Smaller Weddings Vs Larger Weddings: brides reveal all

20 Sep 2016

Delving in to the planning process for a smaller wedding and a larger wedding, bride-to-be Laura Chatterway and new bride, Charlotte Ives, compare notes

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The differences between a small and large wedding are vast, not just in size but in how you plan for each. Bride-to-be Laura Chatterway, an events coordinator, and new bride, Charlotte Ives, a wedding coordinator, both work at Bexleyheath Marriott Hotel and at one point, were planning their big days at the same time... but on very different scales. While Laura is opting for a large wedding of 100 guests, Charlotte chose a smaller ceremony of 30 people. Here, we find out more about their wedding planning and simultaneously allow other brides-to-be to make informed decisions on the size of their own wedding day.

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Wedding dates:

Laura Chatterway and Matt Hart: 6th October 2018

Charlotte Ives and Lubos Fecenko: 17th August 2016

Wedding venues:

Laura: The Orangery, Maidstone

Charlotte: The Ferry House Inn, Sheerness

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How did you settle on the size of your guest list?

Laura: I have a big family, so we always knew the guest list was going to be on the larger side and then once we started to add our friends to the list, it became bigger and bigger. If you know from the start that you’re likely to have a big guest list, make sure you plan ahead to ensure you can find a venue that will cater for the number of guests.

Charlotte: I kept my guest list strict, with only immediate families and closest friends invited. 

What were the challenges of organising a small/large wedding?

Laura: For those, like me, who are planning a big day slightly on the larger side, there are a few key things to consider beforehand when it comes to the venue and guest list. You need to ensure your desired venue can accommodate for the number and variety of guests. I have a big family and there’ll be a lot of children attending my wedding, so my location will need a lot of space, especially to keep the little ones entertained. Talk to your chosen venue beforehand about the different spaces they offer and how these can be used. Additionally, make sure you leave yourself enough time to send your invites and get responses back from all your guests, especially if you’re having a choice menu. With so many guests, it can be difficult to keep track of responses, so keep a spreadsheet to help you stay on top of everyone’s replies. This will also make it easier to follow up with anyone that hasn’t yet responded, ensuring you can send the total numbers to your chosen venue ahead of the deadline.

Charlotte: When planning a smaller wedding, the biggest challenge is probably sticking to the guest list, but try your best to create a strict list during the planning stages. A small wedding can easily become a large one when you take into consideration everyone’s partners and children. Agree on a maximum number of guests and give some real thought to who in your closest circles you’d like to attend. 

What are the benefits of a small/large wedding?

Laura: The best thing about having a larger wedding is the fact that you get to spend your big day surrounded by as many of your loved ones as possible. There’s surely no better feeling than celebrating your love for one another with everybody you hold dear.

Charlotte: The main benefit of a smaller celebration is that you can spend a lot of time creating a really unique theme, making it entirely personal to you and the select few you’d like to share it with. With more intimate occasions, there’s also the opportunity to save on budget more easily by cutting out any unnecessary extras. Elaborate favours, luxurious package invites and large decorations are by no means crucial to your big day and if your guest list consists of your closest friends and family, then the most important thing will be that you’re all together celebrating on the day.

How did you decide on your wedding venue?

Laura: After visiting several different places that don’t quite feel right, you’ll eventually walk into a venue that simply takes your breath away. We knew the minute we saw our venue that it was the place we wanted to get married. Try and find a place that gives you the 'wow' factor feeling. 

Charlotte: Try and establish before the planning stages what kind of venue you both have in mind and if there’s any disparagement, try and find a compromise. We found a mutual love for the place that we chose and the planning was made even more special knowing that we both adore the venue. 

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What is the theme and colour scheme for your day?

Laura: As we are getting married in October, we are having an autumn themed wedding with autumnal pinks and reds to suit the season. Seasonal weddings are always on-trend, since they’re timeless and there are so many different things you can do with a seasonal theme.

Charlotte: The main theme for our big day was ‘Rustic and Recycled’ – since we both work in the events industry, we wanted to do something completely different, rather than sticking to a traditional English theme. Navy blue was our base colour, which was quite neutral, meaning it didn’t rule out anything.

What advice would you give to a couple planning a wedding of similar size to yours?

Laura: When planning a big wedding, you need to be sure to start the table plan early. Use something that can be easily changed, as there will no doubt be alterations to the seating along the way, and with a larger wedding, this could become overwhelming if not properly managed. This is also true of accommodation. Before booking your dream venue, do some research into the surrounding area and make sure that there are enough places to accommodate your guests and their varying budgets – some places may even offer a group rate.

Most importantly is the fact that you need to leave enough time to save money. With a large venue and a high number of guests, you need to make sure you keep on top of costs. Keep a tracker of what is to be paid so you can stick to a plan. You can then try to pay this off in monthly instalments so there are no big surprises later. I’ve given myself three years to plan my wedding due to other financial commitments, myself and my partner wanted to ensure we could have the day we wanted without having to be too concerned about the money aspect.

I’m lucky because my experience in the industry has really helped me to take a calm approach to our big day – so if you’re struggling, look into hiring a wedding coordinator. They can take all the stress out of planning a big wedding, so that you can relax and enjoy the fun parts.

Charlotte: When planning a smaller wedding, I’d advise not to delay the process if you already have the money to hand. A more intimate celebration can be planned quickly and easily, taking the stress out of the process and giving you time to sit back and get excited about the big day. Don’t rule out larger venues either as plenty of places offer smaller rooms for more intimate occasions. Many venues, Bexleyheath Marriott included, will also offer affordable packages for smaller events so it’s definitely worth asking around to see if your favourite venues can cater for your requirements.

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