Small Doesn’t Have to Mean Non-Traditional: Your Wedding Can Still Look Like a Wedding

posted on July 30, 2020 | by Heather Bien

Small Doesn’t Have to Mean Non-Traditional: Your Wedding Can Still Look Like a Wedding

When people hear “small wedding,” their brains often conjure up images of quick courthouse elopements, intimate brunches with the bride in a charming tea-length dress, or seaside ceremonies with only parents present. These are lovely options that many couples choose due to timing, budget, or simply because that’s what they envisioned.

But, as more and more couples face rescheduled celebrations and canceled plans due to coronavirus, there is an influx of brides who are facing the reality of a small wedding –– and that may not be how they ever dreamt of saying their vows.

Heather’s wedding day, courtesy of Heather Bien

These brides may have already splurged on a swoon-worthy dress with a train that would trail down the aisle behind them. Maybe they’d spent months pinning overflowing wildflower arrangements for their ceremony or twinkling tablescapes for dinner. Perhaps they’d planned the perfect playlist for a reception that would keep guests dancing until the bar shuts down. 

Their big day looked more traditional than not and they’re grappling with what they may believe is a black and white decision: wait, wait, and keep waiting until their dream wedding is safe or reroute for something less traditional.

Well, speaking from experience, I can tell you that this isn’t an either/or decision. You’re probably thinking, “Okay, so I’ll celebrate with just my closest family and friends and do something low key.” But, no. You can have your traditional wedding with all the pomp and circumstance of a classic celebration, while also keeping the guest list down

I got married a year and a half ago and kept the guest list down for other reasons, namely budget, however, I was determined to have all the trappings of tradition that I had dreamt about ever since I was old enough to know what a wedding was. I wanted the ballgown dress, the veil, guests in black-tie, and a warm ambiance with champagne toasts and glittering lights. 

small wedding

Heather’s wedding day, courtesy of Heather Bien

I also only had 35 guests, 37 if you count me and my husband. And I have zero regrets.

My wedding day was every bit the traditional wedding I’d imagined, even without the 200-person dance floor. We only had a few rows of chairs, but I wore my ball gown dress and walked down the aisle, just as I would have if there had been 40 rows of chairs. I asked my guests to come in their black-tie best. We spent cocktail hour accompanied by a harpist and, hey, fewer guests meant less time spent waiting for a drink. We did skip the traditional dance floor reception in lieu of a 4-course tasting menu, but you can splurge on foodie indulgences like that when you have a lower plate count. Our florist did an incredible job with arrangements and, paired with a beautiful venue, we created the most magical dinner setting I could have imagined. Our celebration was teetering on micro-wedding size, but it had all the traditions and the fanciful details of a larger wedding –– and I never felt it was lacking in anything, despite the minimal guest list.

So, if you’re adjusting your wedding plans in light of the current climate and finding yourself worried that your tiny celebration won’t feel as special or won’t live up to everything you’d ever imagined, know that you don’t have to give up your dreams of a classic wedding. 

It’s your day and if you and your partner want a grand ceremony, do it. Wear that dress that you’re worried is too “extra” for an intimate celebration. Do it up with flowers and ask your guests to put on their black-tie best. Trust me, with those nearest and dearest by your side, it won’t matter if there are 15 people instead of 500.