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Does a micro wedding really cut costs? How much you can actually save

Micro budget? Try a micro wedding, UKAWP experts advise


Wooden wedding table on a rooftop in Santorini
March 30, 2023
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The trend for meaningful, intimate celebrations – which so many embraced during the years of the coronavirus pandemic – is here to stay. Elopements and micro weddings used to be significantly less mainstream, but these words are now a part of every newly engaged couple's vocabulary, and a genuine, widely-accepted alternative. 

But this raises the question: Can micro weddings actually have a big impact on your budget? HELLO!'s latest money-saving column with UK Alliance of Wedding Planners (UKAWP) elite member Valentina Ring from The Stars Inside explores what you can and can't save with a more intimate guest list.

Wedding planner Valentina dressing a table© Rebecca Carpenter Photography
Valentina Ring shared her advise on micro weddings

She said many couples are embracing the idea of a smaller guest list, liberated from the expectation that weddings have to be large or grand. They are choosing to invest their budget into elevating the quality of the experience for their nearest and dearest – which sound pretty good right? 

If you’re ready to celebrate your marriage vows but your wedding budget is causing you financial anxiety, then a micro wedding might be your answer…

How much money can you save with a smaller guest list?

If you’ve started researching wedding services and suppliers to get an idea of costs, you may have already begun realising that most elements of a wedding scale with the number of people you have.

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Let’s have a look at some concrete examples, such as catering, florals, beauty, stationery, cake, production and entertainment, furniture hire, and transport.

Catering

Wedding table in a majestic castle courtyard
Save the most on catering costs with a smaller guest list

Your catering and drinks expense is possibly the category where you can save most by cutting guests: these days you can easily spend £250 per head once you account for canapés, a seated meal, drinks, equipment, and staff – and that’s not even considering extra alcohol for the evening party.

Flowers

Your floral budget won’t need to cover as much either, because you’ll have many fewer guests sitting down to dinner; filling a single table of 6-8 guests with flowers, candles and tealights can easily add up to £300 per table.

Stationery

You’ll also be saving on stationery by sending fewer save-the-dates and invites, as well as ordering fewer menus, table numbers, place cards, and thank you cards.

Beauty 

Hair and make-up fees are based on bridal hair and make-up plus per-person costs depending on how many bridesmaids, mothers, and additional guests have beauty services. 

Having a cosier wedding means you can have a smaller bridal party, or you can get rid of the idea of bridesmaids altogether if it’s a tradition that doesn’t feel right for you.

Cake

A single-tier cake that serves 10 is a very different investment from a three-tier cake that serves 100; you could be jumping from £150 up to £1,000+.

Extras

Bride and groom dancing at night next to their wedding table© Rebecca Carpenter Photography
A smaller guest list means fewer chairs and tables to hire

A smaller guest list also means that the scope required for production, furniture hire, entertainment, and transport is significantly simpler too: fewer chairs and tables to hire, a single live musician instead of an eight-piece band, one suspended chandelier instead of twelve, one taxi or minibus instead of two full-size coaches, a single PA system instead of a full dance floor set-up – and so on.

RELATED: How to choose stunning wedding table settings and decor on a budget

What wedding costs will stay the same regardless of the guest list?

There are, however, certain elements that – should you wish to include them in your wedding – cost the same regardless of whether you invite 20 people or 200. For example, the cost of having a registrar or celebrant officiating your ceremony remains the same. 

Flowers

When it comes to florals, as mentioned above, you can bring the overall cost down – but certain elements will cost what they do regardless of whether it’s just the two of you or there are hundreds of guests with you: a luscious floral arch, a bridal bouquet, a buttonhole for the groom, and flowers for your sweetheart dinner table, for example. 

Stationery

A stationer will charge for design time for a bespoke stationery suite regardless of the number of items being printed, but – like florals – you’ll be able to spend much less overall by requiring fewer paper goods as a whole.

Beauty

Hair and make-up artists will charge for a bride’s beauty services in the same way for a micro wedding as they do for a larger one, but – as stated above – you can save by not needing additional services for extra guests.

Photography

Bride and groom dancing underneath fairylights at night© Rebecca Carpenter Photography
Photographers don't necessarily have to work long hours for smaller weddings

Photographers and videographers generally have standard packages which are based on the number of hours of coverage, not the number of guests. However, most couples who elope or have a micro wedding have the flexibility to schedule the day in such a way that requires fewer hours of coverage (e.g. a six-hour package, instead of a 10 or 12-hour one). 

You certainly won’t need as long for your group shots, for dinner photos, or party photographs as you would for a large wedding. 

Venue

Your wedding venue is another category of expense where you can make great savings by having a small guest list. You won’t need to invest in exclusively hiring huge areas made up of multiple rooms – unless you want to of course! 

You’ll be able to broaden your search away from traditional hotels and over to restaurants, hotel suites, galleries, gardens, wine bars, and even nightclubs. Many of these will be able to offer you unique private spaces, with great indoor and outdoor options, as well as gourmet food and curated decor that won’t need much embellishment.

If you’re open to hosting your intimate wedding on a weekday and out of peak season (i.e. not in summer) you’ll have an even broader choice of venues, and even better prices. 

Bride and groom on the oceans edge© Rebecca Carpenter Photography
Avoiding summer months can reduce venue costs

Another benefit is that venues tend to relax their requirements when it comes to intimate weddings: they won’t impose minimum food and drink spends, minimum number of nights for overnight stays, and typically won’t charge as much for cleaning or staff fees either, as smaller weddings cause less disruption and damage to venue grounds. 

There are of course certain types of venues where exclusive hire costs the same regardless of the size of the celebration – but that’s why you’ll benefit from thinking outside the box, reaching out to smaller, boutique venues and locations that aren’t conventional wedding venues. 

The secret is finding venues that target smaller groups for private hire, and who not only welcome this kind of booking but will be willing to create hire options tailored to you; rather than feeling like a "round peg in a square hole", trying to adapt wedding packages made for large weddings to your intimate gathering.

So, it's definitely not true that every element is cheaper when having a small wedding – but it is true that by cutting the guest list you can significantly reduce the overall expense – while at the same time increasing the budget per person. 

It means you can still indulge in the things you love, work with amazing vendors, honour your priorities, and treat yourselves and your guests to a really personal, luxurious experience – without overextending yourselves beyond the figure you’re comfortable spending. 

You could curate a menu of fine food and wine pairings, or order personalised dessert selections, which is precisely the kind of meaningful luxury every guest will truly enjoy and remember. 

Having a larger guest list often means that you find yourself spending a considerable chunk of money on things that don’t matter that much to you – and you have less control and breathing room for splurging on those things you love and cherish. 

Many couples, particularly after the 2020 coronavirus pandemic, are reassessing their priorities in terms of starting families, buying houses, starting businesses, and much more – and being intentional with the money invested in their wedding day is more important to them than ever.

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Check out UKAWP Member Valentina Ring from The Stars Inside or follow her on Instagram @thestarsinside for all your wedding planning needs.

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