Is a Small Wedding Right for You? - Thoughts from a Photographer

No one gets to watch you on your wedding day like your photographer does…and before you think about getting creeped out by that statement, remember that you literally hired us to do just that. :) We are in tune to EVERY phase of your emotions throughout your entire day, from anticipation to elation to exhaustion to your second wind of excitement that carries you through the rest of the night. Having photographed a fair share of smaller and micro celebrations this year, I can tell you that the phases of my couples’ emotions are the same, but the magnitude of each is different vs a large traditional wedding day. And instead of just being seen by me, they are seen and felt by everyone in attendance. You may think a smaller wedding means a smaller impact, but it’s quite the opposite and I’m rattled to the core on how incredibly special the experience is… for you, for me, for every guest, every vendor.

I’ve said this before and I just want to be super clear: there is no right or wrong way to have a wedding, big or small, traditional or unconventional, it is your day and your wedding will be unique and significant no matter what box you categorize it in. However, if you’re thinking about planning a smaller wedding but unsure of whether it is right for you, this post will bring up some initial points to think about that may help. From guests count and experience, to budget, venue, and overall feel, I’m sharing some issues that came up when helping my couples strategize their day. Over the next couple of months, I’ll be going a little deeper into pros and cons and specifics, so keep an eye out!

First thing is first: Guest list. This seems to be the first cringe-worthy item to tackle. Even in a large traditional wedding, this part still sucks, because there is always an inevitable cut-off point. Contrary to what you might think, having a smaller wedding actually makes this part a little easier because there is less “well, if so-and-so is invited, then we have to include x,y, and z as well.” If you actually want your day to include your nearest and most important people, that list is going to be smaller. Guess what you get to do at your small wedding? You actually get to hang out with each and every one of your guests. At a larger wedding, you shove down your dinner super fast just to make sure you get to every table to at least say “hi” to every person there. Heck, you might even be meeting some people for the first time, which kinda puts the kibosh on the nearest and most important thing. At a more intimate celebration, you don’t just have to hear about the slightly inappropriate comment your uncle made, you’re actually going to be standing right there when it comes out of his mouth. If spending time with your guests is a number one priority, this is the type of wedding for you. But if you will lose sleep over not including everyone, then stick to something larger. (That’s okay too!)

Budget: Smaller wedding means you get to spend the bulk of your budget on throwing a gorgeous party with an awesome guest experience rather than a building that can fit over 20 tables and a dance floor. Would you want your day to look and feel REALLY nice without needing to eat ramen noodles for dinner for the next year? A small or micro wedding might be a great option for you. According to The Knot, the average wedding in the U.S. is totaling around $33,900…SCARY. You can get absolutely lost on Pinterest envying tons of lavish weddings, and working with that smaller count lets you splurge on some trendy details and spoil your guests. I’ll elaborate more on this in another post, but think gourmet food, live entertainment, fun cocktails, and other activities.

Location Options are ENDLESS. Think outside of the box here, because you’d be surprised at what you can fit in your own or someone you know’s yard. If you aren’t feeling that, don’t hesitate to reach out to local parks, because many of them will allow you to set something up with special permission. If you’re on a micro scale, ask about your favorite restaurant’s patio or other private spaces. It’s amazing what a tent and some great florals can do to transform a space into something that “feels” wedding. Reach out to your vendors, because they are a huge resource for ideas! Got your eye on a space out of town? You have less guilt to host somewhere that requires some travel with a smaller guest count. If that’s the case, think about wedding weekend that allows your people to have a mini getaway.

Overall Feel: Small celebrations and micro weddings are naturally more relaxed with less things to coordinate and less people to plan for. You get to have a really nice affair with the feel of a backyard BBQ. It also allows you to get a little more personal with your details since everyone in attendance knows you on an intimate level. As a guest, there’s a lot less of being on the outside of the inside joke. Getting to prioritize how you will feel on your wedding day over anything else will definitely be something you won’t regret.

I’m not an expert, and I’m definitely not certified in any sort of planning. I’m just a photographer who’s watched alottttttt of couples enjoy the heck out of their weddings for almost 8 years now. I’m really drawn to and inspired by the deeper interactions I’ve been witnessing at micro weddings and have heard over and over from people that “wished they would have done that.” I’m hoping that my next few blog posts can be a helpful resource for couples considering intimate wedding days.

I’d LOVE to hear any feedback you guys have whether you had/are having a large or small wedding, have questions/comments/concerns or if you have a specific area you want to hear more about.



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© 2021 by Heather McCormick Photography, Inc. | Photographer + Photo Editor serving Central Illinois and Beyond |