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

Guest post by Becky
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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?

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*

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