What Size Wedding is Right For You?

If you’re recently engaged, one of the first questions I am sure you asked yourself as you begin planning is what size wedding is right for you? There are SO many factors that go into this decision, as it is a super important one ! You have so many incredible people that are a part of your life, it’s hard to decide who you can and can't invite.


That’s why in this blog I am walking you through EVERYTHING you need to think through as you determine what size wedding is right for you.

A couple dressed for their wedding walks through a tunnel of arms made by their guests in Lincoln Park Chicago

What are the Different Sizes of Weddings?

First let’s start off by going over the different sizes of weddings there are in the wedding industry. By industry standard and in referencing Brides and Martha Stewart Weddings, I have put together a reference list of the different types of weddings that are fairly common in the US as well as a brief description of each.


Large Wedding

The average large wedding in the US is a wedding with over 150 guests. These usually take place at wedding venues that can host events of that size and are some of your more expensive weddings with money primarily being spent on guest meals and venue rental. When planning a large wedding you can expect the wedding to take up a little more money, time, space and planning.


Medium Wedding

Most medium sized weddings are considered weddings with 50 to 150 guests in attendance. These weddings have more options in terms of venues as they have access to both smaller venue options while still meeting the minimum for most larger venue options. The budget of these weddings range from a couple thousand dollars up to the same budget as larger more extravagant weddings with the majority of the budget being spent on guests and the experience of the wedding itself. Medium weddings are fun in that they have a variety of different venues that can serve you. Whether you want to get married at your favorite rooftop restaurant or your DREAM wedding venue you’ve longed for since you were a kid, there are plenty of options for medium size weddings.


Small Wedding

Most small weddings have a guest count of less than 50 people. These weddings have a variety of options with both smaller venues being available as well as alternative venues such as restaurants, bars and smaller event spaces. The budget of these venues can also vary from a couple of thousand dollars up to the same budget as a larger more extravagant weddings depending on what you include into your wedding day. If you are on a tighter budget you will want to consider a small guest list for your wedding day and a smaller venue where you can focus on your guests and the experience you share.


Elopement

Elopements are typically 10 people or less and are a super intimate day with a LOT of flexibility and love, but not as many people. These weddings can be the least expensive option for your wedding day, or they can be the most extravagant way to celebrate ! That's the beauty of elopements, the sky is the limit ! You can travel across the globe and get married on top of a mountain, or rent out a room at your favorite restaurant for the two of you and your closest people. Whatever you want to do is fair game !

A newlywed couple stand next to one another and cut their wedding cake underneath a tent while their guests watch.

What Questions Should You Be Asking Yourself?

With all the options listed above, it can be difficult trying to determine what size wedding is right for you just from those descriptions alone. When deciding what size wedding is right for you, it’s important to think through your priorities. Before you jump into the pros and cons of big and small weddings, here are some questions to ask yourself to help you decide what your wedding day priorities look like.


What Are Your Priorities?

As you begin planning your wedding day, you and your lover will want to sit down and begin discussing your priorities for your wedding day. Are you two all about the party and seeing all of your closest friends and family? Do you really just want an AWESOME wedding day experience full of adventure and fun? Are you looking for something a little more intimate where you two can spend a LOT of quality time together? After you talk through some of you priorities you can move onto the next question…


How Many People Are Not Negotiable?

With less people on the guest list, you will be able to spend your budget on what you want ! Whether that be experience driven things for your wedding, more booze, or a photo booth, there is SO much more flexibility for your wedding day budget. your partner wants to have present for your wedding ceremony !


What is Your Wedding Budget?

This is DEFINITELY something you’re going to want to nail down early. Whether your budget is $1,000 or $10,000, it is important to make sure going into wedding planning you and your partner have a clear budget and know exactly how you’re going to be paying for it. Things to consider and plan for are your venue, photographer/videographer, DJ/live band, any other vendors, and your food and drink. Talk with each other about the different vendors and other details you want to be a part of your wedding and then start to look up pricing to get a rough idea at exactly what your wedding will cost and if it fits within your budget.


Now that we’ve covered some of your priorities for your wedding day, we can go over some of the pros and cons that come with both large and small weddings. With your priorities written down, it should gradually become easier to picture your wedding and decide what size wedding is right for you as you way out these pros and cons.

A bride and groom kiss in front of a brick wall with their wedding parties on either side of them watching
Pros and Cons of a Small Wedding

Why a Small Wedding Might be Right for You


You Get One on One Time With Your People

With fewer guests, you will be able to have more quality time with the people you love the most. Many times with large weddings you only get small blips of time with your loved ones and other guests so it becomes challenging. You and your partner will be able to sit down and have a conversation with many of your guests, and you will be able to spend even MORE time with your partner if you have a small wedding. Without having to worry about all of the guests that are a part of your wedding day, your timeline can be a bit shorted thus leaving more time for you two to spend quality time together.


Your Families Really Mesh Together

With less guests, you will really be able to see your families come together as one. With an intimate wedding your family will have time to talk with one another, spend time together and really enjoy each others company.


You Have A Lot of Flexibility

With less people to feed and spend time with, you and your partner will have a lot more flexibility in terms of your timeline. You can sleep in and start your day a bit later, you can plan in more quality time with your parents or other loved ones AND you get to spend more time for things like photos, dancing and cocktail hour if you and your partner want to go.


You Get to Spend Your Budget on What You Want

With less people on the guest list, you will be able to spend your budget on what you want! Whether that be experience driven things for your wedding, more booze, or a photo booth, there is SO much more flexibility for your wedding day budget.


Why a Small Wedding Might Not Be For You


You Won’t Be Able to Invite Everyone

With a smaller wedding guest list, you’re not going to be able to invite EVERYONE you know and love. If you and your partner have smaller families and the same group of friends this might not be an issue. If you both have families on the larger side though, there is not going to be much wiggle room after the family invitations go out for your friends.


You Might Not Be Able to Book Your Dream Venue

There are some venues that do have a minimum number of guests you must invite in order to book them on a weekend date. With a smaller wedding, if you had a larger venue you dreamed of getting married at, this might not be an option.

Two brides smile and laugh as they celebrate their marriage with a toast with a couple wedding guests
Pros and Cons of Big Weddings

Why You Might Want a Big Wedding


ENDLESS Hype

One of the biggest reasons you might want a larger wedding is the amount of hype that comes with them. No matter where you walk, no matter where you look on your wedding day, you will see a crew of people ready to party and celebrate YOU ! When deciding what size wedding is right for you, think through the energy you want to have on your day. If you want a constant train of celebration then a big wedding will definitely be the route you want to go.


You Get to See All Your People Come Together

Though your families might not be able to spend a ton of time together, there is something really cool about seeing everyone in your life all come together to celebrate you ! With bigger wedding all of your family and friends sit together, eat together, and dance together all to celebrate you.


The Cons of Having a Large Wedding


Your Venue and Food Will Be Your Biggest Costs

If you have a smaller budget, the majority of it will be spent on you wedding guest's food and the venue you choose to host. This leaves a lot less room for things like open bar, and extra activities if you have a smaller budget.


Less Flexibility

With a larger guest list, everything will take a little bit longer throughout the day. Whether it be getting ready, having people sit down for dinner or travel from the ceremony to the reception, you will want to build in extra time just for the amount of people. This will also lock in your schedule a bit more as your venue will need to know exactly what will be happening at each part of the day.


More Planning

This could be a pro or a con depending on how much you love wedding planning. Typically the larger the wedding, the more planning there is that goes into it. More table settings, more details, and more expense tracking will be required to plan your larger wedding.

Top down photo of a wedding reception with the bride and groom in the center of a large group of guests

Why Not Both?

More and more I am seeing couples split up their day into two parts giving them the best of both worlds ! An intimate day with family and friends followed by an EPIC party where they can dance the night away with everyone that’s important to them ! This gives couples the best of both worlds and sets them up for a phenomenal wedding day where they can have all the hype that a reception can bring while also slowing down and spending quality time with their family and friends. This can be a little tougher on the budget but really does give you an incredible wedding day experience if you can make it work with the budget you have !


Deciding what size wedding is right for you can feel like a daunting task. Sitting down with your partner and discussing things like your priorities and visions for your wedding day can help you to put together the wedding you two have always dreamt of ! If you’re still on the fence with deciding what size wedding is right for you, head to these links for inspiration on what your intimate wedding can look like and what your large wedding can look like !


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