Unique Small Wedding Ideas for Your Big Day

General, Inspiration,
5 min read Sep 11, 2019

everyone wants their big day to feel like it represents who they are as a couple

Updated March 26, 2024

Whether it’s a big wedding or a smaller celebration, wedding planning can sometimes seem like a stressful experience. Even just writing the to-do list can make it feel overwhelming, let alone trying to remember all of those picture-perfect small wedding ideas you have entire Pinterest boards dedicated to. You probably have saved many ideas for a small wedding by now. That may seem trivial in the wake of the commitment you’re making, but those details matter so much — both to you and your guests. But when you’re simply planning a small wedding, there are still plenty of ways to add personal touches that you’ll always remember. There are a lot of resources out there that provide unique small wedding ideas that you can use (like our blog!). Whether it’s remembering to take a moment to celebrate yourself on your big day, or doing something to make your family feel included in your joy, these five small wedding ideas can make a big impact.

Bring Post-Ceremony Treats

After you say your I do’s, reward yourself with something special that you and your partner can enjoy. Purchase donuts from your favorite shop, bring some bubbly and plastic champagne glasses, or toast with a beer from your favorite brewery – bring anything that feels authentic to your relationship (and don’t forget to have your photographer snap a few shots of you chowing down or clinking glasses!). The perks of having a smaller wedding means you can plan a special moment for just you and your partner, whether it’s a moment to exchange notes or a meaningful gift. These kinds of small intimate wedding ideas add so much charm to your special day without the need for additional wedding vendors.

Take Polaroids of Your Day

One of our favorite wedding ideas for small weddings is Polaroids. Polaroids are a wonderful and relatively inexpensive art piece you can take home as a memento or use as a wedding favor. They are great for displays or scrapbooks, but you could also use them as centerpieces if you have a celebration with family and friends! It’s a great way to involve your wedding party throughout the celebration and capture memories that will last a lifetime. Plus, a Polaroid camera is small enough to pack if you’re traveling for your ceremony, and it will offer a unique perspective from your small wedding or elopement.

Bring your Pet Along for the Ride

Nowadays, it’s not uncommon to have a cherished pet be one of the guests at a wedding. Some couples that opt for a small wedding even incorporate their animals into the ceremony, having a dog act as a ring bearer or accessorizing them with a flower crown to match the bride’s bouquet. And why not? If your pup means that much to you and your partner, there’s no reason why they shouldn’t join in on the celebration.

Host a Potluck Reception

No matter what kind of celebration you want for your small wedding, there’s one thing love always pairs well with: food. No matter how much you incorporate all the tips found in articles about small wedding ideas on a budget, food will never be out. Having your loved ones cook for you can make a big impact and be a great way to incorporate your wedding guests into your special day. Everyone has an aunt who makes the best mac and cheese, or a cousin who bakes sublime cupcakes — why not indulge in some homemade cooking for your intimate celebration? A homemade wedding cake can not only save you money, but you’ll also be assured that there are a variety of options, especially for those with various diet restrictions.

Make a Time Capsule

This is something that happens after your big day is over, but it might be one of the best ideas you’ll appreciate doing as the years go on. After your wedding day is over, put some things that represent your wedding or marriage together in a safe box that you can hide. These  items could be things to reminisce on from your wedding reception — like some of your Polaroids or flowers pressed from your bouquet— or things that you’ll appreciate down the road, like letters to your future selves. You can even have your bridal party add their favorite moments of your wedding to the time capsule to make it even more special. Each year on your anniversary, you can open up the box and look back on the beautiful mementos of the best day ever. Short of perishables, this idea has no cap on what you could do with it, so get creative!

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Why do couples choose a small wedding?

An extravagant, traditional wedding followed by a big celebration where almost everyone remotely connected to you is invited is no longer required. In fact, small intimate weddings are becoming more and more popular nowadays. The best ideas for small weddings are probably brought by the growing realization couples have that their special day is their day and nobody elses. They choose to focus more on what is essential—to celebrate their love with less stress, fewer guests, and more money left in their bank accounts that they can use for their future together.

Venue Ideas for Small Wedding

Deciding between wedding venues can be a difficult task with a shorter guest list. To fully maximize your ideas for small weddings, choosing a venue that can accommodate them is crucial. Otherwise, your wedding place will end up looking cheap, and we don’t want that. We believe that small weddings can still be grand with the right wedding venue.

Pick a small wedding venue that is not too big to avoid empty spaces. Opt for intimate spaces with a low ceiling or exclusively book your favorite restaurant to make it even more special. Or better yet, consider saying your “I DOs” with a backyard wedding in your family home. As long as you think these small intimate wedding ideas fit you, check out elopement packages to make planning your wedding day a breeze.

Whether you’re having a wedding ceremony and reception with a larger guest count, a small wedding with an after-party, or anything in between, everyone wants their big day to feel like it represents who they are as a couple. All the ideas for a small wedding will be of no use if you are not happy on your special day! Remembering to invest just as much time and love into the small things you cherish, and not just the things that are necessary to cross the marriage finish line, can make all the difference in your enjoyment of your ceremony.

General Inspiration
Written by Janessa White

Janessa White is the co-founder of Simply Eloped and has helped thousands of couples plan elopements. As an expert in the field, she has been featured on Martha Stewart, Brides.com, Vox, and HuffPost. Janessa thinks elopements are the ultimate way to tie the knot.