We are planning a small backyard wedding (30 people) and are trying to keep the costs down. We're aren't looking to hire someone to plan our wedding, but we are looking to plan things properly the first time around (so we don't mess up and wish we did hire someone!).
If you have any advice or tips on what we "must" think of ahead of time... please do tell! Most of all we want to make sure everything goes smoothly and we get great photos of the event!
An event for only 30 people is fairly managable if the bride doesn't try to do everything, particularly on the big day. First, make a detailed written plan of absolutely everything you will need and then of the order things will happen. For instance, need seating for 30; food and beverage for 30; flowers; cake, etc. Rental center comes at 10 a.m.; Uncle George will meet them and set up tables and chairs; Aunt Susie will place linens and centerpieces, etc. You get the idea.
Be certain you include things like seating of the mothers and order of entry of the wedding party. Your officiant will not appreciate being forced into the role of wedding coordinator at the rehearsal, so have that plan.
Second, decide who is going to do what and be certain they are agreeable. All too often the person who says they will do something forgets, then you are scrambling at the last minute. Instead of taking photos, you are setting tables. You get the idea. If you are not a detailed person and it seems overwhelming, you might consider hiring a coordinator for only a few hours on the wedding day. She can help you create a plan and she can handle most of those details for you.
I'm planning a small wedding myself too. We are having 24 people, and are having it outside in a park, with the reception at my mom's house. Nothing is over the top fancy, but I do want it all to be special and beautiful even though it's low key.