The wedding industry has truly become commercialized, bringing in over $72 billion dollars each year. As with everything, America has created a need to have a large, glamorous day with hundreds of people to celebrate love. But what's crazy is that not all couples even want a big wedding. However, they are brainwashed into thinking it's the only way to celebrate this next step in their lives. I'm here to tell you that a small wedding is a possibility, and that it's ok.
I want to start this off with, there is absolutely nothing wrong with having a big wedding. Nothing wrong at all, unless it's something that in your heart, you don't want. A lot of people decide to have one because their parents want it. Or because they think they have to because their friends will be mad. The stress and pressure we receive to have a glamorous wedding is simple to understand why it's the path most people go down.
This blog post is for those who are on the fence. A big wedding just doesn't feel "them", but they don't know how to make the decision. I wanted to share the benefits of having a small wedding vs. a big wedding and what you can expect. I've had so many couples who cannot wait to have a big wedding and all their loved ones in one place. I want to make this post SUPER clear, this is not to deter you from a big wedding - truly just for those looking for the differences!
What even is a small wedding?
A lot of people struggle to understand what even is a small wedding? There are a bunch of different names for a small wedding too, which can also be confusing! Such as micro wedding, intimate wedding, mini wedding, etc. What even is the difference?!
A small wedding is literally a reduced version of a big wedding. It can look exactly like a larger traditional wedding, except with less people. I've documented days with 40-60 guests and it feels exactly like a bigger wedding, but the couple just has more time and less stress.
You can also create a day that feels more you. Sometimes couples forego a venue and decide to do a backyard, or public lands. This is 100% feasible with less guests! The ideas are endless.
8 Reasons to Choose Having a Small Wedding Vs. a Big Wedding
If you're on the fence on what to do for your wedding day, this can put some things into perspective. A lot of people think that if they don't have a big wedding then they will regret it or it won't be as special, but that is so far from the truth. Your small wedding can be just as special if not even more, and here are the reasons why.
1.The day becomes all about you
A lot of couples will hear this and say "but I don't like all the attention on me". This isn't what I mean. What I mean is the day becomes more 'you' than anyone else. You can add in experiences that are "you two", or focus on the food you like without trying to please everyone else. A lot of the time since many parents pay for weddings, the day becomes more like them then you guys. With something smaller, you have more of a say.
The best thing in my opinion is you end up focusing more on each other, the whole reason you are there in the first place, rather than stressing over whether everyone else is happy and enjoying themselves. If you two are happy and loving your day, then that's what matters.
2. There is more flexibility
When you decide on having a larger wedding, there are limited amount of options. You generally need an expensive venue, or a really massive backyard to fit all the people. Which once again, if that is what you want and dream of, then amazing and I'm totally for it! However, if you thrive in the outdoors and can't imagine getting married anywhere else, then a small wedding might be more for you.
With a small intimate wedding or an elopement, you have more flexibility. You have more opportunities whether you want to do it outdoors in a National Park, have a cookout, a picnic at your family lake house, or even bring everyone to your favorite country. Truly, the ideas and ways you can celebrate are endless when you choose a small wedding.
3. You get to be more in the moment
If you're someone who stresses easily, large weddings can be overwhelming. There is just so much to do and think about before and during your day, that it's super difficult to be in the moment. On the day itself, you have to make sure you say hi to everyone. If that's 150+ people and it takes 5 minutes each person/couple to chat and thank for being there, that's already 6 hours you are dedicating to everyone else... see what I mean?
When you have a smaller celebration, you get to fully take in and appreciate each moment and every person that is there. And most importantly, you get to be more in the moment with each other.
TIP: If you are someone who really wants a large wedding, I always recommend to my couples to include 10 minutes to be alone after they say I do. It's a special time to just take in the fact that they are married now, and even look around to see all those who love them in one place.
4. There is way less stress
Again, this may not be for everyone. I've seen plenty of couples who take their large wedding like a champ. They embrace the craziness of it. I'm speaking to those who are already stressing just thinking of planning a wedding. With smaller settings, there is way less stress. There are less people to think about or cater to. You can decide to not have bridesmaids/groomsmen, which we have all heard the drama that can bring. You can basically throw out all the traditions and do exactly what you want, which is the entire point of getting married anyways.
I think the stress that is usually brought on is all of the opinions as well. While it's good to take others experiences and opinions (sometimes!), make sure that you are focusing on what you want and what is most important to you!
5. You get to enjoy the planning process
When it comes to terms with flexibility, you can imagine your day as you want it. You can enjoy the planning process because it's your vision, not what the wedding industry has made you believe you have to do. The planning process can be so fun! Especially if you decide you want to do it in the outdoors, then it's finding the perfect backdrop to say "I do". Or maybe you envision an adorable picnic in your families backyard, how fun is it to create your own table settings?! Having something smaller can allow you to enjoy the planning a bit more.
6. Focus on the things that truly matter
Are you obsessed with florals? Amazing, focus on spending the money on those instead of thousands on plates and napkin rentals. Or is photography the most important thing to you? Make sure you find the perfect photographer that will fit right into your day. But most of all, focus on the special time this is for you both. It's a celebration of your journey and the future to come. Spend time with your family and appreciate all they've done for you. Enjoy the moment and focus on the things that truly matter to you, not everyone else.
7. Start from scratch - cater the day to you
My absolute favorite part of eloping or having a small wedding is you can get start from square one. Remove all the traditions and what "you should do", and start from scratch. I generally tell couples to write down all the things they love to do together and what is special about them. It's fun to incorporate meaningful things in your day. If you don't want a bridal party, then don't have one. If you don't care about a first dance, then scratch it off the list!
It's your day and you have the opportunity to make it uniquely you. You can get creative and come up with ideas that no one else has done before. Or you can truly incorporate sentimental pieces from your life, or even activities you love to do together.
8. Build out your most epic, ideal day
Kind of expanding on point 7, you can be creative now. With a smaller wedding, you can build out legit your perfect day. For example, my perfect day would be to go for a sunrise hike, have pancakes for breakfast, take a nap, then marry my best friend in front of our families on a mountain then have a picnic afterwards. And guess what? I could literally make this happen.
This is the benefits of doing something smaller. You can create your perfect day that allows you to focus on experiences over things. At the end of the day, what do we hear? Couples don't remember their table decor, or their invitations. No, they remember the feelings they felt. Or the most important people to them that were there. Create a day that you'll never regret.
I hope this gives you some clarity and ideas on how you can be different from the rest - small wedding or big wedding. Don't be afraid what feels most authentically you. What is going to make you happy in the end and give you a day you will remember for the rest of your lives.
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A New Hampshire + Vermont based adventure elopement and intimate wedding photographer team for the adventurous souls. We specialize in New England and destinations worldwide, empowering you to create the most beautiful, adventurous day and give you the memories you'll be able to look back on for all the years to come.
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