There’s a lot to be said for having a ‘quiet’ wedding and keeping numbers down.

  • It’s more intimate
  • You’ll be able to talk to your guests more easily and spend time with them
  • You can opt for better quality wines, champagne and maybe a more luxurious venue
  • You’ll be making the very most of your budget
  • Your invited friends will feel very special
  • You probably won’t feel as stressed in the run-up to your wedding
  • You’ll also probably find it easier to find a venue that suits you on the day you want it
  • If you’re footing the bar bill, you won’t have to worry about it escalating too high
  • If you’re feeling super-generous, you can include your guests’ accommodation within the invitation
  • You could give every guest a button hole or a corsage for the ladies
  • You can make fabulous favours (we really like these mini bottles of sloe gin)
sloe gin wedding favours

At a small wedding, you can make a few DIY wedding favours, like this sloe gin. (Image via John Barwood Photography)

So what constitutes a ‘small’ wedding?

It’s really a wedding that has under 30 guests, and probably less.

Sometimes guests can suffer from ‘wedding fatigue’. Particularly if you’re at the time in your life when you seem to be going to weddings every summer Saturday.

This is when a small wedding really comes into its own. Because you’re only inviting people that you really, really want to be there.

Your guests know that they’re likely to be on a table with people they already know, rather than having to mingle with strangers that they might struggle to find common ground with.

buttonholes small wedding ideas

Give each guest a buttonhole on arrival. Image via

Making the most of a small wedding

As we said, a small wedding is all about intimacy. So how can you choose a venue that reflects this?

Well, first off let’s look at different styles of room. A small wedding actually opens up your options. You can opt for a private room in a hotel kept aside just for you and your guests. Or maybe an art gallery, a barn or a restaurant?


Don’t feel you have to offer seating. Your guests can gather round you as you say your vows. (Outdoor wedding ceremony at Hestercombe in Somerset)

Seating styles

You don’t have to have row by row seating at a small wedding, you could have a circular table.

In fact, you probably don’t need to have seating at all. You could just have guests gather round you as you say your vows.

At the actual marriage ceremony, you could give guests named seating, if you want people to sit in a particular place.

You could put envelopes of confetti (or rose petals) at each place for guests to throw at the happy couple when they are walking out as newly weds.

At the reception, don’t have multiple tables. You could just have one long family table, so you can sit with your guests.

Cocktail bars are affordable

We love the idea of having a cocktail bar. You can have a cocktail making expert to make up cocktails from a list – and because numbers are small there’s not going to be much of a queue, ever. (Although if there is a little wait, that’s a great place for people to be able to catch up with one another.)

We also like the idea of serving mini bottles of champagne or prosecco to guests. Because you’re having small numbers, this is also an affordable and fun way of offering drinks.

mini champagne for small wedding

Mini champagne bottles for your guests? (Image via Leslee Mitchell Photography)

Keeping it small – some advice

If your heart (and budget) are set on a small wedding, here’s what you have to do

  • Don’t invite people because you think you have to
  • Only invite people who really mean a lot to you
  • That means you don’t have to invite distant cousins, aunts and uncles you never see, brothers and sisters you really don’t get on with
  • Ignore hints from colleagues, your hairdresser, next door neighbours. It’s your day and you’re paying for it. So do it your way!
  • Don’t invite children
  • No plus ones – only serious boyfriends and girlfriends
  • Pick a small wedding venue so you really can’t enlarge the numbers (and you can use the venue as an excuse if anybody starts asking questions!)


LesLee Mitchell Photography

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