Decisions, Decisions: Big Wedding or Small?

big church wedding

Big wedding or small? It’s up to you!
Image: Shutterstock

Congratulations! You’ve found love, gotten engaged, and now it’s time to plan what we colloquially refer to as the Big Day. What that day looks like will be determined by a series of decisions you make along the way, but one of the biggest questions you must answer up front is this: how big do you want your wedding day to be?

To some, a huge celebration where everyone they’ve ever met is in attendance sounds glorious. It is a celebration after all, so why not make it memorable for as many people as possible?

But for others, too many guests can feel oppressive and out of control, turning the celebration into more of a stress-fest. And for yet others, having a lavish and large celebration is simply outside of budget.

Like many things in life, others will have their opinions and voice them loudly. But don’t forget: your wedding day is for you and your partner. It’s about the love you have cultivated and cared for. It involves other people… but in the end, it should be what you want.

So how do you decide whether to have a sprawling ball or courthouse affair? Start by envisioning each kind of wedding: 300+ guests, 100-200 guests, fewer than 100 guests, or just a handful of people. Do you feel gut-wrenching anxiety when imagining several hundred people in attendance? Or can you not even visualize a wedding with only a few people involved?

Let your gut guide you toward what feels right. Then, consider the following to help you and your partner make a solid decision:

Big Weddings – Pros:

  • Less stress when making the guest list – you get an invite! And you! And you!
  • More gifts – or donations toward your honeymoon!
  • Party-like atmosphere – think full dance floor, celebrations well into the night, and lots of energy

Big Weddings – Cons:

  • More expensive – remember that each body translates into more money toward catering and a large enough venue
  • More planning and follow up work – more people will inherently increase the amount of chaos, so you’ll need to spend more time planning instructions, seating charts, and more. And after the Big Day, you’ll have more people to send “thank you” notes to
  • Less time for each person – chances are, most people will want to come talk to you at some point, and with hundreds of guests, that means you simply won’t have much time to spend with each person

Small Weddings – Pros:

  • Less stress and planning – this is especially helpful when choosing venues and trying to plan on a tight schedule
  • Lower cost overall – chances are the venue will be less expensive, and you’ll also spend less money on food and drinks. That means more money to spend elsewhere (or just not spend at all!)
  • More intimate – you’ll get more time with your partner and with each guest instead of spending the whole night trying to get to everyone

Small Weddings – Cons:

  • Guest list drama – not only will paring down the guest list be difficult for you, but you could also offend people by not inviting them
  • More low-key – this is perhaps a “pro” for some, but fewer people generally means a more subdued and relaxed atmosphere
  • More to DIY – wedding planners are really only necessary for large weddings, which is both good and bad. On the one hand, you’ll save some budget; on the other hand, that work will fall to you instead
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