Half our guests said no: Seeing the positives to an itty bitty guest list

Guest post by Becky
Having a small guest list isn't all bad…

More than half our guest list is unable to attend our wedding. As a result, we've gone from having a small wedding to having a microscopic one. I keep waffling between thoughts of, “This is awesome!” and, “Ohfuckohfuck, what will people think?!”

My partner-in-crime Steve and I had planned on a small wedding from the start. We're both introverts with small social circles and a fondness for intimate gatherings over large parties. We assembled our guest list and weren't surprised that we'd only come up with 30 people. Everyone we invited was so enthusiastic, but since I'm from Florida and Steve's from Ontario we knew some of the guests wouldn't have the money for traveling.

What we didn't expect is that none of our Canadian guests will be able to attend our Florida wedding, or that my partner's half of the wedding party would back out at the last-minute.

So now I'm facing the reality of an itty bitty wedding, with maybe 10 people there — including us. I'm freaking out and having flashbacks to childhood, when I was often bullied for “having no friends.” I'm scared of being judged. I'm afraid people will wonder what the point is of such a small wedding. I worry they'll say our wedding isn't “real.” I'm scared it will all be a big waste of fabulous decorations and finery, that everyone will hate us, and that we are horrible people.

Logically, I know these fears aren't going to materialize. The people who will be there are some of our best friends, people I've known since middle school, people who have grown to love Steve as much as I do. They will love our colorful decorations. They'll enjoy our short-but-sweet ceremony, which is being officiated by one of my oldest friends. They'll have a fucking blast playing Rock Band and board games with us all night. And they'll adore the random-but-delicious assortment of food we'll have at our potluck style dinner. We'll have a small but boisterous party into the wee hours and take gorgeous professional photos.

But that insidious voice of Doubt is still there, whispering awful little what-ifs into my mind.

I want to kick these negative thoughts about our compact wedding to the curb. They're untrue, and they only serve to make me feel bad. I don't deserve to feel bad. I'm a fantastic person hosting a fantastic wedding. In the name of positivity, here's my list of everything that can be awesome about itty bitty weddings:

  1. We don't lose money if someone backs out at the last-minute. Since our dinner will be potluck style, there's no final headcount that must be provided to anyone.
  2. The potential for leftovers after our potluck is very high! We'll have all kinds of goodies we can bring back to our hotel room for nomming the few days we're down there after the wedding.
  3. We'll be able to spend one-on-one time with all of our guests, easily.
  4. We'll be able to take pictures with all of our guests. Wrangling everyone together for group photos will be fairly easy with so few people.
  5. Everyone will get plenty of opportunities to play Rock Band, instead of having to wait around for a turn.
  6. Cleanup will be easy with fewer people present to make a mess.
  7. We don't have to worry about kicking people out when the party is over; it will be simple to gather everyone together, give a little speech thanking them all for everything, and say goodbye.
  8. No need for microphones during the ceremony or during any speeches that may happen. Everyone will be fairly close together and within earshot.
  9. Every guest is contributing something to the wedding: food, photography, officiating, decorations, and lots of enthusiasm. It's symbolic of how much these people have contributed to my life, to Steve's life, and the whole day will celebrate that.
  10. It will be markedly less terrifying to say our vows in front of 10 people than it would have been in front of 30 people.
  11. Steve and I will be able to sneak away from everyone and steal a few minutes of alone time if we need them.
  12. Much fewer Thank You's to write after all is said and done.
Chalkboard Blossom invitation design by Love vs Design
Chalkboard Blossom invitation design by Love vs Design

I'd love to hear from those of you who had really tiny weddings — what was awesome about it?

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Comments on Half our guests said no: Seeing the positives to an itty bitty guest list

  1. I haven’t gotten married yet so I can’t report about my experience-but I CAN say that your wedding is the exact wedding I would have if I could get my numbers that small-it sounds so fun!!

    I have all these clumps of friends from different stages of life that I just have to invite and they are all local so they will all probably come. We actually thought about having a destination wedding to get the numbers down-neither of us likes big parties. So, rest assured-“one man’s trash is another man’s treasure!”

  2. See, this is my absolute number 1 fear about having a wedding: That very few people will attend. When we have dinners or parties it’s almost always a handful of people who come by. And while that’s great in a lot of ways it also stinks when it’s for major events (housewarming, milestone birthday, new job, etc.). Cause you want to share your joy with people, ya know?! You want to pamper them, laugh, hug, and dance!

    But… this article’s helped me see the positives in a micro-wedding and feel more optimistic about the inevitable.

    • I love that term, “micro-wedding.” It’s adorable. I’m definitely using it to describe my wedding in the future.

      You can absolutely still enjoy those wonderful things in a smaller gathering! We ended up with 11 people total at our wedding, and it was fantastic. We played Rock Band and Cards Against Humanity into the wee hours.

      • I called ours a ‘micro-wedding’ also! It wasnt what I wanted tho. We did want small. But I still wanted a party atmosphere. No sit-down. Buffet music dancing. We expected 20. This became 12. Then a few cancelled last minute. We were then 6 including us! You cant have a buffet for 6. As we were having a destination wedding, or more of ‘elopement people are invited to’, I knew I had to be flexible. But the ONE thing I said I wouldnt cave to is the boring quiet sit-down. I wanted a lively party. What did I get? A boring sit-down. Great music but no one felt the need to stand up so no dancing. I had a ceremony. No party. And with all the extra food we didnt even get any. We went to the room for a moment. Came back and the overbearing waiter threw out all the food! Since you asked what was positive, we could spend quality time with our very few guests. But now I feel like we need to ‘relope’ for fun and photos.

        • This is one of my big worries if no one shows up. Not the food part (we’re renting a house for the weekend for our wedding so I know any leftovers will be ending up in my belly….err i mean fridge lol), but that no one’s going to want to be up and dancing and partying. We want to have a fun little party that goes all night (why we rented a house and not a hall) but since the only people right now that I know are for sure coming live in town I’m worried that if there’s no one else there partying they’ll just leave and go home after dinner and then it’ll just be us and like 2 friends hanging out and having a few drinks, which is fun for a saturday night but not what i want for my wedding. I’m also worried that if noone’s there my fiancee will be like eff it and not want to do the cake cutting, first dance all that traditional stuff, because I know him and I can see that happening.

        • The exact thing has happened during our wedding planning. Invited 80 have 15 confirmed and even some of those have mentioned possibilities of not coming. I wanted a dj/party vibe but that would be beyond lame now, so we’ve been brainstorming entertainment ideas. Suggestions VERY welcome. On top of that i too have been mentally questioning myself. Do i need to revaluate many of my relationships and search for new friendships? Is it me? The obvious answer is to just grin and get over it but its hard to do!

  3. I’m facing a similar fear. Our wedding is less than 3 months away and I’ve gone from 7 bridesmaids to 2 definite and 2 probably nots. So we dropped to 4 groomsmen. I’m wondering if this is a preface to how our invites will go. I just mailed them today and am anxious to see how many decline. We invited 115 and have a minimum of 75 for catering. I keep telling myself it doesn’t matter, and it will all be awesome no matter who shows up.

    • If you’re relatively close to the number (say 60 people end up making it) and are OK with paying for 75 and giving everyone leftovers, ask your caterer if you can pay for 75 people and provide your own takeout containers. The webstraunt store is an awesome place that I get containers from all the time!

    • If you end up below 75 people, you also might want to ask if you can spend the equivalent amount of money, but upgrade the menu instead. An extra app or dessert or a fancier entree might be nice if you’re spending the money regardless.

  4. I love, love, love this article! My husband and I had an extremely small courthouse wedding back in October. Only my mom, stepdad, brother, and grandmother were in attendance, which is exactly what we planned. That was just for the legal part of getting married.

    For the social aspect, we are planning on having a larger party where we will stand up in front of our friends and family to say vows that are meaningful to us. It will be in a local park at the end of June and will feature good food and music. Except for cake and vows, we will have almost nothing that is part of a traditional wedding. I’m nervous about people showing up and wondering why they traveled all this way for a BBQ in the park.

    We’ve been up front about what we’re planning, so now I’m even more nervous that no one will come. Like you, I’ve felt judged for not having friends. Reading this has alleviated my concerns somewhat. My very good friends all live out of state. I know that if they can’t come, it’s not that they love us less. And the people who do make it will help us to have a memorable party.

  5. Including my husband and I we had 25 people at my wedding and it was wonderful. I understand that it is twice as many as 10…but I think 10 will be lovely as well.

    My wedding was so low key, I loved it. There was no rushing anything and we were able to spend as much time with everyone as we wanted. I loved not having everything timed down to the minute. We ran the show and did what we wanted.

    Have a wonderful wedding!

    • Thank you for your good wishes! Our itty bitty wedding happened shortly after I wrote this post, and it was absolutely awesome. We ended up with 11 people including us, and I can’t imagine it being any different now. It was very relaxed, and I think having a positive attitude about the whole experience in advance made it much more enjoyable. I’m glad you felt the same way about your small wedding, too!

  6. We had 20 people at our wedding (including us), and it was fantastic. We went to Vegas with our closest friends and family and were able to have dinners at normal restaurants (with advance reservations), so that was pretty good for saving money on renting a hall or whatnot.

    We’re having a big party at home with like 50-60 people this weekend (about a month after the real wedding). It still seems kind of small to me compared to some weddings where people invite 200 people.

  7. Our wedding had 12 guests, and I loved it. We planned on eloping, but then our mothers got wind of the plans, and a 12 guest wedding was our compromise. Looking back, I’m so glad we had our families with us. Small weddings are beautiful and special because every single guest feels very honored and intimately involved. We were able to structure activities in our reception that would have been impossible in a bigger group (impromptu jam session! group ice-skating!). Also, less guests means more cake for you. I loved having everyone gathered around one big table for our post-wedding lunch. I also love post-wedding get-togethers. We’ve had mini-celebrations on various continents because those who didn’t attend the wedding still wanted to do something special for us.

  8. The best wedding I have ever been to had 11 people, including the father of the groom who officiated the ceremony and the brides best friend who was the photographer. The best part was that we all got to spend time talking and helping out with various elements on the day, making it that much more special and memorable.

  9. Oh wow… your wedding sounds so amazing! I would lovelovelovelove to go to a wedding like that, it sounds so intimate and awesome.

    In fact… I’m almost jealous. We’re inviting about 80 people and I keep feeling like this is way too many, and I won’t be able to see them all :S

  10. I have the opposite problem! While I don’t want my wedding to be too small, I don’t want it to be too big either. I would love to just invite family, friends, and other people we know well, but my mom is hell-bent on inviting people from my childhood church (which has about 380+ members, some of them which I don’t know well if at all) and I honestly hope some of them don’t make it. Plus, a room full of so many people that there is hardly enough room to move around in would trigger my claustrophobia.

    Not to mention it is quite a challenge to find a venue around where I live that is able to accomodate a whole crowd of people. If only my wedding could be somewhat smaller. *sigh*

  11. I went through this. About half the people I invited didn’t come to my wedding, and it was hard not to take it personally. I tried to remind myself that my wedding just couldn’t be everyone’s top priority, and more than likely, their decision not to attend had nothing to do with how they felt about me at all (especially since my family is also really spread out.) I’ll add this too: It’s been a little over a year since my wedding and I seriously do not remember how many people I invited or exactly how many attended. What I do remember is feeling overwhelmingly loved and supported by everyone who was there.

  12. I needed this article so thank you so much for writing it! My biggest fear is that no one will show up to our wedding. (This has happened at other major events.) I am introverted and our circle of friends is rather small. I appreciate your positive attitude and will try to keep it in mind just in case!

  13. I’ll let you know in a month. My final guest list is 16 included my fiance & I, and even that is only because my immediate family is huge. We have 5 friends coming, the rest is our immediate family.

    And I absolutely don’t want more at all. 🙂

  14. I notice that whilst big weddings contain huge logistical considerations which can be super stressful on TOP of the usual wedding drama, the “problem” of a small wedding is all in the bride/groom/couple’s head. I reckon, unless someone you really wanted to attend can’t/won’t come, don’t stress about the smaller list and definitely enjoy the benefits this post outlines so well!

    After all, why care about what other people think of your wedding? It’s YOURS after all!

    • I can’t speak for others on here but here’s why I worry about it-
      There’s a big difference between planning a small wedding and planning a bigger wedding and no one showing up. I don’t want a huge wedding, I can’t even think of 100 people I would want to be around all day let alone share that special moment with. We came up with about 50 people that we actually want at our wedding (including spouses/dates and kids, so I think its something like 15-20 families). My portion of the guest list is the few people in my family that actually treat me like family and the friends that have became my family. These people mean the world to me and over the years I have done everything in my power to be there when they needed me. When I told these people about the wedding, their response wasn’t the “omg of course I’ll be there!” that i was hoping for but more of a “oh that’s great for you…..oh you want me to be there? well i guess we’ll see but don’t count on it, I’m sure you’ll have plenty of fun with your other guests” As of right now, I’m not even sure if my dad’s coming because he’s mad that I can’t afford to pay for his hotel room and because I want to be walked down the aisle by both my parents.
      So for me, its not fear of what other people will think about me, its fear of that feeling of loneliness of looking into the crowd and not seeing the people that I love. Knowing that I would do anything for them and scrapped together the money to go to their weddings and big events when they needed me but they can’t be bothered to do the same for me. And its the fear of reliving the feelings of being that loser kid that throws the party no one ever comes to (the reason why I stopped celebrating my birthdays or any other big event). And mostly its the fear of dealing with all this instead of just getting to be happy on my wedding day.

  15. I invited about 30 to my wedding and only three showed up but there was the total of 10 was there on my wedding day. I was upset because I wanted my friends there but at least the important people was there to celebrate the day with us. We did ended up taking the left over foods and cake home before heading out for our weekend ” get away”. We came back to only had to reheat the left overs and enjoyed our cake too….

  16. With a wedding that small, think if how awesome it would be to play party games like Get Down Mr. President! Some modification would be in store due to the fancy clothes.

  17. Pretty much everything you said at the end is why we decided we’re having a tiny wedding, with a reception about a month later. There will only be 6 of us total, and we’re going to the courthouse, take some photos, then go out to eat. We’ll probably stay a local swank hotel for the night, just so we can relax, and then it’ll be back to life as usual. Nothing yet is hammered out for the family dinner, but that will probably end with celebratory bar-hoping!

  18. I had 18 total at my wedding (including us and the officiant!)…it was by far the best night of my life. We had it in my parent’s backyard in October (it’s wooded, so the Fall beauty was everywhere!). Everyone that came had some part in the night. My best friend did my hair, my sister’s girlfriend did my makeup, and my brother took our gorgeous photos. I wouldn’t change a thing. I didn’t want a ‘typical’ wedding with guests that I didn’t get to see or people there just for show…and it was perfect!

  19. I heard a phrase recently, “The people who are at your wedding are the people who are supposed to be there.” I think it’s so true. I also have a lot of anxiety about people RSVPing no, but I have to keep telling myself that the people who are able to come are meant to be there. Also, have you considered doing another party in Canada? It might be nice to have two small parties, and you won’t feel as much pressure on the Florida one. I think you’re right, your wedding is going to be a blast! Think of how many similarly-sized gathering were amazing.

  20. I think you’re right, your wedding is going to be a blast! Think of how many similarly-sized gathering were amazing.

    I heard a phrase recently, “The people who are at your wedding are the people who are supposed to be there.” I think it’s so true. I also have a lot of anxiety about people RSVPing no, but I have to keep telling myself that the people who are able to come are meant to be there.

    Also, have you considered doing another party in Canada? It might be nice to have two small parties, and you won’t feel as much pressure on the Florida one.

  21. We had a large wedding (~160), but almost a third of our guest list declined… many more than I initially expected. We were all geared up to have a 200+ person wedding and I was a little worried that so many said no.
    But after the wedding was over, I realized that there were about 10 people who traveled from other states to our wedding who I did not see once the entire weekend. Pretty sad, and thank goodness another 40 people didn’t come who I also wouldn’t have gotten to see.
    My point is that one of your Pros is a huge one- you will literally be able to hang with everyone who makes the trip and, on top of that, spend real quality time with them. Awesome!

  22. Thank you for this! It’s been my biggest wedding fear. Neither of us have a ton of friends and we have extremely small families and on top of it, my family lives clear across the country. We are wishing all twenty can attend, but this is hoping half of our guests want to travel. What worries me is I see all of the time how people say it’s a “waste” to have a wedding, especially a lavish wedding because people make the assumption that the couple nixed their guests to afford all that fancy stuff. In reality, nothing short of asking people off the street would I ever have a “big enough” wedding.
    I just get so tired of these negative “unloved” feelings sometimes.

  23. You will have an AMAZING wedding! Whenever my mom looks back on her wedding album she has trouble remembering who certain people were, actually she has no idea who some of the people are in her wedding photos. YOU will be spending your day with people who you treasure and will want to remember the occasion with for the rest of your life. No regrets.

  24. When my mum and dad got married 30 years ago (still going strong!), they had five people there. When I listen to their stories I think it sounds incredibly romantic and meaningful and in some ways, more special for it’s intimacy. I love the idea of my dad nervously playing snooker with the gentlemen in a secret room in the university before the ceremony to calm him down. They all laugh about the most delicious meal they had; it was not flashy or extravagant (a mixed marriage Northern Ireland in the middle of the troubles!), and it was in the snow in January- and I think it was bloomin’ fantastic!

    I’m now getting married next year and am having a small wedding myself and want to throw another few positives into the ring – you get to relive you wedding over and over again with MORE people. There’s certain ‘groups’ of people that aren’t being ivnited (work peeps, school friends we are friendly with but don’t see much of really etc). If they were there on the day regardless of the cost, it’s more people who could get a bit drunk and embarassing, or be late and annoy me if they miss the ceremony etc – this way when we next see them after the day we get to share our photos, video, stories etc and relive it again with the different groups and pro-long the post wedding glow; something we couldn’t have done if they had all been there.

    And my baker Kirsty? She wore he dress 6 times for that very reason! lots of mini celebration parties when she saw her far away friends or family- so she got to be a beautiful bride again and again 😉 Lots of pros to focus on my friend 🙂 Congratulations!!

  25. Thank you so much for this!

    I’ve been reading Offbeat Bride since my sister got married several years ago, and I realized that the conversations and wisdoms from this blog go way beyond just planning a wedding. I’m now planning my own wedding, and I THOUGHT I had been thoroughly offbeat brainwashed into truly believing that me and my partner’s wedding choices are WONDERFUL because they are authentic and loving – and outside judgement is something that I can respectfully and calmly ignore – because I am a SUPER AWESOME special snowflake.

    BUT! Your article just made me realize that I am totally scared that my guests – almost entirely family – with think I am “uncool” or “unpopular” because I have very few friends of my own age attending. That’s because, in reality, I have very few friends, which I’m totally comfortable with. I love those that I have and am very close to them, and I value family relationships really highly. And my partner is my best friend, and I spend almost 100% of my free time with him. But still, I’m afraid of looking “unpopular”?? I thought only 14 year olds cared about that! I certainly don’t! But…. apparently I do care. So, now that I’m conscious of this icky feeling, I can start to work through it and make myself feel more positive about the relationships I do have.

    • Its a mind game with yourself! I feel the same way…almost annoyed with myself for caring about being judged for a small guestlist. I gotta pep talk myself!

  26. I can definitely appreciate where you’re coming from. My fiance and I are both introverted, and for a variety of reasons, including our disinterest in marrying in front of a bunch of people, we’re eloping to Costa Rica. That will be a spiritual ceremony, which is more important to us, and then we’ll have a very small legal ceremony when we return, about 6-10 people. None of that has bothered me, but people keep asking about bridal showers, and that’s what does throw me off: I have 2 friends that live within a half an hour. And my mom. I have a few out-of-state friends who wouldn’t be able to make it. How awkward would that bridal shower be? Also, my introversion kicks in and I’m not interested in being the center of attention anyway. My bff is having quite the opposite problem. Her guest list is 230 people. I can’t even imagine that. Most are her FH’s family because they’re Catholic and all have about 10 kids! My soul cries at being surrounded by that many people and no chance of escape!

    Love the wedding you’re having because it fits who you and your FH are, not anyone else!

  27. I got married a month ago, and although we had a big wedding, we had a similar issue in that we had a ton of no RSVPs. We were expecting 250 (invited 320) and ended up with 190. I know those of you with small weddings are scoffing at this, but those extra 60 (60!) no’s really hurt. A lot.
    Then, on top of it, we had some rain at our outdoor wedding and literally 50-60 people left at 2:30 (the wedding had started at 1). I have to admit, I was more upset about that than I would have been because I was feeling “uncool” about all those no’s.
    I think we try to talk ourselves out of our feelings too often, when it’s better to have those feelings and sit through them. So, I won’t tell you it doesn’t matter, because it did to me. I survived, though, and the wedding was still great. 🙂

  28. I’m nervous about this for my own wedding except in a slightly different way. My fiance is French, we’ll be getting married in France and there’s no way my friends and family at home will be able to make it. My mom yes, maybe my brother, everyone else? no. I’m so nervous about what it’s going to look like, me having the 10-15 people I’m close-ish with in France and my fiance with all his friends and family and just everyone. I’m so frustrated at the thought of it. I don’t want to take that away from him, and to be honest the wedding with friends and family matters more to him than to me so I’m not super upset, it’s just something that worries me.

    • I am in the same position – I’m living in France with my French fiance. We invited 110 and only 50 can make it. We were worried about it being lob sided so we invited more people from my side knowing that most wouldnt be able to make the international trip. We are about half and half now, but there are a couple of specific people who aren’t coming who will really be missed 🙁 I am so greatful that so many people are making an effort to be here for us, but I cant help but feel a bit unloved that we’ve had so many “no’s”. I am 100% sure we are going to have an amazing day and night, but I am just so anxious right now. I am so happy to marry my fiance, but I just want it to be over! ha!

  29. You know what? A wedding is first and foremost about the two people bringing their lives together officially. I had the biggish wedding (100 including us) and it was lovely, but I know that if it had been 10, I would have been just as ridiculously happy to get married to my now husband. I would have loved just the 10…my husband had different hopes and dreams, so we honoured that and I did so happily. It was the best day of our lives, but I will admit there were some “benchwarmers” who we didn’t know so well, but felt obligated to invite. You get the perfect chance to not worry about that on your special day. Best wishes x

  30. That sounds awesome! I wish I could get my wedding guest list down that small. I am seriously jealous.

    Also you are a fic writer. Me too 🙂

  31. I had a small wedding in my grandparents’ garden, with mostly close family and a few close friends, and friends of the family. Since I live a few states away from my family, wedding planning was a bit awkward & messy, even for a small wedding. I’m not sure exactly how many people were there, but no more than 35, including the people in the wedding party, and about half of the guests didn’t stay for the reception (not sure what to make of that one- I guess they didn’t want to be outdoors?). I learned to just go with it. My flower girl sprained her ankle, my hair stylist & make up person bailed on me, so my sister did my hair & makeup instead, and my father gave a 15 minute bizarre speech about corn at the reception, but it was my wedding, and I accepted it, and laughed at the ridiculousness of it, and went on. Having a drink or two helped, since I am extremely introverted. I was actually pleased that a lot of people declined to attend, and that the ceremony was out of state, so I had a reason not to invite people from work, who would not understand my unique family dynamics, I think.
    My husband and I went to a friend’s wedding a month after ours, and they had about 400 people packed into the reception venue….. it hadn’t looked like that many at the church. I’m not ashamed to admit that we bolted for the door. lol.

  32. I can SO relate to the sentiments in this post and in many of these comments… so far we have only gotten 2 “no’s” to our 30-person wedding, but one of my close childhood friends will be leaving early rather than sleeping over in the hotel like the rest of us, because she has something else to go to, which unexpectedly hurt my feelings… And, in general, I have had pangs of panic when worrying over what those 30 guests will think when looking around the room at each other, at this group we consider to be our nearest and dearest. My fiancee and I both feel much closer to our childhood/high school friends than we do to any of the friends/acquaintances we’ve made later on, so with only 2 exceptions, those old friends are the only friends we invited in addition to our immediate families. This is despite the fact that we live between 1.5-3 hours away from most of those old friends now, and have seen each other less and less frequently over the last couple of years as people’s lives change, etc.. they’re just still people we’ll always consider our “best friends” even though we don’t see each other often. It’s hard to put my finger on the exact feeling this gives me, but it’s basically shame that I don’t really have any more recent close friends and worry that this will be so painfully obvious at our wedding, and, for lack of a better word, make us look like losers! I guess part of it is also wondering, if these friends had 30-person weddings, would they include us when making their list of nearest & dearest? The thing I am trying to remember is, does the answer to that question really matter? We love these people. We shared all our big milestones in life with them before now and can’t imagine this one passing without them there, too, even though we’ve grown up and life has changed.

  33. I’m actually jealous you could get your numbers that low – everything about your wedding sounds ideal to me, but I don’t know if it’s possible to include everyone we’d like and hit that number (in fact, I know that’s not possible). It seems like there’s this difficult point between 10 and 75 people where it’s near-impossible to find a space for the wedding, etc,… (Then again, we’re an international wedding, too, so it gives me hope we’ll have more “love to but can’t cuz of distances” than expecting and now I feel horrible, oops.)

    Sigh. Don’t mind me. I’m jealous of how awesome and fun and ideal your wedding sounds. (Which hopefully helps with some of the childhood flashbacks, at least.)

  34. I am hearing this. We have planned our wedding for next year with a guest list of 75ish people…but in the past few weeks I have had a COLOSSAL falling-out with my family which sadly I’m not sure will be resolved anytime soon. The good news is I’ve had time to reflect and my fiance and I realise we never wanted a big wedding, in fact when we got engaged we explicitly said we would like to go to the registry office, say our vows, have some professional pics and have a small dinner afterwards with family and close friends. Once our families got in our faces about having a big, traditional wedding we caved and compromised on what we wanted. Now this huge drama has taken place, I am considering cancelling the big nice frilly wedding at the winery with 75 guests and booking a tiny gathering at the registry office later this year.
    The idea of less people looking at us is so appealing, not to mention less stress, less organisation, less judgement from others, less pressure and HELLO LESS MONEY! To us it’s about being married and joining our lives together, not about the flashy wedding, but when people put pressure on you it’s so easy to forget that.

  35. Thank you for writing this. My wedding is in 4 days and my guest count keeps getting lower. Initially it was to be 25 (very small) and now it is 16 if you count us, the officiant, photographer and babes in arms. I cant help but worry that people will think it is “less real” or a waste of thier time. I just googled tiny wedding and this came up. Im feeling loads better… everything will happen the way it is supposed to happen.

  36. Oh sweetie… You know, as I child I always thought things would get easier – socially – when growing up. They don’t. As an adult you deal the same questions and anxieties. It doesn’t go away.

    I just wanted you to know you’re not alone in this. Just have a look at the amount of comments. I think a lot of couples elope, because that way they won’t have to deal with these fears.

    We got married this summer. We invited 140 people and 116 showed up (80% lived in a 2h radius from the wedding, only 2 attending guests had to fly over). I have the best husband in the world, a loving family, great in-laws, wonderful friends… Everyone had a great time and danced till 5 in the morning.
    And all through that night, I was still wondering: “do they really like us?”

    The answer is “yes”. If your guest list consists of close friends and family, people who come to your wedding do like you. And even the people you invite and cannot make it still like you and often will show it.
    It must be hard for your partner that nobody from Canada can make it. Have you thought about including them in another way, like organising a small gathering in Canada & skype the ceremony?

    Don’t worry. You’re getting married to the person you love and half of your close friends & family will be there to love you and support you. Don’t worry about what people think. They know you and love you for who you are.

    You’re going to have the small, intimate wedding you always dreamed of. I hope you have a blast!

  37. dude, I had 30 people at our wedding,and had all the same fears that you have but no one who didn’t come had anything to say other than they hate that they missed it cause everyone who was there raved about how awesome it was, as a wedding photog I LOVE small weddings the most – your sounds so right up my alley – a great set of people who love the bride and groom thats all you really need.

    i’m thrilled for you and can’t wait til you post about it!

  38. My wedding will be in May 2014 (oh gods, so close now!) and we’ve only invited 20-odd people as we didn’t have the funds to have everyone there nor did we really give a fat patootie for a heap of family members.
    So from having about 30 down to a current 23 i’m thrilled with this as it meant i CAN spend time with new hubby, friends and family i’ve missed and wanted to catch up with for aaaages!
    This article just summed up what i’m positively thinking about <3

  39. My RSVP date is 5/20 and my wedding is on 6/20. We invited 124 people total and so far we have 60 confirmed guests. Out of all of my college friends only one is coming. I completely understand why everyone can’t make it and I keep telling myself everything you mentioned in this post but I’m still kind of freaking out. For one thing our minimum guest count for catering is 80. I plan on asking if we can do some upgrades instead once I have a final count but I don’t see it getting to 80 guests at this point and the venue hasn’t been particularly helpful in similar matters. Also we planned the whole shebang with the idea we would have around 100 guests. I’m afraid the venue is going to look so empty, no one is going to dance, and everyone will leave early. Also, I’m afraid some of my fiances college friends who are coming are going to be expecting a big party not an intimate affair and they will be disappointed. There is really nothing to be done about it. I guess I’m just venting here because I don’t want anyone close to me to know I’m a bit disappointed. It’s like the other commentators said…I thought I was past my uncool/socially awkward girl complex but I guess not.

    • When I got married my first time, I wanted a small (no more than 50) wedding. After everyone turned in their guest lists, it was over 200! Only 40 were from my side of the family!! After we sent out invitations (figuring there would be declines) the guest list was up to 275. This was not ok with me (or my parents who were paying for the thing). There were 60 kids under the age of 8 alone. So we called everyone and said no plus one and no kids under 13. When that was said, the list went down to 80. And there were still people there I had never met and never would again during the 8 years we were married. This time my fiance and I agreed that we would keep it below 40 and that kids can stay until 7 and then it goes to adults only. (My child included.)

  40. Super grateful for this post. My sweetheart and I are at least a year away from even planning the wedding, but this is something I’ve thought about. I’d rather elope, buuuuut his mother would have hysterics. We’re both from different states, and most of my close friends from home state aren’t in a position to spend the money to travel. Haven’t made many close friends locally yet. I struggle with picturing a wedding where I don’t have that many people I actually care about there.

  41. Your wedding sounds like a lot of fun! I know that even though right now you’re having some insecurities, by the time the day comes, it will be perfect and awesome and you won’t have any regrets.
    My invite list is way too huge… my moms family is huge and so is my fh’s dad’s. no getting around that. but i really hope that one of the bridal shower or bachelor/bachelorette party turn out with that super comfortable intimate celebration style that your wedding will be.
    truthfully, although I would love to see “everyone”… i don’t care. I know there’s plenty of people who wont be able to make it because of travel or work or whatever. Whoever does come… that’ll be great. The wedding will bee fun. But really… I most excited to be married. It will feel most awesome to have someone at my side for the rest of my life… and he plays board games with me whenever I ask.

  42. I realize this was a link to an older article. But I wanted to ask how did you pull off #9? Particularly what is the appropriate way to ask people to get involved helping you if they aren’t officially in a ‘wedding party’ and are actually a guest? Especially, what is the rIght way to wind up with a pot luck? I love the idea. But I can’t help hearing in my head voices saying, ‘I’m being invited as a guest but she wants me to bring my own food?’ Thnx. E

  43. I had a very similar occurrence. My husband’s from Puerto Rico, and many of his family members said they’d be able to attend even if we had the wedding on the west coast of the US, where my family lives. So, we had the wedding there. But in the end, none of his family came, due to finances and poor planning. It was unfortunate, because several were his groomsmen, the ring bearer, and half the guests. We’d planned on 60 people, but ended up with 30 RSVPing, but 5 no-shows, so 25 people at the wedding. It was admittedly frustrating, because if we’d known none of them would attend, we would’ve considered having it on the east coast to make it easier and cheaper for them. It also wasted some of our money, because we chose our venue based on our anticipated wedding size, and we invited less of my family and friends to accommodate his. Many of them even RSVPed yes, then later cancelled. It was frustrating because we could’ve chosen a smaller, cheaper venue, or at least more of my family could’ve attended, but I couldn’t invite them so last minute.
    But, in the end, the small wedding was enjoyable, our closest friends and my family were there, and we spent a lot of time with everyone and had tons of fun. The wedding is a sore spot with his family, though.

  44. When I was 12, I was a part of my Mum’s wedding to my Dad (step for clarity’s sake). It was a destination wedding – a little cove on the East Coast of Australia. Mum had three bridesmaids and my sister and I, Dad had his brother and best friends as groomsmen and their parents attended, being the handful of guests – so there was about 12 of us. Super tiny. They cut their extremely awesome cake that we flew all the way from NZ (survived the x-Ray conveyor!). We ate strawberries and sparkling grapefruit juice and then walked back along the beach to our apartment. It was tiny and intimate and perfect. Our tiny ‘elopement style’ wedding is in a month and I can’t wait to share a perfect day with the most important people.

  45. I am the opposite.

    I have only 29 people coming an he has 57 people coming.

    I worried that his family and friends might think I don’t have people that care however its a farm wedding 10 hours drive from where I grew up and only moved to the farm 2 months ago.

    How do I make the people sit for the ceremony that’s an outside sitting thing should I place 30 and 60 chairs on the other side?

    • A lot of people now are opting away from the traditional bride and groom’s side seating and will put up a cute sign with something along the lines of “We’re all family now, choose a seat not a side” (there’s tons of cute example on pintrest). There are also a lot of options that don’t involve putting seats on each side (again, google or pintrest search for photos)
      We really don’t like the idea of having the seats on each side so we’re either going to have people stand in a group, or do some sort of circular seating.
      I was talking to a girl i know and at her wedding, instead of everyone walking down the aisle, she had the wedding party come in to the front and then her and her groom walked towards each other at the same time from opposite ends of the alter (i don’t know if that makes sense, like if theres a T and the alter is the junction of the horizontal and vertical lines and the aisle is the vertical line, they came towards each other from opposite ends of the horizontal line). The main reason she did this was because she didn’t like the idea of her having to come to him being the start of their life together (and this was in the 80’s so that kind of thing was really unheard of), which is a nice sentiment as well.

  46. I just want to thank you so much for this post. I was feeling hurt at the lack of response I was getting from people I assumed and expected to get really excited about our wedding. Obviously I know what torment assuming and expecting things can bring, but I couldn’t get it out of my head. Your post really helped me remember to look at the bright side of things. I feel like I read it at the perfect time. I can’t thank you enough!

  47. I had 11 at my wedding, and it was great! I wouldn’t change a thing. I don’t like being the centre of attention unless I’m in character (I spent several years as a character actor – being a rubber-faced goon is my comfortable state). When I’m me, I can be very socially awkward, and I prefer one-on-ones. To add to this awkward personality melange, I also get really emotional when I’m over-stimulated! I’m a weeper! So all in all, the idea of trying to be perfectly pretty all day, making small-talk for hours on end, and loads of people watching me blub into a handkerchief made my stomach turn. Maybe this indicates deeper mental issues that I should deal with, but I didn’t have time to find my inner spotlight-seeking princess! I just wanted a nice, relaxed wedding! My husband-to-be felt the same, thank God.
    Consequently, I also had a secret hen party! (In the US I think they’re called bridal parties). I couldn’t bare the thought of going around London with a massive gaggle of women wearing L-plates and carrying inflatable penises (traditional English hen behaviour). I knew no-one would be hurt if I didn’t have a hen party at all: they’d only be hurt if I had one but didn’t invite them. I didn’t want to offend my friends and female relatives, but also, I kind of wanted a party to mark a transition – but on my terms. So, I secretly invited my sister and 2 of my closest friends to an anti-hen. We had a meal and gambled in a casino, we didn’t put anything on Facebook about it, and at no point did I have to worry that a stripper was about to appear.
    I’m a big advocate of designing a wedding according to your (and your husband’s) needs! And we were lucky – we didn’t come up against any resistance from family, and only a couple of friends asked searching questions (but I think they were just genuinely trying to understand our motives).

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