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

All, Wedding

May 6, 2022

Bridget Bellucci

So you’re engaged! It’s time to plan one of the most important days of your life! One of the first decisions to be made is what type of wedding you want to have. If you feel a big traditional wedding isn’t your style (or in your budget) but you still want a ceremony and reception with family and friends, I’ve got something that might be just right– an intimate wedding! Read on to learn 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?

There are many unique types of weddings that have become popular in recent years – elopements, micro weddings, destination weddings, and intimate weddings, to name a few. The term “intimate wedding” can encompass all of these types, depending on the number of guests you plan to invite.

Typically, an intimate wedding is a smaller celebration– around 20-50 guests. Not only does a smaller wedding mean you have more personal time to spend with your loved ones but it will also free up more options for where and how you plan your special 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

The biggest difference between an intimate wedding and a traditional one is how many guests you choose to 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 your closest loved ones. There isn’t an exact invite number, but most intimate weddings generally 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 difference when 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. Fewer guests means you’re saving money on the venue, invitations, wedding favors, seating, catering, cake etc. This makes an intimate wedding a much more attractive option for couples who want to save money to start their life together, or leaves you with extra cash to spend on your honeymoon–travel further and stay longer!

Wedding Venues

So you’ve chosen a smaller, more personal, intimate wedding! The next step is to choose the right venue for your big day! 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 usually limited to big venues– you need a place that can accommodate all of those people. The smaller your celebration is the more options you’ll have! You can look at smaller, cozier venues to host your intimate wedding or you can start to think outside the box of traditional style venues! Think–an open area with a spectacular view in a national park! A cute AirBnB or cabin! A yacht! The restaurant where you had your first date! This also gives you the option to host a more affordable destination wedding in a unique place with great views. The possibilities are virtually endless!

Typically the fewer the guests, the more options you have for potential places to get married– 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 

One of the best parts about an intimate wedding is that the focus is on the couple. Big weddings can feel impersonal and “busy”. You have to find time to greet and socialize with every guest, as well as making sure that everything is running smoothly. In a big traditional wedding you may end up focused on running the show as opposed to enjoying yourself. 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 know that everyone you invite is truly someone you want to spend the day with. You get real one-on-one time with the people you love the 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! One of the best parts about planning a wedding with fewer guests is that it will inevitably be less stressful and more fun! You don’t have to worry about feeding and entertaining 200 people. Your day will be about quality time with the people in your life who matter most. 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 to make 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 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 lis, be honest with each other about who you want to be there. The smaller the guest list, the more time you get to spend with each guest, so narrow down your list accordingly.

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 so you can truly make the day your own! Get creative and personalize your day– think about what would truly make this the perfect wedding. 

Some couples might choose to celebrate with family and friends in the morning and spend the evening hiking for sunset photos. It might mean taking one day to be with loved ones, and one day for just the two of you. 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. 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 (or small!) 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 to hire a photographer! Photographers do more than just shoot your big day! You can expect me to get to know you as a couple and learn exactly what you want out of your big day. I will also help plan the logistics and keep you on your timeline. It is my job to make sure you both look your best, and keep you feeling your best!

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

  1. […] room for guests, so if you want something a little bigger than an elopement, it’s perfect for an intimate wedding with family and […]

  2. Great article about intimate weddings. As a limo rental company owner who had been to tons of weddings, I particularly favor intimate ones. They are just as special as grand traditional weddings. Plus, I see how guests really get to know and spend time with one another. The couple also enjoys the moment more and the simplicity is another perk.

  3. […] can host weddings of anywhere from 50 to 450 guests, making it perfect for every celebration- intimate weddings, big parties, and everything in […]

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