If you are planning a smaller wedding, it's most likely that you will get some strong reactions to your plans. Some of them will be supportive and sympathetic. These will most likely be from people who had a small wedding themselves, or were guests at one. Or they are people who have been through wedding planning hell and are envious of your wisdom.

But what you might get more of are the negative reactions. Some of these people are charmed by your plans but think you are naive. You'll get the patronising smile with "We thought we'd have a small wedding too, everyone does. But it never works that way."

You may also get strong reactions from family and friends. Your parents and friends may be supportive, especially if they know you well enough to think that a smaller wedding is a great choice. But they also may have mixed feelings. Friends may feel left out and upset that your plans will not include them. Family may be disappointed that they cannot invite colleagues or more distant relatives. Or they may worry that outsiders will think that your plans reflect their inability to spend money on the wedding.

Most couples seem to get some kind of negativity about their plans, and so you'll read over and over in wedding advice books that you should ignore it all because it is *your* wedding. This is a good thing to remember. However, it is also true that weddings are traditionally community events. They typically involve family and friends, and are crowed over, celebrated with, and supported by the larger society. So it's only natural that people close to you may feel some ownership in your wedding, and bring their own expectations to bear. That doesn't mean that you can't have a small wedding, it just means that you may need to try to understand why they might object.

You will be surprised how many times people will say "But you won't get all those great wedding presents!" Try not to laugh too loudly at this while you tell them "with the money we're saving, we can buy them all ourselves!"

Where to have the ceremony and reception?

The standard church ceremony, followed by a banquet hall reception isn't necessarily the answer. For one thing, those settings may be too large for your smaller gathering and you'd look and feel lost in such a large venue. Also, you might find that commercial reception venues - such as hotels - will not agree to host receptions with fewer than 120 people! But don't think of this as a problem - take advantage of the opportunities that come with having a smaller crowd.

I have successfully done many smaller weddings in restaurants, private gardens, B&Bs, chapels, museums, in helicopters, and on boats. Some of these places may not advertise an availability for weddings, but that's because they don't want inquiries from people with 200+ guests. You can always ask. Consider yourself lucky - you have some unique options that the average bride doesn't have!!

One caveat: A small wedding may make it easy for you to consider having the wedding, the reception, or both in your own or a relative's home. This is wonderfully intimate, but do not make the assumption that an "at-home" gathering will be significantly cheaper than having it elsewhere. Wedding venues normally have chairs, tables, and other stuff that you need for a gathering. Your private home doesn't. Depending on the size of your wedding, you may need to rent chairs, tables, tablecloths, dinnerware, and other items. This may add up more quickly than anticipated.

Whatever you do, take advantage of the smaller size to do some serious mixing and mingling. Too many couples say that they didn't get to spend enough time with their guests on their wedding day. You won't have this problem!