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Intimate Ceremony Ideas for Smaller Weddings

Intimate weddings are characterised by their smaller number of guests and the overall, more low-key celebration atmosphere. Imagine a cosy sit-down dinner with only your closest family and friends or a close-set ceremony venue that’s large enough only for a dozen or so people. Here are some intimate ceremony ideas that prove you don’t have to go all-out to have a beautiful wedding.

For more on wedding ceremonies, make sure you check out these creative unity ceremony ideas and alternatives.


Intimate Ceremony Ideas for Smaller Weddings - Bride Looking Out Of Window - Ivory Wedding Inspiration |

Intimate Ceremony Ideas

Intimate weddings have quite a few benefits:


Intimate weddings can cost a lot less, as you don’t have to spend as much money on a larger venue, more favours, or catering and accommodation, etc, for more people. Alternatively, with the money you save by having fewer guests you can treat yourself and your loved ones to more luxurious entertainment or catering, or even save up for your honeymoon or play with the idea of having a wedding abroad.

Luxurious New Over-the-Water Villas Make the Ultimate Caribbean Honeymoon | above: Most Romantic Caribbean Honeymoon Ideas

The Guest List

An intimate wedding is the perfect solution if you’re a bride or groom who doesn’t have all that many people you want to invite (though, sometimes, couples looking for an intimate ceremony have some difficult decisions to make on who to cut from the guest list), and the thinner guest list not only means you and your partner will be able to speak to everyone but also allows your guests to all talk to each other and get to know each other. This is especially useful if both sides of the family don’t really know each other all that well.

Wedding Reception Lighting and Set Up Ideas - Ana and Kevin’s Romantic Italian Castle Wedding in Tuscany by Emma-Jane Photography - romantic Italian Castle wedding at Castello di Montalto | above: Ana and Kevin’s Romantic Italian Castle Wedding in Tuscany by Emma-Jane Photography

Furthermore, fewer guests means that brides and/or grooms who struggle with the anxiety of having all eyes on them for the big day are more likely to remain calm and comfortable, as having only the nearest and dearest of your friends and family there is a lot easier to stomach than a sea of faces (some of whom you may not even know that well). If after the ceremony you want a larger party, many couples choose to invite more guests to the reception while others simply throw a larger party a couple of months after the wedding.

Get Everyone Involved

Another result of having fewer wedding guests means that it’s a lot easier to include everyone in your ceremony.

Ring Warming:

One of our favourite intimate ceremony ideas is “ring warming”, where everyone has the chance to hold the wedding rings and offer a wish, blessing or prayer for the couple before the giving of rings and the I Dos. This can involve passing the rings around by hand, on a ring dish or pillow (don’t miss these beautiful ring box alternatives!), or along a length of string or ribbon that’s running along the rows of seats. On the other hand, you could let your guests bless the rings before they take their seats or do it privately with just your very close friends and family.

White Porcelain Leaf Ring Plate or Key Dish | above: White Porcelain Leaf Dish

Unity Ceremonies:

Another of our favourite intimate ceremony ideas, and another great way to involve everyone in the wedding ceremony itself is, if you’re not having a religious ceremony, a “unity” ceremony. Unity ceremonies come in all shapes and forms and are limited only by your imagination. Popular options include the unity candle ceremony, where the couple and their guests can light a central candle with candles of their own, the rose ceremony, where the couple and their guests can add flowers to a vase, and the sand ceremony, where the couple and their loved ones can take turns adding layers of sand to a lovely vessel. These ceremony alternatives grow evermore popular, since they add the couple’s own personal little twist.

Sand Unity Wedding Ceremony | Sand Unity Ceremony |
Featured above: Heart Shaped Sand Ceremony Vase Set – “The Adventure Begins” Etching | “Free Spirit” Personalised Sand Ceremony Vase Set

Browse our beautiful selection of unity sand ceremony sets in our shop.


One of the worries for any wedding is that the readings and speeches go on too long, but you don’t have to worry about that as much with an intimate wedding where there’s a much more casual atmosphere. While you can still have the traditional readings and speeches, some couples choose to include all of their guests too by inviting them all to read a line of a prayer or special reading. Find some wonderful readings and speeches inspiration here.

best man giving a speechFeatured above: What Does a Best Man Do?

The Venue

In many cases a smaller wedding means couples have a much wider choice of settings, including alternative, non-traditional venues like restaurants, luxury tree houses and national landmarks (like the London Eye!), B&Bs, and even windmills. These offer a pretty unique setting for a very memorable occasion! However, if you’d love to get married in a castle or stately home you still can, as many of these venues are home to smaller function rooms specifically designed for smaller weddings. See some lovely intimate wedding venues here!

Ackergill Tower's Treehouse Hideaway - Unique Wedding Venues - Wedding Venues in the Scottish Highlands - Unusual Wedding Venues in Scotland | above: The Treehouse at Ackergill Tower


Smaller weddings mean couples don’t have to go all out decorating a massive space (unless they want to), so it’s a lot less time consuming and there’s a lot less to think about when you have to put up and pull down the decorations. Also, if you’re getting hands-on to DIY your centerpieces and decor it won’t take nearly as long. However, smaller weddings often mean that mistakes are more easily noticeable so you may want to pay very close attention to the details.

Grey and Green Winter Wedding Ceremony Aisle Decor - Bistro Bliss Personalised Backdrop - You Don't Find Love It Finds you - Destiny - Fate - Written In The Stars | above: Bistro Bliss Personalised Backdrop and Galvanized Flower Market Buckets

Intimate weddings also afford a lot more versatility in your setting, and a lot of opportunities to be creative. Wedding ceremony seating ideas include lovely set-ups from spiral and horseshoe shaped aisles to comfy couches and rustic hay bales, and it’s a lot more likely that all of your guests will get an up-front look at the exchange of vows.


One of the latest and greatest intimate ceremony ideas comes from Deliveroo’s new wedding catering service—they could deliver the food you and your guests want to your reception. Doesn’t it sound fantastic!

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