What is an Intimate Wedding? (+ Tips for Planning One)

All, Wedding

May 6, 2022

Bridget Bellucci

If a big wedding doesn’t really feel like you, but you don’t want to downsize all the way to an elopement, I’ve got something that might be just right– an intimate wedding! The intimate wedding is somewhere in between, for couples who don’t want to throw a huge traditional wedding but still want to celebrate with their loved ones. Read on to hear all about planning an intimate wedding, and get some tips + advice to help you create the perfect day!

A sparkler exit at an intimate wedding. The bride and groom stand in the middle looking up, as their limited guests stand around them smiling and holding up sparklers too.

What is an Intimate Wedding?

A lot of new terminology has popped up over the past few years – elopements, micro weddings, intimate weddings… So one of the first questions a lot of couples have is “what is an intimate wedding?”

An intimate wedding is a smaller celebration, usually with around 20 – 50 guests. It allows you to spend more time with your loved ones, and gives you some freedom with how you get married, and how you spend the day! 

Intimate Wedding vs. Traditional Wedding

Let’s look at how an intimate wedding compares to a traditional one, and what the differences are! If you aren’t quite sure which one is right for you, this might help you decide.

A bride and groom hold hands and walk under a cabin overhang, the bride in a wedding dress and the groom in a tan suit.

Guest Count

One of the biggest differences between an intimate wedding and a traditional one is how many guests you invite. Intimate weddings are intentionally kept intimate! There are fewer guests, so the time you spend with them tends to be more meaningful and intentional throughout the day. By keeping the guest list small, you’re making sure that the focus of the day is on the two of you, and celebrating with your loved ones.

There aren’t any strict rules when it comes to getting married, so the guest count for an intimate wedding isn’t an exact number or a line that you cross to turn an intimate wedding into a traditional big one. But, most intimate weddings include no more than 50 guests.

At an intimate wedding, the four guests gather around to look at the bride's wedding ring. She holds her colorful bouquet and everyone is smiling.

Intimate Wedding Budget

Another big difference between choosing an intimate wedding over a traditional one is the budget. According to The Knot, the average wedding in the US costs almost $30,000. Intimate weddings tend to have smaller budgets, because of course, there are fewer people- which means you’re saving money on catering, seating, invitations, cake, venue… and just about everything. 

Wedding Venues

And speaking of venues, this is another key difference between intimate weddings and traditional ones. Having fewer guests gives you more options for where you can get married, so you’re able to get a little more creative.

Big weddings are pretty limited to big venues- you need a place that can accommodate all of those people. But the smaller your celebration is, the more options you’ll have! You can look at the smaller, cozier venues to host your intimate wedding, but you can also think about other alternatives! Like a campground in a national park (though many parks do have special spots for bigger ceremonies). A cute Airbnb or cabin. A boat. A backyard (yours, a parent’s, a friend’s…). The restaurant where you had your first date… Think outside the box to choose a place that speaks to you!

Typically, the fewer the guests, the more options you have for potential places to get married. But, don’t let this deter you from inviting the people you truly want to be there! There are tons of options for intimate weddings of all sizes.

The Focus of an Intimate Wedding 

A really important difference between an intimate wedding and a traditional one is that the focus is on the couple, and on truly enjoying the day. It often feels like big weddings become about everyone else. The couple is so busy running around trying to please everyone, say hi to every guest, make sure things are going smoothly, etc… They hardly get to enjoy the day! Your wedding should be the best day of your life, not one that you hardly remember after it’s over!

With an intimate wedding, you make sure that everyone there is someone you truly want by your side on the day you get married. You celebrate with the people you love most, and you get a day you truly enjoy.

A couple is sitting at their intimate wedding reception. The bride is leaning into the groom, and both are smiling and laughing.

Planning an Intimate Wedding

Now that you know what an intimate wedding is, let’s talk about planning! The great thing is that planning a wedding with fewer guests is inevitably going to be less stressful, and more fun! You don’t have to worry about feeding and entertaining 200 people. You have more freedom to personalize the day, and you get to decide what’s important to you! Here are some tips for planning an intimate wedding, and things to keep in mind.

Creating a Guest List

One of the first things you’ll do when planning your day, is come up with a guest list. I’ll be honest- this can feel stressful! You don’t want to disappoint anyone or hurt any feelings, but it’s important to remember that this is your wedding day. You deserve to have it be exactly what you want, without outside opinions or pressure. 

When you sit down with your partner to make a guest list, be honest with yourselves and each other about who you want to be there, and how you truly want to spend the day. 

An intimate wedding ceremony is taking place, with a lake in the backdrop. The bride is reading her vows, while the groom stands across from her, wiping a tear.

Plan Something Fun!

Intimate celebrations give you more freedom, and you can make the day your own! Get creative and personalize your day- think about what would truly make this the perfect wedding. 

For some couples, that might mean celebrating with family and friends in the morning and spending the evening hiking alone. It might mean taking one day to be with loved ones, and one day for just the two of you (or maybe a bigger reception to celebrate with everyone). You could rent a boat and party with your closest friends. You could invite your loved ones to stay at a cabin and cook s’mores over the fire. Or you could get married at a local park and celebrate in the picnic area… anything you want to do, you can make it happen! There are no rules, so don’t be afraid to dream big when it comes to planning your intimate wedding.

Hire an Intimate Wedding Photographer

The best thing you can do for any type of wedding, is hire a photographer! I can help with everything from being your cheerleader, to creating a timeline, to helping you figure out logistics. My job is to make sure you have the most incredible wedding day ever, so I’ll get to know you and be there every step of the way! 🙂

Contact me if you’re ready to plan an intimate wedding!

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