Documenting all love stories near or far

Shelby Jane

April 14, 2022

Should You Have a Big or Small Wedding?

FILED IN: Elopement, Wedding

WOOHOO! You’ve got the ring, you’ve got you’re honey, so it’s time to start planning out your wedding day! The first thing you’re going to want to think about as you begin planning is what size wedding you want to have. While the more traditional large wedding may still be the go-to, smaller weddings & elopements have been gaining popularity as of late. But which option is right for you? We’ll go over the pros & cons of each of them so that you can decide for yourself whether you should have a big or small wedding.

Newly weds dance in a field outside of their wedding venue, groom spins the bride

Creating a Vision

From the get-go, you & your honey are going to want to go come together & put together a list of your non-negotiables. There are SO many different variables & things that have a big impact on your wedding day experience as well as your experience leading up to your wedding day! This is why you two are going to want to sit down & go over a couple of things. I like to call these the four W’s. Who you want to be there, what you want to do, when you want your wedding to happen, & where you picture it taking place.

Realistically, you’re more than likely going to have some priorities when it comes to your four W’s which will help you to decide what kind of wedding you plan to have. If your number one priority is to get married on the top of a mountain in Washington, you’re probably not going to be able to bring your 40 closest friends. If your number one priority is to have your 50+ person family present for the ceremony & reception, you know you’ll want to find a venue to accommodate it! When deciding whether you want a big or small wedding, the four W’s can help SO much when it comes to making decisions about your day.

After you decide on the four W’s you can decide what type of wedding you & your partner want to have. Here is a look at what the three industry-standard options are when it comes to planning a wedding day.

Bride and groom standing with each other with a waterfall in the background


When it comes to planning a big or a small wedding an elopement is the smallest option that you can have. If you’re looking to have a more personal wedding day between just you & your honey & possibly a few close friends & family then an elopement is the way to go. Elopements are great for couples that want more flexibility when it comes to location, planning & overall feel of their wedding day. With an elopement ranging anywhere from just the two of you to up to around 10 guests, the options are pretty much limitless when it comes to where you have it & what you do. 

Want to get married underneath a waterfall & meet up with your closest friends for a night at an airbnb together? Or maybe you want to take a trip up to Alaska to say I do & share the trip as just the two of you. With the flexibility that comes with such a small size, the possibilities of an elopement are endless! And if you’re worried about how to tell your family that you plan on eloping, check out my blog post here that goes over how exactly to tell them the news.

Not only does eloping offer you flexibility when it comes to events throughout the day, but eloping also offers you flexibility in terms of where you use your wedding day funds. Your wedding budget can go towards things like your dream photographer, a winery tour, or even a trip following your wedding day.

Wedding reception underneath a lit up tent at night with guests seated and standing

Small Wedding

For the couple that has a list of people that they MUST have for their wedding day celebration, but still wants a little more flexibility, a small or intimate wedding might be the perfect option for you. Having a smaller wedding offers a lot of flexibility when it comes to choosing your venue as well as what goes into your day. With a smaller wedding, you won’t likely have the flexibility to travel as you would with an elopement, but there are a ton of options for wedding locations when you have a guest list of 20 to 75 people. Picture anything from a backyard wedding, renting an Air Bnb, hosting your favorite people at your favorite restaurant or winery, there are a ton of options.

Large Wedding

If you’re wanting to have all your friends & all of your family at your wedding day & are willing to sacrifice some of the flexibility of a small wedding or elopement then a large wedding is the way to go. Spend your day celebrating with ALL your favorite people, dancing, partying, & thanking everyone that helped you get to where you are now. Though you will have less one-on-one time with the people that matter most, you will get to see everyone having a great time all together celebrating you!

Remember that the larger the wedding the more parameters you will have when it comes to choosing a venue. Make sure to check both the minimum & maximum guest count for each of the venues you look at & set a budget beforehand. It can be easy to get caught up in the planning when there are more people involved.

Bride and groom share first dance in their wedding venue with their guests watching
Bride and groom share first dance in their wedding venue with their guests watching

Factors to Consider

There are a ton of things to consider when you start to plan out your wedding day. You should consider & talk about things like cost, time investment, guests, & your feelings just to name a few. Being open & honest with your honey about what you each expect & want out of your wedding day is crucial. Plan this day out together so that you both love the wedding day that you have, whether it’s big or small.


First off when it comes to having a big or small wedding you should talk about the costs involved with the options & what your priorities are when it comes to spending your money. For an elopement most of your costs are going to go towards your travel, your photographer, & where you end up staying after you elope. You may also need to pay for a venue or a photography permit depending on the location you choose.

For small & big weddings there’s going to be a few more things that you have to take into account when it comes to cost, especially with a larger wedding. The largest factors will be your venue, photographer, & then your other vendors. Things like food, alcohol & venue fees will take up a large portion of your budget. Then, the more people that you invite, the more time you will need to set aside for planning. This shouldn’t be a deal-breaker by any means if going the bigger route is what you want, but it is something you need to be aware of & plan for from the start!

Bride and groom share first dance in their wedding venue with their guests watching


When it comes to planning your wedding day a good rule of thumb is the larger the wedding the more planning that will go into it. With the smaller more personal route of an elopement, other than planning out location, photographer, transportation & a possible small guest list there is not too much that you’ll have to plan for. This is great if planning generally stresses you out or if you feel overwhelmed about trying to set up a large wedding day that’ll make everyone happy.

For planning out a small or large wedding there’s a bit more you need to plan for. Sending out the invites, choosing a venue, decorations, food & vendors just to name a few. Remember this is YOUR wedding day & you & your honey’s happiness should come first. It’s easy to get caught up in the planning & overthink what all the guests are going to think about the day. Remember to put yourselves first & plan the day that you’ve always dreamed of.

Bride and groom kiss while seated at their wedding reception table
Bridesmaid gives a toast to bride and groom during intimate wedding reception

Day of Feeling

How do you want to feel on your wedding day? What kind of emotions are you hoping to have? Do you want to be surrounded by people & be the center of attention or have this moment together just the two of you? When planning out whether you want to have a small or big wedding your feelings should be at the top of your priority list. This is your day & you deserve to enjoy every minute of it. Talk with your honey & decide what feelings & emotions you both want to experience on your day. From there you should get a pretty good idea as to whether a big or small wedding or an elopement is the best fit for you.

Bride and groom kiss at night with city lights in the background

When it comes to deciding if you want to have a big or small wedding or an elopement there’s no wrong answer. There are pros & cons to each option which means that it’s up to you & your future spouse to decide what is best for you. You only plan one wedding, so make sure you both are on the same page about what you want for your day & start planning!