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Intimate weddings have increased in popularity like mad. To say that most weddings I now do are intimate weddings. So out with the traditional larger style wedding and in with the new Intimate weddings where the focus is on you two and being with loved ones. Couples are also starting to choose to split the wedding up – have the small intimate wedding then have a much bigger celebration later on. So what exactly is an intimate wedding? You may have heard it from a friend  recently and wondered what they meant. Is it just a scaled-down version of a regular wedding? Is it similar to an elopement? Let me break it down for you below.


My Guide to Wedding Planning | Cornwall Wedding Photographer | Couple laughing at The Alverton


Intimate wedding


The short and simple version is that it’s a smaller wedding. But let’s dive a little deeper. It generally has a smaller number of guests and the day can be designed more about what you two want. For instance if you wanted to break away to go and spend some quality time with your partner on the stunning rugged coast path or up for a a gorgeous walk along the dramatic hill tops (P.s. don’t forget to bring your photographer along). Sometimes you can hear it refereed as a micro wedding. There really isn’t an exact definition and you can define it however you like. But in most cases, size is considered as the main factor for defining an intimate wedding.

In the UK, an average wedding has around 80-150 guests so an intimate wedding is usually one with up to 30 attendees. I personally class an intimate wedding as a wedding of up to 60 guests.

This is just an estimate though. There’s so many depending factors like wedding practices, cultures, and norms in various regions and countries around the world. For instance, in a area or country where a regular wedding could have around 300-500 attendees, a wedding with 100 attendees could still be considered intimate.

Intimate Wedding | Elopement | Cornwall Wedding Photographer | Beacon Crag


Intimate wedding vs elopement

Is there any difference between an elopement and intimate wedding? Often used to describe the same thing, but each are quite different. Both taking leaps in popularity.

Elopements and intimate weddings may have some similarities. Intimate weddings include elopements and elopements are understandably intimate. However, the main difference between these two lies in the number of guests. You may notice that the wedding party size has a big role in defining both terms.

An elopement is one where the only attendees (in some occasions a couple of family members) are the couple (in some occasions a couple of family members), the officiant, and very few wedding suppliers – usually just the photographer, hairstylist, and make-up artist. Sometimes, the bride does her own hair and make up to keep it even smaller and the whole wedding party is limited to three people – the bride, groom, and officiant. I personally class an elopement as a wedding of 10 or less guests where as an intimate wedding is up to 60 guests.

I bet you’re thinking you don’t want to elope because of the stigma of what an elopement use to be. Elopements aren’t what they used to be. Gone are the days where you’d ‘run away’ up to Gretna Green or hide away from their families and fight for their forbidden love. Don’t let me stop you though if you want to imagine yourselves as the modern day Romeo and Juliet. Today couples choose to elope (or go for an intimate wedding) to step away from tradition and have a more personal celebration. A wedding that really shouts out about what they stand for and where they want to get married at. Or maybe they’re just not keen on the idea of having a big wedding.


Best Places To Elope In Cornwall | Cornwall Wedding Photographer | Bride & Groom in the Woodland at Chycara



Should you go for an intimate wedding?

Are you still on the fence, and contemplating what kind of wedding is right for you? Then this is the guide for you. It’s common for couples to choose to have a smaller wedding to save on costs. But there is so much more to an intimate wedding than that. Dive into this guide to find out why an intimate wedding might be the right decision for you.


Intimate Wedding At Driftwood Spars | Cornwall Wedding Photographer


1. It lets you be creative

So it’s time to get creative. It’s your time to shine and let your personality come through. Having a smaller wedding party gives you a lot of options especially when it comes to choosing the venue and planning the details.

An intimate wedding is the perfect chance to be more adventurous and break free from tradition. Dream big. Take a deep breath, shut your eyes and let your imagination run wild.

Question time – are the number of guests at your wedding one of the biggest concerns when trying to find a venue? Now you’re considering a smaller wedding those previous venues you that you loved the look of but was way too small is now back on the cards. You could even choose a different wedding venue that might not of been considered. Like one overlooking the beautiful turquoise Cornish seas, walled gardens, or a destination you’ve always dreamt of getting married at. You now don’t have to fathom out how your are going to accommodate your original large guest. The list is endless … maybe not quite endless but you get what I mean.

Couples, it’s time to let loose. Are you a hidden artist trying to break free? Or maybe your family want to get stuck in and help you express you vision. With a smaller venue to fill, you now have the possibility to creatively style your wedding for that personal and more intimate feel. Do you love dazzling flower centrepieces but don’t have enough budget to fill 20 guest tables? Fancy having a Michelin-starred wedding meal but don’t want to pay for 150 heads? With around 15 – 60 guests, now you have enough funds to splurge on the things that matter more to you. You can focus on quality and think less of quantity.

2. Saving those pennies

Is bigger always better? This doesn’t necessarily apply to weddings (and many other things), its all about the quality and making your special day one to remember.

An intimate wedding is normally easier on your bank account. Of course those there are still expenses that won’t differ from a large wedding – like the brides wedding dress, the grooms suit, hair and makeup, to name a few.

A smaller wedding means less food and drinks, fewer guest tables to decorate, fewer bits and bobs to rent (linens, glassware, flatware, etc), and most importantly, a smaller space to fill. An intimate wedding venue more often than not has a lower fee (due to size) but this isn’t always the case. For instance you could be paying for location. But this is where it gets really good and you can dream big, all the money you have saved can be put towards the honeymoon you’ve always wanted but thought it was out of reach.

3. Say goodbye to large wedding stress

The whole wedding planning process can feel a little daunting. Don’t worry everyone feels this way. Having a smaller wedding can blow that stress right away.

From place cards to write, to diet requirements and guest politics, you could easily feel overwhelmed and just want to give up.

Some parts of wedding planning can sap your energy. Whether it’s a decision between inviting your distant relatives and friends or not or where to sit your Uncle and Aunt or who to sit beside the wild card. Who knew it could take a lot of time just planning which guests can sit together? Who knew your large guest list t will include 20 different dietary requirements? Less can sometimes be a better thing, those issues could simply disappear. Your planning process will feel bitesize and be a piece of cake.

4. It pulls on the heart strings

Deep breath, shut your eyes and imagine this … getting married with only your loved ones. The friends and family you can always rely on to be there. What could be more perfect than that? Having only the people that mean the world to you on your wedding day means that you’ll both be far more excited and relaxed for your special day. No more worrying about whether you’ve been good hosts to your guests who you don’t even have a close connection with or may not even know (ie. your mums best friend third cousin removed or your uncles second wife’s youngest son) Trying to work out how you’re all related can make your mind boggle.

You get to spend enough time with only the most important people and even more time enjoying the rest of the party.


Elopement | Cornwall Wedding Photographer | Elopement at Beacon Crag



Now it’s time to decide do you go big or plan the intimate wedding you’ve always dreamt of? Don’t forget about the honeymoon you can now spend more on with an intimate wedding.


Looking for some further inspiration for your intimate wedding? Here are some articles that can help you plan your dream wedding –



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