So, the ring is on the finger, the date for the Big Day set (more or less), and dreams of dresses, themes, colours and cakes begin to take tentative shape.
Next comes the tricky part – the guest list.
For many couples, this part of the wedding planning process can be the part most fraught with anxiety and angst.
Do you include the entire family, nearest and dearest plus rarely-glimpsed cousins from far afield? Or only nearest and dearest? Do you dare invite naughty uncle Ted, who cannot be trusted not to flirt with the bridesmaids or spill beer on the best man? What about friends? – close pals only, or high school buddies you see only on Facebook? How about business colleagues? Your parents’ friends? Children, yes or no?
For some, navigating the rough seas of the guest list is plain sailing, depending of course on family circumstances and dynamics, personality, and budget.
For others, the task can prove too daunting, even impossible, and in this case the solution becomes clear and the cry goes up, ‘we’ll just have a small wedding!’ Relief all round.
We may as well say it – we love small weddings. That’s why our smaller weddings package is entitled ‘Small is Beautiful’.
Oh make no mistake – we are equally head-over-heels in love with that big, lavish affair that pulls out all the stops, encompassing gorgeous details and décor whether chic and stylish or rustic and understated (or both!). If you have the wherewithal and desire to pull off the Big One on your Big Day, ‘go for it’ is what we say. We relish the challenge, and some of our greatest planning triumphs have involved large affairs of 150+, 200+ guest lists.
And yet…and yet…we confess we have a total crush on small weddings, where the essence of romance is reduced, like a fine sauce, down to the exquisite essentials.
Let’s make one thing clear – we maintain, as we say on our website, that a small affair still deserves big dreams. The reasons for choosing a smaller, more intimate wedding never means a couple need compromise or ‘settle for less’. Not in our world.
Couples choose a smaller wedding for multiple reasons; from the aforementioned guest list anxiety to budget constraints, from complex or even insurmountable family dynamics to a couples’ choice of a dream destination venue, which in itself can shrink the guest list like magic. Maybe you just like the idea of a simpler affair. Maybe a big splashy ‘do’ is just not your style. It’s all good – this is your day.
But if, having considered everything, you take a deep breath and decide that a smaller wedding is what you want, then it’s good to consider the possible pitfalls ahead of time, before you make the announcement to family and friends. That way, you’ll be prepared. Next, we’ll get to the fun part – the pleasures and very real advantages.
The biggest pitfall, is a possibly disappointed reaction from your nearest and dearest. At first anyway.
Maybe your mom has dreamed all your life of her little girl becoming a princess bride before a packed church, synagogue or community hall, complete with big white dress, full veil and train, three-tier wedding cake and the Happy Couple departing in a cloud of confetti. Maybe your grandma secretly hoped you’d wear her wedding dress (unaltered) from her own wedding. Perhaps, if you plan for one bridesmaid or maid-of-honour only, your other five besties will be devastated not to be asked? Will your cousin be mortally offended that her two-year-old is not invited to be a flower girl?
And possibly the greatest lurking pitfall of them all – are you afraid, in your heart, that a smaller wedding will be somehow less ‘special’?
Rest assured – in our experience, in reality these potential pitfalls rarely materialize.
Once everyone has had the chance to absorb the news of a smaller wedding, the people who truly love and care for you will care only that you will be having the wedding you want and dream of.
Sure, some may experience initial disappointment, but as you include them in your plans for the day, and they see your happiness and excitement, they will surely come to share in your growing anticipation of a fabulous day.
An obvious and lovely solution for hurt feelings or disappointment is to plan a fun party celebration in your home location, after the wedding. If a couple plans to have only themselves at the ceremony, parental and family feelings can be soothed with a post-wedding ‘blessing’ (religious or not) to celebrate your union.
Another great idea we have seen work extremely well at very small weddings, is to set up a Skype or Facetime session at the ceremony itself, or for post ceremony chat, for the benefit of absent family and friends.
As for that lurking doubt that your small wedding may somehow be less special, well here’s the solution to that one. Read on for all the advantages and plus points of a smaller wedding!
Let’s take them one by one:
- “I want a mass-market wedding devoid of personality” said no-one, ever. And there’s the first advantage – with a smaller guest list, you have the luxury of selecting a venue that truly does reflect your personality as a couple. A smaller list means your venue choices expand exponentially, allowing you to choose somewhere unusual or original that may not have been a possibility with 100+ numbers to consider. We can help – we know all the local venues and secret locations perfect for that ‘runaway romance’ fantasy wedding.
- Once you select the venue, it becomes easy to choose a style or theme. In our experience, it’s easier to have the venue inspire the style, than to choose a style and then try to find a venue that fits.
- Small guest list = smaller or zero required budget for typical big-wedding essentials like rented seating, tables, chair covers, seating plan, ceremony programs, etc. If your guest list is 20 to 25 or less, you can even skip printed invites and utilize social media, email, or a wedding website.
- By the same token as #3, you can stretch your budget further to make some items more meaningful and special than may have been feasible at a big wedding. We’re talking welcome packs for guests; favours (or a more generous charity donation in lieu of favours); fresh flowers for bouquets and centrepieces (always a big expense that’s sometimes impossible at a larger wedding); wedding party gifts; your mode of arrival (helicopter or vintage car anyone?); a really GREAT reception as in a fine restaurant dinner for two or a few; an awesome honeymoon (need we say more on that one?); a smaller cake or no cake at all; how about some unforgettable music for the ceremony as in, skip the ipod dock and hire a string quartet? How about entertainment for a reception for 20-50 guests, a magician, a caricaturist, a dance troupe, a theme band, an Elvis impersonator? You get the idea. Talk about a wedding no-one will ever forget. The Small is Beautiful wedding can pack a pretty big punch.
- With a smaller, more intimate wedding, you get to concentrate on the love and romance of the day, and let go of some of the smaller stuff like choosing the perfect napkin or chair-sash colours. Emotions become magnified and personal when you share your day with only those you love and care for the most.
- As a couple, you will have the luxury of time to concentrate on every one of your guests, making sure each feels special, loved, and valued as a guest.
And to conclude, what kind of wedding planners would we be if we failed to offer some wise (we hope) words of advice?
Here they are.
Planning and coordinating any wedding, especially a destination wedding, involves stress no matter what the size of the event. Even the smallest wedding requires logistical juggling that can safely be left in the expert hands of a locally based, professional planner, leaving you to relax and enjoy your day. ‘Nuff said.
Once the decision on a smaller wedding is definitely made, paring down the guest list is the next task. Not easy in some cases, but it gets easier if you bear in mind a few simple rules, and stick to them:
Immediate family only.
For friends, include only those whom you see regularly, or if they live at a distance, only those with whom you stay in close and personal touch.
Children – none, or only children of siblings or very close family.
No work colleagues.
No ‘friends of parents’.
No-one to whom you or your parents owe a favour.
No ‘dates’ except for serious boy/girlfriends of siblings and wedding party. Be clear on this one!
For a wedding of 10 to 15 or less, consider skipping the processional – it can just feel awkward. Instead, have guests mix and mingle before the ceremony, and invite them to gather round for the ceremony itself, standing close around you (chairs for any elderly or infirm of course). This creates a beautifully intimate and loving atmosphere. And awesome photographs.
And on that note…..for any size wedding, small or large, we always urge and encourage our couples to never economize on photography. This advice remains the same no matter what. There is no real substitute for an expert, professional wedding photographer, preferably one familiar with the locale, and the particular light and climatic conditions of your venue. This is especially true of a mountain environment like Whistler, where the light is of a very particular quality, and where conditions can change rapidly and unexpectedly.
A great wedding photographer is able to see and capture fleeting moments in time, precious moments that you may not even notice or if you do, you may forget within days. Once lost, those moments are gone forever, and a talented friend, or even a professional photographer with no experience of wedding situations, rarely has the ‘eye’ to see those moments or to do them justice.
We wish we had a dollar for every time we have seen an amazing, heart-stopping wedding image that made us gasp – a moment captured by the eye and the lens of a terrific wedding professional.
An experienced wedding photographer captures emotions like joy, elation, nervousness, tears, love, tenderness – emotions you can re-live through your life only by looking at your photographs.
They also capture the people who were there, on your day. People who may not always be around.
You can never go back and ‘re-do’ the day over again. Choose your photographer wisely as there is nothing worse than regretting your choice when it’s too late.
And our final piece of advice? Choose your size and style of wedding day for you, and only you. Of course be considerate and careful of the feelings of those close to you, people who love you – but we hope that if your choice runs to a smaller wedding event, our little blog has eased your concerns, and convinced you that Small truly is Beautiful.
Be sure and check out our selection of all-inclusive ‘Small is Beautiful’ weddings here.
See the beautiful photographic evidence for yourself here.