How to Pull Off an Intimate Wedding

Ever since the Coronavirus pandemic struck, the wedding and events industry has been turned upside down. But I must admit, I’m so proud of how my clients have pivoted during these unpredicted times. I’ve seen many couples completely adjust their original wedding plans and opt for a smaller, more intimate wedding. 

Today’s post is going to dive deeper into why a scaled back wedding might be a good option to consider, what this looks like from a planning perspective, and lastly, how it effects your photography timeline and final gallery! 


It’s crazy to think about the ways in which culture affects the way we think. Exchanging vows and having a large celebration with all of your extended family and friends is the norm, especially in Minnesota. But just because societal pressures tell us this is the way we need to conduct our event, it doesn’t mean it’s the only way. The cultural shift we’ve all made the past few months has made the idea of an intimate wedding rise to the forefront.

So what is an intimate wedding? 

An intimate wedding is typically comprised of 50 guests or less. For most of my guests, this means immediate family & bridal party (+ significant others) only. It’s also a scaled down version of a traditional wedding, consisting of a ceremony, light apps, and a meal filled with meaningful toasts from all your favorite people. 

Think about it, intimate weddings allow for more quality time with your favorite people, less logistics to manage, the ability to spend your budget on more decadent details (or don’t and pocket the extra cash!), allow more time for photos, and experience less stress, allowing you to truly live in the moment and enjoy your day.

As a resource, see this Twin Cities Live clip, highlighting one of my couples that got married during the pandemic and why they thought scaling back their wedding was the right decision.


Completely changing your plans from a traditional wedding to an intimate wedding can be stressful. But your wedding day can become even more memorable and unique! Here are some things to consider if you shift to an intimate celebration:

  • SEND OUT A “CHANGE OF PLANS” NOTICE – Send out a notice to all those guests originally invited to your wedding and let them know the change in plans. Minted has some really great templates!
  • SWITCH TO A SMALLER VENUE – It might be in your best interest to find a venue that’s smaller or that has an intimate wedding package option. You can also consider using the space originally intended for your rehearsal dinner! When you have 50 rather than 250, you have more options.
  • GO OUTSIDE – If a family member of yours owns a lot of land, consider doing a gorgeous tent and rent out the necessary furniture! You can save a lot of money with this approach. Companies like Collected & Co. and Linen Effects have great options locally. 
  • CONSIDER CATERING ALTERNATIVES – A lot of catering companies have large minimums. If you’re having a laid back wedding in a back yard, think outside the box and call in a few of your favorite food trucks for dinner! There are some local venues such as PAIKKA in St. Paul that allow for food trucks as a catering alternative as well. 
  • ADD YOUR FAVORITE EXTRAS – Were you envisioning textured linens and decadent florals for your wedding, but it didn’t make the budget? You can use the money you saved on feeding all 250 guests and use that towards the finer details you’ve always dreamed of. A smaller wedding means you can add as many personal touches as you’d like.
  • FACEBOOK LIVESTREAM – If you’re sad about the idea of some of your guests not making the cut on the guest list, have your videographer or a techy friend set up cameras and live stream it to Facebook! Create a private Facebook Page only for guests where they can watch the ceremony unfold, share their touching comments, and photos of them watching you tie the knot in the comfort of their home. How fun would this be to watch back once the day is over?!
  • ALLOW FOR MEALTIME SOCIAL DISTANCING – Plan to do small tables where each household can sit together, or large, square tables that allow for distance between each household at the table. Make your guests feel more comfortable amid the pandemic!


Intimate weddings allow for more flexibility in your day-of timeline, as well as reduced stress. Here are some ways in which your wedding day plans could benefit from a smaller gathering:

  • STRESS FREE TIMELINE – As a wedding photographer, I’m a firsthand witness to the stress a couple endures on the wedding day. Majority of the time, stress stems from the timeline. With an intimate wedding, majority of your guests are taking part in the photos for the day, so there’s less stress! If your ceremony starts a little late, everyone will understand. Reducing stress also means you’re able to be more present on your important day.
  • MORE TOASTS AND QUALITY TIME – As a former bride, I can tell you that I didn’t have a single in-depth conversation with either of my parents or anyone in my husband’s family. When you have 200+ guests to host, your time is spread thin. Imagine being able to have meaningful conversation and individually thank every member of your family and bridal party – how special is that?!
  • FIND AN EPIC LOCATION FOR PHOTOS – Since you’ll have more flexibility in your timeline with an intimate wedding, you can take the time to drive to your favorite local location for the perfect wedding portraits. 
  • MORE NEWLYWED PHOTOS IN YOUR FINAL GALLERY – You’ll simply have more time for photos with your new spouse and for special photos with your family and best friends. Make sure to talk with your planner and photographer to communicate if this is important to you!

An intimate wedding isn’t for everyone, and that’s ok! As a wedding photographer, I want my couples to make the decision that best suits their vision and priorities. At the end of the day, you’ll look back on this time and be proud of your adaptability, decision-making skills, and will fondly remember the day that kick started your lives together. No matter what!


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Minneapolis, Minn. based photographer capturing marriage and motherhood through timeless and joyful images.

luxury photography

Minneapolis, Minn.

Estd. 2013