It seems more often these days, we're seeing couples forego the traditional wedding route and opting for something more intimate. Maybe you're noticing that COVID aside, intimate weddings are here to stay, and now you're wondering "what's so great about a small wedding anyways?" I've been lucky enough to have had the opportunity to shoot both traditional weddings and intimate weddings. My conclusion? I'll always be drawn to smaller, untraditional, intimate weddings as opposed to your larger, more traditional wedding.

My husband and I originally wanted an intimate cottage wedding. We were told it would be too challenging, logistically speaking. Want to know what it turned into? A big wedding and a big venue... I even shook a few guests' hands that day and said "Hi I'm Chelsea, nice to meet you...". In hindsight, I love our day so much. But sometimes I wish I could go back in time and pull off the intimate cottage wedding we had always wanted.

So, this post comes from the heart. I wanted to share with you why intimate weddings can be so special, and why an elopement just might be the right decision for you.

1. Venues... there are so many to choose from now.

Think about it: wedding venues typically exist to accommodate the average sized wedding (which, according to Wedding Wire is 154 guests). With a smaller wedding, it might not make financial sense for you to pay for such large spaces. What you might consider is shifting your mindset to non-wedding venue spaces, which there are so many of! Think restaurants, historic estates, forests, beaches, your parents backyard, or an old library. Point is, with smaller numbers you can basically get married wherever you like. Keep in mind some of these non-venues might need some extra work to transform them to "wedding ready". If you're doing it on your property specifically, think tables, chairs, linens, tent, power supply... just be prepared!

2. You'll be surrounded with only the people you love the most

Weddings are so personal. Do you want to be shaking your hand with guests saying, "Hi, nice to meet you?" on your wedding day? Because I did. 10/10 do not recommend. Trust me when I say that you really want to experience this milestone day only people who are near and dear to your heart. There will be less pressure to "greet" your guests, and more time for genuine connection with the guests who you actually value. Worried about axing the invite list? I get that too. But with a small wedding you can simply let people know you've made the decision to have a small wedding, and that's that.

3. Your experience can be more unique

Experience? Yes. Wedding days are something to experience. And with a smaller group, you can be more open minded in regards what you do throughout your day. With fewer numbers you can go off the beaten path, literally. Many couples love being outdoors together so who is to say you have to spend your day in a hotel room? Still want that venue experience? Hire some unique entertainment - live painters, cigar rollers, a violinist to name a few options. Another thing! These experiences don't have to be limited to the day of your wedding either. If you have a few days with your guests, consider planning a group activity beforehand. Depending on your wedding location, cooking classes, wine pairings, and hiking always seem to please the crowd. It just allows your celebration to last so much longer than one day. 

4. It’s more eco-friendly

I said it. But honestly, the amount of waste you create will be significantly less if your wedding is smaller. You can opt to cut out any disposable items because you don't have to rent as much. Also, repurpose your decor after the wedding. The card box is a perfect example. Purchase it with the intent of your home in mind - it can be re-used as a mail holder or a little knick knack box after your wedding, all while sparking a bit of a memory every time you use it. Any way you look at it, whether it’s paper invitations, flowers, food, plastic cups or decor, there’ll just be… less.

5. You can relax and actually enjoy the day

I've heard many brides and grooms say that wedding days are a blur. Part of the reason for this is that the day is over scheduled, and packed full of tradition that makeup the entire timeline. Even if you're leaning towards a big wedding, I encourage you to bring slowness and intention into your day by only keeping traditions that resonate with you. With less people, you can have a more relaxed timeline and really enjoy yourselves.

6. You can use your dream vendors

I want to first say that intimate weddings are not synonymous with budget weddings! If anything, they offer financial flexibility. Why? Consider your guest count one of the most important variables influencing your wedding budget. It affects the flowers, food, beverage, for hire services, and the venue cost if you're going that route. That being said, some of these things might not be important to you. With smaller weddings, you choose where to splurge and where to save. Big fan of wine and food? Splurge on an 8-course tasting menu with fine wine pairings. Very feasible for a small group, but next to impossible for the average couple hosting a 100+ person wedding. All I ask is where you place value, don't wing it. If photography is up their on your list, don't have Uncle Joe with a nice camera photograph your wedding. If you stress over little details but vow to take in on yourself... just know that wedding planners are there to help for this very reason! With small weddings, you have the voice to choose.

In the end...

A small wedding might not be for you, but hopefully this article provided perspective on some of the benefits of having an intimate wedding. While opinions brew during the wedding planning process, it's important to step back from that process and remember why you’re having a wedding. It's about you two, and doing what's best for you. Why not share such a milestone life event with just a handful of your favorite people? The ones you love the most. Small weddings swing the door wide open for making your day about what it should be: you. Whatever you choose, may your day be filled with beauty, light, warm memories, and so much love.