It’s true that right now, intimate weddings are at an all-time-high. If you’ve been at all considering the reasons to have an intimate wedding, you know they might be looking pretty appealing.
If you’re curious about intimate weddings and what they look and feel like, read on. I’m opening the journal today about my experience with them, what it’s like photographing them, and good reasons to host one.
Of course, intimate can mean different things – some people consider intimate to be less than 10, others less than 50. Whatever intimate means to you, already qualifies. Know that you don’t have to fit a certain mold in order to fit the definition of an intimate wedding.
To begin, would you believe than about 30% of what I photograph every year are weddings less than 20 people, and about 60% of what I photograph are weddings under 100?
It’s true. The intimate wedding may just be more popular than you think. Even before the crisis of having to change plans, so many couples have been choosing to scale down guest lists for the sake of wallets, sanity, and meaning.
So what are some reasons to have an intimate wedding?
1. You will be more relaxed.
Imagine this: a room of 200 people, and not only does every single one of them want to hug you and talk, but you have to coordinate vendors and traditions and everything on top of that. Your DJ is asking if you’re ready for the first dance and your caterer is asking if they can take the cake away to cut and all you want to do is sit and have a drink with your uncle.
Are you stressed out yet?
Having an intimate wedding means you can be more flexible with how things go down – and you’ll have extra control over calling the shots, even if that means NOT calling them. You’ll have more time to sit and relax and just be yourselves without the demands of everything around you. And with that said . . .
2. You get to spend longer quality time with your guests individually.
This is often a pain point for people who have large weddings – they didn’t get to say hello or thank everybody. How heartbreaking would it be to invite somebody to your wedding, a day of all days, and to not get to hug them or love them? Having fewer guests means you’ll gain more time in getting to sit down with each and every one of them for a meaningful talk and catch up.
3. You’ll have less to coordinate.
Remember when we talked about the DJ and the caterer and so forth? Unless you have a planner, it’s often overlooked that you’ll be the one coordinating all of these vendors on your wedding day – and that can lead to a lot of weight on your shoulders. While I pride myself in having my couples make very few to zero decisions on their wedding day, that can’t be said for all the vendors – and having a smaller wedding means you’ll have fewer elements to manage.
4. You can splurge.
While the overall cost of your wedding will decrease along with your guest count, it’s also true that you can be a more intentional spender with your money. Maybe you’re obsessed with florals and you can have larger bouquets or installations. Or maybe you’re a foodie and you can go all-out on your catering decision. Or maybe you always dreamed of a first dance under the stars, and now you can rent more outdoor lighting to accommodate that dream. Having fewer guests means you can more intentionally target that money into something that will bring you an immense amount of joy.
5. You can choose a unique or meaningful venue or location.
The amount of venues than can accommodate 200+ guests can be really limiting – but having a smaller guest list opens up opportunities to choose unique or meaningful locations, should you so choose. Imagine your favorite brewery or restaurant or the dive bar you met. The possibilities greatly open up for unique or special venues as your guest list closes down. Is your 200 person ballroom the venue of your dreams? Having fewer guests means you’ll have more room for dancing, snack tables, etc – without having to remove anybody from their tables to tear them down for such activities.
BONUS: You can focus on eco-friendly practices.
Large weddings can create anywhere from 400-600 pounds of waste. If you’re conscious about your impact on the environment, hosting an intimate wedding gives you more control over the footprint, and the ability to focus on eco-friendly practices.
My personal experience with intimate marriage parties
While I’m not here to insert my opinion into what your marriage party should look like, I am here to maybe quell some worries that you may have about making it smaller.
So many couples are worried about losing the overwhelming love on their wedding day, or they’re worried about hurting people.
I think the most important thing to remember here is that love grows to fill the space. With everything in life. And there will absolutely not be a shortage of love at your event. In fact, having fewer guests gives you a greater opportunity to be in that circle of love right when the ceremony ends. To be in a small crowd of people who want to just love you – which is difficult to do when there’s 100+ people. It’s less overwhelming, and more loving.
I’ve never had a couple say they wished they had a larger gathering, or that they felt like they were missing out on something because of the size of their event.
So no matter what road you decide to go down, be sure to venture down it with intention and integrity. Making these clear decisions for you as a couple can lead to nothing but exactly the marriage party you’re envisioning.
Did you have a small event recently? What were some of your reasons to host an intimate wedding? Share your experience in the comments!
Hey! I'm Makayla, a wedding photojournalist based in Duluth, MN and Saint Paul, MN.
I believe that stories are best told untouched, undirected, and with intentionality and meaning.
This blog is a space to share advice for couples about weddings, advice for photographers about witnessing events with intention, and steps to create decisions based on your values and what matters most to you.
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