Be Thoughtful With Activities
As youre determining the details and activities, decide what is important to you and your partner and skip the things that dont matter. Many couples opt to forgo some of the traditional dancing at a small wedding, says Nick and Aleah Valley. Know your crowd and replace it with an activity everyone will enjoy, or keep it in the timeline if your loved ones love to dance.
Consider A Restaurant Venue
Fewer people on the guest list means the world is your oyster when it comes to choosing a nontraditional venue, and a restaurant may be the perfect fit. They’re unique spaces that have everything you need in one place, Meyer says. Consider a spot that you and your partner love to frequent. Just be sure you love everything about it, from the style and the menu to the existing décor, as restaurants often have restrictions on decorations.
Consider Your Locale’s Pros And Cons: A Winery
PROS: The vino! The rolling hills! Plus, wineries often have lovely private spaces , and with vineyards popping up in nearly every state, finding one has never been easier.
CONS: In the summer, vineyards can be hot and dry, so you’ll need to provide ample shade and refreshments. And though California’s Napa Valley is known as wine country, most wineries there actually don’t allow weddings . Nationwide, many are in residential areas, where a noise ordinance may force your party to end at 9 or 10. Another note: If you’re hoping for a full bar, you may be out of luck. At a winery, vino is the name of the game.
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Customise Everything You Can
Personalise it all! When you have a small guest list, the micro details matter. Heres some of our favourite ways:
- Go wild with place cards: write guests names on tropical leaves or potted succulents personalise mini bottles of Champagne have laser cut-outs of their name in wood or cool acrylic use agate or geode for seriously colourful place settings ice them on biscuits, or even attach them to an individually-selected gift for each person
- Hire a calligrapher or illustrator to handwrite each order of service, menu and place setting with your guests name and a sketch of the guest
- Create a video of your love story to play in the background of your wedding breakfast
- Write a custom poem for each guest, its a truly bespoke touch!
- Leave a handwritten note for each guest on their place setting, sharing your most treasured memory with them
- Put your name and wedding date on everything you can: napkins, guest book, cocktail stirrer, cake topper, the label of wine bottles, wedding signs etc.
- If youre into star signs, get readings for each of your guests or customise their place setting with their zodiac sign
- Choose pictures of the two of you at that age instead of table numbers everyone loves a baby picture
- Make a custom aisle runner: write a passage from your favourite book or poem, or print your name and date on the runner
- Customise all your décor with a personalised crest for your wedding day that combines your initials
Get Creative With Your Seating Plan
With an al fresco ceremony you can be more creative, explains Jennifer Claire Constant.
How about rethinking the seating layout and creating a circle with you stood in the middle, giving all your guests a ringside seat. Or creating beautiful semi-circles with the chairs or hay bales. This can be such a great way of making your ceremony more inclusive and intimate after all, youve invited your guests because you want them to witness this magical moment.
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Consider A Registry Office Wedding
Plenty of registry offices or town halls have inexpensive and architecturally cool small ceremony rooms you can hire out. The Old Marylebone Town Hall in London hosted Sir Paul McCartneys wedding, and has an impressive backdrop of columns out the front for photos and beautifully renovated rooms inside. Dont dismiss a registry office wedding out of hand as your local registry office could surprise you.
The benefit to a small registry office wedding now is that you can still have a full-sized sequel wedding later. For the second wedding, hire a celebrant to lead the service and do it again with a more relaxed vibe and a bigger party.
Work With Your Photographer And Videographer To Maximize Your Venue’s View
Tap your photographer and videographer to ensure you have the most epic wedding album and video ever. Work with them to figure out all of the most picturesque spots at your venue so you can make the most of the beautiful scenery. Ask them about any ideas they have for lighting or creative first look spots. While drone footage isn’t a necessity, it is a great way to capture the gorgeousness of your venue from a birds eye view. .
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Make Sure You Have Electricity Available At Your Venue
Confirm with your venue that you have access to electricity so you can have a DJ for dancing the night away, a microphone so your maid of honors heartfelt speech can be heard by all, and lights for when the sun goes down. This is a detail that can be overlooked when thinking about how to plan an outdoor wedding, so make sure to put it on your checklist!
What Should My Backup Plan Be If It Rains Or The Weather Is Bad
Be sure to select an outdoor venue that can also easily accommodate an indoor ceremony and reception if need be due to rain or other inclement weather. Discuss this with your venue when you book and ask to walkthrough the indoor venue to make sure you can also picture your big day there. And if youre planning a fabulous backyard wedding, ask yourself if the home has enough space inside to accommodate your guests. You can always get creative with moving furniture, utilizing a tent, etc.
This is one of the most important tips on how to plan an outdoor wedding, so dont forget to create your weather backup plan long before your big day. And rememberrain on your wedding day is good luck!
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Consider Using A Microphone For The Ceremony
Unless youre hosting a small group, it can be tricky for guests in the back rows to hear whats being said during an outdoor wedding. This is especially true when there are no walls to provide acoustics and when you add wind or other outside noise to the mix. A simple sound system is an easy fix. Ask your venue if they offer one on-site or whether they have any rental recommendations. If youre worried about a hand-held microphone being intrusive, lavalier mics are a great option.
How Should Catering Be Handled For Dining Outside
Finding a catering team thats familiar with working outdoor weddings is hugely important. You should be prepared with questions such as How many outdoor weddings have you done, Are you comfortable working in a catering tent, Will you be able to make recommendations for catering rental needs like kitchen equipment, plateware, glassware, cutlery, etc. Aligning with a crew that also has a liquor license and can manage your alcohol order is a major win.
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Give Your Bridal Party Fashion Freedom
Take advantage of the mix-and-match dress trend by giving your ladies the color palette/event style you’ve chosen, along with the freedom to pick their own ensemble. Your bridal party will appreciate your flexibilityand they’ll feel better about spending money on an outfit they’ll likely wear again!
Borrow Stereo Equipment Or Use Yours From Home
If youre having a small event anyway, hiring a DJ might be overkill. Wedding Wire reports that the average DJ cost is $1,000, so you may be able to forgo that cost by setting up your own speakers attached to a computer for a small dance. For music, you are legally allowed to use a music streaming service like Spotify . For emcee services, ask your most outgoing friend to help.
Strategy: Do the DJing yourself Savings: $1,000
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What About Wedding Favours For Outdoor Weddings
When it comes to choosing wedding favours for a wedding outdoors, stationery designer Vaishali has a lovely idea.
As a wedding favour, to tie in with your outdoor wedding and as a way of giving back whilst providing an everlasting keepsake, why not plant a tree in the name of each guest? A gift that keeps growing!
Toilets Are A Must At Outdoor Weddings
With all the recent outdoor socialising in recent months, one thing were no longer taking for granted is access to a toilet after some al fresco eating and drinking. You may well need to hire some outdoor toilets if their isnt safe and easy access already in place again ask your venue or your hire company about whats on offer and accessible under the new social distancing rules.
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Infuse Your Love Story Into The Wedding Menu
Fewer plates means more food options, so craft a menu that’s tailored to your love story. Include food inspired by your go-to date night restaurant, special family recipes or the location of your wedding. Or, simply create a menu full of your favorite foods. If you’re total foodies, book a few food trucks with different dishes for your guests to peruse. Or, if you love comfort food, serve your guests your favorite pasta or pizza dish. It’s another way to make your guests feel more connected to your love story.
Choose The Best Venue
Once you have narrowed your venue options down to your top favorites, draw up a wedding floor plan for each to visualize.
- How well will each venue accommodate your number of guests?
- How could the table and seating arrangements work?
- Is there still room to dance and circulate comfortably?
- Where are the restrooms and other key facilities?
This process can quickly make the top venue choice clear.
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The Perfectly Imperfect Wedding
AKA WHAT WENT RIGHT and WHAT WENT WRONG :
+ We had amazing help from friends and family. One word: Delegate. I cannot stress this enough when planning a wedding. I had my sister and sister-in-law organizing and picking up food. My brother and cousin were hanging paper lanterns. My best friend was decorating my mantle with bell jars and tea lights. Dont try to do it all yourself. You cant and if you try youll hate yourself for it.
Our guests showed up early. Because it was at our house said guests felt like it would be okay to arrive up to an hour early. I was literally in my overalls hanging lanterns when people started showing up. It was embarrassing and stressful . Its another reason to get all your decorating done prior to the wedding day.
There was a freak snowstorm. It was March 28 and it was supposed to be beautiful outside. We were going to get married on our back deck and have a lovely outdoor wedding. That morning a freak snowstorm came in and we had to think on our toes.
+ We decided to get married in our living room and it was even more perfect than I could have imagined.
We never rehearsed. Even just a little walk through of the order of events, how wed make our appearance, etc. wouldve been helpful but its a step we completely neglected to take.
+ The guest book we used the chalkboard wall in my office as the guest book. It was perfect and a lot of fun for our guests.
What Food Should We Serve
The best part about being outdoors is that you can get super inventive with your fare. Want a wood-fired pizza oven? Do it! Think a pig roast could be cool for a more tropical-styled soirée? We think so, too! There are so many fun options you can serve up for your day. Endale typically tells her clients to opt for passed appetizers for cocktail hour and plated meals for dinner to avoid pests buzzing around a buffet or hovering over family-style dishes.
The food service team should always have an interior space for the catering prep and either plated food service or food stations that are in an enclosed area.
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Split The Cost Of Decorations And Consider Buying Used
Non-floral wedding decorations can cost $600. This can be a perfect opportunity to go minimal by looking for used decorations. If you know someone who is getting married, you may be able to split the cost of decorations with them so that you both use them, cutting the cost by half. If you know of any recent weddings, you can also contact them and ask what they did with the decorations.
Strategy: Split the cost of decorations or buy them used Savings: $300
How To Plan A Small Wedding In A Garden
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A garden wedding is an ideal choice if you want to keep your wedding small, intimate and affordable. It can be your own garden, a neighbor’s garden or a local municipality’s garden. The important factor is that it is a place you care about, it has sufficient room for your guests and it has a shelter option as well.
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Personalize Your Wedding Stationery
Since you’re sending out 50 or less save-the-dates and invitations, use the opportunity to create an ultra-personalized stationery suite. Order custom engagement illustrations off Etsy for your save-the-dates that depict you and your partner, your wedding venue or your home. For your invitations, choose colors, wording and designs that feel authentic to you.
Be Selective About Your Guest List
This one seems obvious, but it can be challenging in practice. First, remember that there are certain people you don’t have to invite to your wedding. Next, reference local and national guidelines around social gatherings so that you have a clear understanding of what’s allowed. You may want to celebrate with 50 people, but some venues may only allow 20 to 30 people, so keep that in mind as you create your guest list. While it can be difficult to tell someone they won’t be invited to your wedding, it’s best to be honest. You can always find other ways to include other people in your celebration too.
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