Wedding Planning Tips

7 Tips for a Small Wedding

If you’re planning a small wedding, you’re prioritizing an intimate, personalized experience. But just how do you make a small wedding unique? 

A couple stands in front of an arbor holding hands. They laugh at something the officiant says. tips for a small wedding

7 Tips for a Small Wedding

Check out my top seven tips for a small wedding. We’ve organized these ideas by the three main parts of a wedding day -the prep, ceremony, and reception. These tips are guaranteed to create a memorable and intimate wedding experience.

Small Wedding Prep Ideas

  1. Get ready at home instead of a hotel.

Doing wedding prep at home instead of a hotel has a few perks. Beyond the obvious savings, it’s an opportunity to capture memories in a space that matters to you and your partner. Mara and Corbin were so comfortable and relaxed getting ready at home. It helped that their cat was around to defuse any jitters!

Some people even get ready in their childhood homes, which is a great way to center family on the big day. Megan and Rob got ready for their small wedding at her family’s cabin in Michigan. Since Megan grew up spending summers there, she was all the more excited to add memories of getting ready with her mom and closest friends.

A mother and daughter stand in a cabin. The mother fastens the daughter's dress before her small wedding.

2. Take wedding photos with pets.

Human family is great, but really the best part of doing wedding prep at home is hanging out with fur babies! If you want to include pets in wedding photos, this is a great way to do it. Most cats aren’t cooperative enough to be in a wedding ceremony, but they’re a great addition to getting ready photos!

On the left, a woman holds her cat. On the right, a couple holds their cats in front of their house before their small wedding.

Dogs are welcome to be in your getting ready photos too, of course! A tip for including your pup in your small wedding ceremony: Bring lots of treats and a favorite toy! It’ll keep them focused on their way up the aisle.

Small Wedding Ceremony Ideas

3. Use your house as a small wedding venue. 

Whether it’s an indoor ceremony or a backyard wedding, a home is a perfect small wedding venue! I love when couples celebrate with their closest humans in such an intimate space. 

Without the stress of coordinating with a venue, couples are so much more relaxed. They can slow down and allow me to get more creative photos. It’s so special to get photos of your wedding day and the place that means so much to you.

On the left, a father straightens his daughter's train during her small wedding. A couple stands under an arbor covered with roses during their small wedding ceremony.

A bride opens a champagne bottle while wearing a robe with lace detail. At their small wedding, a couple smiles at each other in their living room.

4. Have a friend or close family member officiate your wedding.

The surest way to personalize your small wedding ceremony is to ask a friend or family member to officiate. The day will be that much more memorable as they reminisce and share stories. These officiants can get the crowd laughing along like no one else can because they know you so well. 

A friend officiates a small wedding. The couple laughs at his joke.

Morgan and Ryan asked one of their closest friends to officiate their wedding. He brought their ceremony to life with jokes and stories about the couple.

If you’re planning a small wedding in Iowa, it’s easy for your officiant to get ordained to meet state requirements. Iowa allows officiants to get ordained online. Check county regulations to see if your officiant needs to register with them before your small wedding in Iowa.

5. Collect letters for your one year anniversary

One of the most unique wedding ceremonies that I’ve seen included a box of letters. Jessica and Keegan asked close family members to write letters and put them in a box along with Jessica and Keegan’s wedding vows. On their first anniversary, the couple will open the letters and read them. 

I love this tip for a small wedding ceremony because you get to relive the intimacy and joy of your wedding day a year later. Reading the letters can even become an annual anniversary tradition along with looking at your wedding photos. 

Small Wedding Reception Tips

6. Trust your photographer.

If you’re looking at tips for a small wedding, you are probably interested in a low-stress wedding day. The best thing you can do for yourself? Trust your photographer.

A couple stands in a field for their small wedding portraits. The sun rises just above their heads.

Give your photographer creative freedom to capture your day as it truly happens. Resist the pre-made shot lists. Your photographer is there to encapsulate your wedding with photos that will become heirlooms. 

If you trust your photographer, they’ll capture the authentic moments you didn’t know would become your favorite memories!

A bride looks in the mirror before her small wedding. A father and daughter play ping pong while wearing wedding clothes.

7. Prioritize your dance party! 

There’s no better tip for a small wedding than to prioritize your dance party! Your guests will create magical memories, and your photographer will capture some truly joyful moments.

A couple sings along to the music while they dance at their small wedding reception.

After the pandemic forced Sarah and Daniel to reschedule their wedding, they decided to have it in a backyard. This way it could still be the dance party they dreamed of. And it was! Contrary to the DJ’s expectations, they danced for hours.

A bride and groom dance close during their small wedding.

Do you want to see more small weddings in Iowa? Check out this intimate summer wedding and Wanatee Park wedding.

See if we have your date open!

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Husband + Wife, photographer, videographer, artists,
cat parents, travelers,
inspired by family, joy, and you.

That's us on our wedding day. The part we loved the most? The big group hugs, the tears shed, the belly laughs, and getting to share all of it with our friends and family. 

We're Olivia + Christian

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