Small Wedding, Big Family: Tips for Making it Work

Instead of a traditional wedding, you might be considering having a small wedding—after all, it can save you a lot of money and stress in the planning process.

However, you might be a little apprehensive about planning a small wedding if you have a lot of relatives. Getting started with a guest list is intimidating because you are not sure how to proceed. In general, you might be wondering how to have a small wedding with a big family.

Hosting a small wedding, even if your family tree looks more like a forest, is not impossible. You just need to be more clever, versatile, and understanding during the planning process, especially as you interact with relatives who might not receive an invitation.

Listed below are tips that can help you plan a small wedding despite having many relatives.

How to Have a Small Wedding With a Big Family: Helpful Advice

family holding hands at the shore

1. Facilitate an Open Discussion

The first step is to initiate a conversation with your family. Explain what a small wedding is, why couples tend to choose them, and why you think it will be a good fit for you and your partner. You can come up with frequently asked questions and prepare answers for them.

Be prepared for the possibility that you have to appease hurt or confused relatives. Regardless, try to be as open, honest, transparent, and empathetic as possible—stand your ground, but understand where they are coming from.

2. Be Intentional With Your Guest List

A small wedding typically consists of 50 guests. A micro wedding is even more exclusive—it usually has 20 to 49 guests.

Given how limited the guest list of a small or micro wedding is, you need to be careful with whom you include. After all, it might be easier not to invite someone in the first place than worry about how to uninvite them or turn them away on the day itself.

With that in mind, prioritize your parents, siblings, and children if you have any. Once you have added them, proceed with your grandparents, close cousins, aunts, uncles, nieces, and nephews. Only if you have remaining space can you consider inviting more distant relatives or friends.

Here are some questions you can ask yourself to make the process of choosing which guests will make it into your guest list:

  • Are we close with this person?
  • How frequently do we interact?
  • If we do not invite this person, will our day feel incomplete?
  • Does this person make us happy and comfortable?
  • Are we inviting this person simply because we have to?
  • Would our immediate family react negatively to us not inviting this person?

3. Write a Clear RSVP

Having proper wording in your RSVP may seem like a minor detail, but it will help you limit the number of guests at your wedding. You can also announce through your RSVP that your wedding will be a no-kids event.

Overall, make your RSVP as clear and efficient in setting boundaries as possible. This also applies to the RSVP reminder you will send to your guests.

4. Consider Having a Destination Wedding

newlyweds holding hands in front of the beach

If you are wondering how to have a small wedding with a big family, a destination wedding is something you can consider. Financial and logistical reasons, like expensive plane tickets or not being granted days off, will mean that fewer guests can realistically make it to your ceremony.

A destination wedding will be more expensive and challenging to plan than a local wedding. However, there are ways you can plan a small destination wedding without breaking the bank.

5. Stream Your Wedding Online

Look into companies that offer live streaming services, or ask a guest to stream your wedding on various social media platforms. Either way, a live stream is an excellent way for people to stay connected with an event—such as your wedding—despite not being physically there.

6. Hold Gatherings Before and After the Wedding

Pre-wedding parties like wedding showers are a great way to include the relatives you will not invite to your wedding. You can also host family gatherings after your reception or honeymoon. You can rent a venue, go to your favorite restaurant, or cook dinner for your relatives at home.

Final Thoughts

As you figure out how to have a small wedding with a big family, be aware that anything can happen. The worst-case scenario is you might create tension within your family.

Nonetheless, remember that your wedding is about you and your partner; your comfort and happiness should always come first. This means only inviting the people whose company you love, enjoy, and value.

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