Advantages to a Smaller, Intimate Wedding
An intimate evening wedding at the Hacienda del Sol.

A wedding doesn't have to be a mammoth event with 300 guests and a costly price tag. Many couples choose to walk down the aisle and then celebrate on a smaller scale with much success.

Millions of weddings take place across the globe every year. According to the Association for Bridal Consultants, the average American wedding includes 175 guests, and the average size of the wedding party is 12 people. Many couples may view these averages and feel pressured to throw a big wedding. But smaller events can be just as much fun and easier on the pocketbook as well.

One of the more obvious advantages to a small wedding is the cost. Many large weddings cost between $20,000 and $30,000 dollars. A small wedding will be significantly less simply because there are fewer people to feed. Catering costs account for a large chunk of wedding budgets. A reception with only 50 to 60 people may run $1000 or less.

Another benefit to a smaller wedding is a couple may be able to afford a higher-priced venue. Maybe there's that historic castle or high-priced mansion that would be over budget if 200 guests were coming. With a much smaller guest list, the venue might now be affordable. Or, couples can look outside of wedding halls to restaurants for a nice dinner.

Small weddings tend to be more intimate. Couples can spend more individual time with guests instead of having to spread their time thinly around a large reception hall. Special moments, such as speeches or words of wisdom, may bear more significance when the group is intimate.

Destination weddings have become quite popular and are most successful with a small group. Keeping a large guest list in order can prove challenging when traveling, which makes destination weddings ideal for small guest lists. Also, costs will be kept down if the couple is paying the travel fees for invitees.

It's important for couples to keep in mind that a small wedding is not without certain challenges. Family members and friends may have their own perceptions of what a wedding should be. Once the idea of a small wedding is mentioned, it may be met with some opposition, particularly from parents who want to invite an extended list of friends and distant family members. This can make it difficult to pick and choose who to invite.

Another disadvantage is that large weddings evoke the energy of a big party and can make people less inhibited to celebrate and dance. An empty dance floor at a smaller wedding may be intimidating to guests who will choose to sit and not fully enjoy themselves.

Ultimately, the decision to have a small-, medium- or large-size wedding is entirely up to the couple or the person who will be financing the event. Wedding planning is largely the personal choice of the couple who will be saying their "I dos."