An Incredible Intimate Wedding Guide

Brides, Wedding Tips for Brides, Weddings

The wedding and events industry was turned upside down as soon as the Coronavirus pandemic hit the world.  Since, I’ve been incredibly proud of how my clients and fellow vendors have made pivots during these unprecedented times. Many of my couples have chosen to postpone their weddings until they can safely celebrate with their friends and family. Other couples have chosen to create a beautiful, intimate wedding celebration.

Today’s blog is all about how to create a beautiful, intimate wedding (that still represents the two of you), and why it’s a good choice to consider changing plans, how it affects your wedding photography timeline, and the gorgeous gallery you’ll be receiving.

bride and groom stand on a red brick terrace leaning against an ornate cement bannister with a gorgeous lake behind them at Glensheen Mansion during their intimate wedding.

Why An Intimate Wedding

For so long, weddings have been about a huge celebration with family and friends. We are now experiencing a culture shift to have an intimate wedding at the forefront of our minds.

You may be thinking, what exactly is an intimate wedding?

An intimate wedding is typically 50 guests or less. This usually means the immediate family and wedding party with their significant others only. It’s a smaller scale wedding instead of a larger, traditional wedding, that consists of ceremony, light appetizers and cocktails, with meaningful toasts from the people who love you.

An intimate wedding provides more quality time with loved ones, wonderful conversations, and more room in your budget to spend on the decadent details for your wedding day. This may mean a floral installation, custom cocktails, or a stunning tablescape. An intimate wedding will allow for quality time, less stress, and an intentional wedding day full of beautiful moments.

Glensheen Mansion Wedding Table Setting Overlooking Lake Superior

Altering Plans

It may seem daunting at first to change your wedding plans from a large wedding to an intimate celebration.  Know that you can have a stunning intimate wedding, take stress off your plate, and make the day even more memorable.

Here is a gentle list of a few things to do when you start to alter your wedding plans.
  • Switch to a smaller venue. This is a good place to start. Take time to look for a smaller venue that offers an intimate or smaller wedding package. You can also consider reaching out to the venue of your rehearsal dinner as an option or look for a beautiful private residence.
  • Create an outside oasis. If you have friends or family that have a private residence that you love, reach out to see if you could utilize their space for your intimate wedding. Bring in a vendor team like Pure Events to find rentals and create an outside space of your dreams.
  • Consider Catering Alternatives. Many catering companies have large minimums. Reach out to your current caterer to see if you can make adjustments for an intimate wedding. Look into going from a buffet to a plated dinner. If you’re having a casual wedding in a backyard, look into a few favorite food trucks as an option and bring in a mixologist for cocktail hour.
  • Add Luxury Extra. In your vision for your dream wedding, did you picture having textured linens with florals aligning the tables? Or place cards with gold foiled menus on each place setting? This might have been something you cut from the budget with your original 250-person wedding, but now these are pieces that’ll tell the story of your wedding day while fitting into a new budget. A smaller wedding means you can incorporate more delicate details into the vision.
  • Livestream your day. If the idea is that some of your guests won’t be in attendance, have your videographer (or hire someone to set up cameras to) livestream your wedding to Facebook! Mark Cpin of Diamond Entertainment has amazing options to livestream weddings. Set up a simple private Facebook group or page that is just for guests so they can watch the ceremony, share sweet comments, and watch you become married in the comfort of their homes.
  • Space for Social Distancing at Mealtime. When planning your intimate celebration, ensure that each household can sit together at a table or find a large table that allows for distance between each household. Make sure your guests feel comfortable amidst this global pandemic. I’ve seen some couples offer their guests masks, if needed, and create more seating during the ceremony to provide space.
  • Send a “Change of Plans” notice. Notify all your guests who were originally invited and let them know the change in plans. Advise them if you are doing anything virtually and keep communication lines open. Minted has some gorgeous templates or reach out to your Stationer.Glensheen Mansion Wedding Couple Dancing on the Bowling Greens

The Wedding Day

Intimate weddings provide flexibility in your Day Of timeline, which reduces stress for everyone involved.

Here are some ways that your wedding timeline will benefit you if you choose to move to an intimate wedding.
  • Stress-Free Timeline. As a wedding photographer, I always add extra time within a timeline for those just-in-case moments. The majority of wedding day stress starts with a timeline that doesn’t have any cushion in it. With an intimate wedding, your guests are involved in most of the photographs throughout the day and if your ceremony starts a bit late, everyone will understand. Reducing stress means you’ll enjoy all aspects of your day, find the time for couple portraits enjoyable, and make beautiful memories.
  • Quality Time. Many of my brides who have large weddings miss being able to sit down and chat with every guest in attendance. When you have a wedding with 200+ guests, it can make you feel stressed that you aren’t able to have a meaningful conversation with every person there. With an intimate wedding, you are able to have genuine conversations with everyone there, which is incredibly special.
  • Epic Photographs. Since there will be more time in the timeline, there will be more time to take a short drive to your favorite locations to get epic couple portraits. There is more time to focus on the two of you in your favorite locations.
  • Incredible Newlywed Photos in Your Final Gallery. More time means more gorgeous photographs of the two of you in your final gallery. You’ll have time for all the special photos with your family and it provides for more candids. Photographs of you and your parents laughing together, or that special hug from your Grandma. The joyful champagne toast from your best friend or the moment you lock eyes with your love from across the room. Make sure to communicate the photographs that are most important to you two with your photographer and planner ahead of time.

Glensheen Mansion Wedding Couple Dancing on Boardwalk

An intimate wedding is NOT for everyone. That’s ok! As a wedding photographer, I want my couples to make the choice that best suits them and what they envision for their wedding day. I want you to be incredibly happy with your wedding day choice 50 years from now, on your Golden Anniversary, when you’re paging through your heirloom wedding album, reminiscing about the day you said I Do.




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Fueled by equal parts strong coffee and French 75’s, I spend my days capturing the kinds of images that convey distinctive emotion through intentional moments and create elevated images you’ll treasure for a lifetime. I showcase your story and your love in an exceptional, gracious way. I believe in real moments, heartfelt conversations, love stories that grow stronger through the storms and the kind of joy that can be found in the simplest of moments together. When I'm not tearing up during the vows, you'll find me whipping up a new recipe in the kitchen, listening to Sinatra, or snuggling with my mini me.

I’m Rohana Olson

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