Planning a small intimate beach wedding

Small weddings are trending—and it’s not just because they’re easier on the wallet. Couples are opting for a more intimate celebration to get quality face time with each attendee as well as create a more relaxed, casual vibe. But casual doesn’t have to mean simple—there are so many ways to craft a bite-sized event that’s brimming with custom-curated details!

Small weddings provide a bit more wiggle room with the budget, which allows ample opportunity to get creative. To prove it, here’s a compilation of swoon-worthy ideas for a small intimate beach wedding that you’ll no doubt want to steal.

What size is an intimate wedding? 

When it comes to small, intimate weddings, the more is not always, the merrier. While there is no magic number, many wedding planners agree that a wedding with fewer than 50 guests is considered on the smaller size. The fewer the guests, the more intimate your wedding will become. If you prefer only to invite five to 10 guests, it’s entirely up to you. 

Where can I get a small, intimate wedding?

Hosting an intimate wedding is all about finding the right space. Even with only a handful of guests, you want your wedding to feel full. To achieve this, search for smaller, cozy environments versus large and spacious venues. Maybe you want a small garden affair or a ceremony at your favourite wine bar. If you’re only inviting a handful of guests, a destination wedding is always an option, too. 

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How do you make an intimate wedding special? 

A big part of planning a smaller wedding is paying attention to the details. Because you’re inviting only your closest friends and family and not attending to the masses, you can spend extra time finding a unique venue, creating elaborate decor and treating your guests to welcome gifts and party favours.

How to Plan an Intimate Beach Wedding

Intimate beach weddings are surprisingly inexpensive and uniquely wonderful. What’s a better view than white sand, glassy waves, and blue waters while declaring eternal love for someone?

You don’t need 500 guests and to spend hundreds of thousands just to get hitched. If you find large weddings intimidating and high heels unappealing, well – you can go barefoot and still get married. Plus, your “big day” will feel less jittery. It doubles as a holiday vacation.

How do we prepare for a beach wedding?

Make sure that you have ample time for preparation. Most weddings can take 6-12 months in the making. Before everything else, know your wedding budget. This will affect your decision about the venue, the theme of the event, and the flow of the celebration.

Decide on the wedding venue

What makes a beach wedding different? Weather is everything.

For outdoor weddings, be mindful of the following details:

  • Temperature and humidity
  • Strength/direction of winds
  • Possibility of rain
  • Accessibility of the location

You wouldn’t want your guests wiping sweat off their foreheads or getting unexpected tan lines. What’s worse than strong winds that could topple down all of your decorations?

If you’re planning to have a wedding in the -ber months or in August, you might want to think again. Summertime is usually the best time for a beach wedding.

To be on the safe side, do your research about the weather or ask locals about the dry season. If possible, visit the location on the same month that you’re planning to have the wedding and observe.

Once you have figured out when to have the wedding, the next question is where. Find a secluded, unpopular spot where you can maintain the intimacy of your big day without having to rent an entire villa. You must also consider your guests’ transportation and accommodation. Is this place easy to go to?

Take trips to the city hall

Getting married involves some paperwork. A few months before the wedding, make sure that you’ve acquired a marriage license and attended seminars/workshops. Be prepared for updating your marriage status in government-related profiles. Marriage is a legal matter, after all!

Secure permission from either the tourism office or the landowner. You can definitely coordinate this with the resort or venue that’s hosting your wedding.

Lastly, find an officiant who will take care of the ceremony. Get to know your officiant and discuss with them the flow of the ceremony. While coordinating, write your speeches and map out the script.

Plan the wedding details

The best thing about small, intimate weddings is that you won’t have to get caught up in trivialities like monogrammed table napkins.

An intimate beach wedding has a few ingredients that we’re happy to list down for you, such as:

  • Guests, photographers, and videographers
  • Tables, chairs, and a wedding canopy
  • Wedding attire
  • Music
  • Food and drinks
  • Decoration
  • Party favours

You can keep your guest list very short (as few as 20 people if you don’t come from a big family.). Plus, you can focus on quality over quantity, to make your big day more special.

The good idea is to set up in the morning and have the wedding ceremony and reception in the afternoon till evening. This way, you can go for cheese and wine instead of a full course meal, or serve pasta, cakes, and beer. Be mindful of lighting and power source if you will be having a party beyond 6 pm.

You can use candles, shells, ribbons, and flowers for decoration. You have the option of having the reception on the beachfront (which can be completed for free!) or in the function area of your chosen resort if you have a budget for it.

As for wedding attire, you can keep it simple but fashionable. There’s no need for a full-on gown or suit. What matters is that you feel light, comfortable, and happy. That’s the essence of a beach wedding anyway!

Even if small, intimate weddings appear simple and easy to do, they still need enough preparation. Beach weddings have unique demands. The venue makes or breaks the entire occasion. Plus, you need to take consideration of your guests’ needs for transportation and accommodation.

You can keep your special event budget-friendly and enjoyable at the same time. With beach weddings, it’s the simple, tiny details that define the unique aspect of your non-traditional wedding.

Intimate Small Wedding Ideas And Tips

Beach Wedding Attire

The beach is not the place for a fully beaded custom made ball gown with a hoop skirt or a dark three-piece suit. Your surfside wedding outfit should be made of lightweight fabric that will float beautifully without flying away in a gust of wind. A long veil may get in the way, and loose long hair could end up in your mouth when trying to say your vows. Linen suits look casual and elegant, and pants and a shirt are a great choice too. Comfort should always be the primary consideration on your wedding day, especially when you’re waterside.

Choose A Small, Non-Traditional Venue

Not having to fit hundreds of guests under one roof means that you are free to get creative with your venue. Consider getting married where you and your partner first met, like a coffee shop or library. This will make your day even more sentimental and meaningful.

You might decide that a four-course dinner for 50 is better than cake and punch for 100. Some couples having fewer than 75 guests have cut their guest lists to the bare minimum in order to maximize their budgets. It becomes a choice between cutting corners in order to have 150 guests or cutting the list in half and having everything just the way you envision the day.

Limit the Guest List

beach wedding venue

Have you found yourself agonizing over the guest list thinking, who is so and so? Not wanting to deal with a sea of unfamiliar faces on their wedding day, some couples decide to limit their lists, agreeing that a smaller celebration can create a more intimate atmosphere.

Bonus: There are so many creative options for locations when you’re not trying to accommodate hundreds of guests. There are unique restaurants, rustic ranches, cozy cabins, posh private clubs, settings with exquisite views and gardens, natural or fancy.

Now the hard part: Your families may protest when you ask them to cut down portions of their lists to the lean-and-mean few who matter. And, of course, you and your partner have to be prepared to do the same. This may mean having to explain to friends who expected to be there why they won’t receive an invitation. There’s no easy way to do this, except to be perfectly honest. Tell your friends that you’re keeping the event very small and limiting the list, but be prepared for the occasional hurt feelings.

Be Thoughtful

When you don’t have to crank out 350 save-the-dates, wedding invitations and thank-you cards, you can put more time and energy into being truly thoughtful. Maybe you want to design elaborate, over-the-top invitations, or perhaps you would prefer to write hand-written cards inviting each guest to your ceremony. When your guests realize they were the “chosen few,” they’ll feel extra special and honoured to attend your wedding. 

Make Welcome Gifts Or Wedding Favors

Inviting just a few people frees up your budget to get creative with wedding favours. Treat guests to homemade pastries, preserves or granola or their own mug filled with coffee and tea.

Treat Your Guests Well

A small intimate wedding gives you the chance to really go all out. Guests can possibly stay at a luxurious inn, or your rehearsal dinner can be more elaborate and take place in a wine cellar with a wine-pairing for each course. Keeping things small means that the extra details, like providing limousine service, loaded gift baskets and six-course feasts for your guests, are suddenly more accessible. Think boxes of chocolate instead of a single truffle, the best champagne rather than sparkling wines and luxurious arrangements of roses and rare orchids as far as the eye can see. While your guests certainly don’t expect such lavish treatment, your extra thought will go a long way. 

Add Personality

One of the many reasons that couples opt for an intimate wedding is the option to break away from tradition and to add some personality to proceedings.

With a smaller wedding party, you have the opportunity to make the day your own. With less than 50 guests to think about, it’s possible to create bespoke touches, and within your wedding budget.

This might be a designer wedding cake, your own gin club bar, or pictures of everyone attending dotted around the venue. It could be as small as your colour scheme, to getting a film made that is shown on the day.

Make Your Own Rules

The great advantage of a small wedding is the ability to plan it on your terms. Since you’re keeping the day intimate, this means opting out of ‘unnecessary’ traditions. It wouldn’t look out of place to have one or no bridesmaids, or to forgo a large group of groomsmen. The beauty of an intimate wedding means that anything goes.

Get Creative With Your Seating Plan

Make sure your wedding guests are comfortable and relaxed by providing a welcome table full of essential beach products. Choose an array of goodies including sunscreen, insect repellents, parasols, a basket to deposit shoes, cool drinks, and sunglasses. You can even supply paper fans made from your order of service.

Fewer seats make it easier to get creative with your seating arrangement. Play with different shapes or form a spiral aisle to walk down with the officiating in the centre. Or you can choose to have one large circular table so everyone can conversate more easily.

Make Invitations More Personal

Make your friends and family feel even more appreciated by calling each of them personally to invite them to your special day in addition to sending a formal invite. Try sending guests personalized champagne flutes as a save the date for a creative touch.

Plan Events Around The Wedding

Perhaps you’re getting married in an exciting city. Organize some site-seeing to keep everyone entertained. Split guests into teams and compete in a fun scavenger hunt that is tailored to you and your partner’s interests. Have a special prize ready for the team who wins.

Pay Attention to the Details

When a couple is planning a small intimate wedding, they may be more inclined not to hire a wedding consultant. But take it from us—smaller is not synonymous with simpler. When the wedding is small, every detail is noticed, so careful attention to detail is called for. There’s no hiding behind the crowd at a small celebration—snafus that might have gone unnoticed with 200 people milling around will be painfully obvious with 50 guests and under. Avoid stressing over the little things and hire someone to do it for you for the most hassle-free affair.

Make it Entertaining

This might be the best part of having an intimate wedding: With fewer people on the scene, it’s easy to get everyone into the act somehow. Depending on how small the event will be, you can have everyone read a line of a prayer or a special reading at the ceremony, have them stand and encircle you as you exchange your vows, seat them at one big table at the wedding reception, or have everyone attend the rehearsal dinner.

Hire A Few Musicians Or Make A Playlist

Having a few musicians at your small beach wedding is much more appropriate for an intimate number of guests. Hire some local talent or compile a reception song playlist of you and your love’s favorite songs and queue them up as you please.

Party On

This is an option for couples who find themselves guilt-ridden at the thought of cutting guests off their list. If an intimate ceremony is most important, you can create a separate, larger guest list for the reception—just inform your guests of the arrangements. If you want the whole event to be intimate, you might choose to have a large, casual party a month or so after your wedding. Of course, this means paying for another event, but it can be fun to have a bigger crowd gathered in a more relaxed setting—call it housewarming if you have moved into a new home. And the best part? You won’t be expected to serve a six-course meal to all your guests at this kind of celebration. 

Make It a Full Weekend Celebration

Why celebrate for one day when you can celebrate for days? Hosting an intimate wedding with a handful of guests means you may have time–and additional money–to spend on other activities or events throughout the weekend. Host a welcome get together at your favourite brewery, invite everyone for a picnic in your local park the morning after your celebration or plan a group activity or excursions, such as a hike or bike ride. Take advantage of this time to thank each and every one of your guests for coming together to celebrate your marriage. 

Many brides dream of island or beach weddings, and it can be a wonderful experience for both the couple and their wedding guests. Hoping these tips on the best locations, climate, decorations, dresses and venue locations to create your perfect intimate small beach wedding. We have plenty of articles full of inspiration and ideas that will help you to plan amazing beach weddings on tropical islands or by the quiet seaside, regardless of your destination choice.


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