30 is the magic number: why a small ceremony could be good for you

Thirty is still the magic, somewhat random number for people allowed to attend weddings and funerals. We all know what’s not so great about 30. It can be a difficult, almost impossible task to reduce a large list of family and friends to that. Large families will probably hit 30 before they’ve even got to their cousins. But are there any silver linings to this cloud? Is there any way that a small ceremony could be good for you?

Like everyone, as a celebrant, I’ve had to adapt to the new restrictions. In some ways, I’ve enjoyed the challenge. Some families have been relieved by the change. So, channeling my inner Pollyanna, I set my mind to think of as many advantages as possible of a small ceremony.  As it turns out, they are pretty significant.

The advantages of a small ceremony

Intimate: smaller ceremonies give you the opportunity to talk in-depth to your guests, in a way that’s impossible with a large group.

Less pressure: if you find the spotlight stressful, a smaller gathering will be easier for you. Only having your nearest and dearest around you could be just what you need to deal with stress, nerves or a sense of overwhelm.

Relaxed: large numbers require much more organisation, with lots of logistics to deal with eg who’s staying where, is there enough parking, special dietary requirements, mobility issues, entertainment for kids and so on.

Cost: a smaller event will be cheaper. With the average wedding costing £34,000 and even a modest funeral wake costing from £1,000, a scaled-down occasion could make a big difference. You always have the choice of course, either to save the money, or just blow the budget on fewer people!

Cosy: smaller numbers mean a smaller venue, which can bring a very cosy vibe. As we approach autumn and winter, you can indulge in the whole open fire, warm colours, winter wonderland theme.

Expectations: if you’ve been getting low-level direction, or overt expectations from your family or friends, maybe this is the perfect opportunity to free yourself of those and do exactly what you want.

Focus: What is your ceremony all about? When numbers are limited, it helps you focus on who’s most important and the love and meaning behind your ceremony – which will be the same, whether it’s in front of 30 or 300 people.

A small or large ceremony? Consider all your options

My advice is to consider all the possible options, and don’t reject anything straightaway. Maybe you’ll stick with your original plan, or maybe you’ll go with a small ceremony. There are so many ways to say ‘I do’, ‘farewell’: don’t feel you need to be limited to just what you’ve heard. Talking to a celebrant can open up new possibilities.

I hope that whatever decision you reach, it brings you a much-needed and genuine, Zen-like calm in these perplexing days.