Wedding Planning

You Want a Small Wedding. Here’s How to Make It Spectacular.

An intimate wedding actually has a ton of perks. Here, Philly experts reveal how to spoil your inner circle.


A ceremony for just a few at Barbuzzo | Photo by Brittney Raine

A small wedding is packed with perks — intimacy, flexibility with venue and budget, the ability to personalize the tiniest details — and more and more couples are choosing this route as an opportunity to spoil their inner circle. Since you’ll be saving on a little of everything — fewer guests means a cheaper catering bill, less alcohol, fewer favors to buy and invitations to print and mail — Jaclyn Fisher, owner of Two Little Birds Planning, says you should go the extra mile to let attendees know how important they are to you. Handwritten escort cards or personalized notes placed at each seat, for example, would be far too costly and time-consuming to pull off with a larger guest count but feel special and sentimental at a more intimate affair. Other ideas: Upgrade the dinner menu by offering more courses, wine pairings, or a post-meal espresso station; spiff up the space with lounge furniture, special linens or vintage china; or even host a tarot-card reader or other interactive entertainment at the reception. 

You can also use the money you’re saving on numbers to hire your dream vendor team. Work with your favorite florist to design a few focal installations, and select a seasoned photographer to capture all the magic. “Good lighting goes a long way,” notes Andrea Petrucci, co-owner of Lovehaus Events & Design.

When it comes to your venue, the options are almost endless. Consider outside-the-box locations like a local farm, or a place packed with personal memories, such as the restaurant where you had your first date. Just make sure the ratios are right when you’re planning how to divide the space: “While couples are often worried that their dance floor will be too small, it’s equally important to make sure it isn’t too big,” Fisher says. “One that’s too big will always look and feel empty.” She also recommends skipping the live band, as its numbers can overpower a small crowd.

Fisher’s last bit of advice: Make a weekend of it. Going small is all about maximizing quality time with those you love best, so why not keep the fun going for as long as you can? “With fewer people, you can include everyone at a welcome party, a post-wedding-day brunch, or a fun activity like a fitness class or hike,” she says. Multiple bonding moments over the course of a few days will make the trip feel worth it for out-of-town guests and ease the pressure on you to speak with everyone at length the day-of.

Excited to get planning? Here are examples of three pretty Philly spaces that are suitable for an intimate affair, ordered from smallest to largest. (Find larger venues here, and even more local venues in our wedding expert listings and our local bridal guide of all the wedding venues you need.)

Rally Coffee

701 South 7th Street, Bella Vista. 

What Rally is: a brand-strategy and design agency … and a coffee shop. What Rally can be: a charming white-walled reception space complete with a built-in bar. Seats 20.

John F. Collins Park

1707 Chestnut Street, Center City.

You’ve likely passed this sliver of green space dozens of times without realizing how perfect the lush trees and tucked-away benches are for a city garden wedding. Seats 40.

Barbuzzo

110 South 13th Street, Midtown Village.

Marcie Turney and Valerie Safran’s beloved Mediterranean restaurant is available for intimate weddings on its newly renovated — and completely private — second floor.  Seats 55.

Originally published as “Scaled To Fit” in the Winter/Spring 2019 issue of Philadelphia Wedding

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