As Fall 2020 comes and goes, I find myself repeating the same advice in different ways to my couples and vendor friends. It all comes down to the harsh reality we’ll be facing this winter, and likely into 2021: Smaller weddings are not going anywhere.
If you want to have a wedding in the next six months, you will likely have to downsize your guest list. I already blogged about how I’d reimagine my 2016 microwedding, and it got me thinking. There are so many luxurious, beautiful things you can plan for your wedding when you don’t have to spend thousands of dollars on feeding 200 people salmon, and still spend less than you would. How freeing!
I’ve compiled a list of the best things I’ve seen my summer and fall couples go big on, plus a few extras I’d 100% recommend.
Many couples who had to downsize have already invested in a floral designer, and without 20 tables that need a centerpiece, you can really get creative! Check it out:
The Farmer’s Daughter turned up for Bethany and Justin’s 50 guest wedding at the Riverfront. Their dockside ceremony was framed with two gorgeous floral installs, and created a cohesive vision throughout the venue.
Big Bouquets: My couples Liz and Jose, Frankie and Gage, and Kaylynn and Adam also worked with Farmer’s Daughter on two gorgeous bouquets! The bigger….the better.
Community Flower Shop brought all of the blooms for Carly and Joe, who cut costs and upgraded their florals!
Full disclosure: Community Flower Shop also designed a few amazing pieces for a few styled shoots I photographed this year, which is basically practice for a high end small wedding these days! Their colorful and fun florals mixed with balloons at our citrus-themed Burgh Brides shoot had me snapping away.
One more from our collaboration with Lauren Rachelle Photography. Don’t underestimate a big bouquet and a simple sweetheart table set up, it makes a big impact!
Hire a (really good) wedding planner!
Louder for the couples in the back! Just because your guest count is lower, doesn’t mean the planning is any less stressful. Invest in a professional to help navigate all of the wedding things! Here are a few of my favorite Pittsburgh planners.
Day of Pittsburgh. Heather Davis and her team were on point for Bethany and Justin’s wedding. Having them on site to direct the little stuff really allowed all of the vendors (including me!) to give 110%. I got to see first hand how she really made sure the couple had not just a smoothly run day, but an enjoyable day– as they didn’t have to stress over the details of the day or timeline, etc.
Devoted to You. I’ve worked with Melissa and her team on one elopement and two Point Breezeway Little Weddings, and my clients got to just get dressed and roll into their wedding–no stress no mess! Devoted to You and the rest of vendors who created the Little Weddings package at Point Breezeway have really gotten it down to a science.
The elopement was originally a full wedding, but plans changed due to covid, and they got married on their back porch with two guests: Melissa and I. She was doing flowers, coordinating every moving piece, and basically pivoting the whole wedding as fast as possible (this was back in early May!)
Bumbleburgh Events Co. In a world before COVID, Maggie and Karlie brought it for a small wedding last year. My clients were super chill professionals, and BB made sure they got to have the intimate day they dreamed of, while still having really luxe touches. This was one of the first times I saw an intimate wedding invest in a planner, great vendors, and go BIG with their vision on a small day.
Upgrade your rentals
This is such an overlooked part of your wedding design! When you only have a few tables and chairs, why not make them extra fancy?
For Maya and Josh’s backyard wedding, Trish of Vintage Alley Rentals brought in tables, chairs, a lounge, antique china….and it transformed the whole space! Literally no detail was left untouched and it had a very eclectic, vintage feel that completely elevated the backyard wedding vibes.
Curate your dinner and bar menu
Instead of a rushed grab and go buffet, treat your guests to a dining experience. Course out your dinner, offer fancy cocktails, or throw in an espresso bar to cap off the evening!
Add a videographer!*
Videography is always seen as an extra addition to your vendor team, but if you want to share something better than a blurry Zoom recording, hire one! They can help preserve your wedding day for guests that couldn’t make it, and for you to look back on throughout the years.
*Ask your photographer for recommendations! We love to work with videographers who know their stuff, and are always excited to partner up with our favorites to document your day! My favs:
So…What’s in it for me? Why am I bothering to shout this advice from the rooftops? Here’s the truth: My photographs at these small weddings are better. They’re more magical. My couples portraits are heartfelt, intimate, and just….different.
All of those little things add up to amazing photos, and a smooth day in the office. When you have beautiful flowers with pops of colors, and rentals for gorgeous photo backdrops, and details like a cool vintage lounge for couples portraits, there’s so much to work with!
Having a wedding planner step in means less stress for my couple, a better timeline, and an easier day for everyone, including me! The couple knows it’s handled and can breathe, I know I don’t have to be managing the timeline, and all the vendors can stay in their lane and excel at what we do best. And that means a better experience and more photo opportunities for my couples.
…So why not do everything I can to make sure they have the prettiest, best day ever no matter how many people are there? That’s the truth.
And I know I’m getting long winded here, but one more thing: If simple and minimalistic is who you are, bring that to your wedding! But don’t skip on the things that will make your wedding memorable, or more you, just because it’s smaller.
What you can do in budget for 50 guests is *double* what you could do with 100 guests in the same price range. Get the fancy individual charcuterie boards, upgrade those folding chairs, get that funky flower you love in your arrangements, splurge on an ice cream bar for the reception. Pick the things that will bring you joy and make your day a little extra special. Do what you want, and make it awesome. You’re allowed.
Dawn Derbyshire Photography loves love.
I strive to create an inclusive, welcoming space for my employees, vendors I work with, AND my clients of all races, religions, sexual orientations and identities. All of my clients (and their love stories) deserve respect, are cherished, and are valued by me and my business. You are welcome in my business, my life, and my heart.