty20/ @maginnis

Fewer tables and smaller space mean you can personalize the design of your wedding venue. You’ll have more time and money available to add your own touch to not only the tables but also fabrics, lighting, florals, and anything else that will create an ambiance that mirrors your own individual tastes.

24. You can create a lounge area where everyone can mix and mingle

Photo: Twenty20/ @robin.e.talley

Fewer guests take up less room, freeing up space for a cozy lounge area where guests can float in and out, kick back with acquaintances they haven’t seen for a while, or simply take a break from the celebratory festivities.

25. You can choose a creative table setup

Photo: Twenty20/ @Elisall

Table any ideas of seating your guests in the same old expected groupings. Instead of multiple round tables staged throughout a large, cavernous room choose to seat everyone at a long estate table or in a u-shaped configuration, both of which can encourage easy conversation and social interaction among guests.

26. You can design personalized place cards

Photo: Twenty20/ @minawhitlock

Forget the usual cardboard, one-fold place cards that direct guests to their table. When the guest list is small you can create place cards individualized to each person with hand-calligraphy, tiny bouquets, or petite objets d’art that can also double as your favors.

27. You can indulge in deluxe linens

Photo: Twenty20/ @Marfy

A large number of guests means more tables; more tables mean more linens; more linens mean more money. When you pare down your guest list and opt for simple over lavish you can indulge in deluxe linens, which can really anchor a table and lend a sophisticated air to your setting.

28. You can hold the ceremony at home

Photo: Twenty20/ @bythec1

Given a small enough number of guests you can create a picturesque, memorable ceremony by holding your wedding in your home. Consider having the reception outdoors in your backyard or in a public park but keep an eye to the weather forecast and rent a sturdy rain tent if the weather looks to be inclement.

29. You can cater your wedding yourself

Photo: Flickr/ Loren Kerns

Feeding a large number of wedding guests can really eat up a lot of your budget. When you invite fewer people you can handle the food preparation yourself (and maybe call in a few favors from other family members who know their way around the kitchen) or tap into a family-owned local restaurant for catering.

30. You can skip having multiple bridesmaids and groomsmen

Photo: Twenty20/ @amyhilbrand

A small wedding means a more intimate gathering of guests as well as a minimalist bridal party — or none at all. When you think about it, do you really need someone to ‘stand up for you’? Or walk ahead of you down the aisle? Or fluff out your veil like it’s a magic carpet floating behind you? Maybe not so much.

31. You can stock the bar yourself

Photo: Twenty20/ @debrawr

Saving money on refreshments at your wedding? We’ll drink to that. Alcohol is a big wedding expense so think about saving money by opting out of having a full open bar and instead offering just beer and wine or a free cocktail hour followed by a cash bar.

32. You can use your own stereo equipment

Photo: Twenty20/ @punkypower

With a small wedding venue there’ll be no need to rent stereo equipment or hire a DJ to blast tunes loud enough so that the tables at the far end of the reception hall can hear every note of your first dance song. Use your own stereo equipment, or that of a friend, and place speakers around the dance floor area instead of the entire reception room.

33. You can avoid arguments about table seating plans

Photo: Twenty20/ @jamiesue

Uh oh – Uncle Joe doesn’t want to be seated anywhere near Grampa Francis, and Aunt Minnie and Aunt Emma aren’t speaking right now so….Fewer guests mean fewer considerations when it comes to who sits where and next to whom. You can invite individuals that you know are compatible and not worry about any family arguments taking place.

34. You can relax when saying your vows

Photo: Twenty20/ @lee72234

With an audience of, say, 40 versus a crowd of 200 you’ll feel much more relaxed when the moment arrives to say your vows. There’ll be less of a chance of getting tongue-tied when there are far fewer people with all eyes trained on you and your wedding train.

35. You can know exactly what your guests will like

Photo: Twenty20/ @raisazwart

Your guests will be your family members, the people you like the most, the friends you love — which means you’ll have a good idea of everyone’s likes and dislikes. There’ll be no guessing at what to offer for dining options, which songs to play, or what type of edible favor is a favorite.

36. You can write less thank you notes

Photo: Twenty20/ @mppllc

Writing out 25 thank you notes instead of 250? Sign us up for that! You’ll appreciate and treasure each and every gift you receive but devoting hours to writing individual thank you notes can take hours and test your patience. Better to pen a few heartfelt words to each of your special guests who witnessed the joining of your two hearts.

37. You can spend less time in the receiving line

Photo: Flickr/ Cliff

Fewer people to greet means you can say hello to more dancing, more mingling, more enjoying the post-ceremony celebratory festivities.

38. You can eliminate dancing if you want to

Photo: Twenty20/ @itsmerherhe

A lot of steps go into planning a big wedding — including, but not limited to, dance steps. There’s the grand entrance. The first dance. Dancing with the parents. Dancing with the in-laws. And dancing to the DJ who manages to select every party tune or mawkish love song you’ve ever head at every wedding. With a small, simple wedding you can choose to skip the routines that are expected at larger affairs.

39. You can be on trend

Photo: Twenty20/ @aneyefordetails

Smaller weddings are in — and with good reason. Having a scaled down wedding is no longer seen as a consolation prize or a best-we-could-do for ‘I do.’ These days, a simpler wedding is viewed as one of the smartest moves a couple can make.

40. You can spend less time on the Internet looking up wedding options

Photo: Twenty20/ @beachbumledford

Simply exhausting. That’s what planning a big, extravagant wedding with hundreds of guests can be. When you think small and plan simple, you’ll spend much less time with your eyes glazed over at the computer while researching venues, comparing prices, and reading reviews. In short, click less and spend more time planning a day that’s truly special for the person that you click best within the entire world.