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LadyE2010 Posts : 83 Registered: 10/30/07
Posted: Dec 28, 2008 8:45 PM

For those of you who have had or are planning to have a small wedding, what were your motivating factors? Do you wish you had a different wedding? Also, how did you deal with the people that weren't going to be invited?

I am asking because I really want a wedding with 60 and under, but the parents want a bigger wedding with ALL of my enormous family. My fiance isn't really into planning, and when I ask him what he wants, he just says "whatever makes you happy, babe." We will be paying for mostly everything, and are prepared to pay for everything if the need arises. I almost feel guilty not having a big wedding, because that is how my family does things, but I just can't get my mind away from having a small wedding.

With all that said, any decor ideas for a small wedding in Mid-July?
Thank you all in advance!


CheetahAngel Posts : 2,017 Registered: 11/29/08
Re: Small
Posted: Dec 28, 2008 10:15 PM Go to message in response to: LadyE2010

I'm planning on having a small wedding too becase my fiance and I are mostly paying for the whole thing. If your parents want you to have a big wedding then I think they should help you pay for it. Tell them that you can't afford to have a big wedding and that is why that you and your FH decided to have a small one. I think small ones are better anyways. It's more cheaper and intimate :)


HappyGirl13 Posts : 1,298 Registered: 4/21/08
Re: Small
Posted: Dec 28, 2008 10:51 PM Go to message in response to: CheetahAngel

Speaking from the perspective of one who wanted a 60-person wedding and instead had a 160-person wedding, I can tell you if I had it to do over again I would do the 60-person with just my closest family and friends. It wasn't about the money, it was about the intimacy of the event, and I wanted to have only the most important people in my life there.

Whether you would regret a large wedding depends on the kind of person you are, obviously. I'm an introvert and am very happy with a few close friends. At my wedding I had to make sure to make it around to everyone to say hello, and in some ways I didn't feel like myself at my own wedding b/c I had to put on my "party face." On the other hand, my younger brother recently had a backyard wedding of only immediate family, about 30 people, and we all got to really hang out afterwards and enjoy each other's company. It was awesome. There are at least 2 other brides on these boards that decided to have weddings of around 70 people, and I know from what they've said that they were really happy they did.

So one reason I had a large wedding was that my parents are friends with a lot of people, were invited to a lot of their children's weddings, and I felt like I would be putting them or our family in an awkward position by having a small wedding with a limited guest list. It made it even harder to say no since my parents were in a position to foot most of the bill, and did.

What I've found out largely from discussions on these boards is that it really is OK to limit your guest list, whether it's because of money or intimacy. All you really have to say to people when they say, "So you're inviting me, right?" or to distant cousins who ask when the wedding is, or your parents to their friends who are excited for you and ask when the wedding is so they can put it in their calendar, is "We're keeping it very small." Period. Or variations on that, such as "We're keeping it very small--just immediate family and close family friends." Whatever fits your situation the best.

Good luck with planning!

Edited by: HappyGirl13 on Dec 28, 2008 10:52 PM


auntofthebride Posts : 9,354 Registered: 4/2/06
Re: Small
Posted: Dec 29, 2008 9:14 AM Go to message in response to: LadyE2010

Dear Lady E,

In any situation, wedding planning or just Real Life, it is perfectly acceptable to say, politely, "I'm sorry but I cannot afford that.".

That simple phrase should be the end of any discussion between you and someone who wants you to do "more".

In this horrible economic climate, everyone is having to do more with less money. Anyone who tries to argue you into spending more money than you have is completely out of line.


Nalamienea Posts : 2,924 Registered: 6/13/08
Re: Small
Posted: Dec 29, 2008 10:09 AM Go to message in response to: LadyE2010

I had a very small guest list of about 30 people becuase we felt it was very important to have only our closest friends and our immediate family. I went a little farther than most "close family only" weddings and didn't even invite aunts or uncles, not even my one set of grandparents came. I knew this was what I could afford, so I found a way to kind of assert myself without having to do it directly. I had my wedding about 2500 miles away from the rest of the family. LOL

I know I laugh, becuase it's kind of funny, but it seriously worked. lol I live on the east coast where my husband's family resides (well, within about 400 miles anyway) and they all drove down and stayed. My immediate family (meanign brother, sister, mom and dad) flew down. I paid for cabins for everyone on both sides of the family and I got teh wedding I wanted. If I had had my wedding in my home town, Chris's family would have had to fly (albeit he has a much smaller family) and then I would have had bout 100 more people between cousins and aunts and family friends whom I haven't been in contact for probably 8 years.

If a destination wedding isn't an option for you, or not what you're looking for, you're just going to have to put your foot down. "My vision is of a very small wedding with only my closest people." and yes, you'll have to deal with people asking to be invited, firmly but politely.

Another thing? I was able to achieve a certain degree of formality because of my small guest list. It's what I wanted. Just to compare, I'll tell you about a wedding I went to about two weeks after my own. This friend's wedding cost relatively the same as mine, but it was very very different.

Mine: almost all guests stayed in cabins in the park, we had an evening ceremony on the lake followed by a catered buffet dinner in the ajoining conference center. I had porceline dishes and glass wine glass, linens to the floor and flowers on the tables. I had dinner music playing from an ipod and we did a little bit of dancing afterward. We paid a photographer to document the entire day (actually, we became friends WITH the photographer, who was the one who got married two weeks later hehe).

Their wedding: about 100 guests for a formal 1:00 ceremony in a church then the reception at a big barn-like structure about 30 minutes from the ceremony site. They had their friends and family cook the food. They used plastic utensils and paper chinaware dishes. They hired a dj and had dancing for about two hours after. Finger food was served along with tons of desert stuff. They had a photographer friend do their wedding. The tables had small decorations with candles and the tables were covered in colour-coordinated short plastic table clothes.

Of course I'm a fan of how I did my own, but her method is a perfectly legit one as well. The two weddings had two very different "feels" to them. If you prefer one KIND of reception or ceremony over another, that would be a very valid reason to limit a guest list. It may take this kind of explanation when dealing with parents, but is probably too much to go in to when talking with friends who aren't invited, ya know? For instance, if you tell your mom that you absolutely want to have an expensive catered dinner but it costs $50 per person (or whatever it costs), then that would be a very good reason to cut the list drastically.

I hope it works out for you. :)

IMG_7875.jpg picture by sarahandchris2008



SoonToBeAWard Posts : 280 Registered: 5/22/06
Re: Small
Posted: Dec 29, 2008 10:24 AM Go to message in response to: LadyE2010

We had 65 guests at our wedding. The motivating factor for us was we were hosting the reception at an intimate restaurant that could hold up to 80 people at a pinch. If we kept the numbers around 60-65 then the restaurant was able to offer a choice menu, allowing each guest to select their own starter and main from a choice of 3 instead of doing an alternate drop. It was important to us that everyone was able to choose their own meals.

For us it also meant that we could speak to all of our guests and thank them personally for coming to our wedding!

Just a quick note on larger weddings though: We did attend a wedding a few weeks ago that had twice as many people as we did. The tables were arranged into 3 long banquet style tables with the bridal table running perpendicular to the banquet tables at one end (that way the bridal table faced everyone else) It felt just as intimate and personal as ours did. I think you can have a lot of people at a wedding but still make it feel intimate with the right venue and layout.

:: Lisa x ::


ArtBride Posts : 4,838 Registered: 5/9/07
Re: Small
Posted: Dec 29, 2008 2:46 PM Go to message in response to: LadyE2010

I can't remember exactly, but I think we had about 70 guests. I fought EVERYONE to keep it small, and if I had it to do again, I wouldn't do a thing differently.

Personally, I really wanted a smaller wedding because there aren't a lot of people in the world who are TRULY important to me. It wasn't important to me to invite tons of extended family members that I never see - it would have felt like a lie (to me) to have them there, since we don't have a true relationship. Also, it would have felt wrong (again, to me) to have extended invitations beyond my small core group of friends. If someone is not close enough to me that they have never been to my home, why on earth would I want them at my wedding? So casual friends were cut from my list, too. Also, I didn't want to get sucked into the sentimental vortex and end up inviting a bunch of people who USED to be close to me, that I have no relationship with NOW. If I don't talk to someone (or email - however we communicate) on a regular basis, I didn't want them there.

Money played a minor role in that decision, for me. We had some help in paying for the wedding, but we still contributed a very large amount (for us). Even though unexpected contributions from our parents more than doubled our potential budget, I was still very particular about how the money was spent. Here's how I phrased it to DH: We had the budget to throw a truly amazing party for our closest friends and family members, or we could throw a mediocre party for everyone we knew. Easy decision: we chose to throw the awesome party for the smaller group.

Even considering this, I had trouble with the guest list. My parents were very supportive about keeping it small (surprisingly - I expected my parents to give me crap and my ILs to be angels about it...but it was the other way around). Other than immediate family that regularly attends holiday dinners at my parents house, they only invited two neighbor couples that I've known since I was 6. I kept my list of friends to my own strict standards.

DH and my ILs were more problematic, and I felt like a Guest List Nazi at times for being so strict about it. DH wanted to invite anyone who had ever been friends with him...despite knowing WHY we were theoretically keeping the group small. I finally talked him out of inviting people that he literally hadn't seen in YEARS, though I conceded and let him invite a few others that shouldn't have made the cut. When they declined or didn't respond at all, he realized my point (it was a sad way for him to learn that lesson, but oh well!) My ILs were also problematic, though with them, it was more about 'Well, we invited so-and-so to BIL's wedding, so they'll feel left out if they don't get invited to yours,' and 'If we invite Aunt Sally, we also have to invite her brother Steve and her deadbeat son Joe...' Again, most of their 'must-have additions' to the original list declined or didn't respond at all. They didn't invite many personal friends (just two couples that have known DH since he was a kid and known me for years as well) due to the distance.

I'll give you a HUGE piece of advice, if you want to keep your wedding small: Don't have it in your hometown. When we first started planning and made the 'kickass party for fewer people' decision, we decided to have our wedding in the city where we live NOW rather than where we grew up. Despite the fact we could have had a similar wedding for MUCH less money in our hometown area, we had several reasons we wanted to do it here instead.
1) Easier for us to plan.
2) No need for families to get too involved and opinionated.
3) It wasn't any work at all for our families. We did everything.
4) Fewer people from home (who fall into the 'old friends that we no longer talk to', 'family friends that we don't like', and 'family members that we're not close to, who wouldn't bother making the trip' categories) would come. This also made it easier for our parents to trim their guest lists, as coworkers, friends who hadn't met us, etc (all people who they'd feel obligated to invite to a local wedding) wouldn't make the trip, anyway.
5) Other than our local friends, only the people who are closest to us would make the trip...which meant that even if we got sucked into inviting Great Aunt Milly, who we never see, she wouldn't come, which means that the only people who would come would be our CLOSEST family and friends, which was what we wanted in the first place!

Anyway, despite my having to talk everyone into a small wedding and (sometimes) argue with them to KEEP it small, everyone LOVED it. And all the 'discussions' before the wedding were worth it when my parents, my ILs and DH ALL said, 'Yep, you were right, ArtBride. I'm glad you talked us into it!' Yay!

DaisypathWedding Ticker


TanisJ Posts : 2,669 Registered: 4/25/07
Re: Small
Posted: Dec 29, 2008 4:20 PM Go to message in response to: LadyE2010

I think I will win the prize for smallest wedding - 15 guests! We only had immediate family. I am "geographically similar" to Nala. I am from the west coast of Canada, but was married and now live on the East Coast of USA. Although we had a very small guest list we did manage to spend $15,000. lol. We had a wedding weekend which included a resort home for each family, catered breakfast on the wedding day, an in home mani/pedi party for the ladies, the wedding reception and a catered luau the next day. we were also able to provide welcome baskets, all other food and beverages, shirts for the luau etc. I was able to pay for one of my sisters airfare which enabled her to attend. Our ceremony was amazing. We had the ceremony in the "brides home" so I only had to open a bedroom door to get to the ceremony. Everyone stood in a circle and we joined in the circle once we came in together. We could see everyone as they read their line (We had each family member participate in the ceremony) then everyone lit our "unity candelabra".I really enjoyed our weekend and being able to stay with our families. With a smaller guest list you can have a smaller budget or really spoil your guests, plus you get to spend time with them.


racegrrl720 Posts : 31 Registered: 4/13/08
Re: Small
Posted: Jan 8, 2009 1:22 PM Go to message in response to: TanisJ

Wow, I am glad I found this topic... I am having the same dilemma right now... I've always been down for a small wedding...To me, having an intimate, meaningful ceremony is the most important part. I could truly do without having a typical "reception" whatsoever. I come from a moderately big family, however, of all the people in my family, the only people I really want to come (I know this sounds bad, but it's just how I feel- you'd have to know my family) are my immediate family and a couple of my aunts and uncles, and maybe one or two of my cousins mostly from my mom's side. FH's family is HUMONGOUS... plus he's adopted, and their are several people from his bio-family he still has a relationship with. If we invite all of his family, all of my family (out of 'fairness') plus our friends... It's going to come out to be somewhere between 350-400 invitees. I find this completely ridiculous!!! For myself and our situation anyways...

Our situation is there is no way on god's green earth that FH and I can afford to fund that size of a wedding!!! Due to my FH's back being injured, my very modest income is the only one we have and we do good to get from paycheck to paycheck. And I refuse for us or either of our parents to go into major debt just for one day... Another thing is that I have generalized anxiety disorder... my panic attacks come at random times and not-so-random times... and I'm here to tell you that the mere IDEA of walking down the aisle in front of a very packed church and having to mingle and make nice with 300 people i barely know at the reception makes me want to pop a Xanax or two... my bridesmaids would probably have to tranquilize me to get me down the aisle... LMAO

My parents more or less just want me and FH to go to the courthouse and get it over with... we live together, so they reason why have a big elaborate party (and most of me agrees...) My problem is that I don't know how FH's mom and dad are going to react to the idea of having a very quaint, immediate family and closest friends only kind of wedding. Their portion of the guest list is probably close to 2/3's of the whole list. I'm afraid that they are really looking forward to having this big party. Their oldest son got married about five or six years ago and a big wedding is what they had. But that was then, (and FSIL's parents are both doctors... LOL) and this is now with our now economy where practically no one has any money. And I don't want them to have to file for bankruptcy the day after this wedding, and I don't want to end up in the looney bin on my wedding night. LMAO'

Our date is the fourth of July, 2009. My idea of my 'dream' wedding would be 50 guests or less, in a pretty park setting, a short but sweet ceremony and a nice barbecue or picnic/pot luck dinner. After dinner we go watch fireworks and then those of us who want to continue partying can go to a bar for a nightcap.

I think we are going to break it to them (gently I hope) this weekend. Any suggestions on how to get them in my corner would be greatly appreciated. LOL


newsjunkie Posts : 3,417 Registered: 3/30/06
Re: Small
Posted: Jan 8, 2009 8:33 PM Go to message in response to: LadyE2010

We had a small wedding (less than 70 guests) mainly because it was very, very important to me to have a wedding where EVERYONE who was there was someone either I or my DH was close with. We essentially limited it to close family and a few long-time close friends and I wouldn't have changed a thing, it was great. For many people budget is the issue but we technically could have scaled back on what we did and invited more people but chose to use the same budget and pamper our guests a little more.

I will say, though, that while this decision was popular with my parents and DH my MIL was NOT thrilled about it. But, then, that woman wouldn't have been happy unless we let her plan every detail and that wasn't happening so...

BTW, we had a DW which made things a LOT easier as it naturally cut down the guest list. If we had it in either of our hometowns it would have been much tougher.

If you really want to have a small wedding I suggest you start spreading the word now. From the second I was engaged and telling people I told them that we were probably going to have a small, family ONLY wedding. When we figured things out a little more later on and realized we could invite some friends it was like a happy surprise and then there were no awkward moments later on when people who figured they would be invited realized they were not. It might be too late for you to do that but just in case it isn't I thought I would bring it up.

Best of luck!


auntofthebride Posts : 9,354 Registered: 4/2/06
Re: Small
Posted: Jan 8, 2009 8:46 PM Go to message in response to: racegrrl720

Dear Race,

"My problem is that I don't know how FH's mom and dad are going to react to the idea of having a very quaint, immediate family and closest friends only kind of wedding. Their portion of the guest list is probably close to 2/3's of the whole list. I'm afraid that they are really looking forward to having this big party."

No one should ask you to go into debt or spend money you do not have on a party.

My suggestion is as follows. Do exactly what you want to do. Have a courthouse wedding, with only immediate family (parents, siblings, your child) in attendance, then have a nice dinner back at home together.

If the in-laws want a big party, they can give you a Delayed Reception some time in the coming year. You are officially "newlyweds" for the first year of marriage, so any party during that year can be a Delayed Reception.

After the first year, you can have a grand anniversary party.

Talk to the in-laws, and see what might be best for them. They can look at their budget and at their proposed guest list, then decide when and where the Delayed Reception might be best. Or, they might realize their plans far exceed their budget and call it off. Either way, the ball is in their court.

In the meantime, you get married and go on with your life.


racegrrl720 Posts : 31 Registered: 4/13/08
Re: Small
Posted: Jan 8, 2009 9:47 PM Go to message in response to: auntofthebride

Thanks for the advice and reassurance, AOTB. Don't get me wrong, they are great and I'm sure, reasonable, people... but they are just the kind of people that will 'give you the shirt off their back' and I have a feeling that they might overextend themselves in an effort to give us the same huge party that FH's brother had. And FH and I do not want that on our conscious.


aelrod Posts : 92 Registered: 12/5/07
Re: Small
Posted: Jan 8, 2009 9:47 PM Go to message in response to: LadyE2010

So for our wedding we are thinking 20 people on the beach... Really we just don't have a ton of people that we want there. We have some very close friends and family but FH's entire family is literally 5 people-including FH. Mine is much larger but I have never met most of them so why invite them now, you know? I think that you should do what you want to do, after all it is about you and FH. We are getting away with an inexpensive wedding because we are choosing to do a sunset beach ceremony (very little cost) followed by a dessert reception with music from an ipod. Its not that we can't afford more, we just feel that the money that we save on the inexpensive (but still exactly what we want lol) wedding can go towards a nicer home.
I understand the pushy family, but you should fight to do what you want to do.

Good luck and happy planning :)

Our wedding is FOREVER AND A DAY away!


racegrrl720 Posts : 31 Registered: 4/13/08
Re: Small
Posted: Jan 8, 2009 9:53 PM Go to message in response to: aelrod

"Its not that we can't afford more, we just feel that the money that we save on the inexpensive (but still exactly what we want lol) wedding can go towards a nicer home"

Honestly, I'm with you... even if we could afford the big elaborate wedding, if we had a big expensive wedding, I feel like I'd be was wasting money well spent on something else, like a house!


mrspinky Posts : 3,773 Registered: 3/14/08
Re: Small
Posted: Jan 9, 2009 3:44 PM Go to message in response to: LadyE2010

what were your motivating factors? - We knew it was only going to be mainly his family and my friends so there weren't enough people to have "a large wedding" plus of course we didn't want to spend a lot.

Do you wish you had a different wedding? - I wish we could have afforded to spend a little more on some things but it really turned out perfect for us.

Also, how did you deal with the people that weren't going to be invited? - We just told them we had a limited budget.

With all that said, any decor ideas for a small wedding in Mid-July? - Is your wedding indoors/outdoors? Any of YOUR ideas in mind yet?

Mrs. Pinky

Our Wedding Website 

My mom: "Xanax - sometimes I will take a half and it really eases tension and keeps me from being less of raving bitch."

My friend: "Alcohol just makes the floor hate me even more."


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