Wedding Wednesday: Episode 6 – Large vs. Small Events & LGBTQIA+ Resources

Hey friends! Here we are! Returning for another episode of Wedding Wednesdays! 

This week’s episode theme was inspired by questions surrounding how to move forward with weddings during the pandemic. Some people have held out for years at this point because they are not willing to give up their big wedding party and guest list. Some people are going forward with their weddings this year and are simply adhering to the new health standards and distancing rules. Sometimes substantially cutting their guest list. I’ve actually seen a lot of people decide that the big wedding isn’t even worth the hassle anymore and they’re just going to elope after a quick civil ceremony. Concurrently, I have seen some large weddings this year already. (It is in fact, one of the busiest wedding seasons since 1984 with roughly 2.5+ million weddings happening in 2022.)

All of these are totally valid options and are really dependent on your wedding priorities, your family situation, and your financial situation. Today we’re going to go over some of the pros of each sized event, some of the cons you’ll want to consider, and how to go about making sure your day is perfect no matter what size. In essence, today’s entire blog is about how it’s not the size of the boat but the motion in the ocean, if you get my drift. 😉

Because we’re doing all of our planning from afar, today we’re going to be drinking a beer from Urban Roots and boy am I excited to share this 7.7% ABV with all of you, my dearest Internet Friends. So cheers everyone, let’s dive into the deep end of large and small-sized wedding planning!

Large Wedding

I’m going to start by talking about the many factors to consider when having a big ol’ wedding!

Having a big wedding means you can invest in a big beautiful venue. You’ve got to have space for all those guests so you can look at some of the most immaculate and iconic venues around to fit them all in. Spots like Nestledown, Hayes Mansion, and Legion of Honor might feel a bit expensive if you’re only planning on having a handful of guests, but if you can fill it you’re going to get the best bang for your buck! Everyone will be comfortable, happy, and super impressed with the grandeur of the day. The only downside here is that some spots charge more as your guest count goes up and some large venues have a small capacity despite their size. So you just need to be meticulous about reading the contracts and all the rules around the venues you love.

Next pro, you can justify a wedding party with all your friends. No one gets left out, no one is jealous, and everyone gets to feel loved and wanted on your day. You’ll get showered with love during your bach(elor/-X)-party and your wedding shower and constantly be reminded how excited everyone is! There are cons to having a large bridal party though, like figuring out what everyone will wear, organizing additional events with so many people, and potentially bringing in people from different parts of your life that might not get along.

Obviously, you know how I feel about people centering themselves during your wedding experience. That’s a hard no from me bud, but with so many people involved it’s inevitable there will be some disagreements along the way. If you’re looking to have anyone wear the same dress for example, you’re going to have to find a really forgiving design that allows everyone to feel comfy. You also don’t want to pick a color that might make some people look and feel awful. The parties can start to add up, budget-wise, when it’s not just you and 5 friends. And of course, Calen and Alex might have completely opposite opinions about who wore it best in People Magazine and therefore won’t be able to stand one another once the big day rolls around. You might think I’m crazy, but this happens a LOT, especially when your friends don’t already know one another.

Regardless, if you think having all your friends around you on your big day will make your day even more special, then having a big guest list and wedding party is a huge win!

Ok so, another pro of a massive wedding is that you don’t have to hurt anyone’s feelings by restricting your guest list too much. You can invite all your relatives and family friends that your parents insist upon, all your colleagues and teammates, as well as your whole sloppy moose running and club and beer club. Your party will be off the chain with all those guests! Of course, the main concern with a giant guest list is a giant bill. Everything from rentals to food to transportation is going to skyrocket, so you’re definitely going to want to find a nice balance between inviting the world and not going bankrupt.

A pro of having that huge guest list from a technical standpoint is that your photos will be off the chain! Having a crowd of guests in your wedding photos is a surefire way to show how immaculate and epic your day was. Ceremony photos will pop, happy hour pics will be a lot more fun for you to look at later, the photo booth will be poppin’, and your dance floor will feel like a nightclub. The more the merrier in wedding photos, especially if you are truly wanting to celebrate big with every single one of your guests.

“A pro of having that huge guest list from a technical standpoint, is that your photos will be off the chain!”

Last but not least, and most superficially, if you throw a big wedding there’s a good chance you’ll get a ton of gifts. I know it’s not something that most people would consider when having a big event, but it’s definitely an added bonus when everything is said and done. So put that fancy china on there, throw in a treadmill, and maybe plan a once-in-a-lifetime honeymoon. If you’re going to get a little extra dough, make sure it goes where it’ll count!

Small Wedding

Now, Kate, you’re asking, with all those awesome pros, why would I possibly want to have a smaller scaled-down event? WELL! All the things listed above can be pros IF they’re things you want to incorporate into your wedding. But smaller events have lots of positives too, so let’s go over some of those.

“At a smaller event you can splurge on your outfits, specialty drinks, destination locations, and the food. “

First of all, the most glaringly obvious is the COST. You are going to spend less money on invites. Having a smaller bridal party, or none at all means no drama or stress over being matchy-matchy. Also, smaller events make it way easier to DIY things because you don’t need as much of everything and you’ve got more time on your hands. Which often means maybe a little more money in your pocket at the end of the day. 

At a smaller event, you can splurge on your outfits, specialty drinks, destination locations, and food. Would you rather serve 100 people for $25 per head or 25 people at $100 per head? It’s pretty much guaranteed that your guests would prefer the second option.

Of course, if you spend less on the wedding you’re able to then spend more on the honeymoon. If you’re looking for stress-free intimacy from beginning to end, you should totally be considering having a smaller event.

A big pro of an elopement-style event is that fewer wedding-related events and fewer guests means less stress planning. You won’t have to worry about venue caps so you’ll have TONS of venue options! You may have to skip the beach or have a small wine-tasting day instead of a trip out of town, but a shorter day-of timeline means less exhaustion and more enjoyment on your wedding day.

The intimacy of the day will never be lost during a smaller-scale event, which is a huge plus for a lot of people. You’ll be able to spend more time with each guest making everyone feel valued, seen, and appreciated. This also means everyone will get to shower you with their own specific words of wisdom and congratulations. No one gets left out and you’re not being pulled in 100 different directions.

“The intimacy of the day will never be lost during a smaller scale event, which is a huge plus for a lot of people.”

You’ll also get to spend more time with one another. I know this sounds silly, because of course you’d spend time together on your wedding day, but you’d be surprised how often one of you gets pulled away for shots and the other is stuck in a conversation with a long-lost family member. Then it snowballs and you haven’t seen your spouse for an hour. 

“A smaller wedding day allows you to hold each moment a little longer, makes each kiss a little sweeter, and allows all the distractions to fall by the wayside so you and your partner feel every little bit of bliss.”

Along with blissfulness, you’re going to have more flexibility on your timeline. Or open availability for a multi-day or non-traditional event!

Perhaps one day is the civil ceremony and photos, the next day you do a bike ride over the golden gate or have a spa day, you enjoy drinks at a fun bar, and then you have brunch the next morning to send everyone off. You can spend quality time, not just wedding time, with your invited few. Making your special day last an entire weekend while still coming in under budget.

Now, on a traditional small wedding day, I always get really excited because you get to include a lot of landscapes and negative space in your photos. Plus you generally have more time for couples’ portraits AND you can potentially go to multiple locations to take them. Some people do their small ceremony and then spend the rest of the night out taking photos. Obviously, I’m a little biased, but this seems like a smart decision to me.

Get Married!

Some people are locked into contracts and don’t have a choice or will lose a ton of money, so I wanted to provide some insight into why it’s ok to go ahead and get married and how you can split the difference between a big and small event and possibly have a medium-sized celebration.

So, Pro #1: You will be married on the day you wanted!

The only Con is: You may not be able to invite everyone you had originally intended. Obviously, this sucks, but if your date is more important to stick to than your guest list, then you can make some cuts and adhere to the guidelines put out by your venue. Of course, you can always try to move your big wedding date, elope on your special date, and then party it up in the future if you kind of want the best of both worlds.

Pro #2: Costs are going to go down when you cut your guest list. Who doesn’t love extra dollars?

The flip side of that is that: You may still be on the hook to pay your vendors full price based on original numbers. You’re going to want to look at every line of every contract regarding reschedules and cancelations in order to make the best-informed decisions for your wedding day. I am happy to help with that if you don’t have a wedding planner and would now like to add one in order for your wedding to survive the pandemic.

Um, Huge Pro: People are allowed to travel again so out-of-town guests will be able to attend.

This was a huge factor for a lot of my couples, so having this back on the table was a big win.

The Con to this is that the adjustments required might actually cause more stress than it would save. If you have to seat your guests 6 feet apart or change from buffet to plated and things like that, you may run into some serious costs or just straight-up annoyances that don’t feel worth the hassle, even to ensure a successful day. I’d say, pending contracts and such, it’s probably easier to push it out and not worry about those things.

The last Pro of getting married now is that maybe you didn’t feel like you had enough time and now that you’ve moved your date, you have more of it! The only setback here is that you have to wait a bit longer to marry your partner and the future is a little unpredictable, even still. But having another year’s worth of time and money to plan your perfect day sounds like a dream under any other circumstances, so I would still count it as a win.

So, many of these things are things that LGBTQIA+ couples think about all the time, not just during a pandemic. Many people have family members that refuse to help pay or even attend, so being able to point out all of the good in small intimate weddings felt really important to me. Of course, anyone can decide to have any size event for any reason, so just make sure to do your research and figure out your priorities before you start planning!

If you have thoughts, ideas, or questions… please drop them in the comments below and I will answer them as fast as possible!

But first, as promised, I wanted to quickly go over some resources for LGBTQIA+ couples who need inspo, are rescheduling, or just want to see more weddings with people like them. 

LGBTQIA+ Resources

Straight people are the majority of like… every wedding platform. So here are a few that focus exclusively on the wonderful LGBTQIA+ community!

LGBT Weddings

LGBT Weddings is a great resource! 

They have Design/Décor, lists of new age Traditions, a supportive and Safe Vendor catalog. In the past I have partnered with them to give away a free wedding photoshoot and I support them completely!

Offbeat Bride

I am also a featured vendor and have been published by Offbeat Bride!

They focus on a really unique style. unique themes, a safe and SUPER creative vendor list, and TONS of inspo. I highly recommend heading over there.

Equally Wed, Rainbow Network, Purple Roofs, and

Equally Wed as well as Rainbow Wedding Network are big names in the industry. They have lots of blogs on LGBTQIA Issues and How to Deal with them and they too publish real weddings that you can view and feel inspired by.

Of course, a wedding isn’t just the wedding, that’s why Purple Roofs and are here to help with extra fancy destination weddings and some amazing honeymoon locations for queer couples. Unfortunately, we still live in a world that isn’t fully inclusive to the LGBTQIA+ community and its members, so these sites have done the work for you to find spots that ensure safety, takes away all the stress of planning, and provides all the details you could possibly need for the best trip ever.

My ask this week is that you share this little series with your friends and on your social media because I really want to up my audience and help more people wedding plan. I’ve got a lot of great stuff planned for the coming weeks! As a reminder, I’m Kate, owner of Katherine Elyse Photography, Sacramento’s premier LGBTQIA+ wedding photographer. Please be sure to join me on the next episode 7 of Wedding Wednesdays where we’ll be chatting about Wedding Party fun; how and when to put together your dream team! You can find me on all platforms at @LoveKEPhoto. I hope you’ll stop by and say hi! Don’t be shy to shoot me a message!

About Kate

Kate Cohen (she/her) is an International LGBTQIA+ wedding photographer based in Northern California who is focused on storytelling, candid captures, and iconic portraits of couples all over the globe.

Comments Off on Wedding Wednesday: Episode 6 – Large vs. Small Events & LGBTQIA+ Resources


LET’S WORK together TO MAKE SOME magic

See what Katherine Elyse Media can create for you!

Work With Me