How to plan the perfect small wedding

With the grandness of the royal weddings and the increasing popularity of the three-day ceremonies, it can seem like most brides and grooms want a big blowout. But take a closer look, and this is far from the truth. In wake of restrictions due to the pandemic, many have discovered that having a smaller celebration – what many are dubbing ‘micro weddings’ – can be just as fun and atmospheric as a bigger do. 

It’s a trend that has been rumbling for a while. Just look at Jay-Z and Beyonce, for example, who got married back in 2008 with just 40 of their closest friends present despite being one of the most famous and richest couples in the world. A rare and emotional photo of the pair on the big day was posted on social media by the singer’s mother, Tina Lawson. 

Small weddings can be just as moving and are often much more affordable – especially if you consider that the average UK wedding now costs £16,005, compared to £15,171 in 2019. But, no one has ever been fooled into believing that planning a wedding is an easy feat, even if you’re hoping for something more intimate. If you want to have a classy day it will take work to get the day just right, whether you are inviting 30 or 300. To help you, we’ve distilled five expert tips for a classic ’boutique’ wedding.

How to plan a small wedding

1. DO spend time on your guest list

It can be easy to get carried away with numbers when organising your ceremony, but a small wedding is only small if the numbers are… well, small. But trying to keep the numbers down is hard. Thinking about the people you stay in contact with the most is an easy place to start. If you haven’t caught up with them in over a year and they aren’t a close family member then they probably shouldn’t be on the list.

“It’s important to share your day with those who mean the most to you as this will make your special day even more memorable – don’t stress over inviting your Great Aunt’s daughter who you have never met,” says Luxury Events Planner Hannah Evitts.

Another strategy of whittling down your numbers is to think about whether you’d be willing to spend several hundreds of pounds on a meal with them outside of this event (but of course don’t tell people this). 

To keep a wedding small, it's important to invite only those closest to you


To keep a wedding small, it’s important to invite only those closest to you


Credit: Getty

2. DO think about the finer things 

One of the best things about keeping things small scale is that there’s more room to play around. Why not personalise table settings with monochrome napkins or have tableware made specifically for the ceremony? “It’s the intricate touches that will really excite your guests and will ensure they’ll remember your special day for years to come,” says Jess Martin, wedding planning expert at wedding and party supplies company Ginger Ray.

“When it comes to table decor, hanging glass tealight holders make an ideal centrepiece. Add a snippet of Gypsophila to make an adorable finishing touch to the setting, and as the daylight fades, the lit candles create a dreamy, cosy atmosphere to an intimate wedding.” It’s also worth thinking about incorporating family heirlooms into the day such as fine china and silverware or pick a place out of the ordinary to get hitched.  

Taking extra care to think about the look and feel of your wedding can make for an even more memorable day


Taking extra care to think about the look and feel of your wedding can make for an even more memorable day


Credit: Getty

3. DON’T feel as if you have to stay local

If current restrictions allow, find out from your guests whether they’re willing to travel. It’s still a celebration after all and who wouldn’t want an excuse for a tropical holiday. With a manageable amount of people, you’ll be able to add some activities into the itinerary to make the most of your trip in a way you may not have been able to do otherwise. “Brides and Grooms tend to choose the location that has meaning to them such as a place they met or a place that holds a special memory,” says Evitts. 

Having a small wedding doesn't mean you can't go away for your ceremony 


Having a small wedding doesn’t mean you can’t go away for your ceremony 


Credit: Getty

4. DON’T forget the live band 

It’s an easy thing to miss off the list if you’re worried about the day getting too extravagant, but a live band for a small party can make for an exciting experience. Evitts believes this is where you should really invest.

“Having a live band or musicians create an energy and atmosphere like no other whether it’s for your ceremony, wedding breakfast or the cocktail reception, tailoring each performance throughout the day,” she says.

Also, leave room for song suggestions from the audience if you want to keep people out of their seats. And, it’s also worth thinking about how many musicians you want as having more than your number of guests can easily become awkward.

Having a wedding band can transform the atmosphere


Having a wedding band can transform the atmosphere


Credit: Getty

5. DO splurge on food 

You have fewer mouths to feed so why not make the meal extra special by going all out. You can either go for the finest food and wine your budget allows or simply add in more courses and wine pairings. You can also customise each meal to the person eating it if the numbers are small enough (and you have the time to plan for it).

“It doesn’t need to be the main event,” says Evitt. “However you do need to ensure the food is to an excellent standard. Regardless of where you get married or how big or small your wedding may be. My advice would be to always have a tasting of both the food and beverages beforehand so you know exactly the quality and what will be served on your day.” 

While it doesn't need to be the main focus of a wedding day, make sure the food is of a high standard by tasting dishes beforehand


While it doesn’t need to be the main focus of a wedding day, make sure the food is of a high standard by tasting dishes beforehand


Credit: Getty

6. DO be creative

Handwritten menus and invitations, handmade gifts, macaroons with small notes on them. If you do it right, it can be really charming but it’s worth having a Plan B in case it all goes wrong. If you’re worried about getting creative, a small (and not so taxing) gesture can also go a long way such as a simple welcome basket, a selection of gifts either for them to use during the event or to take with them when they leave which can include fruit, chocolate or even wine.

Creative touches can go a long way


Crreative touches can go a long way


Credit: Getty

“This is where you can support small businesses in adding those personable touches. Consider bespoke made wedding favours for your guests to display at each table setting,” says Evitts. “It always seems a great idea to be crafty yourself, however unless you are super organised and have a flare for crafts I would say leave it to the professionals.”

What are your tips and tricks for planning a small, intimate wedding? Tell us in the comments below
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