Getting ready for your wedding takes up a good part of the day. Many times, I’ve experienced brides and grooms prepping with friends and family. They often get stressed and end up taking care of everyone but themselves. There is something special about spending that time with your fiancé instead. Don’t think this means you can’t also have a first look either. I’ve seen couples get ready up to the point of putting the dress on, then still having an emotional first look.
First looks can be a great way to experience a very emotional moment, without all eyes being on you. They are not for everyone though. I like the idea of having a last moment together before two become one, and you can do that without seeing each other. Try getting together for a prayer or to talk about whats happening. You can be in two adjoining rooms, around a corner, or get back to back (my personal favorite). This is also great for couples who tend to get nervous and can have a calming effect when needed.
This is a big one for me. I encourage all my couples to schedule alone time before (if having a first look) or after the ceremony. They can get away from everyone else, slow things down, and take in the moment together. This usually also doubles as a great time for candid portraits. Couples can explore an area around the location while I capture what happens.
Consider having less, if any, bridesmaids and groomsmen. Many times your friends will enjoy the day more as guests anyway. The smaller your party is, the less crowded and time consuming your prep, ceremony, and photos are. If you’re finding it to hard to narrow it down, try having your party seated during the ceremony. That way it’s just the two of you at the altar.
Think outside the box when it comes to your ceremony. For example, try having your ceremony in the round with you two at the center. Your guests could even sit on casual furniture. This will set the tone for the event and let everyone know that it’s ok to relax and have fun.
Find a close friend or family member to officiate your ceremony. The best ceremonies I’ve experienced almost always have this element in common. It’s more personal and entertaining when someone you’re comfortable with performs this task. One of my favorites is when a parent or sibling does the honors.
Another way to get things feeling more intimate is to involve your guests in the ceremony. They may recite poems or scripture, pray over you, take turns storytelling, or thank people by name. Only, make sure it fits with the vibe you want the ceremony to have. I love it when the guests get involved in a ceremony recessional or exit. It’s usually a lot more fun and successful than exits at the end of the night and makes for better pictures as well!
There is no law that says you have to exchange vows in front of anyone else or even at your own ceremony. You may want to exchange private vows after the ceremony in a place of your choosing. This usually makes for a more emotional and direct exchange. It’s also a great opportunity to create impactful photographs. Another option is to have your ceremony without guests. You can always meet them afterwards at the reception.
Schedule time to eat dinner together. This is another big one for me. So often I see the bride and groom’s cold plates sitting untouched at the end of the night. Be sure to sit down together and eat uninterrupted. Plan about the same amount of time it takes you to eat out somewhere on a date night. Then you can savor the food and have good conversation. Resist the old school of thought that you have to go around the room and thank everyone. This is what “Thank You” cards and guest favors are for (not to mention that you invited them). Slow down and enjoy the evening together.
Plan a casual reception with open seating, lounge areas, and a horderve dinner. For my wedding, we had a buffet style smorgasbord of food and open seating inside and outside. Our small french hotel venue was perfect for this. Everyone got to mingle and interact this way. Again, it creates a mood of informality. It also speeds up the timeline and allows more time for dancing and fun.
Taking the time to create something personal to each of your guests can go a long way. It can be something as simple as a thank you card or something as elaborate as favorite homemade deserts. A little goes a long way and people are very appreciative of any kind of acknowledgement.
This is something that is becoming more popular. Invite your friends and family to a get together, then surprise them with nuptials. This option is not for the faint of heart, but it can make for some very memorable moments!
I can’t recommend destination weddings enough if you’re looking for an intimate event. There is something about getting everybody in an exotic setting. It loosens everyone up and puts them in a great mood. After all, you’re on vacation! The travel and time commitment also assures the guest list contains only people who want to be there. You can choose to make the whole event a bit more inclusive because people are usually staying in the area. For example, you can invite everyone to an informal rehearsal dinner or afterparty.
This is my personal favorite option. To experience your wedding in the most intimate, try adventuring someplace magical. Try exchanging vows on the beach in Iceland or in the woods of the Pacific Northwest. How about the two of you at San Francisco’s City Hall or on top of a mountain in Switzerland? There’s so many amazing options. I love to help plan unforgettable experiences with my couples! Check out some tips on how to plan an elopement here.
The whole appeal of intimate weddings are the personal moments and connections possible. Big weddings don’t usually have as many of those opportunities. Although, there are things you can do to tighten the experience, no matter what size the guest list. If you’re considering an intimate wedding or elopement, I’d love to tell your story. Get in touch and let’s get to know each other!
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