Small or big wedding?

Deciding whether you want a small or big wedding is one of those first decisions that can already bring up a lot of… stuff. Many of you have been thinking about your weddings for a long time. You come into your engagement assuming which type you’ll have, but then you realize quickly that there are a lot of people invested in this wedding and they all have opinions. They also tend to, well, come at you with guest lists pretty fast.

But we have to invite him! He’s my cousin’s best friend’s dog sitter!

I might be exaggerating here, but I’m betting a lot of you have heard similar protests when you’re trying to cut back your guest list from every-single-person-you’ve-ever-encountered to perhaps something a bit more intimate or at least more meaningful to you and your to-be spouse. No one wants to ask who someone is at their own wedding, right?

There are a lot of factors to take into consideration when deciding between a small or big wedding. As always, your friendly Erie photographer is here to help! We’ll take a look at pros (and thus implied cons) of each and give you some questions to ask yourself and your other half so you can be much clearer about what you want and why.

What’s “small” or “big?”

First, let’s get some clarification around terms. By small wedding, we mean anywhere from you and your witnesses to up to about 50 guests. (Some people are referring to these as micro weddings, not to be confused with elopements or the “minimony“… to which I say, what!? And if you started singing this song, I know about how old you are.) To make things simpler, we’re calling anything over 50 a bigger or big wedding. Most people aren’t confused about wanting a medium or large wedding. Most confusion comes with the idea of small, intimate weddings versus the more typical.

(And a little side note: we recently had a super small 10 year vow renewal and we loved it. Small really is beautiful and fun!)

Regardless of your definitions, we think these pros and cons and questions will help you to really draw your boundaries about what you want and need.

A bride and groom walking dow the aisle smiling.

Small wedding considerations

  • You’ll get to spend more quality time with the people who are in your most inner circles.
  • If you’re more introverted, this is definitely less taxing in terms of social energy.
  • You’ll have more time to spend with your new spouse since you both aren’t running around making sure every single guest is talked to.
  • It takes less planning. For example, you won’t feel overwhelmed by trying to seat 200 people. The logistics of that can be downright harrowing if you have a lot of strong personalities to consider.
  • You can really focus on quality over quantity when it comes to catering, decor, your wedding attire, and even maybe save something for a great honeymoon.
  • If you love to DIY, a smaller wedding certainly makes that more possible. If you want to handwrite every single invitation, that’s easier to do if you only have 20 invites to send.
  • You can customize absolutely everything when you don’t have to create an experience for hundreds.

A bride and groom walking down the aisle after the wedding, with guests on either side.

Big wedding considerations

  • Obviously if you’re a social butterfly or if you both have large families, this can feel like pretty much a no brainer. That said, a bigger wedding is a guaranteed bigger party.
  • It’s less likely that there will be a big lull on the dance floor. That thing will be hopping from start to finish.
  • It’s also better if you’re someone who enjoys being in the spotlight and being the center of attention (no judgment either way).
  • More invites also means less offense. No one is going to feel left out. (Not that people should take offense but often they do.)
  • Bigger head counts can mean meeting any kind of minimums that your vendors require very easily.
  • Bigger weddings mean bigger spaces which make room for you to fulfill whatever dreams you have. Photo booth? There’s space. A kid’s area? There’s space. Custom art creation? You get it. (People are adding so much to wedding experiences these days!)
  • You won’t lack help. With so many people invited, there will always be another person you can ask to do a small task.

A wedding party laughing and acting silly for the photographer.

Questions to ask yourselves

  • What sounds like the most fun? When you dream of your wedding day, what are the feelings you want to have and what do you want to remember later?
  • What will bring the least stress? (No wedding is stress free but you can still aim to have as little stress as possible. What would that mean/look like for you?)
  • What would bring you the most meaning?
  • What is most important to you?
  • Are you planning a wedding that is local to you and most guests or are you planning a destination wedding? This can immediately determine the number of people you can invite.
  • Do you want to do things yourself or are you more comfortable having a planner? (The bigger the wedding, the more helpful a planner will be.)
  • Consider the finances: do you want a large party or would you rather, for example, set aside some of that money for a downpayment on a house or an extra long and luxurious honeymoon?
  • Do you want to invite children or have an all-adults experience?
  • If you’re creating a small guest list, decide between the two of you how you’ll explain when people ask why s0-and-so isn’t invited. (People can get extra sensitive around weddings even when it’s not at all theirs.)

Last little bits

When you announce your engagement, be sure to be clear that you’ll be the one to let others know about your wedding. Things can immediately get rocky if we don’t set healthy boundaries and people around us start to assume.

The more you and your future spouse spend time delineating your wishes and your priorities with each other, the easier the whole experience will be. And when it comes time to find the space(s) and the vendors, they’ll appreciate your clarity of vision. Always be open to being surprised by someone having an idea you never considered, of course, but also … know what you want and what is going to make you happiest on your big day.

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At Matt Mead Photography we believe that building relationships with our clients is the best way to serve them. That's why we value meeting all of our couples face-to-face by video call. We look forward to meeting you soon!


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matt mead photography 1821 oxford st. erie, pa 16505  (814)315-3353