How to host an intimate wedding

Brides and grooms to-be are ditching large weddings and instead opting for smaller, more intimate occasions, data from the five-star hotel The Grand, York reveals. The luxury hotel’s Wedding Coordinator, Gail Bradley, has shared her 10 top tips on how to host an intimate wedding.

bride and groom cutting cake

The five-star hotel analysed all weddings held at the hotel between 2016-2022 to find the average guest count in 2022 compared to previous years. The amount of day and evening guests are both down since 2021 by 19 per cent and 30 per cent respectively.

The data also shows that the number of guests has seen a decrease steadily across the six years analysed, especially the evening celebrations which have seen a 46 per cent decrease in guest numbers. This pattern shows a clear willingness of brides and grooms to host increasingly more private celebrations.

Gail Bradley, Wedding Coordinator at The Grand, York comments: "Intimate weddings are on the up and up. We believe this is because since the pandemic, people value quality time with their loved ones rather than hosting a huge quantity of numbers. Large weddings are often beautiful and extravagant, but we understand they aren't for everyone, small weddings often have those special details you wouldn't otherwise see. For those looking to host an intimate wedding, I have shared 10 of my top tips on how to make it a special day."

The Grand Hotel in York

Only invite your nearest and dearest
It is best to strategically plan your invite list, with Gail suggesting to "sit down and discuss with your partner who are the close family and friends you really want at your wedding." Try not to go overboard with the list and select only those closest to you.

Pick a small venue
Hosting an intimate wedding means you can choose to steer away from the idea of extravagant castles and large stately homes. However, this doesn't mean your wedding has to feel less so. Gail says, "hotel venues can be a happy medium, they're large and grand to fulfil all of your needs on the big day, but also offer perfectly sized reception rooms so you don't feel swallowed up."

Hand write your invitations
With fewer invitations to hand out, consider handwriting your invitations instead, as Gail advises that "handwritten letters feel more personal and inviting, setting that close and intimate feel from the offset."

Say no to plus ones
The data also reveals that weddings are now costing almost 50% more than they did five years ago, and whilst it may seem an awkward suggestion, Gail suggests "saying no to unwanted plus ones as a fair solution to keeping numbers low."

calendar with wedding date written on it with two gold wedding rings

Ditch the wedding party
Gail comments that "the need for bridesmaids and multiple groomsmen are often reserved for large weddings. For those trying to achieve a smaller, more personal feel at their wedding, ditch the large wedding party and instead simply stick to a chosen ring bearer. That way, all guests feel equally important on your big day."

No phones allowed
"This may be controversial, but phones can be a complete mood killer. Awkwardly timed ringtones, camera flashes at the wrong moment and sharing to social media can all ruin a perfectly curated intimate mood. With sharing to the world taking just one click of a social media button, politely ask your guests to leave their mobile phones in their bags" says Gail.

Invest in your photographer
If you are enforcing a no-phones ban, ensure to invest in a great photographer or even multiple photographers and videographers. Gail believes that "the most important thing is that everyone enjoys the day, so investing in a good photographer means that you can forget the worry of making sure your day is being properly captured. After all, the photographs will portray the memories that will last a lifetime."

Elevate the details
Intimate weddings are usually more detail driven. The ambience of your wedding is incredibly important to set the right mood for your guests. A chaotic vibe may cause a chaotic day but a calm and collected mood will do just the opposite. Gail's advice for this is to "use cosy lighting, plants, or anything that will create the atmosphere you are wanting."

Design a more intricate menu
With fewer guests, there are fewer people to feed. This is your opportunity to have a more intricate menu of your favourite foods. Gail recommends that "once you have an idea of what your guests like and any allergies they may have, sit down with your caterers to design a menu that will be one to remember. Make sure the food is something you're personally going to enjoy on your big day, after all, smell and taste are often the senses most associated with memory."

Send out a wedding announcement
Smaller weddings usually mean less buzz and chatter about it, but this doesn't mean your big day has to go unnoticed by those not attending, Gail suggests that "for those friends and family members who would like to hear about the wedding but aren't in the close circle to receive an invite, send out a wedding announcement after the big day. They will appreciate knowing you have tied the knot, whilst respecting your decision for a private celebration."

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