beautiful floral outdoor wedding display with pinks and greenery

Same Budget, Fewer Guests: 5 Ways to Make Magic with Your Money

February 18, 2021

We are nearing a year into the unexpected, yet the planet keeps spinning, businesses flex and adjust to this new working environment, and best of all, our most thrilling milestones continue. Life surely does find a way. Weddings certainly do, too. Naturally with capacity limits to shared spaces, guest lists are being shaved down to the most V.I.P. of couples’ inner circles, and what remains is an intimate gathering of the people who bring the best energy, with whom inside jokes will be created and stories will be traded. As a guest count shifts, so then does the budget. Just what now can be done with these freed funds? Here are 5 ways to make magic with your money:

Wedding Photography

1. Remote Revelry

Another unexpected advantage of a smaller guest list is the ability to reallocate wedding funds into more grand décor, added entertainment, decadent dining, and upgraded photography packages. With family and friends less capable of traveling, professional videography is more important than ever. Weddings of any size are now readily viewable via social media, as is the ability to live-stream the big day. This is particularly popular for couples with high-risk family members, elders in nursing facilities, and those who have recently tested positive for Covid, but nevertheless want to toast you in real time. With the power of technology, your time in the spotlight can be shone worldwide. 

individual appetizers for wedding

2. Plated Pizzazz 

More amenities await a paired-down wedding, most notably with your menu. Send a message of care and consideration with plated table service, as a crowded buffet could serve as a contamination hub. Not only is this seen as more hygienic, it also feels more luxe to your guests. Instead of an appetizer or dessert spread, imagine individual charcuterie boards, or pre-plated samplers of a variety of small bites, both savory before the wedding, and sweets after.  

Mark with All Occasions Catering suggests Open Kitchen Stations as a lovely way to fill the vacancy in a now overly spacious venue. “I like to bring in professional stainless steel tables and chrome cooking pieces to provide a more refined look, and plenty of dazzle. In turn this provides a show for guests as they watch everything being prepared, and they get to hear the sizzles and smell the aromas!  This truly provides a feast for the senses.”

  Another creative way to fill open space is with socially distanced Vignette Stations. Mark continues, “Using 24 foot murals as background to theme the stations, for instance La Noche En Espana (“A Night in Spain”), or the Basilica mural, we can give depth and a large impactful statement to each vignette station. Talk about a wow factor!” An added upgrade includes the incorporation of custom Ice Sculptures. Mark recommends Max and Jeanne Zuleta with Art Below Zero for spectacular creations large and small, that serve not only as a very photogenic focal point, but include a functional benefit of displaying crab claws, shrimp and oysters, and, should your guests be the sort, frosty top-shelf vodka. 

Bride and bridesmaids at sunset holding their country chic bouquets by Bank of Flowers

3. Florals and All the Frills

A fun splurge with a great payoff is with over-the-top floral arrangements. Melissa with Bank of Flowers is having a blast in her work now that budgets are opening up for more striking displays. “Because your guest count may be cut in half (or more!) this is a chance to take your budget from the original 30 table centerpieces you were planning on doing, to a grand royal table that is spilling with greenery and more vibrant florals.” Create warm nooks by adoring fireplaces, staircases, and seating areas with garland and potted trees, for irresistible Instagram backdrops. 

A lasting sentiment from Melissa, “Some of our most memorable weddings have been on the smaller side for guest counts. Attendees feel so honored to be in the couple’s cozy gathering, so much so that special details will not go unnoticed.” 

LOVE sign at wedding reception

4. Out of the Box Entertainment

Speaking of special details, let’s not forget the ubiquitous dance floor, for which there could now be an uneasy association. Alternative entertainment is a fine substitute or even a supplement to the much beloved DJ and Electric Slide tradition. Couples are opting for hired performers of all stripes, such as caricature artists, a fireworks show, whimsical photo booth, or a live acoustic guitarist playing all your favorite songs. Daryl and Spencer with Xcite Entertainment take the business to more visual places, with sparklers, dramatic uplighting and custom couple’s crests, emphasizing the idea that a large part of their job involves keeping guests visually stimulated and creating the mood. 

outdoor wedding by well dressed tables milwuakee
5. Embrace the Outdoors

Open-air weddings are a welcome substitute when space constraints don’t accommodate all of your Who’s-Who, which could mean a magnificent outdoor tent to allow for proper ventilation. Jason with Well Dressed Tables sees no downside to this concept, with more couples marrying in their parents’ backyards and familiar places. “It may not have been the dream location, but there is still something very special about walking through your childhood lawn, Dad by your side, sun shining on your face and wearing the dress of your dreams.” The show must go on after all, “complete with subfloors, soft furnishings, warm chandelier lighting, socially distanced layouts incorporating the couple’s style, on detailed and extravagant tablescapes.”

Outdoor heaters allow for more comfort during a brisk evening and a well-chosen natural backdrop adds to the splendor of the day. Who would even take notice of a minimized wedding while dining among rolling meadows, rustling trees, a fragrant garden, the sound of a splashing fountain. Scenery and fresh air are remarkably affordable, and have the power to mesmerize. Anyone who has taken their thousandth Covid walk can attest to what simple beauty has all of these years been living right under our noses. 

Your wedding during this unusual era needn’t be seen as settling for less than you deserve. Rather, carrying on along life’s surprises is a way of persevering, and feeling a sense of triumph while so much is out of our control. If this phase in history has taught us anything, it is the importance of celebration, and of recognizing what good fortune it is to have found a partner for all of life’s ebbs and flows. Consider your day a time capsule of this most unique circumstance we are all operating expertly within. Unique but very temporary, it should be remembered.