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Inspiration and Ideas for Small Weddings

Updated: Aug 31, 2020

Bride in white wedding dress and groom in beige suit running through white petals thrown by bridesmaids and groomsmen after wedding ceremony. Tanya Jones Perfect Promises Sussex Celebrant, Surrey Celebrant, London Celebrant, UK Celebrant

In the ‘new normal’ in which we now find ourselves, you might be wondering how on earth you can still have your dream wedding. Restrictions on numbers and social-distancing look as if they could be with us for a while, so now might be the time to think about a smaller wedding.

Over the last couple of years, we had already seen an increase in the number of couples choosing a smaller wedding for many different reasons: sometimes to save money; sometimes to spend their budget on other things (see below); and sometimes simply because they wanted to keep the special and traditional elements of a wedding but without the fuss and stress a large wedding can bring.

Bride in pale blue tulle and embroidered wedding dress and groom in dark suit walking through confetti thrown by bridesmaids and guests after their outdoor woodland wedding.  Tanya Jones Perfect Promises Sussex Celebrant, Surrey Celebrant, London Celebrant, UK Celebrant

Photo: Lindsay McConville Photography

And, if you’re thinking that ‘small’ means cutting back or making do - think again! Reducing the guest list definitely doesn’t mean that you have to downsize every other aspect of your day. Thinking on a smaller scale could even open up a whole world of possibilities you might not have considered before...

Bride in white wedding dress and groom in traditional Scottish kilt covered in confetti and laughing after their outdoor woodland wedding ceremony. Tanya Jones Perfect Promises Sussex Celebrant, Surrey Celebrant, London Celebrant, UK Celebrant

Photo: Lesley Burdett Photography

So, What is a Small Wedding?

This simply means that couples choose to invite a smaller group of family and friends to join them on their wedding day: so, no more inviting all and sundry, but instead having a more intimate, meaningful celebration with your nearest and dearest.

There is no hard and fast rule but as a general guide, a small wedding will usually be around 25-75 guests, and a micro wedding is even smaller, with fewer than 20 guests.

Bride in white wedding dress with flowers in her hair and groom in dark suit covered in confetti and kissing, surrounded by their friends, after their small wedding. Tanya Jones Perfect Promises Sussex Celebrant, Surrey Celebrant, London Celebrant, UK Celebrant

Quality Time

We all know how difficult it can be to make sure that you spend a few minutes with each guest at a large wedding, especially as the time passes by in a flash! Fewer guests will mean that you are able relax and spend more time with each and every one of them - as well as finding that all-important time for each other.

Bride in lace wedding dress and groom in dark suit and black bow tie smiling with Sussex countryside in the background. Tanya Jones Perfect Promises Sussex Celebrant, Surrey Celebrant, London Celebrant, UK Celebrant

Photo: Laura Ellen Photography

Dream Big

And don’t think that ‘smaller’ means cutting back on your vision of your perfect day. When you think about it, with fewer guests, it means that your budget could go further, and allow you to upgrade to a more luxurious package; or you could splurge on something like table-settings or an amazing menu, or bespoke touches for your guests.

Close-up of elegant wedding reception table-setting with white flowers and green foliage, and candles in clear class jars

Photo: Sarka Jelenova

Or perhaps you could create the spectacular wedding setting of your dreams, with huge floral displays, or extravagant lighting. Remember, 'small' or 'micro' refers only to the number of guests!

Spectacular setting for outdoor wedding ceremony for small wedding. White open-backed chairs decorated with white flowers and green foliage, white voile curtains draped around edge of ceremony area, enormous rectangular white flower cloud suspended above the length of the aisle.

Outdoor Weddings

Even in the unpredictable climate of the UK, more and more couples have been choosing an outdoor ceremony – whether that’s in the shade of an ancient oak tree; at a particular spot in the grounds of a gorgeous hotel; or even your own garden.

View of bride and groom standing in the shade of 400 year-old oak tree.  Guests sitting in rows watching their outdoor wedding ceremony. Tanya Jones Perfect Promises Sussex Celebrant, Surrey Celebrant, London Celebrant, UK Celebrant

Photo: Lesley Burdett Photography

This could be the perfect choice for a small wedding, which can be as traditional or as informal as you like, and with the added benefit of being outside, with space for everyone to spread out as much as is needed.

Bride in pale blue tulle and embroidered dress and groom in dark suit holding hands in wooden pagoda during their woodland wedding ceremony.  Guests sitting on wooden benches watching them.

Photo: Lindsay McConville Photography

It would be worth speaking to your preferred venues to see if they have outside options which might be available, as many now have gazebos or other licensed structures which would be ideal for your wedding ceremony.

And, of course, if you are considering using a Celebrant, then your ceremony can take place anywhere at all, licensed or not, which opens up a whole new set of options! A beautiful, bespoke Celebrant-led ceremony is the perfect way to make those all-important promises to each other, surrounded by your closest family and friends.

Bride in white dress with pink and white flowers in her bouquet, and groom in white shirt and black bow tie, standing in front of large hoop completely covered in flowers and foliage at their wedding ceremony.

Spectacular Venues

Many couples have their heart set on a grand venue for their big day, and this could still be a great option, even with a smaller guest list. Fewer guests will mean more space to spread out and really make the most of the luxurious surroundings.

Bride in white wedding dress and groom in formal morning suit walking back down the aisle after their wedding ceremony in luxury hotel.  Bride holding her bouquet of white flowers aloft. Tanya Jones Perfect Promises Sussex Celebrant, Surrey Celebrant, London Celebrant, UK Celebrant

Photo: Lee Rushby Photography

You might have originally hoped to hold your ceremony in a large, impressive room, but if this now feels too big for a smaller guest-list, why not ask your favourite venue if they have a smaller room? I’m willing to bet that they have, and that it’s just as stunning as the larger one!

Or, how about making the large space feel smaller and cosier by using elaborate lighting, flowers and foliage, or fabric drapes to lower the ceiling - drapes would also stop a large room sounding echo-y, again making it feel more intimate.

Elegant wedding reception table-setting for small wedding.  White tablecloth, clear glassware, pale pink and whit flowers.  Table surrounded by draped white voile curtains, and crystal chandelier suspended over the table

Relaxed Seating

A smaller guest list provides a great opportunity to create some lovely, cosy spaces for people to gather, relax and chat. This works just as well whether inside or outdoors: with inviting, snug spaces inside furnished with comfy sofas and coffee tables; or quirky bars/food stations outside, accompanied by rugs, stacked suitcases, and pretty lighting.

Small teepee-type tent erected on grass beside river at outdoor wedding ceremony. Seating area under the teepee with rug, cushions, and plants

Midsummer Nightcap

Caravan set up as mobile drinks station for outdoor wedding.  Dressed with seating area with rug, table and chairs, with vase of flowers, and green sofa with old suitcases piled up as a coffee table

Midsummer Nightcap

Outdoor seating area set up at outdoor wedding with plush sofa and chairs, lanterns and fairy lights strung between the trees

And when it comes to dining, don’t be afraid to think big! Instead of lots of small, circular tables, you could go for one large table where everyone would be able to happily eat, chat and laugh together.

Bride and groom sitting at outside wedding reception table with friends at small wedding, with confetti in the air. Table laid with food and drink, and fairy lights strung between the trees

Perfect Timing

A smaller group may make it easier for you to have the timing and catering that really suits you, rather than be tied to the usual format. You may find that your preferred venue can be much more flexible with catering arrangements when dealing with smaller numbers.

You could follow an early afternoon ceremony with an amazing afternoon tea, or picnic; and a later wedding (or maybe even a twilight ceremony) could be followed by a fabulous dinner, or maybe a grazing table, and dancing under the stars and fairy lights.

Cake table at outdoor wedding with naked sponge cake, decorated with black grapes and fresh flowers

Photo: Jenny Owens Photography

Table set for outdoor wedding reception at dusk, with amber glassware and lit paper lanterns suspended above the table

You've heard the saying that all the best things come in small packages, and that can definitely be true for a wedding!

If you'd like a friendly and informal chat about how a beautiful, heartfelt and personal Celebrant-led ceremony can take your wedding day to the next level, then please do get in touch.


With huge thanks to the following wonderful suppliers:





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