Planning for 50 or less
Kicking off our big week of double guest posts, Nathalie Green from Pillingers Hiring Service in Sydney, Australia, shares her expertise on planning a wedding with a smaller guest list.
Wedding fashions are susceptible to many a peak and trough. I’ve noticed the big-event spectacles of old are ever-so-quietly being replaced with small-scale ceremonies. Guest lists of 20-50 are taking over meandering inventories of extended family, part-time co-workers, high school pals and the new arm candy of a distant cousin. There are many reasons for the current change in the marital tides: economic climates around the world are a tad dryer than what they have been in the past. Loved-up couples have high rents and expenses that make the idea of inviting every Tom, Dick and Harry under the family umbrella a daunting, if not impossible, task.
Sitting right alongside current economics is the growing homespun movement. From making your own pickles at home to knitting circles and artisan bread, many of us are feeling the push to be more conscientious spenders. I’ve seen this impact the wedding industry. Couples come to us wanting to do things themselves, to discover a unique way to reflect their relationship and to create something very special… also small, let’s not forget small. So, without rambling on, here are a few of my favourite tips for couples who like their crowds little and their ceremonies sensational.
1. The Guest List:
The most crucial thing to remember when wanting to host an intimate ceremony is the guest list. So easily can 50 become 100 when you let relatives get in your ear about not inviting Aunty Alda or your cousin Marty, neither of whom has been seen since 1992. I advise clients who are struggling under the pressure to keep a tight lid on who is invited and who hasn’t made the cut. Keeping hush about your selective guest list means you’re less likely to be guilt tripped into less-desired invitees. In the same vein, keep strong. Just because Laurie from accounting invited you to his wedding does not mean you are obliged to invite him to yours. You are strong. You are invincible. You are keeping that gosh darn guest list small!
2. Won’t Somebody Please… Forget the Children:
If there are children in your life and having them there is extremely meaningful for you then by all means ignore this advice; the rest of you may carry on. Children are beautiful and wonderful and we adore them, but it is unlikely your four-year-old niece is going to remember – let alone be impressed by, your centrepieces – your exotic location, or you couture dress. Putting the kibosh on children at your wedding can also be the excuse mum and dad are just waiting for to dial a sitter for the night and get some “them” time. Weddings are a rather adult affair so, if possible, let the kids stay home and watch Monsters Inc.
3. The Venue You Desire:
A great advantage to a smaller guest list is venue location. No longer will your nights be plagued with visions of massive halls and sprawling fields; no, you can get creative, get local (or far away) and get crazy unique with your venue. Art galleries, converted warehouse spaces, museums, a beach in Buenos Aires, your backyard… it’s all there for the choosing when you decide to keep it small. A special venue or a delightful marquee will happily do the trick. Those privileged with a small guest list can truly think outside the box.
4. Small Touches for Small Weddings:
I waxed on above about the homespun trend taking flight and I’ll reiterate here: if you’re a do-it-yourself kind of a person, then a small wedding is ideal. You can now band together with a few close friends and make your own centrepieces using old books, antique maps, gorgeous floral arrangements or your favourite action figures; anything goes because you have total creative control. Limited space, seating and tables also gives you more time to think about the things you want to do. Do you want every seat decorated with a small bouquet? Easy (and affordable!) because you only have 25 seats. Want something different on every single table? Superb! You can totally do that when there are only ten tables to worry about.
5. Get that One Thing You Really Wanted:
When couples have to accommodate an ever-growing guest list they find themselves having to sacrifice things that they’d long had their hearts set on. The wedding dress the bride lusted over for the last year, the magnificent caterers they’d discovered and had planned on booking for a three-course sit-down dinner, the glorious location they’d simply fallen in love with, or that brilliant band who (though pricey) was worth it… It’s easy to get caught up in not hurting people’s feelings, but at the end of the day the people who are truly going to look back and remember your wedding are yourselves and those truly close to you.
6. Confidently Surround Yourself with Love:
Less a tip than it is an observation — weddings can be nerve-wracking. For the introverted, the thought of getting up in front of so many people can be rather daunting. A small wedding, with a thoroughly culled list, ensures you are surrounded with those you love, trust and know. Secondly, you’ll get the time over the course of the evening to express those feelings to each and every guest. No having to rescue an unprepared bridesmaid from uncle what’s his name or having to guard the bar from Cousin Sandra’s new beau.
The purpose of the wedding is an ever-evolving concept. In my heart of hearts I think the move towards small weddings is partly due to a renegotiation of what the whole ceremony is for. It’s a lot less about traditions, religious or otherwise, and much more about making a commitment to the other person… and, I think, a commitment to family and friends who have invested in you as a couple. Couples today more often pay for their own weddings, so it’s about giving outsiders a peek into how truly in love and involved you are. A big part of this is smaller weddings but these intimate affairs also offer you the opportunity to reflect something that is uniquely yours, and on budget, too!
Nathalie Green is a woman with weddings on her mind. She’s done and dusted with her own, but day in and day out Nat runs around the Pillingers Hiring Service office as the company’s Wedding Coordinator trying to plan Sydney’s most sensational weddings. She’s an expert when it comes to Sydney weddings with years almost two decades of experience in turning the location of your choice into the event you desire. When she’s not busy organising the big day of your dreams she’s blogging on her experiences, loves and delights in relation to all things aisles, flowers, celebrants and ceremonies. Follow Pillingers Hiring Service on Facebook and Twitter.
(All images supplied by author.)