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Planning an Intimate Wedding: Tips for Success

Many couples are looking for an intimate wedding with a smaller guest list. However, it can be difficult to plan a small wedding because of the costs and logistics involved. This blog post will break down some tips for planning a small intimate wedding to make your special day as personal and memorable as possible.

You’ve been engaged for a few months and are now at the point where you need to start planning your intimate wedding. You’re likely feeling overwhelmed with all of the decisions that need to be made, but don’t fret! We have some tips on how to make it easier for you.

It’s a big decision. Do you want to elope? If not, do you want a small wedding with close friends and family or a larger event with people from your past? The next step is deciding on the location. There are so many options; where will it feel like home for you? What about the budget for this special day? We’ll help by giving some tips on how to plan an intimate wedding!

Find a venue that is close to your home so guests can more easily travel there.   Invite family members and friends who are local rather than those from out of town.

This will help reduce costs as they won’t have any accommodation or transportation costs associated with being there. However, be sure to budget accordingly because it’s likely to be difficult to get enough money together if both partners are working full time or even part-time.

Planning an intimate wedding can be a beautiful and personal journey. Couples who choose to have a more intimate wedding may do so for many reasons, but the most common is that they wish to maintain the integrity of their relationship with each other.

The couple will spend less time planning, as fewer guests are, but it can still be just as special if you plan accordingly! You may want to consider hiring professional help or enlisting family members to save on cost and find people who care about your day. We’ll provide some tips below for starting on this process!

Planning an intimate wedding can be a challenge for some, but not to worry! We’ve compiled a list of tips and tricks to help you plan your dream day.

From the location and food choices to music and invitations, we have everything you need to make your small-scale event all it can be. Read on for more information about how you can plan an unforgettable day that will leave your guests with nothing short of awe.

Reasons To Have An Intimate Wedding

The wedding industry is forever changing, with more couples taking the less traditional approach. Intimate weddings are becoming more popular and having attended a few ourselves; an intimate wedding is our preference. There is a different kind of vibe, and as cheesy as it sounds, it’s the warm fuzzy kind of feeling! You can feel the love where everyone is buzzing because they are spending time with their favourite people. Because it is a special occasion, that equates to extra love all around.

So if you are yet to decide on what kind of wedding you want, read on and discover why your big day can, in fact, be small but grand in personality.

1. Relax With Closest Friends And Family

Your marriage should be celebrated with the people that matter to you most. Everyone hates the dreaded guest list!  Make it easier on yourself and only invite those you actually want there.

By surrounding yourself with your loved ones who know you best, you will feel relaxed and be able to enjoy your special day. Forget inviting distant relatives that you didn’t even know existed; an intimate wedding is a perfect solution!

An intimate wedding offers you a celebration with close-knit friends and family where you don’t have to worry about putting on a show. Good company goes a long way, and it is always the people that make it special anyway.

So rid yourself of the social obligation and spend time and welcome your guests in an intimate environment, where they will also find mingling a pleasure in smaller crowds.

2. Splurge

However, you could go the other way and pull out all the stops! Because there is a smaller guest list, you can afford to splash out on a destination wedding or weekend wedding, treating your guests to something special.

Maybe you had your eye on that dream dress or a band you both want. It’s your day, after all! So why not go a little crazy and spend on the things that matter to you.

3. Get Creative And Customise

There are some great quirky venue choices you can go for, from small castles to museums and pubs. You can really choose somewhere that reflects you both and create a truly all-encompassing day of your personalities. Of course, you want your guests to say, “That is so them!”

With a smaller wedding, you can afford to go into detail and personalise, especially when it comes to DIY projects or wedding favours. You can spend more money and get a favour that will really wow your guests. Go that extra mile and show your token of appreciation with bespoke gifts. Guests will love your creativity.

4. Save Money With An Intimate Wedding

This is the one you were waiting for! But, of course, by cutting down your guest list, you will ultimately save the bank account.

This is one of the main reasons couples opt for an intimate wedding to stay within their budget. Money saved here can go towards treating yourselves to that honeymoon you have always dreamt of. (Says the wanderlust in us!)

5. Make It Special With An Intimate Wedding

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By having an intimate wedding, you have already broken the mould of wedding traditions, so your guests are more likely to remember the experience. Consider adding on a pre and post-party to make even more fond memories with your loved ones.

You get to spend more time enjoying your engagement because you won’t be consumed with all the wedding planning and stress of planning weddings on a larger scale. So instead, spend that time as a couple and enjoy the honeymoon period whilst it lasts.

Your photographer can really focus on capturing those special moments of you both as a couple instead of gathering guests for large group photos. Love the moment and embrace the intimacy between friends and family whilst the camera clicks away.

13 Tips for Success

1. Give Yourself Time to Plan

First and foremost, an intimate wedding doesn’t necessarily mean it can be planned in a day. There are still several decisions to be made and to-dos to check off. If you’re booking a venue, calendars will most likely fill up fast in 2021, with lots of 2020 couples re-booking. So put that at the top of your list, then work things out from there.

And if you’re planning to DIY any details (like this groom who built that rad arch) – start early! Projects tend to take more time and resources than you think so, it’s best to stay ahead to give yourselves some breathing room as the day approaches.

2. Edit Down Your Guest List

If you were dreaming of a large wedding, here comes the gut-wrenching part. We’d class an intimate wedding at under 75 guests, but there will likely be restrictions in place depending on where you live and your wedding date.

The good news is that people aren’t as likely to feel left out under the circumstances, so if you’re worried about hurt feelings, you can rest easy there.

Our best advice when it comes to slimming down your guest list is to keep your inner circle of family and friends involved. Surround yourselves with people who make you feel loved, comfortable, and supported. And once you’ve made your final list, consider the benefits!

As pointed out by Margaux: “The number one thing that affects your overall budget is your guest count. Fewer people means you can spend a little bit more per person and have nicer food, rentals, favours, premium alcohol and possibly more money to spend on other things that might be more important to you, like an awesome photographer or that designer dress you’ve had your heart set on.”

3. Personalise What You Can

Okay, hardest part over. Now the fun begins! A small wedding means you can put more of your budget and meaning into the details. Consider personalising a welcome gift and favours to make guests feel special. You could even think outside the traditional box here

“Things like welcome bags, entertainment, babysitting for the kids, more interactive elements like portrait artists, performers, or live musicians” are a few ideas suggested by Margaux. “Making your guests feel appreciated and special will go a long way to making your event memorable and unique, rather than large and cookie cutter.”

4. Plan Extra Events

If you love your people, you’ll be excited to spend time with them! An intimate wedding is an opportunity to plan events pre and post-wedding.

Besides the rehearsal dinner, you can consider welcome parties, brunches, spa trips, wine tasting, hikes, games of golf – even a group dip in the ocean! (But please remember to check with local authorities regarding openings, closures, and gatherings if you’re planning around COVID-19 restrictions.)

5. Wear Whatever You Want

Honestly, “do what you want” is our mantra forever, especially when it comes to small weddings. Wear anything that feels true to you – be it a pantsuit, a ballgown, or both! Of course, you could try blush, something embroidered, bold in black…or if you need a dress fast, here’s where you can find one that will ship right away.

6. Splurge on Your Must-Haves

When your guest list is smaller, your budget can go further. Chat with your partner to decide where you want to splurge! Go big on flowers, or book your photographer crush! Maybe amp up the cocktails or hire live musicians. Treat yourself – and your guests – to something special.

7. Hire a Wedding Coordinator

While an intimate wedding means more facetime with people you love, it shouldn’t be your job to wrangle them. A day-of coordinator is essential if you don’t have a planner (or even if you do).

They’ll be able to help move people from place to place if need be, and you won’t have to answer texts with last-minute questions while you’re getting your makeup done.

8. Make it a Meaningful Ceremony

This one (like everything else) is your call, but a small wedding gives way to lots of meaningful moments. The most of which, your actual ceremony. Think about ways to bring personal touches to your vows, or include guests at the moment. We love this idea from one of our GWS brides:

Our celebrant worked closely with us to craft a deeply personal ceremony that incorporated our guests in the most amazing ring warming ceremony. Our rings were passed around the ceremony for everyone to place wishes and love upon before we put them on.

9. Skip What Doesn’t Matter to You

However, a short + sweet ceremony might be more your thing! If you don’t want to include traditions, nix them. If you do, keep them! An intimate wedding is a perfect opportunity to make things very personal, and for you, that could mean changing it all up!

Besides traditions, certain expenses may not make sense. If you see a big chunk of your budget going somewhere that isn’t that exciting to you and your partner, take stock and ask yourself if you really need it or if it’s just something expected of you.

10. Set a Banquet Family-Style Table

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Please do it for the conversations but also do it for the photos. We won’t lie and say that we don’t stop to ooh and aah with every magical banquet table we come across. And family-style dining doesn’t make sense for a large gathering. But here’s a place where dreamy design details totally win out for an intimate affair!

11. Make it a Relaxed Atmosphere

If you’ve been a guest at a large wedding, then you know you’re lucky if you can snag a moment to congratulate the couple. So instead, use your time with a smaller crowd to connect and spend time with your guests.

Organise the day so that there’s breathing room for conversations and meaningful moments. It’s true that the day flies by — and even more so if you’re too busy to take it all in.

12. Plan an After Party

After the party, it’s the…silent disco, late-night snacks, karaoke!! We LOVE when couples take the time to surprise guests with a little cherry on top of the celebration.

If you’ve got some room left in the budget, put it toward a s’mores bar, bring in a food truck, order some pizza, or put out some games! Make it true to you and something your guests will dig — and then keep that party going!

13. Remember What Matters

Celebrate your love with your people. Not to get too sappy, but we love here, and that’s what it’s ALL about in the end. So make the moments count and breathe through it all. A wedding is a celebration of your beautiful relationship. No matter what comes along, you’ll always have each other!

Tips for Food and Drink 

1. Set Up a Food Truck Station

If a formal sit-down meal doesn’t feel right to you, a cool food truck might be just the ticket. You can get almost anything made fresh in food trucks these days, from fish and chips, tacos, hog roasts, wood-fired pizzas, paella, pie and mash, and BBQs to churros, waffles, ice cream, doughnuts, cookie dough and cupcakes.

2. Eschew Traditional Meal Times

As we mentioned before, you don’t have to have a late afternoon wedding breakfast. Instead, we love a massive brunch buffet with eggs, pancakes, avocado, and mimosas to drink.

For mid-afternoon, a picnic or afternoon tea is a lovely choice for a small wedding where you can mingle with finger sandwiches, cups of tea or teacup cocktails, scones, cake and more.

3. Nominate Someone as Chef

Not to cook the meal but to carve at the table. It’s a lovely way to serve food and break the ice at the table. Of course, you’ll make the nominated table chef feel extra special too!

4. Get Creative with Cocktails

If you’ve got 100 guests, having a bar making cocktails fresh, with a smaller guest list, this isn’t a problem. Design four signature cocktails that your barman can whip up on the spot, and make them with flavours you like or appropriate to the season.

Frozen margaritas or a twist on Pimm’s with ginger beer are lovely for summer; gin, brandy, apple and cranberry are all gorgeous autumn flavours.

5. Choose a Cake Alternative

By all means, get a wedding cake (a small one, or a larger one you can freeze the layers of), but you might find an alternative more social and enjoyable.

Stacking sweet treats like doughnuts and brownies are great for guests to take as they feel the need for something sweet, or make an interactive display with churros to dip in chocolate sauce or even a candy floss machine.

6. Eat Your Favourite Things

Most caterers will be happy to create something bespoke for an intimate dinner, so plan out with your partner exactly what you both love eating the most.

Don’t be afraid to do something that might not even be very ‘wedding-y’: if you love a takeaway-style curry, ask for one of those; if your favourite dessert is an apple crumble, don’t hesitate to ask for big dishes of it with pots of custard that you can serve yourself from at the table.

7. Get Baking

If it’s small numbers and you love to bake, make your wedding cake, brownies, cupcakes or even biscuits for wedding favours. Not Nigella in the kitchen? You might have a friend or family member who is and will be happy to bake for you!

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Tips for Entertainment

1. Hire a Band

Live music is your best bet for a small wedding. A DJ spinning tunes might feel disconnected from the atmosphere, but a solo acoustic act during dinner and a live Motown or festival-style act to dance to in the evening will be perfect.

A small wedding is all about connection, and live music is ideal for this. You don’t want a huge band that feels disproportionate to the number of guests either; a three or four-piece is perfect.

2. Paint Your Wedding Live

Some artists will capture your wedding in paint or pencil as it happens live. With a smaller guest number, the artist will be able to capture all of you. Search for an artist who fits your style; it could be street art, watercolours, pen and paper sketches.

3. Include Your Furry Guests

Take your pet down the aisle with you; dress them up and pose for photos; make them ring bearer. Dogs, cats, horses, rabbits and more are family too. You won’t have to worry about them if they’re milling around only a small group of people they already know.

4. Get Some Group Games Going

Group games will get all your guests interacting and bring lots of fun to the day. Outdoor games like giant Jenga or skittles are great or try something a bit more active like a piñata, rounders or the limbo.

5. Host a Ceilidh

You need about 20-30 people dancing for a ceilidh to kick-off. While you might not be able to have that many just yet, it’s a brilliant, fun and inclusive idea for your wedding entertainment to keep in mind. It doesn’t matter if you’re Scottish or not; it’s a unique, memorable (and slightly sweaty!) way to end a night.

6. Have a Stunning Send-Off

Sparkler send-offs look amazing in photos and have the wow factor. There are loads of ways to have a memorable send-off, though, like bubbles, smoke bombs, luminarias (candles in paper bags instead of environmentally harmful sky lanterns), ribbon streamers, glow sticks, feathers, paper aeroplanes, silly string, or even just throwing handfuls of dried herbs like lavender for a fragrant send-off.

7. Leave a Permanent Mark

We love the trend of planting a tree with your guests to mark your ceremony. It’s an eco-friendly and sustainable way of getting all your guests involved in the ceremony – they can each add a bit of dirt as you plant it – and you’ll have something you can look back on in years to come.

Conclusion

Overall, it’s your wedding day, so why spend it with people you will never see again after your big day, stick to your close circle of friends and family! Be comfortable and feel free to party the way you want because you know everyone will love the moment and get it.

If this sounds more like you than a large lavish wedding, what are you waiting for? Start planning that small perfect wedding you have always dreamed of. Create a unique and unforgettable intimate wedding that is a reflection of the two of you.

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