If you are looking for ways to transition from a larger wedding to a smaller wedding in 2021, you are not alone. With pandemic concerns still lingering, at HauteFêtes, many of our couples who are choosing to move forward with their wedding this year versus postponing to the next are interested in tips for scaling down their wedding day. While we still hope the COVID-19 restrictions on large gatherings will lift soon, this is understandable. That’s why we have put together five tips for scaling down your wedding day. While having a small wedding may not have been your initial wedding vision, we are committed to helping you transition to an intimate wedding while not giving up the essentials you want to be incorporated into your most special day.

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How Small Should You Go?

First things first, when scaling down your wedding day it is important to know how small you want to, or have to, go. Are you transitioning a 250 guest wedding to a 100 guest wedding? Or are you looking to go even smaller by having a micro wedding celebration with 40 guests or less? This number is determined by a multitude of factors.

First, if you have chosen a wedding venue, check with them about what their COVID requirements are in terms of the guest count. This will help you determine just how small you need to go. Second, consider guests who you know will not, or can not, attend your wedding due to safety concerns. This may change the number even more. Lastly, consider the guidelines on large gatherings in your area since both you and your venue will need to comply with state regulations on mass gatherings and social distancing.

Once you have your smaller guest list solidified, follow these five tips for adjusting your wedding to fit your new needs. Because the main reason couples are opting for smaller weddings right now is the COVID-19 pandemic, many of these tips focus on keeping your guests comfortable and safe while still enjoying your wedding.

1. Re-negotiate Services with Vendors

When you scale down your guest list, it is important to let your vendors know there has been a change of plans. This is especially true for your catering and bar services. With a smaller wedding, you won’t need the same amount of food and drinks served. Let your caterer or venue know and re-negotiate your food and alcohol minimum agreement terms if possible (while understanding in some cases it might not be). Similarly, with a smaller guest count, you’ll need fewer reception tables. This means cutting back on the number of floral arrangements and your rentals such as linens and dining chairs, too. If you are unsure or uncomfortable discussing revised terms with your vendors, ask your wedding planner the best way to approach the situation. A wedding planner can help you navigate this unique circumstance with ease.

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2. Create a Spacious Wedding Environment

The way you design your wedding determines how guests interact with each other. When scaling down your wedding to adhere to social distancing and safety guidelines, you can design a wedding space that fosters meaningful connections at a safe distance.

For example, instead of having food stations or an open bar, opt for individual portioned hor d’oeuvres and tray-passed drinks rather than having everyone congregate at the bar and in a food line. 

You can also explore creative seating options so everyone feels comfortable in the space. For example, consider positioning dinner tables around the dance floor in smaller groups rather than having long feasting tables that have guests sitting shoulder to shoulder. There are so many beautiful ways to design your reception space that will bring your wedding vision to life with the layout and the floor plan adjusted to accommodate a smaller wedding guest list.

Wedding Ceremony

3. Change Up Your Wedding Space or Venue if Needed

If you haven’t solidified your wedding venue––or if the one you did choose can no longer accommodate you––there are beautiful venue options available when you scale down your wedding. 

For example, outdoor spaces allow guests to spread out while still enjoying each other’s company. And with the help of a wedding planner, you can transform any outdoor space into a memorable wedding celebration by designing a spectacular tented wedding or Al Fresco wedding. Al Fresco weddings are the perfect style for intimate celebrations. With open-air tenting, whimsical lighting features, and rustic and elegant details and design, you can marry in a breathtaking setting all while accommodating a smaller guest list. 

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4. Adjust Your Style to Match the Mood

If you transition your large country club wedding to a small backyard ceremony with only your closest friends and family, you may want to adjust your wedding style. Instead of all-out bridal glam, go for a vibe that matches the new space, such as a cocktail or intimate dinner party look with your hair down versus up in an up-do; or add some unique accessories such as fun earrings for a playful touch. You’ll look just as beautiful and such small adjustments may prove to be more comfortable for your updated wedding plans.

Scaling down your wedding

Determine Wedding Entertainment if You Won’t Have a Dance Floor

Some couples may no longer feel comfortable inviting guests to gather on the dance floor together to celebrate––especially if state mandates place restrictions on gatherings. Additionally, if you select a smaller wedding venue to more reasonably accommodate your scaled-down guest list, there may not be enough room for a dance floor. However, there are other ways to celebrate your wedding with your friends and family. 

With more time to spend together, consider offering all of your guests the opportunity to share a fun or sentimental story about you and your partner. Wedding toasts are traditionally given by only a few people, which saves time. However, at a small wedding, these traditional elements can be adjusted to be even more meaningful and provide laughs and memories shared all night long.

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Should You Scale Down Your Wedding Day?

Because we honestly don’t know what 2021 or 2022 holds, at HauteFêtes we advise every couple to have a scale-back plan in place from the beginning, just in case. For those couples who have yet to start planning their wedding––or have started planning but haven’t solidified details––this is much easier. For couples who had everything in place for a large traditional wedding, the process of scaling down your wedding can be disappointing. However, we want to encourage you that your wedding can still be as amazing, if not more so. There are so many unique and personalized elements to bring into a small, intimate wedding that aren’t an option with a large gathering. If you want help creating a solid Plan A and Plan B for your wedding day, let us know!