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Planning a Small, Intimate Wedding in Wisconsin

If covid has taught us anything it is that all of your plans can go out the window in an instant. Add in trying to plan a wedding during this pandemic and you get the perfect storm. But not perfect, more like stressful! It's a stressful storm. But it doesn't have to be.

Prior to covid coming into play, I have had the chance to photograph full day, fancy weddings with 300+ guests as well as small, intimate weddings and even elopements! And as much as I love those big weddings, there are so many benefits to having a small, intimate wedding, especially during these times. I have a soft spot for them, I really do. There is something about the quietness of the day and the focus on those little moments and the couple. Today, I am going to share some benefits of opting for a smaller wedding as well as giving you tips to make it still one to remember!

  1. You're less likely to have to reschedule. Even though we would love to have every important person in our life at all of our big moments, having less names on a guest list makes it easier to schedule & stick with it. It is easier to change little details last minute (if need be) and not worry about coordinating with a bunch of people. {Sorry distant cousins, accept my apologies!}

  2. If you struggle with anxiety when it comes to crowds, this gig is for you. Elopements are my jam. Small, intimate gatherings with your inner circle of people is just so special. Even if you are an anxious person, I bet you have a select few people that you feel totally at home in front of. This is how your big day should be. Stress-free and about you. This is coming from a person that struggled with anxiety the entire day of my own wedding. Sometimes I wish we could have just done something even smaller so that I could really just absorb it all.

  3. Less expensive. Your wedding day does not have to be big to be special. You do not need to go into debt to marry your love & neither do your families. We live in a world where so many people think the bigger the better. This is simply not true and in all honesty, the day after your wedding when all of the dust has settled it won't matter to you. You will be newly married and in love! Also, hello food & drink bills! There are ways to save money while still having those "big" moments. I will list those below.

  4. You have more control. When you plan a big wedding, there is a lot of "what would so-and-so think of this?" and the dreaded seating chart and trying to plan out who can be seated together. The less people, the less of these outside stressors. Heck, even having just 50 people at your wedding will feel like a world of difference.

  5. More intimate time with guests. Whether you choose to elope or have a smaller, intimate wedding... having a smaller guest list allows for you to spend more quality time catching up, dancing and making memories with those closest to you. Nothing against bigger weddings but sadly with bigger weddings you either spend all of your time greeting guests and saying a quick hello or you miss out on saying hello to everyone. Smaller weddings allow you the quality time that all of us crave with our loved ones.

So you decided that a smaller wedding or elopement is for you. How do you still make sure that you aren't missing out on important parts? I am here to give you some tips that I have gathered from the weddings, both big and small, that seem to really make or break your day. Keep in mind that I have LOVED every venue, wedding planner, videographer, makeup artist, florist, etc. that I have worked with! This by no means is saying that they are not important to your day and if it is in your budget to include all of these things, then please do!

Photos. Now I know you are thinking "of course she would say that, this is the service that she offers" but really, it is one of THE most important parts of your day. I do not recommend settling on this. Iphones, or your favorite uncle who owns a camera may be able to capture some great moments and hey, bonus! they told you they have photoshop to edit. I promise you that they will miss so much. So much "homework" goes into a photographer's work behind the scenes. A good editing is important but you can't fix bad lighting, bad angles or bad composition in photoshop. Heck, I don't even use Photoshop. Not my style. I believe in taking beautiful, flattering photos and using an editing software called Lightroom. This is a program run under Adobe, like photoshop, but isn't going to clone Aunt Mary into the photo or show you standing in the middle of Time Square through altering the photo. If you take anything from this blog post, please hire a professional photographer. Thankfully, many (me included!) photographers offer short hour packages to accommodate those smaller ceremonies.

Flowers. You can WOW a crowd with flowers. One of my favorite things to do is go on pinterest and just look through photos of bouquets. There are so many amazingly talented florists/artists out there creating ah-mazing bouquets. Let this be something you splurge on. Your flowers will be in all of your photos for years to come & there is just this romantic vibe that you immediately get when decorating with fresh flowers. They awaken all of your senses! Well except taste, please don't eat them! ;) If you are looking to save on flowers, consider making your own bouquet and choosing flowers that are in season. For example, I LOVE tulips. But my wedding was in Decembers and it would have cost me TRIPLE the amount just to get tulips shipped in. It wasn't worth it in the end. There are still so many gorgeous options out there. When shopping for flowers, if you choose to make your own bouquet, I recommend checking out your local farmer's market! A ton of vendors are happy to work with you and give you ideas of what would look great together & are super knowledgable {and bonus! You can support local farmers!}

Dress. Girl, you are going to have photos of you for a lifetime in this dress. If you have children, they are going to want to see mommy's dress, wear it & maybe someday you will pass it down to a child or grandchild. Make. It. Count. Wear a dress that is timeless. Something that you feel confident and sexy in and that you won't want to take off. An inexpensive way to get two looks out of one would be adding a lace layers long sleeve over the top of your dress or a removable skirt to reveal a more form fitted dress for reception/dinner time!

Venue. There is something beautiful about a gorgeous venue covered from head to toe in exposed brick and a chandelier that demands attention. But there is also something just as beautiful about getting married in the woods, in a field, old barn or somewhere special to you and your fiance/ee. You can get whimsical in both locations, so do your research! A couple of things to keep in mind when planning a wedding outdoors: time of year (you don't want it to be scorching hot or during rainy season), bugs, sun coverage.

Groom's attire. Don't skimp on your guy's clothing. He wants to look and feel just as confident on your big day. Also, don't forget, he will be in those formal photos too! You can find great suits at local stores!

Music. Consider an up and coming band or hire someone to man a playlist on an iphone or laptop.

Food. Consider offering heavy appetizers and one or two signature drinks to guests rather than plated dinners and open bar. If it is an elopement, even better- consider a fun dinner at your favorite local restaurant. Many places have a private section or room that you could rent or use free of charge.

Wedding Date. Whether you are planning a large or small wedding, many venues offer discounted rates for off-season weddings! If you aren't heart set on a specific date, it is worth reaching out to a couple venues that you might be interested in to see if they offer anything like this!

These are just some ideas to help ease the stress of your big day! If you have any ideas of your own that you would like to share, I would love for you to comment below and share!

Happy Wedding Planning!

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