Why We Chose To Have a ‘Small’ Wedding Day & How To Plan It

Prepare to piss off some family members. LOL – JOKES. But, maybe…

Whenever I’ve lucky enough to meet one of you guys in person, the conversation usually goes, ‘How’s Mark?’, ‘How’s Lily?’, ‘OMG this is so weird that I know everything about your life!’ – FYI, it’s not weird at all as I feel exactly the same way when I get the chance to meet a YouTuber I watch in real life too. Plus it’s always an absolute pleasure to bump into readers and makes my day whenever it happens. Then there have been a fair amount of times where they’ve said ‘AND YOUR WEDDING DAY!’ and in that moment my heart just about explodes. It’s also a topic that I find myself getting asked about a fair amount of times in DM’s and emails too, usually from to-be-brides asking for advice on how to have a small-ish wedding that doesn’t tick all the usual boxes, without pissing your family off. Ahhhh, wedding politics. MY FAVOURITE.

If you’re new around these parts then here’s the crib sheet of our wedding (which you can find all the deats about here). Mark and I got married in May last year, 18 months after he proposed. We spent 12 months umm-ing and ahh-ing about what we wanted to do and then just under six months planning it. In the end we decided to get married at the local registry office, wandered down to one of our favourite restaurants for lunch, then held the reception at our flat; filling our bath with beers, doing a pub quiz with our friends and family in our front room and ordering Domino’s for a late-night boozy dinner. We invited 27 people and spent significantly less on our wedding day than we did on honeymoon (find all the deats about that here). We did speeches over lunch, we had a first dance, we cut a cake; but then we also had our reception in our flat, stayed together the night before and kept the guest list as intimate as we could. Something old, something new, eh? Fancy doing things a bit differently too? Here’s my advice…

When Mark first proposed I was OVER. THE. MOON. Then within about 24 hours I became slightly terrified. SHIT. Now we actually have to plan a wedding!?! We began to look up venues, tot up figures, sort out a guest list – maybe we should go to a wedding fair? We were both a bit bamboozled. The venues we liked were going to cost us thousands and thousands of pounds to hire, our guest list sat at around 130 people and seeing as we’re big lovers of food, the food bill was looking to be astronomical. Oh – and I felt really strongly about a free bar. And a good band. And a cracking photographer. Our savings account would have been left at rock bottom, and some.

One thing we could agree on was that we wanted to go on a once-in-a-lifetime trip to New Zealand for our honeymoon. However we spent a whole year going round in circles about the wedding day – Big wedding! Let’s just elope! Let’s do something in the middle of the two! – we just couldn’t make up our minds. I really didn’t fancy the idea of walking into a room of 100+ people doing a Kim Kardashain ugly cry and we both weren’t crazy about spending a flat-deposit size amount on one single day. During one car journey up to Birmingham, we pieces together our perfect day that we’d have in our ideal scenario if we were thinking about no one else and just what we wanted; a local wedding, food at one of our favourite restaurants, a party back at ours, PIZZA! Then the next day, we booked it.

We called up the registry office, randomly picked the 27th May (the second bank holiday in May seemed like a good idea, especially for those who’d have to travel down from Birmingham), paid on the phone and booked the service . Then we called up our parents to make sure they were free (LOLZ probably should have done that before), went round to invite my grandparents in person and messaged all our mates who basically all replied ‘FINALLY!’. We then trekked into town to secure a booking for 27 people at one of our favourite restaurants and Mark bought his suit. Aside from my dress, the flowers and doing a booze run, our wedding day was basically planned in one day and almost 18 months later, we wouldn’t have done it any other way.

Here’s the thing, wedding days are super personal. I’m not here to say that our wedding day is the perfect set-up for everyone, but it was the perfect set-up for us. You can never please everyone (I’ve genuinely overhead someone at a wedding day complain that the piece of steak was too BIG), so why not at least please yourselves? Or if you feel like you have to compromise a little on your day because of family politics, at least make sure the honeymoon is exactly what you both want. We’re lucky that our immediate family were on board, but I’m sure there are people who raised an eyebrow. The lessons I’ve learnt? Your friends will be extremely disappointed that you aren’t making them wear matching dresses, pizza is a crowd-pleaser and I’ll never assume or expect a wedding invite from a friend or family member ever again. You do you babes, you do you. 


BUDGET & PRIORITISE. The first step to planning any kind of wedding day, whatever the size is to determine your budget. Ours actually came in a little under budget which meant more money for the honeymoon – WAHEY (although I actually think we ended up using it for a new set of windows – BOO!). When you have a number, slice it up for each category depending on where your priorities lie. For us that was food and alcohol and we spent approximately two thirds of the budget on that, skimping on things like my dress, decorations and transport.

THE GUEST LIST. Get the guest list firmly pinned down as quickly as you can to avoid having to sit through conversations with people who think they’re coming to your wedding day, but aren’t on the list whilst you sit there just wishing the ground would swallow you up. Luckily both sets of parents were on board and were able to filter the news down and everyone was extremely understanding and completely got it.

LITTLE TOUCHES. Because you do have fewer guests you’re able to do things and relay information so much more effectively. We didn’t bother with save the dates and instead just messaged or called everyone to see if they were free. I’d have loved to have got pictures of us with all our guests to put at their place-settings which I stupidly just never got round to, but I think it’s a lovely idea to put in some personal touches. Plus, if you do go down the wedding favours route, it’s a much more cost-effective treat.

MAKE THE MOST OF IT. One of the benefits of planning something smaller is that it doesn’t have to take months and months of planning and in theory shouldn’t be as much of a time-zap, so make the most of that. We sorted out most of the big things at the beginning – food, flowers, outfits – and so really all that was left to do in the run-up the month before were the final touches and in the five months between them we did absolutely nothing wedding-related. Sit back, relax and just don’t plan the pub quiz the night before because you’ll be up past midnight.

Photos by Amy O’Boyle

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