Is Boutique Better?
Wedding experts weigh in on why less can mean more on your special day.By Stacey Marcus
In the mid-1800s, Robert Browning penned a poem with the line, “Less is more.” Architect Ludwig Mies van der Rohe later heeded these words in his minimalist designs. Today, couples are applying the “less is more” notion to their nuptials. Like bridal gowns, weddings are not one-size-fits-all, and couples are finding that “small” may be just the right size for their big day.
New England wedding planner Janie Haas of Janie Haas Events says the most obvious reason to have a small wedding is budget. And while it is true that hosting an affair for fewer people may equate to spending less money (think less food, seating, centerpieces, etc.), she notes that small may not always mean less expensive. “You can have a backyard or barnyard wedding for 250 people that may cost less than a wedding for 50 people at a five-star location,” she says. Haas notes that choosing to host a boutique wedding is often about personal preference. Some couples like privacy, while others value intimacy. But a growing number of partners fancy authenticity.
Unique wedding venues are more readily available for couples who are planning small weddings. Outdoor gardens, museums, favorite restaurants or backyards are just a few examples.
Cara Gale, private event coordinator at Chapel Grille in Cranston, Rhode Island, says that the historic venue (formerly a chapel, as its name suggests) is an ideal spot for smaller weddings, with several event spaces to choose from. The restaurant’s four-season al fresco-style skyline terrace has floor-to-ceiling accordion-style windows and can accommodate up to 50 guests, while the lower-level wine salon, with an adjacent outdoor garden terrace, can host up to 80 guests and is perfect for indoor/outdoor receptions. Depending on the size of their guest list, couples can even exchange vows on the terrace against a beautiful stone backdrop. Along with an opportunity for a cozier gathering, Gale says couples can get more for their money when it comes to food and have the option of selecting an elevated menu and finer wines.
Carrie Bergin, event manager at SRV in Boston, says restaurants are the best-kept secrets for weddings, especially for couples who want to focus on the food. Newlyweds Phoebe and Massimo Holtzman knew they wanted a giant dinner party to celebrate their nuptials. “We took one look at SRV and fell in love,” says Holtzman. “The space lent itself to everyone mingling and getting to know each other. I couldn’t imagine how it could be any better.”
Extending the celebration beyond just one day is also easier when couples keep wedding parties small. “Couples can turn it into a family and friend extended weekend and it’s more than the actual celebration,” says Melissa Stewart, creative director at Inn at Hastings Park, a 22-room luxury boutique hotel in Lexington, Massachusetts. The inn, which can host up to 60 wedding guests comfortably, allows couples an opportunity to rent out and make full use of the property. It also offers personalized concierge services, including coordinating tours of the area and on-site activities, as well as curating customized menus to enhance the couple’s and their guests’ stay.
“What’s special about an intimate, smaller venue and wedding is that you actually get to enjoy everyone’s presence and time. When you get involved in big weddings you sometimes lose the reason why you’re there,” says Stewart. “[Hosting a smaller wedding], you actually get to share it with people … you can be a guest as well.”
In today’s wedding industry, there are no specific guidelines when it comes to weddings. “Couples are making the rules today,” says Bergin. Whether you are planning a big or boutique wedding, the moral of the story is … tell it your way!