Intimate weddings are on the rise, perhaps spurred on by COVID and the current government limitation of 30 guests. I have a sneaking suspicion though that more and more couples are leaning towards small celebrations for other, more wholesome reasons. There are plenty of reasons to have an intimate wedding but here’s the 5 that sealed the deal for us.
We started planning a large wedding. A guest list of a hundred, an overnight affair and a five-figure price tag. We even picked a date and put down a deposit. We got excited about all the things we could plan, from the food to the band and the beautiful outdoor ceremony. But something just didn’t sit right. It wasn’t one thing to blame, though when we started questioning elements the tiny seeds of doubt grew into a ‘why are we actually doing this?‘ Because we love each other. Because we want to commit our lives together. Does that have to cost £20,000+ with a hundred pairs of eyes watching?
We discussed a few different options, including eloping (which we’d have probably gone ahead with had it not been for the pandemic) before settling on our reasons to have an intimate wedding.
1. You’re more likely to be able to do everything you want, when doing it on a smaller scale
Weddings almost always involve compromise. Whether dictated by budget, expectation or differences between what you and your fiancé want. In any wedding, you’ve got to decide what’s most important to you and prioritise that, but a reason to have an intimate wedding is that you’ll likely be able to opt for a lot more of the ‘nice to have’s. For example, we love great food. Serving a brilliant, memorable meal was always a priority for us, but feeding 100 gave us a significantly lower cost-per-head budget. Now that our wedding party totals 25 we’re able to spend double on an amazing lunch, and we’re still only at half of our would’ve-been spend.
2. You have total control of the guest list
I was adamant we wouldn’t fall victim to any obligation invites or pressure when it came to writing our guest list, but when you’re inviting a hundred people that’s a challenge. Whether it’s deciding which plus ones to allow, or whether to invite someone to keep the peace, it’s unlikely every single name is one you’re close to. I heard from so many people who said that 10 years on, they didn’t see half their guest list. A good rule of thumb became: who would we happily take out for a £100 meal? Who would we invite to an intimate dinner party in our home? Who have we seen or spoken to regularly in the last 6 months?
In the end, it was easy. We listed our closest family, and a few very close friends. There are a few others we’d have liked there, but pandemic-related restrictions gave us a strict capacity. In a way, it made it easier! We can honestly say every single person invited is someone who we are close to and cannot wait to share the memory with.
3. You will save a lot of money
Money doesn’t have to factor in the reasons to have an intimate wedding, but it’s okay if it does. We had initially agreed on a budget of £20,000 (less than the national average!). The basis of this figure was largely that I couldn’t imagine spending more than that, but even that figure made me uncomfortable. When we began to actually plot each item on to a spreadsheet, then a honeymoon on top, it became apparent just how easy it would be blow it.
Money is a very personal thing and there is no right or wrong amount to spend on your wedding day. For some, a big wedding is worth every penny. For me, it was an amount that I couldn’t fathom spending on one single day of my entire life. It wasn’t the main reason to have an intimate wedding, but I do feel a hell of a lot more comfortable with our new budget.
I won’t detail exactly what we’re spending, other than it’s four-figures, not five, and within that we’re having absolutely everything we want, with some leftover for the honeymoon too.
4. It’s way more relaxed – for you and your guests
Weddings can be really stressful. The planning process often takes up so much time, money and emotional energy that there’s a hell of a lot of expectation riding on the big day. One reason to have an intimate wedding is a virtually stress-free planning process, but also a more relaxed day for both you and your guests.
I’ve heard from a lot of brides that they spent a lot of their day worrying about whether everyone else was having a good time, and that everything was running smoothly. I feel more relaxed about my expectations of our intimate wedding: whereas rain would’ve spoilt our big summer festival style day, I have zero expectations of the weather in late October. All the ‘big’ things are planned and so far it’s been a stress-free process; there just isn’t the same scope to worry about or fuss over and conversations with suppliers are much simpler on a small scale.
5. A more intimate experience with those you love the most
Ultimately it comes down to this. Why are you getting married? Not for the big do but for the rest of your life with the person you love. To me, this is the main reason to have an intimate wedding: intimate memories to cherish with those that are closest to you. I worried that with a hundred guests, we wouldn’t even get 2 minutes with each one. That so much of the day would pass in a blur and that it would just be physically impossible to be ‘present’ for all of it. I’m so confident in our reasons to have an intimate wedding and that it will allow us to focus on all the small, precious moments and everything that matters most about saying “I do.”
I’d love to hear from others and your reasons for having an intimate wedding. Did you have a large one and wish you’d gone smaller, or vice versa? Or are you currently planning with your own reasons for an intimate wedding?
My wedding planner: The Inspired Stories Journal (discount code: BETH10)
Velvet ring box: this one from Etsy
Wedding invites: Papier (discount code: get £10 off here)
Even before 2020 happened, we both always wanted a small intimate wedding as we wanted to keep the budget low, the good food flowing and have a great laugh with those we love most. However, we felt the guilt of excluding many people from that first list. Thank goodness for the new guidelines giving us a reason that people are now more excepting of for not receiving an invite!
Sounds perfect! I don’t think of it as excluding, it’s just a small event and that warrants a small list. Xx
Unfortunately the boyfriend hasn’t popped the question but it’s something we’ve talked about. Obviously with us not being engaged so it’ll be a while off, but we’ve both agreed on a very small wedding, hopefully somewhere like Greece with our immediate family and extremely close friends! I doubt our guest list would exceed 20!xxx
The idea of a ‘big conventional’ never appealed to me (us! Haha), we were either going to have an intimate ceremony followed by a party or go abroad….we went to Italy with 26 other people! Spending longer that just the wedding day with out closest friends and family was one of the main appealing aspects! X
How lovely! 😍
Originally we were planning to have a big wedding (end of October this year hi 💁🏻♀️) but have basically replanned the whole thing. Lots of people asked us why we weren’t just postponing, but essentially we just want to get married because we love each, that’s the most important thing. Now that we’ve replanned the whole day, we have 26 guests and I am SO excited. I think I was really feeling the pressure of having a bigger wedding and having such an important day in front of soooo many people. We’re now having a party to celebrate next summer instead with everyone else who we’d have been inviting, and we are both just feeling so much happier about it 💖
Ah perfect! Good luck for your wedding 😍
We had around 90 guests at our wedding back almost 4 years ago now. And most were family! I liked the idea of doing a fairly small wedding at a cute farm near by. x
Zoey | http://www.zoeyolivia.com
I love this post! Whenever my boyfriend and I decide to get married, we already know that we won’t be having a big wedding. We both get very anxious around large crowds/when we are the center of attention, so it would be a perfect ceremony with only a few of our very closest family. 🙂
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We’re planning a small wedding in Italy for immediate family & our closest friends and we’re so glad we’ve chosen the whole day around what we want and no-one else.
The main thing is that we get married & nothing else really matters!
Roll on 2022 🙂 xx
Love this! 💕 I work for a wedding venue and see so many couples give in to the pressure from parents and friends to have a big wedding. I mean, if that’s what you want, great! But more often than not the couple end up putting themselves under more financial (and emotional) stress to please everyone else. Your wedding day should be about you and your partner! That’s what matters.
The topic came up recently (we aren’t even engaged bare in mind) and my boyfriend had a freak out. Fortunately it wasn’t about the idea of marrying me, it was the cost. He ran away with it without asking what I’d dreamt of (let’s be fair girls dream of weddings more than guys). I’d only ever wanted an intimate one.
His sister in law didn’t help by saying he’s obliged to invite extended family IE her huge family or each siblings friends. It took me a lot of work and stressing that this was not the case and I was against obligation invites. External pressures don’t help lemme tell you! I’ll show him this if and when he pops the question. X
I think you’ve made the right decision. I have a very large extended family and our wedding was around 95 day guests, the majority of which were family with a couple of tables of friends.
Over a year later and I still have “wedding anxiety”, I still wonder whether everyone had a good time, whether certain things were good enough, I worry that I didn’t get to speak to everyone and they might think I’m rude.
I wouldn’t have changed the number of guests we had (mainly because I don’t think we would have been able to narrow it down further), but I fully respect people who have a smaller wedding and less stress!
We eloped, and my brother in law did an intimate wedding in Scotland (we’re English but Scottish law is different and easier for fast wedding which there’s was). Both were amazing! I loved our wedding being just us, then we had a fun party a few months later with our mates. Then my brother in laws wedding was such fun, I did the flowers, the cake, and we borrowed my best mates dress. There were about 20 guests and we all stayed together in a medieval castle. It was fun the start to the finish. All weddings are fun if they’re what the couple want. But I do love a small one personally! 10 years married soon and I wouldn’t change a thing about our wedding! X
We had a big day planned with over 120 guests and because of Covid we had a much much smaller affair, we got married at the original venue and then just had a small gathering at home with a handful of friends and close family and it was fabulous – my amazing friends chipped in to help get the day ready beforehand and we just had a more relaxed ‘home made’ style reception and i can honestly say i thoroughly enjoyed the day and dont feel like i missed out or settled. We saved lots of money which we intent to spend on home renovations now and i would highly recommend a smaller more intimate wedding to anyone it was brilliant.