Have you always wanted a small wedding? Or, after starting to plan a large wedding, did you decide to go a different direction in favor of something more intimate? A smaller guest list not only allows you to save money and spend more quality time with the people that matter most to you, but it can also be less stressful to plan.

Some couples want a smaller wedding to accommodate their budget, while others want the private, romantic experience that only an intimate ceremony can provide. No matter the reason, if it feels like the right choice for you and your future spouse, it’s a great way to go.

From the VIP guest list to the photography, we are covering the essential steps for how to plan a small wedding.


May and Matt's intimate ceremony at The Lightner Museum

May and Matt’s intimate wedding at the Lightner Museum | Photo courtesy of Bow Tie Photography

How Many Guests Would Be Considered a “Small Wedding”?

Even for couples who want a large wedding, creating a guest list can be stressful. The guest list for an intimate wedding is short and sweet, so couples have to be even more selective about who gets an invite.

The actual number of guests for a “small wedding” will vary from couple to couple, but most wedding experts would consider anything under 100 guests to be on the smaller side.

To help make narrowing down your guest list as smooth as possible, discuss your top priorities with your spouse during the wedding planning process. Is it important to have just close family members, or are you inviting your closest friends who make up your “chosen family?” Many couples planning an intimate wedding choose an adults-only affair, requesting that children stay home.

If you dream of having a smaller wedding, try not to feel pressured by family or friends to add more people to the guest list. Your vision for your wedding may look different than someone else’s idea of your big day…and that’s okay!

More couples are opting to play a larger financial role in planning their weddings, so they don’t feel obligated to take input on their guest list from others who may be contributing to the budget. This may be something to consider during planning conversations with your loved ones about your desire for an intimate wedding.

May and Matt's small wedding in the historical pool at the Lightner Museum

With only 90 guests, May and Matt’s wedding at the Lightner Museum was small, but mighty fun. | Photo courtesy of Bow Tie Photography


Small Wedding Planning Tips

Planning a small wedding is a lot like planning any other type of wedding. You need to pick a venue, hire vendors, prepare the guest list, and more. However, there are some unique things you’ll want to consider when planning an intimate wedding.


Have the best of both worlds by inviting guests to attend your big day virtually.

Consider hiring someone to help you livestream your wedding ceremony on YouTube or Facebook so guests can attend from afar. Those who are not physically present at your wedding can still feel a part of celebrating your love.

Haley and Jihad outside the historic Lightner Museum

Haley and Jihad chose the Lightner Museum in St. Augustine for their intimate wedding. | Photo courtesy of Stout Studios


Creating an intimate atmosphere starts with the search for a wedding venue. Wedding planning websites like The Knot and WeddingWire are good places to begin, as they list guest capacities in each venue profile, along with package information and pricing.

During your search for an intimate venue, there are questions you’ll want to ask yourself:

  • How formal do you want your wedding to be?
  • Do you want an all-inclusive package?
  • Do you imagine any part of your wedding to be outdoor, or do you prefer an indoor venue?

Keep in mind, having a small wedding doesn’t mean that you have to do something casual or informal. In fact, if you imagine an elegant event at a formal venue, you may have a larger wedding budget to put toward more extravagant details.

Some venues offer all-inclusive packages, which often work well for weddings with a smaller guest count. These packages typically come with predetermined vendors, such as a wedding planner, DJ, caterer, and more. This lets you focus on customizing the smaller details that make your wedding more “you.” The Intimate Wedding Package at the Lightner Museum includes some of the best vendors in St. Augustine that will make party planning a piece of cake.

Having an intimate guest count doesn’t mean you need to only consider smaller venues. Large venues often have options suitable for small weddings. For example, at the Lightner Museum, weddings with a guest list of up to 100 can host dinner inside the Historic Pool. This three-story space feels both intimate and grand at the same time.

The Lightner Museum pool set up for intimate wedding reception

May and Matt chose the Lightner Museum’s Intimate Wedding Package. This inclusive package comes with décor and other vendors, making the planning process easy! | Photo courtesy of Bow Tie Photography

Decorations and Theme

The décor for a small wedding can be lush and over-the-top or simple and elegant. Either way, your wedding décor should fit your personal style and the mood you want to create for your big day.

Search Instagram, Pinterest, and TikTok for wedding inspiration, and make sure to save your favorite ideas. When choosing your wedding venue, wedding planner, and florist, speak to them about your wedding vision and share your inspiration photos. With the right vendors, party planning and design can be a breeze.

One advantage of a small wedding is that you may have a little bit of extra space at your venue. Work with your venue and wedding coordinator to determine a floor plan that works well for your guest count. Décor and seating arrangements can be as traditional or unique as you wish, so feel free to be creative.


Groom lifting bride during their first dance

Haley and Jihad chose Stout Studios to capture their small wedding. We love the way they captured the intimacy of their reception.


Photography and Videography

Choose a photographer who can capture the intimate feel of your wedding. Request samples of the photographer’s work to determine if they are the right fit for you.

There’s nothing like a well-produced video to help you relive your wedding day. Spend time finding the right videographer with a style that matches your vision and a portfolio proving they can capture the best moments from your big day.


Wedding Coordinator

Even though planning a smaller wedding can make the planning process less stressful, it doesn’t mean you should take on the herculean task all by yourself. Hiring a wedding coordinator will give you a professional with years of wedding planning experience who can help make your dream wedding a reality.

When you choose the Intimate Wedding Package at the Lightner Museum, you are automatically paired with one of St. Augustine’s best wedding coordination companies. They will work with you in the months leading up to your big day to ensure everything goes off without a hitch.

Bride and groom walking through field with Spanish fort in the background

St. Augustine makes a wonderful location for intimate destination weddings. | Photo courtesy of Stout Studios


Destination Weddings

Destination weddings and small weddings go hand-in-hand. It’s often difficult to have all of your friends and family join you at a distant location, even if it is to celebrate the biggest day of your life in a tropical paradise (like Florida).

Having a smaller guest list for your destination wedding makes it much easier to coordinate all of the details and accommodations for your faraway celebration. We might be biased, but we happen to think that St. Augustine is the best destination wedding location in the world!

Giovana and Nicolas’ lovely intimate wedding ceremony at the Lightner Museum

Giovana and Nicolas’ lovely intimate wedding ceremony at the Lightner Museum | Photo: Meagan Gaines Photography


An Intimate Wedding in St. Augustine, Florida

The Lightner Museum has the flexibility to accommodate both large and small weddings inside our historic venue.

Our Intimate Wedding Package was specifically created for events with 100 people or less in mind! For this all-inclusive package, we’ve partnered with the best wedding vendors in St. Augustine to make wedding planning a breeze.

Reach out to us to check availability, schedule an in-person or virtual tour of our incredible venue, and lock in your wedding date! Click here to Contact Us, or give us a call at (904) 217-0077.


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