• Cait O'Malley

How to plan an intimate wedding

Updated: Apr 22



Intimate weddings have always been a favourite of mine. There is so much room for creativity and infusing unique and personal details into every little aspect of the day. With the spread of covid-19 putting a jolting stand still to the wedding industry, I am predicting that there will be a massive shift in the wedding landscape, with couples trending towards intimate weddings, and even stylized stay-elopements (but that’s another blog post entirely!). Even once the world begins to right itself and the rules on social distancing become more lax, non-essential, large-scale gatherings will likely still be under restriction for quite some time, which means it might be time to consider paring down that guest list.


An intimate wedding is actually an incredibly fun affair, but it scares many off as planning for a small-scale gathering can feel quite daunting. It strays so far from the stereotypical wedding formula that it can be hard to figure out where to start, how to create a relevant and fitting aesthetic, and what elements to incorporate.


At Bourbon & Bloom, we’ve never been much for following rules and formulas anyway, so we are all for breaking out of what’s viewed as normal and standard, and helping you blaze your own trail in your one-of-a-kind, intimate wedding. With that in mind, I put together our top tips to consider when planning your intimate wedding.

Determine the budget priorities.

A smaller wedding doesn’t mean a cheaper wedding. It’s true that the biggest cost in a wedding is typically associated with your guest count, but your budget can easily get away from you if you decide to get frivolous on each item. Is the dinner and open bar the most important for you? Great – splurge on those! Obsessed with flowers? Get the big-ass bouquet and fill the room with blooms. Just don’t think that a small wedding means that you can go to town on every single element without racking up a huge bill.




Cut out the ‘should’ stuff.

Too many couples incorporate things into their wedding because they feel like they should; not because they actually want to. An intimate wedding is a great opportunity to evaluate exactly what elements are important to the couple for their day and cut out the rest. Only doing speeches because you should? Cut! Want to sneak of for a private stroll rather than do all those group family photos? Cut! There are no rules in weddings anymore and it is the one day where you get to make everything about you, so be selfish and only do the things that bring you both happiness.


Go non-traditional.

With a low guest count, you have a lot more flexibility to play around with the wedding formula, by choosing an unexpected venue or playing with table configurations to create a really cool space that feels full even if there are only 15 people. Instead of a traditional sit-down dinner, try creating a casual lounge environment with rounds of passed canapes. Why not rent a boat for a travelling ceremony or have everyone meet you for a stylized, high-end picnic in your favourite park! Just remember to get all the proper paperwork, licensing and bylaw approvals if necessary.


The details are key.

With large weddings, a little goes a long way because you are seeing the details across 10-20 guest tables for a large, landscape effect. With intimate weddings, however, you are only working with a few tables, or one long, family style table. The details will have to work harder to create a full ambiance in the space and every little detail will be noticed by all of your guests. That doesn’t mean you should fill your tables to the brim – think bigger picture and work on creating a unique environment using your full space, and selecting decorative elements that enhance and compliment rather than aggressively grabbing the eye.


Don’t forget the entertainment.

Sometimes it can be hard to get the party going or amp up the dance floor when there are only a handful of guests. Consider bringing in live entertainment, especially if they can engage your guests in some way. Have a Celtic background? Consider bringing in musicians for a traditional cèilidh. Are your guests big into the rock scene? Why not bring in a band for live karaoke? If you find yourself among the talented, why not host a talent show or get a couple friends to do some stand-up!


Make it personal.

A smaller wedding means you can take the time to really infuse personal elements into your guest experience. If homemaking plays a role in your life, you might consider getting crafty by making homemade wedding favours like jam, or your family’s amazing cookie recipe. For something more stylized, try turning boring place cards into treasured keepsakes by using custom acrylic name signs, personalized glassware, or etched budvases at each place-setting. Just remember that guests need to get their favours home easily or they will be left behind. Consider having prepared takeaway boxes for each guest to grab on their way out. Go a step further and personalize the boxes with a handwritten thank you note for each guest.



Inspiration featuring Alyssa and Scott's intimate rustic-chic wedding.

Design: Bourbon & Bloom | Photos: Photography by Emma | Venue: The Herb Garden | Florals: Love in Bloom | Hair & Makeup: Red Carpet Glamour | Catering: Biagios | Rentals: Valley Tent & Party Rentals

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