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How to Plan a Small Wedding

Small weddings have been becoming increasingly more popular even before the pandemic made us rethink how we gather in groups. There are many reasons why couples have increasingly favored small weddings. They allow for greater creativity while creating a much less stressful planning experience. Small weddings also provide more flexibility in terms of budgets. If you are interested in downsizing your wedding day, read below on how to plan a small wedding. 

Set Your Budget

The first step for any wedding is to create a budget. This will aid in planning. Setting a budget will help you make decisions as you move forward. After determining your overall budget, it is useful to research typical costs for different aspects. Then you will be able to get a sense of how much to spend for each part of the wedding such as the venue, dress, and catering. Obviously, searching for deals is always useful but an itemized budget will help quite a bit. Small weddings tend to be much more flexible budget wise. 

Consider an Elopement or Destination Wedding

With a small wedding, you can easily leave tradition in the dust. Many couples are choosing to elope to create an experience just for themselves. Having a small wedding also enables you to select options for destination weddings as transporting a small group is much more feasible. Want to get married on a glacier in Iceland or an island in Hawaii? Maybe a San Diego beach or cozy lodge in Colorado? The options are definitely there for you. 

Pick a Location

Small weddings mean you have a lot more flexibility with location. You do not necessarily need to limit your choices to large banquet halls and traditional wedding venues. Small weddings can involve unique settings customized to your interests and personality. Consider a library or antique bookstore for a literary themed wedding or a local restaurant of significance to the couple. The choices are endless.


san francisco elopement photographer couple saying vows in fog

Focus on the Guest Experience

With a small guest list, many couples want to take an opportunity to make their guests feel extra special by carefully planning an experience around the wedding. An increasingly popular trend is to choose a venue where everyone can stay together throughout the wedding festivities, creating an intimate and fun experience for everyone. You may also decide to plan for some of your guests to play a role in the wedding by officiating, reading poetry, or performing music. Other couples opt to create a special experience for your select few guests such as a special wine or bourbon tasting. There are many options to make your guests rave about the experience for years. 

Guest List

Choosing a guest list can be one of the most stressful aspects for a wedding. Many couples may think that having a smaller wedding means having to make more difficult decisions. Certainly, planning a small wedding means that you are inviting more guests; however, you’ll be focusing on your closest friends and family.

backyard wedding at an airbnb same sex couple wedding


Having a small wedding means you’re often not draping a large venue with flowers. However, flowers can still be an important touch you may want to add. Consider focusing extra attention on select aspects such as your bouquet, the backdrop to your vows, or floral centerpieces. Having fewer guests means that you have the option of using your flower budget for more intricate or specialized designs. There are many ways that you can utilize flowers to have an extra pop when planning a small wedding. 

The Cake

The wedding cake is one of the things guests often come away talking about. The magic that bakers and pastry chefs can do with cake means there are many options for customizing a cake to truly highlight your journey together as a couple. Fortunately, with smaller cakes, there are typically even more opportunities for creativity, giving your designer room to use their craft to truly make your cake stand out. Consider selecting flavors that are meaningful personally or speak to you as a couple. You can also choose individualized miniature cakes inspired by your venue or theme. With a small wedding, the opportunities truly are endless. 

Make Your Own Rules

From the initial invitations to the reception, planning a small wedding means you can exert greater control over the event. This also means that you do not have to abide by traditional aspects of weddings. Your day can be whatever you want. Add unique experiences and create your own traditions. Maybe you want your vows to be more private and decide to implement a social media ban. Maybe you decide to forego groomsmen and bridesmaids. Perhaps you have a custom curated music list for the reception. With a small wedding, there are so many options to make the wedding exactly what you want. 


When deciding how to plan a small wedding, you will quickly find that there really are no rules. You are able to easily set the stage however you would like, having much more flexibility than a traditional wedding. There are a number of ways that you can make the day even more special than a traditional wedding. 

Traveling is definitely an option. In fact, many couples choose to elope while destination weddings are also able to be easily pulled off with a small group. Small weddings also provide an opportunity to handcraft a unique experience that encapsulates your union as a couple. Touches of personality can be added virtually everywhere from the dress to the flowers and even the venue. Couples also tend to focus on crafting a unique guest experience that provides something special for their closest loved ones. Regardless of what you choose, having a small wedding gives you many chances for embracing your creativity in hosting an intimate experience. 

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