Ideas for small weddings

How to plan a small wedding you’ll fall in love with

Small weddings overflowwwwwwwwwww with magic! Take it from me – and the small weddings I’ve had the joy of photographing – you’ve got a special opportunity to throw out the rule book, break free from tradition, ditch the expectations… and do something different. But most of all? You’ve got a great opportunity to make your wedding you. Wondering where to start? Let me help!

Here are some of the small wedding ideas that caught my wedding photographer’s eye… 

Small wedding ceremony ideas

One of the biggest bonuses of an intimate wedding is that everyone gets to be together.

With fewer people, there’s naturally more closeness and connection, bringing people together emotionally, if not physically.

And there are ways to make that feeling even stronger…

  • Change the traditional rows of seats behind you for something informal, like a circular layout. That way, rather than your guests feeling as though they’re simply spectators, you’re all in it together.
  • Flip things around (literally) and position your officiant at the ‘wrong’ end of the ceremony room so you’re facing your guests for the ceremony. If people can see your faces and expressions rather than your backs, they’ll experience the same emotions as you and feel close to you. Plus, if you can see them, you’ll feel the full force of their love and support as you make your vows.
  • Actively involve your guests in your ceremony by passing your rings around for everyone to warm up before you exchange them. There’s something you can’t easily do with 120 guests!

A small but mighty reception

If you weren’t all that fussed about having an evening reception anyway, this is your opportunity to ditch it! 

“We cut all the bits we weren’t interested in like a cake and DJ. The best thing is that everybody said after how happy they were we didn’t have an evening reception. Our families are just as unsociable as us.” Jon & Georgi

But if you do want something for the evening, here are some suggestions to put a personal spin on it…

Having speeches?

Since most people in the room will know each other, try switching up the standard speech blueprint and take everyone on a trip down memory lane.

  • Instead of blanket thank yous (the only practical option at large weddings), thank every person in the room individually. Sharing stories about how your guests have shaped you and brought you to this day will make them feel special and appreciated.
  • Or, reverse the speeches altogether and get your guests to make them. Ask everyone to share their favourite memory of the two of you, dish out some personal advice for your marriage or make a toast. You could even do this in the evening, wrapped up in cosy blankets and toasting smores around a firepit. (Just give everyone a heads-up beforehand so you don’t freak out the introverts!)

Want to do something fun but don’t want to party?

Loud music and a big party can alienate a lot of people and lead to your guests breaking off into different areas. Here are some more intimate alternatives for when the restrictions loosen…

  • Simplify your first dance with an acoustic duo who can then play background music while you start a scrabble championship.
  • Got some spare budget? Spend it on a memorable experience. Would your guests enjoy cocktail making, morris dancing or magic lessons? Or if your guests are fun-loving types, take inspiration from some of the crazy challenges on The Generation Game… like decorating a wedding cake in 60 seconds – blindfolded. 
  • Pick something that will appeal to everyone and you’ll all be reminiscing at every family get-together forevermore. 

With smaller weddings, it’s easier to sack off the expectation that often comes with larger days. This is your chance to colour outside the lines and do something unique. What could be better than that? 

Redefine luxury

With fewer people to cater for, think of the things you could do…

  • Splurge on the floral arch you had your heart set on. And since your group photos will be smaller, make the most of it by using it as a photo backdrop.
  • Go for a mid-week wedding at a venue that’s renowned for its food. Le Manoir Aux Quaix’Saisons springs to mind.
  • Splash out on the talented skiffle band you saw at a festival to entertain everyone during your drinks reception.

This is your chance to make your day special with something you love.

Planning a small wedding? 

Want a low-key relaxed photographer to go with it? 

That’s exactly the kind of wedding I love to photograph. Let’s chat!