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It’s no secret that when you start planning your wedding, the first thing you have to decide on is your guest list. The amount of guests you invite to your wedding dictates what size venue you need, what type of invitations you can afford, and what kind of transportation you organize. From coworkers to long-lost camp friends to your dad’s second cousins, it’s normal for couples to want to include each and every person they know in their celebrations.. But here’s the thing: the big day doesn’t have to be all that big. In fact, there are many perks to hosting a smaller wedding. Plus, small wedding ideas allow you to be much more expansive and detailed, because you’re not as restricted by cost.

A small guest list also means knowing all of your guests personally. Who wants to be studying up on their partner’s step-cousins names the night before the ceremony? Small weddings also allow you to take extra special care of your guests. From personalized notes at check-in to paying for an Airbnb in Jamaica, small weddings give way more room for a personal touch from you. Finally, small weddings allow you to throw down on food and drink. From a raw bar to top shelf liquor, you’ll be able to indulge in the finer things on your day. Here are 9 more ideas for throwing a small wedding.

1. Make It Destination

Destination weddings can be overwhelming for both the engaged couple doing the planning and for the guests doing the traveling and spending. When you’re throwing a smaller wedding, you can take care of more of the logistics that usually bum friends and family out about destination weddings. When you’re only inviting 40 people, Hawaii sounds much less insane of an idea than when you’re inviting 200.

2. Organize One Place For Everyone To Stay

The best part of a wedding weekend outside of the ceremony and reception is the time spent hanging out with family and friends. Having a smaller wedding means being able to provide a block of rooms, adjacent rental homes, or even an entire bed and breakfast for all of your guests to stay at. This allows everyone to get to know each other, and provides an automatic gathering place for you and your guests during any downtime.

3. Use A Backyard

You know that wedding in Father of The Bride? Where Steve Martin freaks out about his home being used for the ceremony and reception? Well you can have a homey, backyard wedding even if you don’t live in a Beverly Hills mansion if your guest list is small. This is a sweet way to include a cherished family home, or simply save money on a venue.

4. Invite Everyone To The Rehearsal Dinner

Even if your wedding is only a few hours’ drive from home, and not a flight, many of your guests will love being included in the celebrations the evening before your wedding. A smaller guest list means inviting everyone to the rehearsal dinner. Most people will travel in the day before your ceremony anyways, and having a meal together will put your guests in a festive mood.

5. Rent Out A Restaurant

Restaurants have everything you need for a wedding day, except for a ton of space. However, if your guest list is smaller, you can host an intimate evening of dinner and dancing by renting out a favorite restaurant or bar.

6. Hire Live Music

A smaller guest list means you have money to spend on things like music, and nothing delights people more than some live music. A live band is the perfect splurge no matter your wedding size, but it’s doable when you’re only paying for 30 dinners.

7. Customize The Experience

Putting a personal note from you and your partner to each guest at their dinner seat or in their hotel room is an incredibly meaningful way to show your appreciation for their support.

8. Have Everyone Sit Together

An added perk of having a small wedding is that rather than assign tables, you can have everyone sit at one long table together. (Yes, really. Think “The Last Supper.”) If you’re confident in the eloquence of your family and friends, you can even open the dinner up to additional toasts.

9. Take A Group Photo

Getting 180 people to organize for a picture is nearly impossible, but with a small group, you’ve got to get one special shot. Make all of your guests feel included by asking your photographer to take a photo of you all together at the ceremony or reception. You’ll cherish it more than you know. (Plus, you’ll never forget who was at your wedding).

Written by: Kimmy Foskett

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