Before I say anything else I would like to note:
- A small wedding was my first choice
- This was not a budget based decision
- By small I don't mean 50, 60, 80 or even 100 people (all numbers I have heard described as "small")
- Bunny and I are inviting less than 30 people
What does having a small wedding mean to me? It means that I am having only our very closest friends (the people who we would consider rescheduling the date to have them there) and immediate family (or surrogates thereof). It means that I will get to spend quality time with each of my guests, as opposed to spending my night going from guest to guest and table to table and only getting to spend 5 or 10 minutes with each person. It is important to me that I get to connect with the people I invite to be with me in a more special way.
The idea of a large wedding, even the sort of 50-80 person wedding that most people think of as small but I consider large, does not seem particularly fun to me. It doesn't feel particularly genuine to me. With the idea of a bigger wedding, in my head it just doesn't make sense to expend all sorts of effort and money to invite them to a party but not be able to spend quality time with most of my guests. That's really what this comes down to. I would rather really get to connect and enjoy my time with a smaller number of people than get a blur of a million faces but not actually have the time to catch up and take my time and enjoy. I want something so much more relaxed than what I feel like a big wedding would be.
The guest list was decided upon before Bunny and I even got engaged, and has not been influenced by a budget. Is it a guest list we can afford? Absolutely. Was it chosen based on us feeling comfortable paying for it? Not in the slightest. We have not finalized our budget yet - not the total number, nor the nitty details of how it breaks down. We know roughly what we will be paying for venues & food & alcohol with the meal, but not a total, and we haven't dealt with the details like invitations and favours and all that.
However, we have a rough range in our head. It's a couple thousand dollars either way, and all I will say is that the number is lower than 10,000. I have friends in the area with very similar budgets who are throwing weddings three and four times the size of mine. Going small has allowed me to go a little more all out on certain things - like food. The cost of dinner (including wine parents) that Bunny and I are paying is similar to what a friend is paying for a dinner for 80. Thing is, that's just not my style. Because we have a smaller guest list we are able to splurge a little more and have a meal at a high class restaurant and be personally taken care of by a 5 star chef.
Is that the reason why we chose to have a small wedding? No. But having a small wedding has allowed us to do this, which we are happy to. If we couldn't do the fancy dinner we would be ok with that - but it is a nice bonus that the guest list we want has allowed us to have it.
One thing a lot of our friends can't wrap their heads around is the lack of extended family at our wedding. We are inviting parents, siblings, Bunny's niece and a cousin of mine who did a very big favour for me that allowed me to attend university. Because Bunny's family is much bigger than mine, we are also inviting my mother's two best friends - who are somewhat surrogate parents to me. They are who I consider my mom's partners to be - she has had 1 boyfriend (who I never met) in the 13 years since she has been divorced - and I would like to honour the people who have stepped in to take over pseudo-parental roles, and also give my mom some people who are there just for her. (Plus, it helps balance an otherwise unbalanced guest list).
We are not having our grandparents, aunts and uncles, or most cousins. These are the people who, for our friends, make up the bulk of their wedding guest lists. For Bunny and I, it doesn't make sense. He sees his extended family at a picnic in the summer, and at a New Years Brunch (on his mom's side), and while he sees more of his father's (smaller) side of the family, they are not close. They don't just pick up the phone and say "hey what's up". He genuinely isn't concerned about whether he has them there.
As for my family? Well, I see my mom's side (grandma, aunt & the cousin we are inviting) once a year for two days at Christmas. My grandma and aunt are both schizophrenic, and would require I assign a designated "babysitter" to take care of them for the wedding. What it comes down to, though, is just that we are not close. Our lives don't connect, we don't talk nor really spend significant amount of time together.
The paternal side of my family is an even messier story. My parents' divorce essentially ripped apart every single relationship I had ever had there, back when I was thirteen. Since then, I have seen my grandparents and most of my aunts, uncles and cousins less than a dozen times. Every conversation I have had with my Nanna since then has ended with her going out of her way to make me feel like a bad person. She refuses to respect the fact that I am an adult capable of making my own decisions, and thinks I am a terrible person for asserting my right to have people who have proven themselves to be a real, physical danger to me out of my life.
Not exactly people you want celebrating the biggest day of your life with you.
The people we want to celebrate are the closest people in our lives. The people who aer there for us through the difficult moments, and who love us no matter what. They are the people who put smiles on our faces when we hear their names, who we love the most.
Are we splurging on our small wedding? Yes. But that's ok. We are having the wedding we want.