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Small Wedding Ideas for an Intimate Affair

Couple and wedding party at outdoor altar.
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Small Wedding Ideas for an Intimate Affair

Planning a wedding in 2020 felt practically impossible due to the ongoing pandemic and guidelines for health and safety being updated so frequently. It seems, however, that those trying times have led to a new trend in 2021, and couples are ready to embrace it. Big impersonal weddings are out and in their place are smaller, more personal, intimate affairs.  And this is a trend we can get behind. 

The advantages to a smaller wedding are practically endless. Because they tend to cost less, there’s a bit more flexibility for couples who want to work with a smaller budget or splurge on the things they really want and love. These events can also less overwhelming to plan. Brides and grooms, you may even have fun prepping for the big day now that the pressure of inviting every person from your third-grade class or your mother’s cousin has been removed. 

If you’re planning a smaller wedding for 2021, these ideas can help you get started. 

1.  Rethink that Destination Wedding

Destination weddings sound amazingly fun and romantic, but they’re not always budget-friendly. But it’s much easier to plan one for 20 people than it is for 200. Travel is cheap right now as we learn to live with the COVID-19 crisis, so that can work in your favor. Just be sure you check on any travel restrictions, especially if you plan to leave the country. You don’t want to get stuck overseas. 

If you opt to stay in the United States, it may be a good idea to re-think what you consider to be a “destination.” While wine country is popular for weddings right now, so are national parks, waterfalls, lakes, and ski resorts. Planning a slightly remote wedding for yourself and close friends and family is sure to include memories that you won’t forget along with a bit of time to relax with those you love.

2. Focus on Non-Traditional Venues 

If you do stay local, nontraditional venues are the way to go. This year, restaurants, gardens, galleries, nightclubs, hotels, and museums are all popular with brides and grooms. With such a small guest list, you can get married practically anywhere, so don’t be afraid to think outside the box. Choose a place that matches your interests and personalities, even if it seems a little extreme.  

3. Indulge in Food and Entertainment 

By cutting down your guest list, you’ll save plenty of cash. You can stash some of it away for your honeymoon or to put a down payment on a house and still have some leftover to splurge on one or two things to make your big day extra special. 

Food is one area to consider if you want to indulge. Hire a food truck, or have your favorite restaurant cater your reception. Want to get fancy? Have a big sit-down 12-course meal that you’ve always dreamed of.  

Entertainment is another great place to go all out. Instead of having a DJ play recorded versions of songs you’ve heard a million times, hire a small band to play live. 

4. Personalize Your Activities 

Another advantage to having a small wedding is that you can personalize everything. You want your wedding to be about you and your partner, but you always want to make sure your guests are having a good time. That’s much easier when there are fewer guests. 

Plan your reception activities around your favorite people. For example, if you know they aren’t really into dancing, a traditional wedding activity, have a trivia contest, or hire a stand-up comic to entertain them instead. If your friends and family are largely active, have an impromptu softball game, or go horseback riding. Just don’t forget to tell everyone they may want to bring a change of clothes. 

5. Choose Your Guest List Wisely 

Speaking of your guest list, one of the hardest things about planning a small wedding is choosing who to invite without hurting anyone’s feelings. For the most part, the bulk of the guest list will materialize easily, but you may find yourself on the fence about inviting — or not inviting — certain people. 

When this is the case, ask yourself a few questions. How often do you talk to the person? Has it been days or months or even years? Are they a part of your current life on a regular basis? Would you call them if you’re in trouble, or would you hesitate if they asked to stay at your home for a few weeks?   

If you still think some people will feel left out, use the pandemic as an excuse. You can also consider sending out a link to a live feed of the ceremony to make it more inclusive.  

6. Keep It Casual 

Another advantage to a smaller wedding is that there’s nothing wrong with foregoing the usual wedding traditions. As a matter of fact, it’s the perfect place to keep things a bit on the casual side. There’s nothing wrong with having your mom cook your favorite pasta dish for the reception. And don’t pay thousands of dollars for a fancy wedding gown when you’ve fallen in love with a sweet sundress at a local department store. 

7.  Don’t Choose a Traditional Wedding Date 

Most people get married in late spring, summer or early fall. September and June are the most popular months, and Saturday afternoon or evening is the most popular time to have a wedding. But if you only have a handful of guests coming, you may want to consider something a little less traditional. Plus, it’s easier to coordinate with your closest friends and family than it is everyone you’ve ever known.  

December through March is considered the wedding off-season, which means more venues and vendors are available, and many of them offer lower prices during this time. Get married in the middle of the week on, say, a Tuesday afternoon, and you may find it even easier to plan your big day and stay on budget. 

8. Get Married at a Family Home 

Finally, if you can’t decide on a venue or find one that suits you, you can always throw the wedding of your dreams in the backyard. It could be your own backyard or your childhood home. It could be your grandparents’ farm or your cousin’s beach house. All you need is a little space and maybe a pretty view — but even if you don’t have that, with the right touch, you can turn any location into the right setting for a small, intimate wedding. 

Your big day is about you and the people who are closest to you.  No matter the size or location, CORT Events is happy to assist.



Photo Courtesy of Carbotti Experiences

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