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How to Have a Small Wedding Without Offending People

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Research shows that wedding costs are skyrocketing, and couples can expect to spend approximately $23,000 for an average wedding.

With these rising costs, you may be thinking of hosting a small wedding due to budget constraints or wish to share the day with a few people who mean the most to you. 

But how do you host a small wedding when you have a big family and a list of friends that want to be a part of the wedding and get involved in the logistics?

The whole process of planning a small wedding can be stressful as you want to celebrate your special day without offending your family and friends.

Read on to learn how you can still have a small wedding without conflict.

8 Tips to Have a Small Wedding 

Here are some tips on how to plan an intimate wedding without offending your family and friends.

1. Inform Your Friends and Family About Your Wedding Plans

Couple and their friends discussing about wedding plan and drinking wine

You must be open about what you want with your family and friends.

Tell them about your intentions to have an intimate wedding that will only include a few people. Be open and honest with people you don’t plan to invite to your wedding. 

Let everyone know you can’t afford to throw a lavish event as your limited budget is limited. No one plans to start their life in debt, and the uninvited guests will understand when you explain this. 

If you’re planning on maintaining your friendship with people you can’t invite, talk to them about the situation and why you can’t include them.

You and your partner can organize a small dinner to celebrate with them to keep the relationship intact. Instead of ignoring the issue, send an apology note to those who can’t make it to the dinner. 

Speak to your close family members about people that they want to invite to the wedding. Have that conversation before you start writing your guest list. 

Additionally, you can talk to a close family member about your plan to host a small wedding. That can help convince other family members and spread the word to friends and family, allowing them to manage their expectations. 

2. Draft Your Guest List and Be on the Same Page With Your Partner

hand writing down bride and groom wedding guest

A small wedding could mean something different for different people.

Some may consider a 20-person wedding small, while others consider 100 people enough to host an intimate ceremony.

Discuss with your partner your preferred number of guests to invite based on your budget and preferences. 

You can opt for a child-free event to keep your guest list down. Avoid inviting distant relatives and colleagues that you hardly speak to.

You need to be discerning about who also gets to attend along with the guests. Sometimes plus-ones don’t make sense and only add to the guest list. 

3. Host the Ceremony at a Small Venue

Wedding venues take up a large chunk of a wedding budget. 

You can still have an intimate ceremony without spending a lot by hosting it at a family home. That could be your parent’s home if the space allows you to host a preferred number of guests.

Choosing this venue also allows you to celebrate your big day with people close to you.

The uninvited guests will also understand that the venue cannot accommodate many guests and will be less offended. 

Additionally, you can cut costs by hosting your wedding and reception at the same venue. However, if you’re planning to have a backyard wedding, you need to have a backup plan in case the weather changes. 

outdoor small wedding setup reception

4. Avoid Asking For Gifts 

If you plan to host a small wedding, avoid asking for expensive gifts or gifts from uninvited guests. That leaves a bad impression and shows these people that you’re selfish and only want to meet your needs. 

Have an open registry link if your guests would like to get you a gift.

Sometimes a person who isn’t part of the guests may want to contribute a gift. As a couple, it’s best to suggest a simple dinner or an inexpensive activity together. 

5. Organize a Live Broadcast

wedding photographer remote setup for wedding session concept

Organizing a digital broadcast of your special day is another way to include uninvited friends and family. They can still attend your wedding without physically being present. 

You can use a streaming conference app or set up a Zoom link.

Alternatively, you can ask your videographer or photographer to provide streaming services on social media, which will be more accessible for guests who cannot attend. 

Although the experience is not the same as being at the wedding in person, anyone interested in watching you exchange your vows will tune in and be part of your big day. 

6. Give Non-Attendees Tasks to Get Them Involved

Another way to have an intimate ceremony without offending anyone is to get the non-attendees involved in some wedding tasks. 

You can include them by asking some to give a speech during the bridal shower or ask another to help with the seating chart.

You can also have friends planning the bachelorette party or looking for invitation samples. While they may not be physically present on your wedding day, they’ll be glad that they got involved and participated in a way on your big day.

7. Opt for a Destination Wedding

Wedding couple on beach with wedding arch background. Destination wedding on the island with sea view.

It’s possible to get a good deal with a destination wedding compared to a traditional wedding.

A destination wedding also allows you to combine your wedding celebration with the honeymoon, which could further cut costs. 

Choosing a destination wedding allows you to limit your guest list as no one may be ready to travel to a wedding in the middle of their work schedule.

Additionally, some people may not be in a position to spend on the cost of flights and transfers and may opt not to attend. 

Having a destination wedding makes it easier to have a small wedding without offending people, as those who can’t afford to cater for the extra costs will happily stay home. 

8. Consider Elopement

Elopement should be considered as the last resort. It’s one way to enjoy a small wedding without offending your family and friends. 

Although some people won’t be pleased with the idea, it could be the best way to eliminate the wedding planning stress. Also, remember that this is about the two of you as a couple and not your families’ or friends’ demands. 

Just married couple walking on a beach, elopement concept

Final Thoughts

Understand that some friends and family won’t understand why they can’t get an invite, and that’s okay. Some will give tips on having a small wedding with extra guests or convince you that an intimate wedding is a bad idea.

Don’t break your rules to impress anyone. If they persist, be honest and remind them of why you are hosting a small ceremony. 

Whether it’s your budget, family dynamics, venue constraints, or your wishes as a couple, being honest will help you go ahead with the planning without offending anyone.

Find other creative ways to include non-attendees in your wedding, like live streaming or getting them to help with the shower, which will make them appreciate the idea behind a small wedding without feeling offended.