How To Shop Small For Your Wedding

how to shop small for your wedding from The Garter Girl

It's all about shopping small in our every day lives, such as a cup of coffee or a take-out meal at a restaurant, patronizing services in your neighborhood, or buying clothes a local boutique, and, of course, shopping small around the holidays for all those holidays gifts we plan to buy for everyone on our list. But, is it possible to shop small for your wedding too?

Are you wondering how to shop small for your wedding and support small, local businesses for your big day? You're in the right place because in today's wedding planning advice post, I'm sharing five tips for how to shop small for your wedding. Plus, I'm sharing  all the details behind what it means for couples to shop small for their big day!

how to shop small for your wedding from The Garter Girl

From your wedding dress, to your wedding venue, to all the cake, food, rentals and wedding gifts in between, there are so many unique ways to support small businesses and wedding vendors (most of which are all small business owners BTW) at the same time. What most newly engaged couples don't realize is that planning a wedding and booking wedding vendors is, in most cases, supporting small businesses.

Whether you're buying your wedding cake from a local bakery or finding your wedding dress from a gown boutique in your area or working with a wedding planner or a photographer, you are working with and booking a small, locally owned businesses for your wedding. Most wedding vendors and wedding services providers are small businesses. (I know this because I'm a small business owner with my shop of handmade wedding garter heirlooms here at The Garter Girl!)

In short, planning and hosting a wedding is in itself shopping small!

how to shop small businesses for your wedding from The Garter Girl

What Is Shopping Small?

Shopping small for everything in our lives is a buzz phrase lately. We hear it all the time in social media, or we hear people talk about how important it is to shop small. We have "Small Business Saturday," which is the Saturday after Black Friday on Thanksgiving weekend, as well as #shopsmall hashtags and other incentives to educate consumers about the importance of supporting small, local, independent businesses. 

But what does it really mean to shop small?

By shopping small, I'm talking about buying from and patronizing small businesses that aren't large box stores, retailers, chains or corporations. Big businesses can be large stores in person with brick and mortar locations and/or big online retailers. 

As a consumer, shopping small means spending your money at small business, buying their goods, and booking their services so they can keep the doors open to their business and continue to have a job themselves. Shopping small means going out of our way to find small businesses and making the conscious effort to seek out and find small businesses. It is making it a point to support small businesses with our dollars. 

When it comes to getting married and planning a wedding, there are so many ways to shop small and support small, local businesses with your wedding dollars. 

Shopping small for your wedding is everything from buying a cup of coffee from a local coffee shop in the neighborhood before you go to the local wedding dress shop to try on and purchase your wedding dress. It means having your wedding invitations designed by a local graphic designer and having your invitations sent to a local print shop in your area to have your invitations printed. It means getting your wedding rings from an independent, locally owned jewelry designer. It means stopping at the local nail salon to get your nails done before your engagement photo session with your photographer and buying your outfit from a small boutique in your neighborhood or online from maker on Etsy.

The list of ways to shop small for your wedding could go on and on throughout your entire wedding planning process from engagement to honeymoon.

how to shop small businesses for your wedding from The Garter Girl

Why Shop Small?

Shopping and supporting small and locally owned businesses is good for our economy. It means that more people are employed doing the work or creative business that they love. It fosters a sense of community when there is a collection of locally owned businesses to support our neighborhoods. When we support the small businesses in our neighborhood, those businesses support our neighborhoods right back.

But, small businesses, like restaurants, boutiques and service providers, need patrons. They need people to buy their services and use their products so that they can continue to keep their doors open and offer their goods and services. No customers, means no business. And no business means no jobs and no community.

Especially since the Coronavirus pandemic, the importance of shopping small has become more apparent as small, local business like restaurants and independent retailers are being forced to shutdown and maybe never to reopen again. Less and less people leave their house to shop and they are opting to stay home and stay healthy and safe.

With the pandemic, many are shopping online and having items shipped directly to their house, items that they would have otherwise gone out of their house to purchase, perhaps from a small business. It is such a luxury that we can shop online and have anything and everything shipped to our house. But the shift to online shopping favors the big online retailers who can offer free shipping and afford to pay for ads and offer really low prices that the small businesses can't compete with.

It is tough for the "little guys and girls" of small business during normal times to compete with the big, giants of online retail, but you add the pandemic on top of it and it is almost impossible to compete with the big online retailers.

how to shop small businesses for your wedding from The Garter Girl

Covid-19 & Weddings

The impact of the Covid-19 pandemic has been especially hard for the wedding and event industry. When people can't gather and have their corporate events and wedding celebrations, it means that thousands of small and locally owned businesses, such as catering, rental and lighting companies, photographers, videographers, cake designers, dress shops, wedding planners, music bands and DJs and more, aren't working to support those weddings and events.

During the pandemic the number of people who are allowed to safely gather feels like it is changing by the minute and it varies dramatically by area, which makes planning an event or a wedding especially difficult. Some areas don't allow any gatherings inside, some have shut it down temporarily, some allow it outside only, some areas you must wear a face mask to your event. It is all so confusing for engaged couples and the wedding vendors who service the events.

Many couples getting married during the pandemic have opted for smaller or micro weddings or have postponed their wedding or simply have canceled their wedding. They have changed up their wedding completely and are now getting married outside, having their wedding at home or have decided to elope just the two of them!

Also couples that would have normally gotten engaged and begun their wedding planning process have opted to not become engaged or they are planning much, much smaller weddings than they normally would have planned.

All of the change in gathering numbers and the shut down of events and weddings has impacted the wedding industry so hard. Many wedding small businesses are struggling to survive and stay afloat.

But, there is hope.

There are many small wedding businesses, such as myself at The Garter Girl, that are holding onto their business for dear life and biding their time until the pandemic is over and we can gather again. Many businesses have pivoted and opted to offer new and different services.

In the meantime as we wait for the end of the pandemic, shopping small for your wedding is so, so critical to helping these businesses make it through tough times. It's important during these pandemic times, yes, but shopping small for your wedding is important all the time.

There are are many things that engaged couples can do right now to shop small for their wedding. 

how to shop small businesses for your wedding from The Garter Girl

Here are my 5 best tips for how to shop small for your wedding. 

1. Service Providers Are Small Businesses

As I've talked about extensively in this post, most wedding vendors and wedding service providers are small businesses. Your photographer is a small business owner. Your wedding planner is a small business owner. The shop where you got your dress is a small business. Your catering company, florist, rental company and your venue are all small businesses. So, by simply planning a wedding and spending your money on services and products for your wedding, you are in fact supporting small, local businesses.  

2. Shop Small For Everything, Not Only Services

We've talked about the service providers for your wedding, aka those that do things for you. But, there are also many, many small businesses who offer wedding related goods and sell wedding products for you to purchase. The company that made your wedding dress and veil is most likely a small business. I know the place where you got your wedding garter heirloom is a small business! 

You have an opportunity to shop at small and locally owned businesses for all of the products that you'll purchase for your wedding too. Seeking out and purchasing products from jewelers, gifting companies, favor makers invitations designers and so many more who are small businesses is an easy way to shop small for wedding.

The trick to shopping small is to do the research to find the companies instead of defaulting to purchasing from big box stores or online retailers. I promise that once you start looking, it will be easier and easier to find more small businesses! 

3. Consider Your Registry Very Carefully

A big area that many couples use big box stores, chains and large online retailers for is their wedding registry. Whether they register a several different places through an online registry company or register with a large chain itself, it can feel really hard to register for your wedding at anywhere BUT a large business.

However, the wedding registry is where many wedding dollars are spent either by wedding guests who are buying you gifts or by you, the couple, as you seek to fill out your registry by purchasing items after your wedding is over. If shopping small is a priority for you, then you need to really make the effort to seek out small businesses for your wedding registry. 

You can register for your wedding on Etsy, where the artisans and businesses on Etsy are all small businesses. Etsy is a wonderful marketplaces of crafters and people who hand create everything from t-shirts to plates to furniture. Everything you would find a a big box store, you can find on Etsy. The only difference is that on Etsy the item will be handmade and it supports a small business. 

You can also visit the local stores in your area and register directly with them. If there is a furniture store or local department store that offers china or other items that you'd like as wedding gifts, you can visit those stores and open a wedding registry directly with the small, local business. 

Another two other options are to register to support a charity or non profit of your choice, or use registry website that allow you to accept cash gifts and then once you get the cash you can use it to purchase your own items from small and local businesses. 

how to shop small businesses for your wedding from The Garter Girl

4. Shop Etsy For All Things Wedding

I mentioned this a bit above in #3, but Etsy is a marketplace for all things artisan and handmade. Anything and everything you could find at a big box store or large online retailer, you can find on Etsy. However, Etsy curates it sellers and only allows sellers to sell items that they designed or made themselves. Most, if not all, of the sellers on Etsy are small businesses. 

When it comes to your wedding, you can register for wedding gifts on Etsy, but you, the couple, can also shop for your wedding products on Etsy and support the small artisans on Etsy. You'll find everything from wedding dresses, veils, bow ties, bridesmaid gifts, shoes, robes, jewelry, invitations and so much more for your wedding. 

Etsy is your source for online shopping when it comes to wedding planning and wanting to shop small.

5. Ask Your Vendors For Recommendations

A great source of shopping small for your wedding is to talk to the vendors that you've already hired. Get their opinion and ask their advice. See if they know of any other small or local businesses that they would recommend for your wedding. Most wedding vendors know all kinds of people and small businesses making and selling all kinds of wedding things. All you have to do is ask! 

Whether is your wedding planner or photographer, take advantage of their knowledge within their industry and local community and ask them what small businesses they would recommend that you support for your wedding.


So, there you have it! My recommendations for how to shop small for your wedding and support the local wedding vendor community in your area while planning your wedding. 

What about you? Will you make the effort to find small, local businesses for your wedding and shop small for your big day? 

Remember, you can shop for bluevintageclassic and modern garter heirlooms anytime in my garter shop or get in touch with me at for information on custom designing a garter just for you!

If you have any more garter questions, check out my garter 101 blog series or find all of my wedding planning advice here on my blog.