What It’s Like Being A Bride With A Tiny Family

May 18, 2018  |  
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I come from a rather small family. Neither of my parents has siblings. I myself only have one sibling, and one living grandparent. What makes matters more complicated is that my parents are divorced, and that wasn’t pretty and left my dad now with a new woman who tries to isolate him from me and my sister as much as possible. Needless to say, this is not the giant, connected, involved family you may find in movies like “My Big Fat Greek Wedding.” We are small. We live in different places. And we’ve gone through some events that have left us a little fragmented. It’s okay—I love my family and wouldn’t change a thing. But I do know that when I plan a wedding one day, the nature and size of my family may complicate things. In fact, I’ve seen it happen to friends in similar circumstances. Here is what it’s like being a bride with a tiny family.

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Your side feels financially cheated

If the bride and groom’s families are splitting the cost, the smaller family feels a little cheated. Technically, only a small fraction of the guests enjoying the food and open bar will actually be coming from their side. And, yet, they have to pay for half of everything?

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You want the date to favor them

Considering how small my family is, if even one or two members cannot attend my wedding, their absence would be very noticeable. If one or two of the groom’s guests—of which there are a lot—couldn’t attend, it wouldn’t be such a big deal. Naturally, I wouldn’t hate it if we chose a date that made it easiest for my family to come.

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You want the location to favor them

Building on that last point, it also seems fair we’d choose a location that made it easy for all of my family to come. Again—there are so few of them. If we lose three due to travel issues, we practically lose a quarter of my guests.

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His family sees it the other way

Of course, the groom’s large family will see things the other way around. They’ll feel like making their side travel, since there are so many of them, is unfair. But it’s not exactly like one person is covering all of those individual’s travel costs. So I don’t see how that affects things.

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You outsource bridesmaids

It feels nice to have family, or soon-to-be family, in the wedding party. So, a bride with a small family may borrow some of her soon-to-be sister-in-laws or cousin-in-laws to be her bridesmaids.

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You push more for your traditions

Small families need extra ways to feel represented in the wedding, which is why when the bride’s family is tiny, they may work extra hard to get their traditions and history as part of the ceremony or reception.

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The photos are awkward

The photographer will likely want to do one session of photos that’s just with the groom’s family, and one session of photos that’s just with the bride’s family. The latter section ends pretty quickly.

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Every person wants a role

When the bride only has a handful of family members attending the wedding, they can each feel entitled to a role (ring barer, parent of flower girl, DJ…) The groom’s side is more understanding that they may not all be included because, well, there are just too many of them.

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His family can feel overbearing

When you come from a tiny family, you’re just used to having more…space. You’re used to having more agency over your life and decisions. Planning a wedding with a man who comes from a big family can mean you deal with his family being more involved than you’re used to.

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The his side/her side thing won’t work

You can’t do the traditional thing where his side of the family sits on one side of the aisle and her side sits on the other. The bride’s side looks sadly empty.

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Limit speeches

You have to set a limit on speeches, otherwise, the bride’s family may give three speeches while the groom’s side gives twenty. It would just be chaos.

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You are getting a big family, finally

One of the perks (and it’s a big one) is that you finally do get a big family! And that’s kind of nice. While they may be there even when you don’t want them to be, they will also be there when you need them.

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You may not mind a small wedding

You may not mind the idea of a small wedding. In fact, you may have gotten used to that idea a long time ago and grown to like it. So you may need to warm up, now, to the idea of a large wedding because your partner might want that.

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You have to invite everyone

When your family is tiny, you don’t really have an excuse not to invite the handful of people you aren’t crazy about. It’s not like you can say that there are just too many family members already coming.

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Separating exes/estranged members is tough

You may have estranged family members, or even exes, coming to this. You can’t quite separate them because, well, there aren’t that many family members coming in general.

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