How to make a small wedding special

With the growing trend towards smaller weddings both in the UK and for destination weddings, a lot of couples will often ask me how they can make a small wedding feel special. For most people, we are conditioned that a wedding has to be a huge, lavish affair where every member of your family is invited regardless of whether you’ve seen or spoken to them in the last 10 years, but it doesn’t have to be this way. You can still have an amazing intimate wedding with small groups of friends and family and make it feel special. Ultimately it is your wedding day so you are guaranteed to feel wonderful.

There are a few key things you can do to make a small wedding feel special whether you are getting married in a registry office followed by a restaurant reception or you’ve chosen to have an outdoor ceremony with a garden reception, whatever your wedding venue is here are some ideas to get you started.

Keep things personal

When you have a smaller guest list it gives you greater freedom to personalise elements of your wedding day for your guests. For larger weddings, it is sometimes hard for the personal elements to be included due to budget restrictions but for smaller weddings, the budget can often stretch a little further.
Instead of a traditional seating plan why not create a seating plan using photos of each of your guests hanging on a wall or in bunting style. Chose nice photos or if it suits a silly photo of each of your guests, is sure to put a smile on their face. When I got married we put a little picture of each of our guests on the table as a memento from the day, it really got people talking especially as the photos brought back memories or if they were silly it meant that guests had something to start a conversation with their neighbour (if they didn’t know them).

The day needs to reflect you as a couple so why not include a photo or video montage of you and your partner that can be shown throughout the day.

Not only does this make it more personal to you both but it can provide additional entertainment for your guests. Just make sure you don’t make it feel like a conference where you are forcing your guests to sit down and watch, make it interactive and fun.

One of the easiest ways to personalise the wedding is during your ceremony with the music and readings that you choose. Don’t be afraid to push the boundaries; if you’re into a certain style of music, then play it! You will have more freedom of music and reading choice if you’re not getting married in a religious setting, as with a religious ceremony there are often rules about what you can and cannot use, so this is something to bear in mind. If you’re stuck for ideas on readings then check out my blog post {insert link to a previous blog post regarding readings} for some ideas!

If you’re marrying the UK and are relatively close to home, then why not include your beloved pet in your ceremony as a ring bearer or to walk you down the aisle!

Pets at weddings are definitely on the rise and there are also companies we will look after your dog throughout the ceremony and post-ceremony. Simply type dog wedding chaperone service the UK into Google and you’ll be amazed how many options there are!

For destination weddings, a lovely welcome pack for your guests always goes down well. Whether it’s a fan to keep them cool during the ceremony and reception or something more detailed like little gifts that reflect your destination such as olive oil if you’re marrying in Italy or lavender soap if you’re marrying in Provence in France, wherever your destination is, include local elements to really welcome your guests to your destination.

Keep some traditional wedding elements

Even though you may not sticking to other ‘traditional’ wedding elements across all or some of your wedding day, it is nice to still keep some traditional elements such as the speeches. You don’t have to keep it traditional with just the Groom, Best Man and Father of the Bride, if you want to do a speech as my friend did at her wedding or if your bridal party want to do a speech, it is a nice way to break up the wedding breakfast and with a smaller number of guests, you can really make the speeches fit well into the timings of the day. At some weddings I’ve attended, they’ve spread the speeches out throughout the wedding breakfast to stop speech fatigue if there are lots of speeches that go on for a long time, guests can become bored.

Pre-wedding night

The night before your wedding should be a chance for you to relax with your bridal party and enjoy a chilled night before the excitement of the next day. If you’re in the UK why not book into a beautiful hotel where you and your bridesmaids or groomsman can enjoy a touch of luxury. Smaller weddings tend to take place close to home, but that doesn’t mean that you have to get ready there if you don’t want to. One thing I always recommend for a destination wedding and especially if you’re having a smaller wedding is to have a lovely meal somewhere the night before your wedding for you and your guests. It allows you to say hello to everyone before the rush of your big day and also allows your guests to meet and mingle before the main day, which means on your wedding day guests will be more relaxed with each other and interact more.

Invest in a photographer and/or a videographer

Just because you are having a smaller wedding doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t invest in a great photographer or videographer. You still want to remember the day, capture the vibe of your wedding party and all the beautiful personal touches you’ve added to make your day special. Some photographers and videographers offer special packages for smaller weddings, but at the end of the day, the service they provide and the photos that you receive afterwards should still be the same as their main larger wedding packages.

The only difference is the price may vary due to fewer hours that might be required.

It is worth speaking to your chosen photographer/ videographer about their half-day or reduced hour packages. If you’re having a destination wedding and are planning on bringing your photographer/videographer from the UK for example, you will still have to cover the costs of their travel and stay, so if you’re opting for a smaller destination wedding, it is worth looking for someone who is local to your chosen venue or destination to reduce any additional costs.

Guest experience

Your guest experience is critical when it comes to hosting a small wedding. Depending on what vibe you’re looking for your wedding day; garden party, dinner party, bbq or beach it is important to think about how to keep your guests entertained and keep them interacting with each other when there are fewer people to create a large party vibe.

Creating a lounge area where your guests can relax and chat is always a lovely idea and you can really get creative with your décor ideas or a games area where you can create a mini-tournament to bring out the competitiveness within your guests. A cocktail making station where your guests can either make their own cocktails or can request a bespoke cocktail from your bartenders can really make it feel personal to them.

Live music

It is important to think about the music that will accompany your wedding day from the ceremony through to your reception and when your guests hit the dance floor later in the evening. You want to create an intimate music vibe for guests so it is best to choose music whether live or played over speakers from your own playlists, that isn’t too intrusive or which will be too loud so it will stop your guests speaking easily with each other. Remember that at a smaller wedding not everyone will be up on the dance floor so it is important to start the evening off with some music that will get people up and dancing and can keep the tempo and vibe up. This is where live bands are a good idea as they can read the mood in the room and change the tempo or music type accordingly to keep you and your guests dancing into the small hours.

Small weddings can feel incredibly special, allow you to spend more time with your loved ones and take away just a little of the wedding stress and worry as you don’t have to think about entertaining large numbers of people, so take full advantage of all the benefits.

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