How to Plan a Small Wedding

Before COVID-19, the average size for a wedding was 131 guests, according to statistics from Wedding Wire’s 2020 Newlywed Report. Some couples opted for grand, lavish affairs, others jumped on the micro-wedding trend, and still, others kept the number average. But in this post-pandemic world, everything’s changed — including weddings. 

Experts predict that even once it’s safe to throw large parties again, many people are going to choose small weddings instead. After all, big weddings are great and there’s magic in weddings of every size. But there’s something to be said for small weddings and the charming, highly personalized experience they create for the happy couple and their guests. We’ve got the wedding planning tips you need to create an unforgettable small wedding. 

Understand the Limitations

Small weddings have always been an option. In fact, small and micro weddings trended before COVID, but there are more limitations now. For seamless wedding planning, understanding those limitations upfront is critical. To limit the spread of coronavirus, the CDC recommends avoiding gatherings altogether, opting for virtual events instead. For in-person events, it recommends keeping the guest list small, staying outdoors, staying 6 feet apart, and wearing masks. 

You’ll need to research all local, state, and federal recommendations limiting the size and scope of events and gatherings. At the same time, if you’re planning your wedding ceremony or reception at an established venue, research what is and isn’t allowed. Those restrictions go beyond COVID protocol. For example, the venue may impose: 

  • Occupancy limits or minimums
  • Timing restrictions
  • The ability to bring food or alcohol on the premises 
  • Limitations on decorations and furniture 

Prepare the Venue With Comfort and Color

Love may be the star of the day (or night), but a wow-worthy setting is sure to keep guests talking long after the “I-do’s.” No matter whether the wedding is taking place in a backyard or at an established venue, what you add to the mix sets the tone for the experience. Complement the setting with a mix of options, choosing neutral or naturally-inspired hues with carefully-placed pops of color to tie into the wedding colors or add a bit of fun. 

For example, you could choose soft seating and accents from one of CORT’s stylish collections, complete with throw pillows and other elements to create the perfect look and a comfortable feeling for guests. CORT’s Capri collection is a vibrant mix of natural hues. You could also opt for rich berry tones or on-trend hues of blues or green. Choose from outdoor fabrics or lush, plush velvets. Whatever the color palette or collection, be sure to add a mix of comfortable chairs and sofas along with soft ottomans and cubes, which offer extra seating that’s easy to move around the venue. 

Add That Personal Touch 

There’s something inherently intimate and personal about small weddings. With fewer guests and a smaller scaled event to plan, it’s easier to tend to the details that make it authentically yours. For example, a smaller guest list opens up more possibilities for favors and welcome gifts, neither of which have to be expensive but should reflect something about you or the surroundings. Local snacks, your favorite wine, candles made near the venue — there’s no limit to the options available. 

That same level of personalization can be carried throughout the venue. For example, you might prepare the wedding ceremony area with a beautiful arch or stylish drape. Or, you could add your monogram to key decorative pieces like CORT’s Luna Lighting collection, which includes pedestals and columns, available in a variety of dimensions. Everything about the wedding planning process should be with one principle in mind: Choosing elements that are meaningful and important to the couple, making it a reflection of who you are. 

One important element that could easily be overlooked? Add a virtual option to include additional guests who can’t attend the wedding to still get an up-close and personal view of the festivities. Using the power of technology is an effective way to keep people connected, but safe during the pandemic. It’s also a smart tactic to keep the guest list small without leaving important people out. 

Stay Comfortable Outdoors

These aren’t ordinary times we’re living in. To have weddings, even small weddings, during the pandemic requires out-of-the-box wedding planning. Most people feel more comfortable with staying outdoors during COVID, and the CDC even recommends it to help lower the risk of spreading the virus. During the summer, outdoor weddings pose minimal issues. As the temperature drops, though, you need to get a little creative to make sure everyone stays comfortable. To help you seamlessly plan, consider these tips:

  • Make sure everyone knows that the festivities are outdoors so they know what to expect and can dress accordingly.
  • Include wraps or faux fur shrugs as a gift to the bridal party.
  • Add heaters to take the chill off and enhance comfort.
  • Choose cozy favors or provide a basket of throws and wraps for guests to warm up with.
  • Create a warming station with plush seating, firepits or heaters, and warm drinks. 

The Devil’s in the Details

It’s the small details that really take a wedding over the top. Attend to the same details you would for an event of any size. Make sure there’s plenty of signage to direct guests where to go, create an entrance that’ll keep them talking, and light things up with a combination of string lights, candles, hanging lanterns, and lamps. Other details to consider include the following:

  • Make small weddings unforgettable by embracing the traditions you love. Anything meaningful to you should be included in the wedding ceremony or reception.
  • Pay attention to spacing for seating. Everyone wants to feel safe, and this is a detail that shows you’ve thought of everything.
  • Get creative with colors and flowers. You don’t have to be traditional; if you want to get a little wild —  go for it. 

Another detail to consider? Using decor to make an impact. Everything from seating to lighting to accents set the scene and create an unforgettable setting. Whether you need expert advice on how to set up a safe, stylish space or inspiration for planning, CORT Events has you covered. Even better, we’ll do all the heavy lifting, freeing you up to focus on happily ever after.