Whether you're downsizing for budget reasons, a limited extended family, or because COVID-19 forced you to change your plans, hosting an intimate wedding doesn't necessarily mean skimping on the details or staying modest with your celebration.
If you're planning a wedding further out, you can consider including more people in your weekend group or traveling a longer distance, as long as everyone feels comfortable. Depending on exactly how small your guest list is, you might be able to accommodate everyone in one rental home or a few adjoining rooms at a nice resort.
In reality, having a more exclusive guest list can open an entire realm of possibilities, including a number of small wedding ideas that might not otherwise be practical with larger groups.
These small wedding ideas are ideal for creating an intimate and personalized atmosphere on the big day.
1. Choose an unusual venue
For a memorable experience, consider unexpected options that wouldn't be able to accommodate a large group of people. With a small guest list, the world practically becomes your oyster when choosing a wedding venue. Even if you're on the hunt for simple wedding ideas and are determined to keep your big day as fuss-free as possible, you shouldn't underestimate the power of a stunning venue as your backdrop.
2. Surprise guests with curated welcome boxes
If you're hosting a small wedding, you can consider skipping the traditional favors and curating welcome boxes or gift boxes instead. Wedding favors are a nice way to thank your guests for joining you on the big day, no matter the size of your guest list. This is a great opportunity to remind guests of any COVID-19 safety measures you've put in place for your wedding—use the gift boxes to equip everyone with a mask, hand sanitizer, and most importantly, a thank-you note to show your appreciation for their attendance. Especially, if you're having a wedding weekend or destination wedding.
3. Stay together as a group
For very small groups—we'd recommend five or six people at most—you can rent a vacation home and hunker down for a weekend-long wedding bash. Here's another popular small wedding idea you can consider if your original plans were impacted, or if you're simply looking for an extra-personal celebration. Choose a location that's easily accessible by car, and consider asking everyone to get tested first if you aren't already in the same quarantine group. Having your loved ones stay with you will make your celebration feel like a vacation and a wedding rolled into one!
4. Design a fancy wedding bar
This is one of our favorite small wedding ideas if you're looking for ways to add ambience and flair to an intimate wedding, or if you have a lot of space in your venue to fill. Whether you're serving booze or mocktails, the bar tends to be a gathering place at every wedding, so why not make yours stand out? Personalize your reception by creating a custom wedding bar using rental furniture and other decorative accents.
5. Make the decor extra-detailed
Other small wedding reception ideas include handwritten thank-you notes, individual wedding menu cards, or miniature cakes for each guest. Fewer guests on the invite list means more opportunity to go above and beyond with your wedding decor, especially for personalized pieces like escort cards and place cards that might be overlooked at larger weddings. Highly styled place settings are one of the best intimate wedding ideas and are an easy way to amp up the decor.
6. Upgrade your menu
Depending on how much you're spending, a smaller guest list might allow you to add a few "upgrades" to your wedding menu that wouldn't necessarily be practical for larger groups, such as extra appetizers, special wine pairings, personalized dessert selections, or creative food presentations. Your wedding meal is one of the most important parts of the day, but not surprisingly, it can also account for a big portion of your budget. Include a menu card at each place setting to give your guests the ultimate VIP treatment.
7. Include an entertainment element
If you're worried about keeping the energy going among a smaller group, we'd recommend incorporating some type of interactive element into your reception. You can choose to keep or skip as many wedding traditions as you like—remember, there are no rules when it comes to customizing your big day!