The Rise of Intimate Weddings

Intimate weddings, both local and destination, have recently gained popularity. Some couples find that they are budget-friendly, allowing them to include more of their dreams in their wedding at a price they can afford. Others want to limit their guest lists to just those people closest to them. Whatever the motivation, more and more couples are now seeking the intimate wedding experience, so it’s important that you gain a better understanding of this style of celebration. 


Guest List Tips 

In general, intimate weddings include between 20 and 75 guests, although they can be even smaller. Limiting the guest list can be challenging for couples, even when it’s their goal, so be prepared to help them set expectations early on. You might recommend that they assign each family member a certain number of invitations to help keep everything fair, or suggest that they sit down together to choose the list. Priority should be given to guests who are currently involved in the couple’s lives, while respect should also be shown to stakeholders like parents who might be paying for all or a large part of the wedding. 

Never encourage your couple to over-invite, or their intimate wedding can quickly grow to the full size spectacle they were trying to avoid. I tell clients that they can anticipate at least 80% of those invited will attend.  


The Cost Factor 

Money is often the driving factor behind the decision to hold an intimate wedding, so knowing how to best take advantage of savings available to smaller events is important when helping guide your clients.  


Food and beverage are by far the elements of a wedding that are most impacted by the head count. With smaller weddings you can be creative to achieve your clients’ expectations within their budget – offer a five to six course seated meal for 20, or a more casual, station-based presentation for 50. An intimate wedding can also result in savings on centerpieces, specialty linens, rentals and personalized printed products. 



Having fewer guests gives you the opportunity to craft whole weekends full of fun and celebration for your clients. You could recommend excursions, a pre-wedding cocktail reception or a post-wedding brunch to extend the time that guests have to spend together. Hold your kick-off festivities on a Friday evening and wrap up early in the day on Sunday. A leisurely brunch and tour around town is a great way to end the weekend and allows the newlyweds to say goodbye to their guests. 


Intimate weddings open up a world of unique opportunities that you can offer your clients. Consider all of the ways that they might benefit from being surrounded by only their closest loved ones, friends and family members, and help them create an event that is personal and meaningful for all. 


Emily Sullivan is the owner of Emily Sullivan Events, a full-service wedding planning company based in New Orleans and serving couples everywhere.  



See Emily Sullivan at #Catersource 2018!

Emily will teach "Surprise & Delight Catering" at Catersource 2018 in Las Vegas. 


When: Sunday, February 18 10:50 a.m. to 11:45 a.m.

Where: Roman 1, Caesars Palace


Emily Sullivan

Emily Sullivan is the owner of Emily Sullivan Events, a full-service wedding planning company based in New Orleans and serving couples everywhere.