Since we’re coming up on our one year anniversary in December, I swear we’re getting to the end of the posts about our small winter wedding outside Charlottesville, Virginia last year. I have just a few more topics that I want to touch on (and since they’re some of the most searched posts on my blog, I hope y’all are finding them helpful!), and today I want to discuss one of the questions that comes up most often — what was it like to have a small wedding?
WHY WE DECIDED ON A SMALL WINTER WEDDING
I’ve touched on this a few times before in posts like the one about our dinner party wedding, but, for us, the decision to have a small winter wedding came down to these factors: budget, venue, vibe. We were paying for most of our wedding ourselves and I didn’t want to go the DIY route. I wanted to have a really nice wedding with great food, lots of drinks, and a gorgeous setting — I knew I wasn’t a budget bride. So, we had to make the decision that in order to have that wedding, it had to be small.
The venue that we fell in love with, The Farmhouse at Veritas, also cannot accommodate a huge group. When we were there finalizing details, they actually mentioned that they’d recently had a wedding move last minute to a different venue (the group still stayed there) because guests were added and, at 70 people, they outgrew the space. The Farmhouse was perfect for our group of 37, including ourselves.
Lastly, in wanting an intimate, wintery vibe, a small group just felt right.
WHAT’S IT LIKE TO HAVE A SMALL WEDDING?
I’m sure many people wonder if you can have as much fun with a small group as you can with a large group — or if it loses some of the celebratory feelings when you’re surrounded by fewer people. It’s definitely different than if you have a giant reception with 300 people, a band, and a dance floor, but, that doesn’t mean it has to be any less fun.
We invited only immediate family and a handful of close friends and we knew that those people would all be there for a good time. We kept the bar open for a really long time (as in 2:30 PM until 11:30 PM…), which always contributes to people having fun, right?! Also, since we didn’t have a dance floor, we used a few location changes to keep the party moving — we went from the front of the house for our ketubah ceremony, to the side of the house for our wedding ceremony, to the back of the house for cocktail hour, to the garden house for dinner, and back into the house for the “after-party.” I didn’t want it to ever feel stagnant or boring just because it was a long day with the same people, so we kept changing things up.
WILL PEOPLE BE UPSET THAT THEY AREN’T INVITED?
Well, to be honest, maybe? I can’t give you a 100% accurate answer, but I will say that no one outwardly expressed any feelings directly towards me. I’ve had friends that also had small weddings — small weddings that I wasn’t invited to — and I totally understood.
As I’ve told a few people, it might even be easier to go really small like we did than to do a “small” wedding of 80 to 100 people. When you have a truly small wedding, which I would consider a wedding under 40 guests, most people will be sympathetic to the fact you had to make cuts — and that those cuts likely included people who are close to you.
DID WE HAVE ANY REGRETS OVER HAVING A SMALL WINTER WEDDING?
Yes and no. There were friends that I certainly wanted to invite, but with a limit of 5 plus their plus-ones, it wasn’t possible (there was also a lost RSVP — and our only no — that would have given us room to invite one more couple had we found out about it with a bit more lead time…that’s probably my biggest regret, that we had 2 spots that I would 100% have filled with a close friend. However, I didn’t want to invite someone three weeks before the wedding.).
Also, for us, a small wedding meant not inviting family beyond our parents, siblings, and their spouses. We both have big families and it’s one of those situations where if you invite one person, you’ve got literally 100 others who are now invited. And, since we were paying for our wedding ourselves, that wasn’t something we could do. Do we wish we could have invited them? Yes, but it wasn’t realistic.
But, all that being said, I would absolutely do it again. I’m not sure if having a small wedding is why our planning process was less stressful, but I know that I didn’t have the seating chart and invitation woes that many people do. We had a relatively easy time planning our wedding and, if that’s because it was small, then I would recommend cutting your guest list and not looking back.
Photos by Lauren Miller of Lauren Louise Collective.