We’ve seen it before: a bride and groom with grand visions of a small, intimate wedding, but a growing list of people who must be invited. The guest list may be growing but that doesn’t mean your dreams of a warm, personal affair are too far-fetched. We’ve seen many couples pull off an intimate wedding with a large crowd, so we’re offering some tips for making a big wedding more intimate.

Pick a Cozy Venue

One of the simplest ways to ensure your big wedding feels intimate is by choosing a cozy venue. A big wedding doesn’t mean you’re stuck in a big ballroom. If possible, choose a venue that’s on the smaller side but that has several rooms or spaces where guests can spread out and gather. For example, host the ceremony, cocktail hour, dinner, and dancing all in different areas. This allows guests to explore the venue and mingle with one another.

Go For Family-Style or Plated Meals

While a buffet allows guests to pick and choose what they want to eat, the back and forth self-serve style can be disruptive. Consider serving a family-style meal or plated meal so that everyone is sitting and eating all at once, which allows for conversation to flow naturally and uninterrupted.

wedding meal planning

Be Seating Chart Savvy

With a long guest list, you may feel inclined to get bigger, longer tables to seat everyone without making it feel too tight and cozy. While long, farm-style tables create a beautiful aesthetic and may seem like a great idea for large crowds, they actually create a sense of isolation by making it hard for guests to interact with their dinner partners. A mix of smaller tables with 8 to 10 guests each makes the room feel cozy and allows for more intimate conversation while creating a dinner party ambiance. 

That long guest list most likely means a crowded reception space. A packed, busy room can make it hard for guests to socialize. By assigning tables, guests won’t gather in clusters but instead will mingle and celebrate. Assigning tables instead of seats allows guests to chose who they sit by—this prevents uncomfortable silences and any sense of isolation!

Crystal Gardens of Howell

Extend the Celebrations

Sometimes one day isn’t enough to celebrate with a large crowd of guests, and that’s OK! There aren’t any rules limiting your wedding festivities to a one-day affair. Extending the celebrations gives you more time to enjoy the company of your guests without pressure. Extra time is particularly enjoyable when you are having a destination wedding because your guests will appreciate the opportunity to explore more nearby sights. If you like the idea of a multi-day wedding, add a few additional events to keep guests engaged. Consider a welcome cocktail party, or schedule other activities like a group brunch and/or a farewell dinner.

people eating a meal

Personalize Your Décor

Decorations impact the sentimental value and atmosphere of your big day. While you’ve surely found tons of ideas online, it’s important to include personal details in your décor that speak to who you are as a couple. Create displays and signs to tell your love journey—guests will love reading about how you met and the story that led up to your big day! Using family-owned items as décor is a great personal touch. You can pay tribute to your parents by placing family photos at your tables or use vintage picture frames or collectibles from your grandparents as small, personal touches. 

Set the Lights Just Right
While decorations play a major role in setting the tone of your wedding, having the right lighting can make everything look and feel more elegant and intimate. Set the mood for your wedding and reception by dimming the lights and decorating with candles to create a soft glow in the space. Opt for warm colors because they absorb the light to create a romantic and warm atmosphere.

Offer Interactive Activities

There are plenty of other options for wedding entertainment beyond dancing and many of them create a more casually intimate setting. Provide other activities for guests to enjoy throughout the evening, such as photo booths, board games, or blackjack tables. If your wedding is outdoors, consider lawn games like corn hole, fire pits, s’mores stations, or a fun scavenger hunt.

Even if your guest list is bigger than expected, don’t sacrifice your vision of an intimate wedding. With the right approach and special details, you can make your big day feel like the personal and romantic affair you imagined.

If you need more wedding planning resources or additional color suggestions, check out more of our blogs or contact us today to start putting together your dream wedding. You can reach our event coordinators by email or phone at 877-545-1002.