12 Tips for a Perfect Intimate Destination Wedding

An intimate destination wedding is the perfect excuse to fly away to celebrate your nuptials while keeping your budget tight. The best part is that this type of wedding is on the rise! One of the main reasons is because it’s less expensive, less stressful to organize, and an all-around much more relaxing event. This is not to mention that the small and cozy setting instantly creates a romantic vibe! Intimate destination weddings usually have a maximum of 30 to 40 guests. So, this lets you focus on the details and make the most of the beautiful location. It’s the ideal way to create a truly personal experience with your loved ones.

Are you thinking of having your special day abroad with just your closest friends and family? Then keep reading below for our top tips for planning a perfect intimate destination wedding.

Benefits of Intimate Destination Weddings

1. Low Cost

An important reason that couples plan this type of wedding is to minimize costs as it keeps the average cost per guest down. This gives you the opportunity to splurge on celebrating your special day at a favorite location, on amazing details or on paying for stunning visuals by a photographer and videographer.

2. Less Stress

Another factor is the stress involved with planning a big wedding. All weddings will have some level of worry or pressure. But your chosen destination or style might suit a smaller group better. For example, if you’re choosing a remote location or if you get overwhelmed by the thought of hundreds of people watching you walk down the aisle, then an intimate destination wedding may just be the perfect solution for you.

3. Magical Moments

One of the top reasons brides choose an intimate destination wedding is because they can really make the most of quality time with their guests. Everyone is able to appreciate the beautiful memories together and you’ll also be able to stick to what you truly want as well as your dream vision.

intimate destination wedding
Photography: 2 Brides | Wedding Dress: Pronovias | Florist: The Wedding Boutique Italy

How to Plan an Intimate Destination Wedding

1. Choose the perfect destination

This is probably the most important decision! The romanticism and charm of intimate destination weddings, come with choosing a location that is meaningful to both you and your partner. Consider magical places you’ve been to, places you’ve been to at an important point in your relationship, or even places you’ve both dreamed of visiting. It’s important to keep in mind locations that are accessible to your guests too. Even though you’ll have fewer guests, you still have to spend some time thinking about what they’ll need. You can get married on an exotic isolated island, but only a small number of guests might be able to get there! Especially if they have children or need wheelchair access.

2. Use your budget to personalize your wedding

One of the perks of this type of wedding is that you can choose to spend a little more on details that mean a lot to you. Perhaps more personalization or special welcome bags for your guests. But do keep a track of your spending as sometimes even a small wedding can turn out to be expensive. So as a first step, decide how much you want to allot to each part of your wedding. Then you can see where you’ll have more wiggle room for special details.

small wedding planning
Photography: Julie Paisley | Florals & Design: Oleander Curated | Bridal gown: BHLD

3. Hire a local wedding planner

Small doesn’t always mean simple! Although intimate destination weddings are reduced in size, there’s still a lot to plan. So you’ll find that a wedding planner is invaluable! Even if you’re very familiar with the location, a local planner will help you navigate the lead-up to your wedding. They’ll know the intricate details you might not think of, and be able to recommend venues that are perfect for small weddings. It’s even better if they’re local and have experience working with international clients. This way you’ll have someone you trust organizing vendors if you’re not able to make the trip to your destination before your wedding day.

4. Create a wedding website

Your guests will want as much info as possible about the big day, especially if it’s abroad. So what’s more straightforward for this than a wedding website? You’ll be able to include important details about the wedding and any events, as well as travel tips. Don’t forget your guests might not have been to the location before, or perhaps even flown abroad. Make it easy for them by highlighting any advice. This could be anything from document requirements to which adapters they’ll need for power outlets. Also, provide suggestions for alternative accommodation. Don’t just include budget options, add in some luxury hotels too. Your guests might want to spoil themselves! That goes for local restaurants too.

5. Prioritize your guest list

The essence of an intimate wedding is narrowing down your guest list to the closest people to you and your partner. Think about special moments in your life up to this point and who has been there with you. Who is there to offer support when you’ve had a problem? Who is always on the sidelines cheering you on? It can feel harsh to leave people out, but the aim is to make sure that the guests you choose are truly meaningful to both of you.

intimate destination wedding
Photography: Sotiris Tsakanikas | Event Styling & Design: Tie the Knot Santorini | Event Coordination, Arch and Chairs: Weddings & Whimsy Santorini | Venue: Venetsanos Winery

6. Find the right venue

As you have fewer guests, you’ll be spoilt for venue choices! For example, chic restaurants, private villas, or even an unexpected option. You’ll have more freedom to be as creative as you like! But make sure you choose well. Try to visit a couple of times before the big day. Although you should trust your planner, it does help to see for yourself what possibilities and arrangements are available. Another suggestion for intimate destination weddings is to have a chill out area. It works perfectly to compliment the casual atmosphere. As your guests will have more time to chat with each other and you, it’s useful to have an area where they can do so.

7. Highlight your wedding decor

Another benefit to intimate destination weddings is that you can focus on the finer details. You’ll need fewer decorations to fill your space. So you can dedicate more time to finding resources, DIY projects and and personalization. For example, include handwritten notes in welcome bags for each guest, handpicked wildflowers, and hand-painted pieces. It adds a gorgeous personal touch to your special day that won’t go unnoticed.

wedding lounge area
Photography: Kay Kroshus

8. Don’t get caught up with traditions

Don’t feel that you have to stick to traditions. As it’s a smaller setting, you can choose to skip certain formalities or customs that don’t resonate with you. For example you can skip a cake, and opt for a selection of smaller desserts. They’re becoming more popular and you can be extra creative with your sweet treats. You might even want to have a private vow ceremony without your guests. It’s totally up to you!

9. Prioritize guest accommodation

Accommodation is a key logistic for any type of wedding. But it’s more straightforward to arrange for an intimate destination wedding. You’ll have the luxury of being able to stay in the same place and enjoy more time together. Most hotels will offer room blocks to make it easy for everyone. Choose a venue that truly reflects the special location you’ve chosen for your nuptials. For example, if you’re getting married in Italy there are so many options. From a charming farmhouse in the Tuscan hills to a spectacular villa in Lake Como. Or even a boutique hotel with breathtaking Mediterranean views of the Amalfi Coast. Just make sure that you book in advance. If you’re getting married in a stunning international location, then accommodation might be snapped up quickly!

10. Organize guest activities

As you’ll have a smaller number of guests, and it’s likely you’ll all be staying in the same place, this is perfect opportunity for organizing fun activities! A destination wedding means everyone will want to enjoy the surroundings. They’ve probably travelled far and paid a little extra! So consider pre and post-wedding events. Having a reduced guest list makes it easier to organize and get creative. Small doesn’t have to be low-key! Think about unique activities that your guests will remember forever! For example, a welcome dinner with build your own cocktails, a brunch with performers, or a bbq and pool party to wind down the day after the wedding. You can even leverage the local area and plan sightseeing tours, wine tours or food tastings. It’s an ideal way to make the most of an intimate celebration abroad.

wedding activities
Photography: Kristina Assenova

11. Create an intimate seating arrangement

The seating will be a key part of your wedding to ensure you keep the intimate atmosphere. One of the best options for this is a family style or U-shaped table, so that everyone is together. It’s a great way to help conversation flow during an elegant sit down dinner. Or you can forget about a formal table altogether and just have a lounge area to truly keep the vibe relaxed. This works perfectly for an outdoor venue with food stations, and it encourages people to mingle.

12. Consider local food & drinks

Food and drinks are usually one of the biggest spend items at weddings. However, when it comes to intimate destination weddings you’ll have more flexibility, and as you’ll be able to make the most of the local culinary options. Of course you can keep things traditional with a closed menu with several courses. But it’s also easier to organize food to reflect a casual vibe by offering a buffet, grazing tables, food trucks and an open bar. Be creative with some signature cocktails and mocktails for your guests. As there are less people, it will be less expensive to include this fun option.

micro wedding italy
Photography: D’Arcy Benincosa | Design, Floral & Execution: Rhiannon Bosse Celebrations | Location: Villa Lavanda | Rentals: Preludio Noleggio Firenze

The most important thing is to follow your gut and stick to your vision. Make sure you do things your way and create your perfect intimate destination wedding. Discover more tips on other aspects of wedding planning over at WedBoard, including, How To Save Money On A Wedding, How To Choose a Wedding Venue and The Complete Guide to Maid of Honor Duties.

Featured image: Valorie Darling

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