10 Ways to Maximize Your Intimate Wedding

Just because your celebration is small in attendance doesn't mean it lacks any wow-factor.

When beginning to plan the details of your wedding day, one of the first things to do is determine the size of your guest list. This will influence your wedding venue, which could even impact your wedding date. While many couples choose to have large celebrations filled with friends and family members from all walks of life, others decide to celebrate with a smaller list of attendees. These more-intimate weddings, while smaller in attendance, can still be magnificent events – sometimes even more so than a large-scale fête.

Fewer attendees will likely mean more room in the spending limit to curate the entire experience to your liking, so have fun with it! You'll want to thank your loved ones for attending the celebration, and what better way to do so than by personalizing the celebration with awe-inspiring décor, delectable food and drink options, and surprise entertainment? These are just some of the ways you can maximize your intimate wedding – see more ideas below!

Intimate wedding with only 50 guests long table flower chandelier drapery
Photo by KT Merry Photography

1. Send Gorgeous Invitation Suites
While many couples choose to go the inexpensive route when it comes to invites, there is something to be said about gorgeous couture invitation suites that have been custom-designed for a couple and feature stylish elements and details that none of your guests will want to throw away. These works of art are more expensive, of course, but with a smaller guest list, you'll have fewer to send out, making the investment appealing to even those with a tight budget. 

2. Host a Destination Wedding
If you have a smaller guest list and have the means, consider renting out a boutique hotel or estate to celebrate all weekend long with only your nearest and dearest on the property. Destination weddings are also typically smaller affairs – as not as many friends and family members will be able to travel for the festivities – so take the opportunity to plan a weekend full of events, provide activity recommendations for free time, and give your loved ones welcome bags to make them feel at home.

3. Plan a Welcome Party or Provide Gift Bags
If your spending limit allows (and you may have some extra room in the budget solely due to a smaller guest list), consider hosting a welcome party for all guests before your nuptials. If you'd rather keep the night before your ceremony reserved for a rehearsal dinner with an even smaller list of attendees, leave welcome gift bags filled with your favorite treats for attendees staying at the venue or nearby.

4. Have Exceptional Entertainment
A smaller list of attendees means less of your budget needs to go towards food and beverage, so consider hiring more entertainment for your ceremony, cocktail hour, and reception. Have a string quartet or harpist perform during the vow exchange, hire a lounge singer or jazz band to play during cocktail hour, consider a live band for the reception, as well as a DJ for the after-party. You could even have unique entertainment, including dancers, aerialists, animals, etc.

5. Find Ways to Personalize the Celebration
With fewer place settings, consider using your family's collection of china or antique glassware instead of rentals. We've seen some couples who have even purchased the chairs, settees, or other décor for their intimate weddings and later place the items in their home to add a special touch. It's also a great idea to handwrite a note for each attendee thanking them for coming.

6. Focus on the Fare
Food and beverage can be some of the most expensive elements of planning a wedding, so with a smaller guest list, you have the opportunity to create a menu that no one will soon forget. Instead of a salad plus choice of entrée, serve a five-course gourmet meal that focuses on delectable flavors, locally sourced ingredients, and wine or cocktail pairings.

7. Splurge on Libations
A list of attendees also means you won't be spending as much on alcohol, so make the drinks memorable for those in attendance. Instead of wine, beer, and well drinks plus a signature cocktail, purchase top-shelf liquor and hire mixologists to craft custom cocktails for your guests based on their preferred ingredients and flavor profiles.

8. Sit Family-Style
Instead of placing your guests at various tables throughout the reception venue, consider having everyone sit at one, long table. This will make the space feel more intimate and as though your loved ones are attending a high-end dinner party. It's still a good idea to make your rounds to each guest as those sitting at the ends of the table may not be able to converse with you easily.

9. Go Big with Décor
With fewer tables to dress, you can truly create centerpieces that look like they should be in a magazine. You could even craft a magnificent floral chandelier, have a flower wall as your ceremony backdrop, or any number of high-priced décor elements that you may not have been able to consider if you were decorating 20 tables.

10. Make Pre- and Post-Wedding Events More Memorable
In addition to the ceremony and reception, plan a variety of events throughout the weekend that your guests will talk about for years to come. Did you have a signature scent for your wedding? Consider attending a group class where guests can create their own fragrance. Did you serve delicious Italian food and wine in preparation for your upcoming honeymoon in Tuscany? Go wine tasting with loved ones the day after the wedding in lieu of a post-wedding brunch.  Whatever you choose to do, make it personal!

Discover 10 small wedding details that make a big impact, find out why some couples choose to have a small wedding, and find out how to host the perfect intimate wedding.

Authored by: Kelcy Christy