Small is Beautiful – How to Plan Your Intimate Wedding

Written by Emma Hla
Our friends at Boconnoc have been speaking to some of their favourite suppliers to share top tips on how to plan the perfect intimate wedding.

2020 threw plans in the air for many couples, yet for some it has presented an opportunity for a more intimate celebration. In this blog, the team at Boconnoc address some of the most commonly asked questions about planning an intimate wedding, with the help of some of their wonderful suppliers.

If you’re going ahead with a micro wedding under government guidance or planning something a little more intimate for the future, then this feature is for you.

How to Plan Your Intimate Wedding

How can we reduce our guest list when we have already planned for numbers over 100?

Jenny from Jenny Wren Weddings + EventsReducing your guest list is unlikely to be your favourite wedding planning task, but this is an essential reality for many couples in the current situation. First, do not get hung up worrying about what people will think, or if they will take offence if you can no longer have them attend – they should understand completely.

Go through your list and mark the people who you can’t get married without being there, then if numbers allow every extra guest you can invite outside of this list will feel like a bonus. Of course, it will be specific for each couple but often the most obvious people to cut would be plus ones, work colleagues, any vulnerable/at risk people and those who would need to travel internationally.

Spend the time to create a guest list for different number allowances, for example, 15 people and 30 people. This way, if the legislation changes you have your list ready to suit the current situation.

When it comes to informing your guests, rather than sending a round robin email – take the time to send them a personalised message, whatever platform that is on, or better still, pick up the phone. Explain that due to the external factors outside of your control, you have had to reduce the guest numbers. They will no doubt understand and wish you a wonderful day.

Christine from PeboryonRelationships, relatives, and expectations are tangly things. This is normal. Also, this pandemic is anything but normal, which means that generally people will be more understanding if they are not invited to be physically present.

Sometimes a physical approach is less emotive. The exercise we would share is one that puts the problem ‘out on the table’ between you. That way you can both focus on finding a solution.

Cut your printed list into individual names. Clear a table and put your names at one end of the table. At the other end, agree on the person or people that you would least miss if they weren’t able to make it to your wedding.

Now, add all the names to the line in a continuum, from those closest to you to those at the other end. If there’s a disagreement, remember to listen to why your partner thinks they should be elsewhere on the line. If you get stuck, put that name aside and come back to it later.

Choose to see the common ground you’ve found. Once the names are in a line, you’ll see your guest list in a new light. It may not answer all your questions, but it will help towards decision-making.

Mark and David from Dish CornwallThis is no doubt the hardest decision to make about your wedding day. Reducing your wedding guest list is not an easy task, however with the pandemic being part of our every-day lives, guests will understand your decisions, and after all, it is your big day!

For a small wedding, how can we involve all those we wanted to invite but were unable to?

Jenny: Check the WIFI connection at your venue, if it is strong you could organise a live stream of the wedding with the guests that can’t attend in person. They could dip in and out at different parts of the day to feel included in the whole celebration.

If that’s not feasible on the day, arrange it for afterwards and share photos and memories of the day with them. You could also ask guests to prepare messages for you to play on the day, this could be pre-recorded or on the live stream and play them during the speeches.

You could send them a gift hamper in the post, this could include some local produce which you will be serving at the wedding, for example a bottle of Camel Valley, some Cornish Yarg and a mini wedding cake from your cake maker.

Christine: When my parents got married in 1969 in South Africa, only my mother’s sister was able to attend from her Scottish side of the family. A little like today, not everyone could make it to the marriage celebrations. Still, everyone got involved.

From a brother-in-law organising a local Piper to pipe mum down the aisle, to the gift of white Heather and Scottish thistles that were created in sugar by her cake maker to intertwine with the South African Protea. They were evidences of the love of those far away for my mum. Well over 100 thoughtfully drafted, personal telegrams were received from friends near and far. They were presented in a ribbon-wrapped bundle of congratulations and well wishes for them to read through at their leisure.

From a cake-maker’s point of view there are new and old ways to involve your friends, family and colleagues. For on-the-day joy, we offer a celebratory “cake-for-a-crowd” letterbox service in which we bake and beautifully package slices of gourmet cake and sweet treats to send across the UK (and beyond – if you opt for fruitcake).

This means virtual guests can literally tuck into your wedding cake at the same time you do! Or you can go old-school, and like my mum and many before her, have leftover cake wrapped, boxed to family and friends miles away, perhaps with the order of service, much love, and wedding photographs.

What are the advantages of having an intimate or micro wedding, with less guests?

Jenny: If you have downsized, you may have saved a considerable amount of money. Generally, micro weddings mean you won’t have to compromise on certain elements of the day and can have everything exactly as you want it, with cost not influencing your decisions as much as it would with a large wedding.

This may allow you to splurge on certain areas to make them extra special. For example, you may be able to indulge in the food you really love for your menu, have cocktails at the drinks reception or have fireworks in the evening.

Smaller weddings also often allow for more personal touches. Perhaps you could have a personalised wedding favour on the place setting for each guest instead of them all having the same. We once planned a wedding where the couple handwrote an individual letter to each of their guests explaining why they meant so much to them. They were placed in an envelope on their place setting, it was a lovely touch and guests were in tears of joy reading them. Although a challenge, this is much more achievable with lower guest numbers and is such a lovely touch.

Mark and David: Spending time with close family and friends on special day is so very important. It will be more intimate, unique, and special… you will be able to speak to all of your guests.

Couples often say they feel overwhelmed as they can’t get around to speaking to every guest on their big day, or that they spend the entire day talking to relatives and not taking time for each other. In an intimate setting, you will know ALL of your guests! No long-lost relatives who are there because of a ‘sympathy invite!’

You can create a day that has more focus on how you want it, rather than what is best or easier to do in terms of accommodating large numbers.

You can save on the cost of your wedding, or decide to spend your budget on quality, rather than quantity, i.e, choose a food and/or wine upgrade, more detailed tableware and glassware, and so on.

We want to get married now, and party with the rest of our guests later. Do you have any suggestions on how we might be able to do this?

Jenny: A sequel wedding is going to be the highlight of any guest’s year, after so much anticipation, everyone will be excited and ready to party, meaning that your wedding is already likely to be a huge hit! If you want the party later on to still have a wedding day element to it, you could organise a ‘second ceremony’ (after you had done the legal ceremony now).

This could be conducted by a celebrant who is professionally trained or a friend/family member. The beauty of this is you can have your ceremony anywhere. We had a couple do this at Boconnoc outside on the lawn under the big tree it was really special. Just as they said their vows a slight breeze came and blew the blossoms off the tree over the guests, it was like natural confetti. You also get to wear your dress/suit again, yippee!

With fewer guests, we want to make a weekend of it. Do you have any suggestions on how we may be able to plan the weekend?

Jenny: Wedding weekends are great fun, making more of it than just the actual day allows you more time with your guests to catch up and it feels like a little retreat for them (especially nice if they have travelled from far).

You could organise things for you to do together while they are here, such as an organised bike ride, hike, surfing lessons or a spa day. Boconnoc has the stable yard which is perfect for a relaxed night prior meal with your guests; flood it with festoon lighting for a cosy elegant feel.

The day after you could organise a BBQ on the lawn and a sea dip to cure those sore heads and allow for stories shared from the night before, always such a treat. Opt for some vintage games on the lawn with all the family to end a wonderful weekend.  

Mark and David: There are many lovely things to do over the weekend. If you’re in Cornwall, younger groups can surf while other family and friends can watch from the beach. Or, let your event team cook lunch for you after a morning of walking or biking.

Enjoy a walk the day before in the Cornish countryside with your friends and family. Explore and forage for wild foods which can then be prepared and included in your wedding breakfast. Dish Cornwall’s directors/chefs will accompany you and show you some incredible hidden gems that create wonderful flavours for your dishes if you wish.

Dish Cornwall can offer a catered weekend package including breakfasts, lunchtime foods and snacks, and dinners for the night before the wedding. Or, how about a brunch or picnic the day after before your guests depart the venue/house? 

Do you have any decor tips for an intimate wedding?

Jenny: Intimate weddings are lovely to style, they often allow more time and money to consider finer details and infuse your personalities into the design. Consider one long table, or even a U-shape table, perfectly decorated with personalised features for each guest (a small amount of people allows this to be done).

Perhaps opt for agate name places instead of paper ones, or wedding favours personalised for each guest. We once had a bride who handmade the vases for the flowers to go in during her pottery class.

If it is a summer wedding, you could think about dining outside on low down tables with picnic rugs and big cushions. With smaller numbers, this allows flexibility for everything to quickly be moved inside should the weather not be favourable.

If you want to make a large space feel more intimate, you can do this by clever table layouts, lighting and food stations dotted around the room.

Mark and David: Keep it natural, take a walk with your florist and use the wild greens from the beautiful estate.


Venue Boconnoc, Cornwall

Wedding & Event Planner Jenny Wren Weddings & Events

Wedding Cakes Peboryon

Caterers Dish Cornwall

Feeling inspired?

If you’d like to discuss prices, request a virtual tour or to book your micro wedding at Boconnoc please email or call 01208 872 507.

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