If you’re planning a small intimate wedding or considering it as an option, this guide is well worth a read. Probably most people are aware of the most common advantages of having a small wedding, namely saving money and cutting down on stress.

But did you know there are also myriad other reasons why an intimate wedding might be right for you? Beyond the obvious benefits, there are a whole host of reasons why a small, intimate wedding might be perfect for you.

In this article I dive into some of the more surprising advantages, from the bespoke nature of the event, the flexibility that a small wedding uniquely allows, and the elevated quality of the guest experience.

Though the average wedding guest count is 136 according to The Knot, that number is falling year-on-year as more couples embrace the intimate wedding trend.

So let’s dive in to my 18 reasons you might consider going small at your wedding! #gosmallorgohome

1. You get to cherry-pick what traditional elements you want.

Lose the bouquet toss but keep the cake? Or ditch being walked up the aisle but yes to a flowy white dress? With a small wedding you don’t have to stick with the format of the typical wedding. But neither do you have to reinvent the wheel. Pick and choose what you want! Maybe you want the traditional format but with way fewer people.

2. You surround yourself with people who love you and know you.

Weddings are so personal. They’re about love, vulnerability and heartfelt promises. They’re about new chapters and old memories with a ton of tears and laughter thrown in. Do you really want to experience all that with your dad’s golf buddy? Some brides are surprised how weird it felt to be the center of attention for hours on end. Keeping it intimate allows for much rawer emotion!

3. You can use vendors that will create something bespoke to suit your tastes.

Wedding vendors usually have a way of working that they’ve refined over the years. It allows them to be most efficient. Sometimes their  business models cannot accommodate unusual requests or small orders. Vendors that sit outside the mainstream are used to honoring unique creative visions. The same goes for DIYing your wedding. You can make it totally yours.

people getting married in a small bookstore at an intimate, quirky offbeat wedding | Small wedding ideas - should I even have a small wedding?

Talk about unusual venues! This wedding took place in a vintage bookstore in Oakland | Photos by Zoe Larkin Photography

4. You can save money or splurge more on whatever it is you value

One of the myths of intimate weddings is that the term is a byword for ‘budget wedding’. Not so, at all. In fact, what they afford is flexibility. You can choose where to splurge and where to save. You could splurge on an 8-course tasting menu with fine wine pairings. Doable for a small group. And yes, you can also save money but cutting down not only on the cost per-head but the head-count itself.

5. Your wedding can be your own creation

You decide what your priorities are! Do you prefer brunch or an elegant cocktail reception? A dessert extravaganza or high tea at the best hotel in town? A luxury tasting menu at a Michelin-starred restaurant in Europe? An outdoor picnic potluck at midnight? A dance party in the woods? The possibilities are endless. When you stumble on the solution that’s right, you’ll know!

6. You can have your pick of venues, even very unusual ones!

Typical wedding venues exist to accommodate an average-sized group. Often it won’t make financial sense to rent those spaces for a small wedding. That’s when a whole world of non-wedding venue spaces opens up for you! Everything from restaurants to non-profits, backyards to festivals, historic inns to aquariums, forests to museums, beaches to bookshops. Want an underwater ceremony? Go for it! Get married where you like.

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san francisco redwood trees with couple on their wedding day | small wedding ideas and benefits of an intimate wedding

They had a relaxed portrait session and took some time to connect in a meaningful way on their wedding day | Photos by Zoe Larkin Photography

7. The wedding day can be a little shorter

With a smaller guest count, the logistics can often be less complex. You may skip a bunch of traditions, so there’ll be less need for an 8, 10 or 12 hour day! How does that benefit you? You can have more time to relax and savor, or you can pack more activities into the day away just the two of you. Again, it’s about how you choose to use that time, crafting your own unique wedding day.

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8. Your wedding guests will feel like participants, not spectators.

One of the biggest regrets of newlyweds is that they didn’t spend enough time with each guest. With fewer guests you can cherish everyone that made the effort to be there, with no pressure to ‘get to everybody’. Each person will feel truly valued. You can encourage the informal sharing of stories. With a small enough group, you can keep things cozy by sharing one table. Your guests will get to know one another!

9. Your guests could provide all the help you need so it stays very intimate.

You can create with your own hands many of the aspects of your wedding. You could ask guests to donate their own unique talents instead of a traditional gift. It’s possible to have a wedding so low-key that you don’t use outside vendors. This is a good solution for those who value true intimacy without any strangers present. Plus, with your guests more involved in the process you can get rid stuff guests don’t care about.

10. You get to stand up to everyone who opposes it, and feel great about it.

Having a small wedding is a conscious decision. But you may experience friction from people who expected an invitation. It’s actually easier to create a small guest list than a regular-sized one. With a large guest count, those that are excluded may feel even more hurt than knowing you’re having an intentionally small wedding. Plus, if people can’t give you their blessing, that says more about them than about you.

wedding guests canoodling on a pink couch | Reasons to consider having a small, intimate wedding that you may not have considered

These guests were really digging the vibe at this intimate wedding, complete with stunning vintage rentals | Photos by Zoe Larkin Photography

11. You will experience less pressure because there’s less expectation.

Your guests will have been to many typical weddings, maybe even opting for one themselves. The truth is, attending these weddings can be both boring and stressful. Also they so often get compared to one another! You can let go of that nagging sense of comparison when you ditch the norm and embrace the unexpected. There isn’t so much of a sense of going through the motions.

12. It doesn’t have to be wedding-y.

Do something different and have a non-wedding! I’ve heard of couples going on cross-country road-trips visiting friends along the way. Or doing something life-changing for someone else in the form of a gift or time donation. Your wedding might not look anything like a wedding. You might try a pool party with beer & barbecue or a rave in the woods or a guerrilla ceremony in park, an elopement to your bucket-list destination or a courthouse elopement!

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13. Less chance of something going wrong – just roll with it!

More moving parts, more people and a long day can increase the likelihood of mishaps. Intimate weddings are often a lot more relaxed than larger ones. There may be fewer elements involved. They’re about everyone enjoying themselves with intentionality and joy. If something gets skipped out or forgotten, forget about it and move on! It’s what laid-back brides do.

14. You can savor your day wholly and completely

Your wedding day goes by in a blur. Part of the reason for this is that the schedule is packed full of traditions that make up the entire timeline. It’s easy to see how with the schedule so tightly packed, the day goes by in a whirlwind of photo-op moments. You can bring slowness to proceedings by embracing only the traditions that resonate.

Why I decided to have a small wedding - bride and groom getting married at Bluxome St Winery, San Francisco | Zoe Larkin Photography

This couple chose a small San Francisco winery for their intimate reception, following their San Francisco City Hall wedding | Photo by Zoe Larkin Photography

15. You can be more adventurous.

You can be adventurous as regards what you do and also where you go! Keeping it to close kin only opens up a world of adventure weddings in which you can go off the beaten path. You can literally forge your own path on a mindful group hike. So many people love being outdoors and experiencing nature, so why stay cooped up in a hotel function room? Is there a cathedral grander than a redwood grove?

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16. You can cut down on waste and be more eco-friendly

When you have a small guest list, the amount of waste you create will be significantly less. You can cut out any disposable items as there won’t be quite so much to rent. Also, repurpose your decor after the wedding. Whether it’s paper invitations, flowers, food, plastic cups or decor, there’ll just be… less. Have you considered the idea of an ethical wedding?

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17. It is a more authentic reflection of your personalities and values.

When you customize every little thing that is part of your wedding, it’s an intentional choice. You start with zero expectations, and add in whatever you desire. That’s the beauty of intimate weddings – you make the decisions. They are as unique as you are, a creation borne out of your joint values. Check in with each other throughout the planning process and don’t get derailed from your vision, unless of course you want to.

18. Your wedding will be very memorable.

Yours will be the one where everyone hiked for an hour from their campsite at dawn. Or the wedding where they picked pumpkins and took part in an escape room adventure. Or the one where they climbed aboard a hot air balloon at 5am. It will inspire others to plan weddings that are authentic to them in a meaningful way. Your wedding will stand apart from every other wedding, ever.

To conclude

A small wedding isn’t for everyone. But hopefully in this article you’ve got a new perspective on some of the wonderful advantages of having an intimate wedding.

The most important thing to remember throughout wedding planning is remembering why you’re having a wedding. It’s ultimately about the two of you and whatever feels right to you.

So, here’s to sharing this major life event with the people you love the most. A small, intimate wedding opens up a world of unique possibilities. I hope that whatever you choose, you have a day that’s beautiful, joyful, authentic and memorable.

Have I forgotten any major benefits of small weddings? Leave them in the comments!

Check out information about my wedding photography services here.

Convinced? Be sure to pin this graphic to your wedding inspiration Pinterest board!

Should I have a small wedding? 🤔 Here are 18 reasons why you might consider it! With the rise of intimate weddings, there are many unique wedding ideas that honor your values and allow you to create something custom, memorable and unique. There are many small unique wedding ideas out there, from elopements to microweddings. We outline some small wedding ideas and why they may be perfect for you. #smallweddingideas #smallwedding #intimatewedding #weddinginspo | Zoe Larkin Photography

18 reasons to consider having a small wedding

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Lover of ice cream, killer of houseplants, Zoe is a San Francisco-dwelling love documentarian. Contact | Insta

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  1. Emili

    January 19th, 2020 at 7:52 am

    Very interesting article. I also write about inspiring wedding ideas

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