Although the first thing that may come to mind when planning a wedding is having a huge affair, eventually when the reality sets in and all the details become clear, it can send some couples into a tailspin. If this sounds like you, there’s good news: You can have the exact wedding you want, just on the smaller side. Scaling your celebration down to a cozy, manageable size will help to make it as intimate as possible for you and your guests. Plus doing it this way will help to show off the details that matter to you and your partner, and can also make your money and budget go further.
If you’re thinking about planning a small wedding, here are a few things you can do to achieve an intimate ceremony vibe without sacrifice.
If you're opting for a smaller wedding, one of the first things to consider is the guest list. To get that intimate feel, you’ll need a small guest list—ideally just your close friends and family. Think about who you want to be there and your relationship with them. Let how close the relationship guides whether or not you invite them. At the end of the day, this is your wedding—you have to feel good about who's coming and what you've planned. You want to feel completely at ease with those who you invite and know that they are an important part of your life. (You can always make a second list of people you’d like to send a wedding announcement to once the happy event has taken place.)
Now that you've tackled the guest list, the next thing to consider is the wedding venue. When you’re hosting a smaller event, you generally have more options. Everything from your favorite restaurant, a hotel, or even an outdoor park (with the right permits, of course) is fair game. Having a smaller guest list also means you can think out of the box when dreaming up the perfect place to host your intimate wedding. Think about your favorite museum, a local jazz club, or even a winery. Of course, you can also make a big wedding venue feel smaller in a lot of ways by playing with the table layout, adding more food and beverage stations, having several lounge areas for your guests, and more. As you tour different potential wedding sites, have your small wedding in mind. And be sure to ask if there are other events that day. Having something else takes place at the same time as your wedding could be distracting when you’re hoping for a more private, intimate vibe.
Another thing to keep in mind with a smaller wedding celebration is the service. When you’re planning an intimate event, the service should be out of this world. It’s also important to coordinate ahead of time to give your event an effortless vibe. Aim to have a timeline of events, such as when the ceremony takes place, the time of the reception and dinner, the entertainment, and any other activities you have planned, set way in advance of the big day.
When planning your wedding, you and your partner should sit down and discuss what elements of the wedding are most important to you. From there, you can form your wedding planning around that and highlight these elements in the wedding itself. Perhaps it's the food and or decor, or perhaps you both have your sights set on a specific location or venue that's a little out of your wedding budget. If you can decide on the things that matter most to you, you’ll be better equipped to decide where you want to spend your wedding budget. Because you have fewer guests, your money will go a lot farther, and it's up to you to decide how you want to spend it. Perhaps you want to go all out and have that paired seven-course meal complete with wine and whiskey tastings or a great photographer. Use that extra money on something truly special and important to you as a couple.
Because you have fewer people to accommodate, you can personalize every detail of the experience for everyone. Think handwritten menus, customized floral arrangements at each table, and as many candles as you can get your hands on. Instead of an array of small tables, you may also consider one long table or even a U-shaped table. This can help to create the mood that your guests are family and are there to celebrate you on your big day.
There are lots of ways to create a small, intimate wedding you’ve always wanted. Remember to be as creative as possible and try to see things differently as you plan. Have fun, emphasize the personal experience you want to have, and make decisions for your big day that reflect you and your partner.