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How to Have the Perfect Small Wedding

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Bigger isn’t always better, even when it comes to weddings. Intimate weddings, with their close-knit vibe, can be just as lavish and elegant as bigger celebrations. Here are 4 expert tips for creating the small event of your dreams.

1. Keep the Guest List Exclusive

This may seem obvious, but your definition of a small wedding may be different than your fiancé’s, so first be sure you’re on the same page. According to Raquel Shutt, owner of Wedding Savvy Wedding & Event Consulting, a wedding qualifies as small with fewer than 75 guests.

Another factor to consider is the capacity of your venue. This can help you nail down the final head count. Once you’ve defined your vision, start a list of must-have attendees with the knowledge that you’ll have to make some tough decisions. “Having a more intimate wedding signals that you will be intentionally limiting the guest list, for whatever reason, so guests won’t take it so personally if they don’t get an invitation,” says Shutt.

2. Have Fun with Your Budget

One major benefit of a smaller wedding is that they usually cost less, giving you more wiggle room in your budget.

“Twenty thousand dollars for 200 guests would typically involve paper goods and a barbeque type affair, but $20,000 for 25 guests can provide an extremely elegant dinner and tablescape at a premier location along with an open bar,” says Shutt.

Consider putting the money you save toward something that will make your day memorable, like surprising your partner by renting that antique truck or booking that sought-after photographer. Setting a budget is all about allocating funds and deciding what’s most important to you, regardless of the kind of soiree.

3. Go for a Destination Wedding

Having an elite number of guests opens your wedding world to so many non-traditional ceremony and reception options. Shutt encourages couples to think outside the box by considering historic homes, restaurants, boats or even their own backyard.

“Intimate doesn’t necessarily translate to be bare bones - it can be as simple or elaborate as you’d like,” she says.

According to an annual report by The Knot, 21 percent of couples opt for destination weddings. But before you commit to an event far from home, run the idea by your loved ones to see if they can actually attend. If not, you might consider having an intimate destination wedding and holding the reception closer to home so everyone can help you celebrate.

4. Create a Personalized Experience

There are plenty of things that don’t change when it comes to wedding planning, no matter how big or small it is. One of the perks of a small wedding, though, is the couple’s ability to have a more personal connection with each guest.

“I’ve seen an increase in large budget intimate weddings. This signals to me that couples are choosing intimate weddings for reasons other than cost — perhaps putting more value in the experience they offer to their guests as well as themselves,” says Shutt.

You can make your ceremony extra special arranging seats in a circle for a more intimate feel, passing out a candle for each guest to hold as you exchange vows or asking each guest to share a blessing. At the reception you can keep the personal vibe going by having an open seating plan, requesting guests for marriage advice and relationship stories and incorporating guests’ favorite food or drinks.

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