Wedding planning: How to host an intimate ceremony

Weddings are about celebrating the union of two people, but this seems to slip our minds when planning one

Lara Barakat
Lara Barakat - Special to Al Arabiya English
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Weddings are about celebrating the union of two people, but this seems to slip our minds when planning one. Some couples know from the start what type of wedding they want, whether large and lavish or small and intimate. The latter means more time for the bride and groom to spend with their guests, and more time for people to get to know each other.

Set the budget

The first step that every couple needs to take before planning a wedding is to set a realistic budget. That will determine the size of your wedding.

Keep costs down

Divide your budget into sections such as venue, florist, dress etc, then cut corners without compromising on quality. If a sit-down meal costs more than a buffet, opt for a buffet. You can invite 100 guests, or cut the list by half and host the wedding of your dreams.

Guest list

The biggest dilemma all couples face is the size of the guest list. With smaller weddings, think of creating an intimate atmosphere with people who will mingle with one another and make your wedding relaxed and fun.

Another agonizing aspect is that parents may disagree when you ask them to cut down their lists. In return, you and your future spouse must be prepared to do the same. This means having that dreaded awkward conversation with friends who expected to be invited but will not be. Honesty is key. Tell them you are hosting an intimate wedding, but be prepared for the occasional hurt feelings.


Hosting a destination wedding and choosing a weekday will cut your guest list as some may not be able to attend. Gather a small number of your nearest and dearest, and jet off to a tropical island or beautiful city. You could turn it into a mini-moon, and mini-vacation for guests. Plan a three- or four-day event list to keep your guests occupied, and take advantage of bonding as a group. Often, destination weddings turn out to be more cost-effective.

Be productive

Some couples opt to plan their wedding themselves, avoiding the high cost of wedding planners. A small wedding takes just as much work as a larger one. Pay attention to the details, as your guests will. An empty table in the corner or a different type of flower might go unnoticed with 200 people, but it is far more obvious with 50 guests and under.

Go the extra mile

Cutting corners means you will have money left to splurge on necessities. Treat your guests well - provide a limousine service, or give them gift bags filled with useful nick knacks. You may also consider upgrading elements of your wedding, such as swapping the sparkling wine with the best champagne, or splurging on your bouquet with roses or orchids.


The best part of having smaller weddings is that everyone is productive. Keep your guests entertained with fun activities, and make them a part of your wedding by including them in the ceremony.

Keep the celebrations going

A disadvantage of intimate weddings is when guilt kicks in for not inviting everyone you wanted. Split your celebrations in half - invite a certain number of people to the ceremony, and others to the dinner party. You may also consider hosting a separate, more casual event later in the week or after your honeymoon to celebrate with friends who you could not invite and those who could not attend.

This article was first published here.

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