13 Ideas to Host the Small Intimate Wedding of Your Dreams

When you have a smaller group, every detail can matter so much!

Published February 18, 2023

All weddings are meaningful, but if you're having a smaller celebration of your love, you can go all out with every detail. From real ways to involve guests in the ceremony to special locations only accessible to a few people, intimate weddings offer lots of freedom to add meaning and magic to your ceremony and reception. These ideas can help inspire you.

Limit the Guest List to Your Nearest and Dearest


A wedding is a milestone, and it's a great honor to share that with the people who matter most in your life. It's not easy to keep that guest list small, though. Don't stress; you've got this under control. Here are some tips to for keeping your wedding intimate and special while not snubbing anyone:

  • Think about your dream wedding and the number of people there. Set your guest limit based on that vision.
  • Working out from you and your spouse-to-be, list the most important people in your lives. These may be people you want to consider inviting.
  • Consider skipping having a "plus one" for each guest and think about the possibility of making the event adults-only.
  • Be open to the idea of limiting your list to a specific group, such as family-only.
  • Think about holding a small wedding in a location that imposes a strict limit, such as a remote mountaintop or a boat that only has room for a few passengers.

Plan to Spend More Time With Guests


At a large wedding, the couple getting married rarely has time to spend more than a moment or two with each guest, but if you're having a smaller event, you can give each person the attention they deserve. This means a lot, both for you and for the guests. This is an important moment, and the time you spend together is how you share it.

Quick Tip

Think about how much time you'd like to spend with each guest or family and then plan that into your wedding schedule. That way, you'll know you can give each person the time you want to.

Have Your Wedding at Home


Your back yard or living room might not have room for hundreds, but it probably has space for an intimate celebration. You can host your wedding in your own house, one of your parents' houses, or the home of a special friend. This is a really meaningful choice, since the place of your wedding is a location that represents comfort and love.

Consider a Destination Wedding


Holding your wedding at a special destination away from home also lets you limit the guest list in a natural way. There are lots of spots that make amazing destination wedding locations:

  • Tropical resorts or beaches
  • Castles or historic buildings
  • Ships or yachts
  • Mountain lodges
  • Parks in other states or countries

Try a Remote Location for Your Small Wedding


Know what's great about a limited guest list? You don't have to stress about the logistics of trying to get 200 people to a remote waterfall or mountaintop. You can get married anywhere you want, so that opens up all kinds of possibilities for meaningful locations the two of you have been to together or places you've always wanted to go. These are some of the most picturesque spots too, so your wedding photos will be stunning.

Quick Tip

If you have important guests with special mobility needs (like a grandparent, for instance), take the time to work out the logistics of how they can attend your remote wedding. There's usually a way to make this work, but it can take a little extra planning.

Make Your Invitations Personal


A small guest list frees up time for super personal invitations. You can make the cards by hand or order some special invitations you wouldn't be able to get in large numbers. There are lots of ways to add a personal touch:

  • Hand write the addresses, but also consider hand writing the entire invitation.
  • Add original artwork to each invitation.
  • Consider adding a personal and specific reason you want each guest there with you.

Involve Every Guest in Your Intimate Celebration


One of the many wonderful pros of having a super intimate wedding is that you can get everyone involved in your special day. Each person can have a job to do, and each job can add meaning to the event. For example, your children or younger family members can be attendants in the wedding, your uncles and aunts can be ushers or help with the guest book, and your parents and special friends can offer readings or blessings during the ceremony. Making everyone a part of your day will make it incredibly special.

Go All Out With the Music


A smaller guest list means big-ticket items like the band or music for your wedding can take on even more significance. Everything will feel much more personal, including the music you use to walk down the aisle and dance your first dance as a married couple.

One really meaningful option is to hire a local musician or band to play live. You won't have to worry about a fancy sound system at an intimate venue, since everyone will be able to hear the music without microphones.

Decorate With All Your Heart


With an intimate wedding, you have more time and more of your budget to devote to details like the decorations. Throw yourself into making this the most beautiful wedding ever with gorgeous decorations you might not be able to use at a larger event. Think elaborate alter or arch arrangements, ribbons hanging from all the trees near the wedding, flowers on every chair, and an aisle lined with your favorite blooms.

Let your wedding location inspire you too. Pick up hues of mountain lakes or prairie backgrounds to make your wedding picture-perfect.

Get Intimate Photos of Your Small Wedding


Hire a photographer who will prioritize emotion in your wedding pictures, especially since this will be such an intimate event. When you consult with your photographer, talk about the size of the wedding and the type of images you want.

Your wedding photos are your memories of your special day, but a photographer can only be in so many places at once in a big wedding. A small, intimate wedding is totally different. The photographer can capture the most emotional and meaningful moments with much more ease, since they can focus on the two of you and your closest family and friends. You'll get angles and images you never could with a larger affair, and these pictures will become your family heirlooms.

Go All Out for Dinner


A small wedding means dinner can be even more wonderful. Plan for ways to make the meal special, including these mouth-watering ideas:

  • Serve food that fits with everyone's dietary needs. Since the food will be custom made on a small scale, you can accommodate most requests.
  • Don't limit yourself to food that works on a buffet or can be plated quickly to take to lots of tables. You'll have fewer meals, so the presentation can be elaborate.
  • If you have a favorite cuisine that takes a lot of prep time, you can include it in your menu for a small wedding.
Quick Tip

Want to stick to a budget and still serve an amazing meal? With a little help from friends and family, you can actually pull off a wedding dinner that doesn't require a caterer. Think BBQ menu items, picnics, simple potlucks, and other personalized options.

Have Your Cake and Eat It Too


Your wedding cake is another detail you can totally customize with a small wedding. Don't settle for standard designs or a cake flavor you don't love. This isn't going to be a huge cake, so there's no need to skimp on the personalized parts of it. Try some of these ideas:

  • Have a custom color for the frosting or a beautiful mirror glaze.
  • Pick an unusual flavor you know everyone at your intimate celebration loves.
  • Decorate the cake with photos or delicate details that might get lost on a larger cake.

Ask Guests for Personal Messages


Instead of a guest book or sign-in, have guests write personal messages for you and your new spouse. Because there won't be so many people in line to leave messages, guests can take more time and offer good wishes and blessings for you two and your future. You'll love looking back on these in years to come.

Announce Your Good News


If you're having a small, intimate wedding, you can share the big news with lots of people after the fact. Don't forget to take lots of photos and share them online with wedding captions and quotes. You can also send pictures and announcements to friends and family who weren't at the event.

The perfect size of a wedding is one that allows you to celebrate the way you want and with the people you want to include. Don't feel pressured to add to your guest list because other people do. Just like there's no proven formula for a marriage, there's no set number for the right size of wedding. An intimate celebration can be perfect.

13 Ideas to Host the Small Intimate Wedding of Your Dreams