When it comes to weddings…
…does size actually matter?
Now, for some people it does – as in: the bigger the wedding, the better their experience. These are the extroverts who thrive with a large audience. These are the people who find it easy to embrace every second of being the centers of attention in a group of 200+ people.
But not everyone dreams of having a big wedding.
I mean, organizing a huge event – and making sure that everything is perfect – is, in fact, stressful. And spending the happiest day of your life surrounded by people you may not even like (or know) might not be your idea of a magical day of love & joy.
So, imagine fewer chairs but more heartfelt cheers, and a setting so personal, even the squirrels in attendance might feel like they should have brought a gift. Picture a celebration where you not only remember everyone’s name, but actually know everyone from the very start.
Then a small-scale, intimate wedding just might be the right choice for you. And in that case, I’m here as your trusted wedding photographer from North Carolina with a blog post to help you plan an intimate celebration of your love that’s beautiful, unique, and truly yours.
Planning your intimate wedding: top tips & tricks
When planning your not-so-big day, think of it as throwing the dinner party of the century – with a few extra kisses & vows thrown in (obviously). When trying to imagine the experience, it should feel something like a warm hug or cuddle – NOT a ceremonial handshake.
So, here’s how to make that happen…
First off, venues. Forget the echoing halls of The Grandiose Manor and consider spaces with a bit more soul. Picture a quaint garden; a private hall with an indoor fireplace; or maybe a cool art gallery. Your venue sets the stage for your story – so pick a spot where the walls (or trees) can talk.
Now about who gets a golden ticket: crafting your guest list is going to be the hardest part. But remember: you can’t have an intimate celebration with hundreds of people (half of whom you barely even know).
So, instead of rolling out the red carpet for your mom’s yoga instructor or your third cousin who you last saw when Avatar came out, keep it to the faces you’d love to see in the front row of your personal concert. Keep it to people who make you feel loved – who make you feel special.
And cut everyone else from your guest list – even if for some reason you feel obligated to invite them (spoiler: you’re not).
As for all the small details, this is where you can set your creativity free! Personalize the heck out of your day however you want. But more on that later!
Now, budget-wise, the beauty of an intimate affair is that you can allocate funds to what truly matters to you. Rather than feeding the five thousand, you can splurge on that incredible photographer (wink wink) or plate up a gourmet feast that’ll have your guests talking for years (and not just because Uncle Bob went for thirds).
All in all, planning your intimate wedding is about as personal as it gets – and that’s the whole point! It’s like building a playlist where every song makes you turn up the volume and say, “That’s my jam!”. After all, this is – and should be – a party where you actually know everyone’s name.
The secrets to good wedding photography in intimate settings
When it comes to immortalizing your wedding day in pixels and prints, don’t think of your wedding photographer as paparazzi. Instead, think of them as a ninja with a camera – stealthy, unobtrusive, and somehow still always at the right place at the right time.
And here’s a hot tip: ditch the shot list that includes every combination of relatives and their respective children (but even when it comes to the group photo, you won’t need to hire a drone to get everyone in the frame).
Instead, focus on the moments that matter. Like that split second your grandma breaks it down on the dance floor or the tear-jerking laughter during your best friend’s speech that could win an Oscar for Best Original Screenplay. After all, these are the candid memories that will evoke feelings in you every time you flip through your wedding album.
Plus, with fewer bystanders, each photo becomes a little more special. You get the chance for more ‘us’ shots that feel like they’re ripped out of the pages of your life’s storybook. They’ll be more real, more meaningful – and thus more special to you.
Now sure, you can still get all your group photos and portraits in. But with fewer people, it will take much less time away from actually experiencing your big day – meaning that we’ll have a lot more time for the shots that truly matter.
As for communication with your photographer, tell them everything!
Trust me, I want to know all about your quirks, your inside jokes, and just how much you’re willing to embarrass yourselves in the name of good photos. Because when you’re celebrating on a smaller scale, every snapshot has the potential to be front-and-center on the mantelpiece – not hidden in a dusty album on a shelf.
How to personalize your small-scale wedding
Okay, so the stage is set for your beautiful day, and now it’s time to add those personal strokes that make your heart skip a beat (definitely NOT from wedding planning stress).
I’m talking about the kind of personalization that makes your guests say, “Yep, that’s so them” – without rolling their eyes. Remember: everyone here knows you on a deeper level, so be afraid to let your personalities shine.
With that in mind, let’s start with the ceremony. Why go with a cookie-cutter script when your love story is unique in its own beautiful way?
Write your own vows that might make each other (and your guests) laugh a little, or tear up a lot. Ask your celebrant to include a few of your inside jokes & stories in your ceremony. Or better yet, have your dog trot down the aisle with your rings. Don’t just have another ceremony off the conveyor belt – make it beautiful in your own way!
Moving on to the reception: here’s where you can truly set your creativity free! Mix in tables named after your go-to date spots, get creative with the wedding games, or place albums or prints of your love story and/or shared memories with your guests on the tables (either next to – or instead of – centerpieces).
And the same goes for the menu too. This isn’t a school cafeteria – you’re free to design your own menu that has “you” written all over it. So, instead of opting for a traditional wedding menu, have a selection of all your favorite foods & drinks.
Imagine – for example – a selection of your favorite craft beers instead of the standard-issue bubbly. Or a taco-bar if that’s what you’re both into. As for dessert, feel free to ditch the wedding cake and roll in an ice cream truck if you prefer ice cream to cake.
Since this is a small wedding, you can incorporate your family traditions too. After all, you’re amongst your closest friends & families – so, it’s safe to assume everyone will appreciate & embrace them, right?
Think grandma’s famous pie, or dancing to your parents to the tune of their wedding dance from back in the day. And instead of a guestbook, why not have a Polaroid photo wall? It’s interactive, it’s nostalgic, and you won’t end up with a book you glance at once every leap year.
Remember, this day is a celebration of you two as a couple. So if it means breaking out into a board game battle post-dinner or having a magician instead of a DJ because you both love magic, then abracadabra – make it happen.
As a last food for thought, think back to all the weddings you’ve attended. The ones that stick out aren’t necessarily the ones with the flashiest centerpieces or the tallest cake. No, they’re the ones where love, laughter, and a touch of personality were the guests of honor.
Intimate weddings are just like that: they feel as comfortable as your favorite old sweater but as special as a brand-new suit. With fewer seats to fill, you can pour more of yourselves into the details and make every moment resonate with who you are as a couple – which is the whole point of having a wedding anyways.
So don’t be afraid to sketch out a day that feels like home, where every hug is a little tighter, every toast a little more authentic, and every dance step tells a story.
And hey, if you need someone to capture every giggle, every tear, and every dance move that would make your mom blush – I’d be honored to be your wedding photographer. So please don’t hesitate to get in touch – and let’s talk about how we can make your wedding picture perfect.