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Small Wedding Ideas: 36 Ideas for an Intimate Wedding

From tables for two and marshmallow roasting, to secret picnics and inviting the pups, these small wedding ideas are bound to inspire your celebrations

a couple walking out of their wedding venue as guests throw confetti over them and everyone laughs and smiles

Planning a small and more intimate wedding is really exciting and there are so many small wedding ideas you can embrace that just don't work for larger celebrations.

When looking for amazing ideas for small weddings, it's all about looking for ways to elevate and upgrade the experience of the small handful of people invited, and making even the smallest of weddings feel enormous in ambiance and atmosphere. 

And it doesn't matter what theme you're having, or what style of small wedding venue you're tying the knot in, because even the most unusual small wedding ideas can be adapted to suit your celebration.

Ideas for Small Weddings

Couples hosting smaller weddings may be after intimate wedding ideas that will leave their guests talking about their day for weeks, perhaps even months.

However on the other hand, other couples may want more simple wedding ideas for their small do.

Whatever it is that you're looking for, we guarantee you'll have several lightbulb moments browsing through this edit.

1. Go Completely Remote

a small wedding venue located in the rural scottish highlands

Hosting small weddings means you can be way more creative with your wedding location and venue style, so why not go completely off-grid and choose a really remote and romantic wedding venue like Alladale Wilderness Reserve

Asking guests to travel a long way doesn't always go down so well - that's not to say you can't do it with larger weddings - but it's much easier to organise travel, accommodation and perhaps a weekend of celebrations with a smaller group of guests. 

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2. Host a City Do

a couple having a small wedding on a balcony in edinburgh city centre

Similarly to remote locations, it's also a lot easier to find city wedding venues with a smaller guestlist because more cool pub and restaurant wedding venues will be able to accommodate you and your guests when there's not hundreds of you. 

Venues like Riddle's Court in Edinburgh have a maximum capacity of 80 guests, making them perfect for much smaller, intimate weddings. 

The city location also works so much better for small groups who want to explore the area. Did someone say Edinburgh pub crawl after the ceremony? 

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3. Use Alternative Seating

a round small wedding ceremony set up with hay bales and rugs

One of our favourite small wedding ideas for your wedding ceremony is to use alternative seats for your guests. Now, hay bales or rug cushions could be done for 100 or more guests, but it's much easier to execute when dealing with a smaller number of guests.

Here at Newton Hall they have set up a beautiful round ceremony seating area using hay bales and rugs on the beach and we're living for it. It works perfectly for such an intimate wedding - you can just imagine the atmosphere. 

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4. Change Your Ceremony Layout

semi circle wedding ceremony setup for a small intimate wedding

Another one of Newton Hall's genius intimate wedding ideas comes from an indoor ceremony they hosted.

When there are less people to seat in a room, the venue can be much more creative with the layout and create seating set ups like this one which sees all the chairs set up into two longer rows that curve around the altar. 

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5. Embrace Big Spaces

a large cabin room with double height ceilings and fairy lights draped down

Just because you're having a small wedding, doesn't mean you have to shy away from large spaces.

Hidden River Cabins is a venue that can host hundreds of guests, but it works perfectly for smaller weddings, too. 

Draped fairy lights and warm chandelier lighting really help to cosy up this room and looks so incredible in pictures.

Whether you're getting married with 20 or 200 people in attendance, you can still dine or say 'I do' in a large, grand room, and don't let anyone tell you any different.

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6. Go Hard on the Details

three simple white rose buttonholes with stormtrooper lego pieces on them for a small wedding

Whether you have a big wedding budget or are working with a smaller one, with less guests to worry about, you can really dig deep with the details that are going to make your day memorable and unique to you and your partner.

Details can be elaborate themes, or something as simple as Lego buttonholes like a couple who tied the knot at The Elephant did. 

Simple wedding ideas can sometimes be the best and you don't need to have a massive wedding for it to be unique and memorable. 

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7. Be Each Other's Wedding Party

two brides kissing with matching bouquets at a small wedding

If you're planning a small wedding and aren't having traditional wedding party members - there's no rules in weddings, remember! - why not be each other's wedding party?

Whatever you would have done with yours, do it with your future spouse.

Perhaps it's both of you having wedding bouquets (like these two brides at The Plough Inn), or doing the matching pyjamas or dressing gowns on the morning of the wedding. You could even get ready together and have getting ready pictures done. Simply, why ask anyone else to do it when you could do it together?

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8. Have Everyone in the Wedding Party

a bride and her bridesmaid guests in green dresses

If that's not quite your vibe, what about going to the opposite extreme by having everyone in your wedding party. If you're only having a handful of close friends and family at your wedding, why not treat all of them as though they were bridesmaids and ushers?

Couples who want to embrace unusual small wedding ideas should really consider this - give everyone a bouquet or buttonhole and have pictures together.

It looks even better if everyone's wearing similar tones and shades, like this cool group at The Secret Garden

We do love a green bridesmaid dress moment. 

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9. Extend Your Getting Ready Shoot

a bride getting ready for a small wedding doing her makeup in a mirror

At larger weddings, the morning tends to be much busier with lots of people and moving parts. When hosting a small, intimate wedding, it's likely that you will have less going on, so you can extend the time you spend having your getting ready pictures taken. 

Splash out on two photographers who can spend time with you and your partner separately, or come together for a first look photoshoot beforehand. 

Look at how gorgeous this picture is of a bride getting ready at Langar Hall - it's well worth spending an extra half an hour or so getting shots like this that you'll treasure for the rest of your life. 

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10. Arrive Together

a couple arriving at a small wedding together in a blue car at scarlett hall

As far as intimate wedding ideas go, this is up there with our top picks. Arriving at your wedding together is beyond romantic. 

With a more intimate wedding guest list, getting ready and arriving separately may not be a priority for you, and if that's the case, we say bin the rulebook and arrive together, just like this couple at Scarlet Hall.

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11. Make an Entrance (or Exit!)

a man with bagpipes walks down a road towards a venue with a car behind it

Having a smaller wedding means you can go really big on some of the other aspects of the day, like your entrance, or exit. 

We love low key wedding ideas for smaller occasions, but we also love when couples go big at intimate weddings.

This couple decided to hire a bagpiper to walk them into their wedding at Borthwick Castle, and we're here for the extra-ness of it all. 

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12. Invite Your Pups

two cute brown dogs standing at the altar of a small wedding ceremony on a beach

Sure, you can have dogs at a wedding no matter what the size, but having pups at small, intimate weddings is much more manageable for you, and far less overwhelming for them. 

There'll be less people around, and they are much more likely to be familiar with the guests who are there. 

Surely there's room for your four-legged friends at even the smallest of weddings, right? Just look how cute these two lads at Newton Hall look! 

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13. Involve Other Animals

a bride and her bridesmaid feeding a donkey on her wedding day

If dogs alone aren't enough to scratch the itch of animal lovers, consider including other furry friends in your day.

Like with dogs, too many people around any animal can be overwhelming for them, so visiting the donkeys at The Hundred House Hotel, hiring alpacas and llamas or having a petting zoo at your wedding is ideal for small wedding celebrations.

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14. Have a Personalised Cocktail Station

a woman putting two coco buds on top of an espresso martini

Spice up the drinks game at your intimate wedding by having a pimp your drink station where guests can either make their own cocktail concoctions, or add toppings and additional ingredients into their existing drinks. 

It adds theatre to your wedding tipples and doesn't have to be super complicated to organise either. 

Perhaps it's guests topping their espresso martinis at Stratton Court Barn, or adding toppings to their gin spritz somewhere else. 

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15. Sneak Off for a Bite

a couple having a picnic on a beach in their wedding outfits

See this as a way of eloping without actually eloping. 

Here us out - you get married in a small and intimate ceremony, have some canapes and cocktails with the group, and then sneak off just the two of you for a little picnic like this couple did at Treseren

It doesn't have to last ages, half an hour will do it, but imagine how romantic it'll feel. 

Most couples take five minutes out of the day, but when you have less people to mingle with and chat to, you can definitely afford to take a little longer and embrace one of our most intimate ideas for small weddings. 

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16. Take Time With Your Wedding Party

two brides and their bridesmaid celebrating their small wedding ceremony on a beach spraying champagne

If you are deciding to have bridesmaids, ushers or a gender neutral wedding party, take some time to hang out with them, too. 

Everyone always advises the couple to take a moment to themselves, but with smaller and more intimate weddings, you've definitely got time to sneak off with your best pals, pop some champagne and toast to the most amazing day of your life.

These brides went down to the beach at Treseren for a sunset Champagne spray and we love them for it. 

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17. Go Big on the Confetti

two brides walking through a sea of white confetti that their guests have thrown on them at their small wedding

There are certain wedding pictures you have to get, small wedding or not, and the confetti shot is one of them. Just look at the joy in this picture of these two brides who wed at The Royal College of Physicians in Edinburgh. 

Where you have less guests to throw the confetti, make sure you amp up how much you put in their cones or bags so there's still a substantial amount of confetti flying around. 

There aren't many rules in weddings, but confetti shots are one of those simple wedding ideas we'd always recommend - if your venue allows it, of course. 

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18. Have a Dress Code

a group of men and women in tweed wedding suits at a small wedding

We love the idea of a theme or dress code when it comes to smaller weddings. It's one of those simple wedding ideas that can really make a difference to your pictures.

And we're not talking everyone in matchy-matchy, but giving a colour scheme or theme for people to adhere to can be really fun for small groups.

We love this wedding party picture of a group at The Hundred House Hotel - imagine if the theme of tweed and champagne was extended to the entire wedding entourage? Everyone could choose between tweed suits and neutral coloured dresses. 

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19. Do Your First Dance Privately

a couple in cool wedding outfits standing in the bar of a wedding venue having an intimate first dance alone

Similarly to our picnic idea, giving you the eloping-but-not-eloping feel, why not have a private first dance instead of doing it in front of the group. This couple at Treseren know what we mean!

At larger weddings, the first dance is usually done surrounded by a huge group of guests, and that's what kicks off the evening bash, but if you're not really planning a party like that, we love the idea of having a private and intimate first dance just the two of you.

And even if you are having a party in the evening with your smaller guest list, you still may not love the idea of dancing in front of them. 

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20. Get Creative With Your Canapes

a selection of delicious canapes set out on a gold framed miror

The math is simple, the less guests you have to feed, the more time your caterers and venue will have to be extra creative with the way they present the canapes. It's one of those low key wedding ideas that is so simple, but can end up being a real talking point amongst your guests. 

At Stratton Court Barn we love that they decided to serve the canapes on golden mirrors. It's a really unique idea and one that would be much more difficult to execute with a large guest list. 

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21. Make Cooking Your Entertainment

a chef cooking for a small wedding outdoors

On the topic of food, we love the idea of the main meal being theatrical and acting as guest entertainment, just like this posh BBQ at The Secret Garden.

When hosting a smaller wedding, live cooking and plating is so much more doable, and it's the perfect way to make a small number of guests feel like they're sat at their very own chef's table at a fancy restaurant.

It's fun and will double up as entertainment during the meal, which is ideal if your intimate wedding plans don't include speeches and other traditional aspects of a wedding breakfast. 

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22. Make Dining More Sociable

a woman reaching to get some canapes from a tower of sharing food

Keeping in with the theme of food (our favourite...), consider intimate wedding ideas around food sharing, like this spread at The Hundred House Hotel

Grazing tables, sharing platters and small plates can be a great way to get a small group of guests socialising.

Sharing food and meals is a lovely talking point and can really create a more cosy and intimate ambiance amongst smaller celebrations.

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23. Elongate Your Wedding Meal

a plate set up for a tasting menu with a menu card on top

If you'd prefer to keep things formal at your wedding breakfast, consider elongating the meal and incorporating a tasting menu for your guests. 

A tasting menu dinner with multiple courses and wine pairings for hundreds of people is beyond difficult for a venue to facilitate, but for smaller, more intimate weddings, it's much more feasible.

We'd also argue that it's a really nice way to dine as a smaller group, having multiple courses and a more refined selection of dishes, and it means you can go extra fancy with your menu and place settings, like this one here at Treseren.

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24. Increase the Personalisation

a plate at a small wedding with a love heart wedding favour that has been personalised with a guest's name

For a smaller group, we love the idea of personalising more of your wedding décor. 

Consider personalising your place cards - we love these sweet hearts at The Elephant - napkins, chairs and more!

It's details like that that your wedding guests will really appreciate and remember that anything personalised can double up as a wedding favour for them to take home.

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25. Have Caricatures Drawn 

two grooms hold up pictures of their caricatures drawn and framed

In the spirit of personalisation, there's nothing more thoughtful and fun than having caricatures drawn of your guests. 

Companies like the talented Standout Stationery offer an amazing service where they can create caricatures of your guests as wedding favours, place holders or both. 

Imagine your guests' faces when they see themselves as a cartoon!

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26. Personalise Your Guestbook

an open guest book at a small wedding with caricatures of the guests inside

As well as place cards and gifts, you can also have personalised wedding guest books made with a picture of each guest inside.

Not only is this a brilliant way to make your guest book unique and memorable, it's also a really clever way to ensure everyone has signed it. We love this example from Standout Stationery.

Much like many of our small wedding ideas, it's a lot easier to execute with less guests and really helps you to celebrate the intimate group you have attending. 

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27. Scent Your Venue

a couple kissing at the altar with candles on the floor and a small selection of guests sitting watching

A lovely way to create an intimate ambience at your small wedding is to scent it with candles, if your venue allows. 

Not only do they look really romantic and add a gorgeous lighting element, but they also create a memorable scent in your venue. 

We love the way they have been used to decorate the aisle here at Riddle's Court.

The experts at Jo Malone advise you to, "See your venue as a blank canvas, waiting to be brought to life with the fragrant flicker of candlelight. Fragrance brings everyone together, enveloping your guests in the moment and leaving a glowing impression, long after the festivities have finished.

"Clusters of candles down the aisle, across table tops or illuminating stairs, creates instant atmosphere. You may want to liaise with your florist for how this could be further integrated with your theme. Arrangements around the base of candles or hurricanes look stunning as centrepieces.

"Have someone in charge of lighting the candles at least half an hour before your guests arrive, that way the scent will have had time to diffuse and the room will be beautifully fragrant and welcoming."

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28. Experiment With Table Layouts

a wedding breakfast set up for a small intimate wedding group in a square around a wooden pillar decorated with fairy lights

Another benefit of having fewer guests at your wedding is the fact that you can be really creative with your seating layout. 

If you're not hosting the traditional big wedding, don't feel pressured to have traditional round tables if that doesn't suit you.

This square tablescape at Hidden River Cabins creates such an intimate dining experience and offers great inspiration for those seeking ideas for small weddings.

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29. Have a Table for Two

a couple at their small wedding sitting on a table for two photographed at night

Another one of our intimate wedding ideas around seating is to have a top table for two like this couple at Hidden River Cabins, as opposed to the traditional layout.

With less people to seat, take the opportunity to have your first marital dinner with your partner and take it in turns to mingle with others throughout. 

We think this is really romantic!

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30. Go All-Out On Table Décor

a small wedding breakfast table for six with velvet chairs and an elaborate floral display above

Less tables to decorate? Even more reason to go big and bold decorating the ones you have. 

This overhead floral installation on a small table at Allbright Mayfair is simply stunning and really makes a statement, proving that you don't need to seat hundreds of people to have tablescapes that'll get people talking. 

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31. Maximise on Florals

a wedding breakfast room set up for a small wedding with florals everywhere and two long tables

Looking for ideas for small weddings that'll transform a room?

We reckon there's no better way to create a larger-than-life atmosphere at a small wedding than using flowers upon flowers as decoration.

No matter how few tables and place settings you have at your intimate wedding, large, elaborate floral installations are bound to make the space stand out.

Just look at the displays at this small do at The Frogmill.

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32. Hire a Live Artist

a wedding artist painting a picture of a couple

We can't think of a better way to remember your small wedding celebration than having a talented artist like Carly Stone Art live paint it for you. 

It's one of those unusual small wedding ideas that will really take your guests by surprise and have everyone talking about it for weeks to come.

It also acts as a little wedding gift for yourselves, as you can hang it up in your home and remember the day forever. 

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33. Get Your Guests Painting

a group of guests painting on a canvas at a small wedding

Love the idea of art at your wedding but want something that'll double up as wedding guest entertainment?

Hire someone like Make Your Mark Events who run a contemporary live painting service which your guests can get involved in. 

Artists come and operate the stand where guests can paint on a canvas for you, and then take it back to their studio to neaten it up a bit (not all of your guests are going to be talented artists), before sending it back to you and your partner. 

How cool is that? And the beauty of intimate wedding ideas like this is that it's so much nicer to do with a smaller group who can all have a significant part to play in the finished product.

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34. Hire Acoustic Musicians

a couple dancing at their small wedding with an acoustic guitar player in the background

Another way to entertain your wedding guests at a small wedding is to hire acoustic musicians. A full live band could work for intimate celebrations, but may not quite fit the mood.

However, acoustic guitar players like 24 Live Acoustic, an acapella choir or pianist can really add to the intimate vibe. 

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35. Sit Around a Fire

a group of wedding guests at a small wedding sitting around a fire toasting marshmallows

Cute and unusual small wedding ideas are our favourite, especially ones like this. 

Toast marshmallows and sit around the fire on the evening of your wedding and share your favourite memories of the day you've just had together.

It's a really sweet way to end the day and makes for excellent pictures, too - just look at this shot at Treseren

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36. Stay for a Wedding Moon

a wedding venue accommodation room with terrace and hot tub outside

Whether you're travelling somewhere outside of the UK or staying on home turf, why not hire a wedding venue with accommodation and extend your stay so you can have a little wedding moon with your friends and family all together? 

Venues with beautiful suites like The Stack are perfect for extending the celebrations.

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Want to make your wedding even smaller? Here's our guide to eloping and elopements in both the UK and abroad with everything you need to know.