The Small Wedding Checklist You Need

There are many benefits to having a small wedding. To get you started, here's our wedding planning checklist and things to consider.

By Nilina Mason-Campbell

Small Wedding Checklist
Photo by Zola

The First Look ✨

There are plenty of benefits for staging a small wedding day. Rather than getting lost in a myriad of details, having fewer guests narrows the focus and helps to create a more intimate environment. In turn, you’re able to direct more energy into celebrating your love and impending partnership. Beyond that, there are other aspects such as saving money with fewer guests to spend on or opening up possibilities such as making a destination wedding and other activities more feasible to stage. We’ve created a checklist of important considerations to help serve as the foundation for your small wedding.

Guest List Criteria

Zola: Small Wedding Checklist You Need Photo Credit // Danielle Lentz Photography

Defining who is significant enough to cut to receive a wedding invitation is key to narrowing down your small wedding guest list. Whether they play an important role specifically to you as the bride and groom, narrowing the list isn’t necessarily about exclusivity. It’s about seeking to narrow the focus and magnify those within your life—as an individual or as a couple—who have been key to you in reaching this milestone, whether that be through personal growth and development, support, witness to key events, or whatever else.

Venue

Rather than needing a large hall or similar wedding venue that can accommodate a large crowd of 100 or more, a smaller wedding opens up the possibilities of where your ceremony and festivities can take place. Suddenly a backyard wedding is in play because it can fit your entire guest list without overcrowding. A low-impact outdoor wedding is now possible too and packing out won’t be such a burden with a smaller wedding party. Suddenly, a destination wedding becomes more feasible with fewer guests.

You can choose the location based on what fits your vibe, rather than have it primarily be driven by the numbers game of accommodating a larger crowd. Alternatively, you can still go big in terms of venue size. Perhaps, fill it however you see fit, playing with a small number of guests in an open space to create an atmosphere more akin to a contemporary art installation.

Catering

Similar to venue choice, a smaller guest list often opens up dining options. Places that might not have the capacity to cater to a large wedding may now be available. Similarly, approaching favorite restaurants that don’t traditionally offer event catering may now be open to your smaller gathering.

Another benefit to a smaller wedding plan is that you’ll be paying for fewer people, thus fewer plates. This may enable you to save money in the budget overall or to splurge elsewhere. It also may mean that you can go gourmet since you’ll be spreading your wedding budget among fewer people, and you can opt for spendier catering than if you were feeding 100 people.

Activities

Curating an experience for your guests to participate in is more feasible with fewer guests. For example, a group rafting outing suddenly becomes more tenable when you’re able to fit the entire guest list on a flotilla of only three rafts. Planning for an on-the-go lunch is suddenly easier and more transportable, too. Perhaps a pre-wedding bonfire? A smaller guest list means you can see all of their faces around the flame of the campfire.

Whereas bachelorette and bachelor parties tend to be the only added, experiential component of a wedding other than the wedding ceremony itself, now it can extend to all guests.

Accommodation

Will you have guests coming from out of town? Will your guests all be sequestered together at the destination of your choosing? With fewer guests, wedding tasks such as arranging accommodation becomes less of a headache. Maybe you’re having a getaway wedding, which requires your guests to travel out of town to attend. Whether or not you’re making reservations on behalf of your guests or if they’re handling them individually, trying to find enough availability is less of a hassle if there are fewer people that need bookings for your wedding date. Alternatively, it might make sense to rent out the entirety of a boutique hotel for all guests to stay at if your numbers are low enough. Having everyone in semi-communal housing during the event can help extend the experience to something more all-encompassing than merely a wedding ceremony, creating further opportunities for guests to bond.

Zola: Small Wedding Checklist You Need Photo Credit // Little But Fierce Photography

Planning a small wedding can open up bigger possibilities that would otherwise be off the table with larger numbers. Lean into the aspect of it being small, and craft a special experience that allows you to highlight the best aspects of your relationship and share them with those closest to you.