8 Small Wedding Ideas For an Intimate Celebration

While weddings are an undoubtedly special occasion, they can also be overwhelming — especially if the thought of gathering 200-300 of your closest friends and family members stresses you out more than it excites you. For some couples, a massive, decked-out reception is the ticket to having the perfect day, but there are other couples out there who may want to keep it more low-key when it comes to a guest list.

If the latter sounds like you, you're probably more interested in learning about small wedding ideas. Plus, for those who are wedding planning on a budget, a small celebration (or even a micro wedding, which includes a guest list of no more than 30) might be the perfect option for you and your fiancé. Luckily, small weddings can span beyond your standard elopement or backyard ceremony — there are so many different and creative ways to keep your wedding intimate without sacrificing quality.

Event planner Krysta Marino thinks small weddings are perfect for those looking to host their wedding in a judgment-free zone. "Your money goes so much further when there are fewer people, which allows you to provide a highly elevated experience for the people closest to you," she tells PS. "It also takes out some of the extra opinions of people that you may not have been close to that try to change the vision you have in mind."

Not only are small weddings more intimate and personalized, but depending on your budget, you can focus your attention on other details like florals, decor, and music. Wedding planners and co-owners Bianca Hall and Erica Vanco, echo this sentiment, saying one of the greatest benefits of small weddings is the "ability to invest more per guest, elevating every aspect with thoughtful, personalized touches and exceptional hospitality. With a tighter circle, you can truly spoil your guests and every detail can be meticulously curated without compromise."

Below, we list eight of our favorite small wedding ideas, including everything from international buyouts to Airbnb ceremonies. Plus, some advice on how to make your big (small) day run as smoothly as possible.

Experts Featured in This Article

Krysta Marino is a event planner and owner of Marino Made Events.

Bianca Hall and Erica Vanco are the lead wedding planners and co-owners of Estera Events.

8 Small Wedding Ideas

1. Host at someone's home.

Backyard weddings aren't a new fad. In fact, they're one of the more common options for hosting a more intimate ceremony or reception. A wedding at someone's home is not only a low-maintenance and cost-friendly option, but it also allows for personal or familial details to shine. Plus, a wedding at home totally gives Nancy Meyers vibes, which is enough to sell us on the idea.

2. Book an intimate, scenic site overseas.

Unless you have a lot of family abroad, it can be hard to gather up all of your loved ones to head overseas for a wedding. (Honestly, sometimes it can even be hard to get your loved ones to travel between states for a wedding!) If you're planning on a small wedding, however, a scenic ceremony in a foreign country could be a viable option, as you have less people to account for and are therefore able to be more flexible with locations. Whether you're looking to tie the knot in front of the rolling hills of Tuscany or the sunny shores of Australia, a small wedding abroad is set to be a dreamy experience.

3. Get married at your favorite restaurant.

You know what they say: the way to someone's heart is through food. Consider hosting your ceremony and/or reception at one of your favorite restaurants. Not only will this ensure that the food will be to your liking, but the cozy ambiance of a restaurant is perfect for those prioritizing intimacy on their special day.

4. Or, better yet, at your favorite bar.

Nothing screams "come celebrate us" like a wedding reception at your favorite drinking establishment. Whether a bar, brewery, winery, or anything in between, gathering your closest friends and family in one of these more casual locations is a great way to ensure you're celebrating in a place where you feel comfortable and happy. Plus, you may want to consider booking a food truck or street vendor to enhance the celebration and feed your guests in an affordable way.

5. Rent an Airbnb.

Renting a home on Airbnb can be a cost-effective way to secure an intimate wedding venue. Better yet, you can allow some of your guests to stay at the rental depending on the number of bedrooms.

Marino agrees, saying that booking an Airbnb "allows your guests the entire weekend to celebrate with you." She adds, "They experience a new location and you get the privacy of knowing everyone on the property." If you're looking into booking an Airbnb as your small wedding venue, just be sure to check with the host to make sure their property permits such events.

6. Post up in your favorite park.

Following the trend of outdoor wedding ideas, public parks can be a great place to host any occasion, and a small wedding is no exception. When hosting in a public park, everything is customizable and up to the discretion of the couple, from the tables and decor (consider DIY florals!) to the food and drink. A park wedding is especially perfect for couples who love to be in nature and want to incorporate that shared interest into their special day.

7. Book a cooking experience for your guests.

Busting a move on the dance floor not your vibe? Try hosting a cooking experience for your guests after your ceremony instead. Vanco and Hall say they've seen couples book a cooking experience from Michelin-starred chefs for their big day, treating their guests to a truly unique, intimate, and delicious affair. "Let your creative vision shine through in every detail from personalized menus to artistic florals," they say.

8. Gather your friends and family at the beach.

If you're a couple who can't stay off the beach in the summer, perhaps an intimate gathering on your favorite shoreline is what you need. The opportunities for personalization here are endless, from a romantic fire pit to a catered beach picnic, a small beach wedding is a really great way to incorporate your love for the ocean into your special day.

Advice for Planning a Small Wedding

When it comes to planning a small or micro wedding, there's definitely less pressure involved due to the scaled-back guest list. This doesn't, however, mean you have to skimp on the details that make the day special.

Marino recommends couples take as many measures to make their small weddings as personal as possible for a unique and intimate experience for them and their guests. "In my experience, the micro weddings that I have planned are my most unique events and detailed experiences," she says. "I love seeing the wedding couple hand write guests notes, include photos with guests in their decor, and serve food unique to the couple."

Marino also notes that, in order to streamline your day, the couple should still think about investing in full service vendors that provide set-up and break-down services. "I want you to be busy on your wedding day hugging your grandma, tasting your cake and dancing the night away," she says, "not setting up candles or worrying about the dessert you picked up and brought in yourself."

Hall and Vanco both agree on the importance of hiring great vendors: "When it comes to vendors, an intimate affair allows you to splurge on exceptional talent and hospitality you may not have considered for a larger event, both of which contribute to a truly seamless and memorable experience for everyone."

Madeline Merinuk is a lifestyle writer primarily reporting on beauty, fashion, and wellness news. She's a graduate of Hofstra University with a BA in journalism, and has experience with trending news, SEO writing, interviewing, social media production, and more.