A few years ago we started a journey into simplifying our lives. We decluttered & downsized and in the process started to be more intentional about what was important to us. Being intentional meant making decisions in both our personal and business life that reflected our values. This has resulted in two big changes to our business: We now only take 20-22 weddings per year (vs the 35-38 we use to photograph!), and we’ve made the switch from being a husband and wife photography team, to offering single photographer packages, (concentrating on more intimate celebrations, with the option to add on a second photographer). These two changes felt scary to us, especially after photographing over 100 weddings together, as a team, but we knew it was time to simplify.
We still hold openings for a few bigger celebrations every year, for couples that resonate with our simplicity but just have a big family, (hey we get it, we have a big family too and had a 275 person wedding ourselves), but the majority of our bookings since 2016 have been for smaller celebrations with less than 125 guests that only book one photographer. It’s been strange answering e-mails to perfectly beautiful inquiries that have over 200 guests, letting them know we’ve simplified our business and are going this route because we know we are turning away perfectly wonderful opportunities, but as we’ve simplified more and more, our hearts are naturally honing in on the smaller celebrations.
We know making the choice to have a more intimate wedding & to cut down a guest list is not always easy. Even if Brian and I were to plan our wedding again, we’d have a hard time cutting down our list. Our immediate families alone have 21 people together (parents, siblings and grandparents). Add in our cousins and our guest list over 85. Add in our closest friends and we’re well over 100. So how does an intimate wedding happen? How does a guest list get to under 85, to 25 or to 14? What is a budget for a small wedding? What are the disadvantages to it? And where do you have it? We decided to interview one of our most recent intimate weddings, Brittany & Ryan, to see if they could share some insight on how they planned their wedding and hopefully some inspiration to our couples to follow their hearts and plan weddings, no matter how big or small, that resonate with them. Brittany is a photographer herself so she understands both sides of the planning process and it’s easy to see she brought in what she’s learned from being on the other side of the camera to her celebration. We’ll be looking to interview a few more of our previous couples so if you’re interested in sharing a little about your planning process, we’d love to hear from you again.
1) How many people did you have total at your wedding? We had 14 people total including us at our wedding, (and our dog we snuck up to the top of the mountain!)
2) How did you keep to such a small guest list? Did you use guidelines? We originally thought of hopping on a plane, going out west and getting eloped. When we realized that we still wanted our family to be a part of it. We wanted to avoid the chain reaction of inviting people. So we kept it simple. We invited our parents, brothers, sisters, niece, nephew and two friends. One of them married us.
4)What were some of the biggest reasons you choose to have a small wedding? Planning a wedding is no joke. It’s stressful and we knew that if we planned a large wedding we would get caught up in the planning process. Which would have made us feel like we were losing the meaning of our wedding. Ryan and I are pretty private and we don’t like to be in the spotlight. So it just fit us as a couple. It’s a celebration of us and our closest family. So we wanted to keep it that way. Also, our budget wasn’t large and didn’t want to start our marriage in debt so opting for an intimate wedding was a financially conscious decision of ours too.
5) Did you feel there were any disadvantages to having a smaller wedding? Honestly, I can’t say there were any disadvantages. The people that we didn’t bring along to celebrate with us were able to see our photos and I think that was enough for them. I believe they were able to see just how beautiful and important our intimate celebration was to us without being present.
6) What advice can you give other couples who are planning an intimate wedding? You may have people pushing you to change your mind and go a more traditional route. You’ll probably hear a lot of mixed opinions and family that want to be a part of it, but aren’t. It’s difficult because you want to make your family happy, but my advise is to not lose the meaning of why you’re doing it.
7) What was the total budget of your wedding and what was spent where? We spent roughly $6500 for our wedding. We wanted to keep everything as low key as possible, but still spend more where we saw fit and what we considered a priority. Photography: $2500 Free People Wedding Dress: $1700 Groom’s Banana Republic attire: $300 Lake Placid Brewery & Pub Dinner: $1,500 Cake Placid Cake: $300 Hotel (weekend): $600
8) Anything else you would like to share? If you’re planning some sort of destination intimate wedding, still give yourself a day or two off after the wedding. It’s nice to lay low and enjoy each others company after all is said and done. Also, just because your day is ‘simple’ doesn’t mean you can’t prioritize what is important to you and spend money there. as a photographer myself, photography was one of our top priorities. It’s memories that generations to come are going to see and we knew we wanted to capture our day in all it’s glory.