5 Small Wedding Reception Ideas

FILED IN: Planning Tips

I want to tell you one of the wedding industry’s best kept secrets… You can have whatever wedding you want! When planning your wedding, you’ll be pressured to do so many things that might not reflect you and your relationship. Small weddings are a perfect opportunity to think outside the box and design the wedding experience that best suits you. I’ve come up with five small wedding reception ideas that help you have the day you deserve.


Small wedding reception ideas include tablescapes with linens and florals

Small Wedding Reception Ideas

With these strategies, you can have a small wedding reception that treats your guests to a unique experience. Just as importantly, it will honor your love as it really is.


Detail photos of rings and bride's shoes with flowers before a small wedding reception
  1. Hire a planner.

You don’t know what you don’t know, but a wedding planner does! Weddings can get very involved with so many options for design and vendors. You’ll look at photographers, florists, rentals, musicians, venues, and more. A wedding planner’s job is to understand what you want and make it happen. 


A couple drinks champagne during their small wedding reception at sunset

When you look for a planner, find one who fits your vision. They should provide small wedding reception ideas that aren’t run-of-the-mill in terms of vendors and events. If you want to dine in a garden like British royalty or grab cones from an ice cream truck, find a planner who vibes with that.

Of course, the most important reason you should have a wedding planner is so that you can fully immerse yourself in a luxury wedding. Coming up with the perfect small wedding reception ideas is one thing. You should be able to enjoy that reception when it finally arrives! Hire someone to sweat the details so you can be in the moment with the one you love.


A couple poses for a portrait during their small wedding reception

2. Find the right venue for your small wedding reception.

Just like you want to find a planner who fits your vision, your small wedding reception venue should too. Sometimes people forget that a reception venue affects your wedding day as much as the ceremony location. If you want to treat your guests to a fine dining experience, for example, choose a venue with beautiful food and amazing service. 


Detail photographs of appetizers and cake for small wedding reception ideas

Even though small wedding receptions often center around a good meal, think about the venue decor as well. Is there a lot of empty space to fill? That could mean more planning around rentals and florals. Alternatively, if the reception venue already has a lot of decoration, does it align with your vision? Trying to have a Bridgerton-inspired reception in an industrial venue would require a lot more work than if you were to book a historic home.


Small wedding reception venue with reflection pond and florals

3. Book the best wedding photographer for you.

Picking a wedding photographer for your small wedding reception is a deeply important decision. Your photographs are one of the only tangible things you have from your wedding day, after all! You deserve that wedding photo that looks like the cover of a romance novel.

Intimate weddings are so special and intentional. Pick a photographer who will document it with equal care. They should capture your details exactly as they are. Look at their work. Does it make you feel the way you want your small wedding reception to feel? 


A close up of a bride's details on her dress and ring for small wedding reception ideas

When there are fewer guests, photography is more interactive too. Your photographer gets to be part of your day in a whole new way. Make sure they’re someone you want to spend a lot of time with.


Small wedding reception ideas on how to pick the right photographer. Couples embrace after their weddings

4. Get your guest list together.

Maybe this small wedding reception idea seems obvious, but there’s a surprising amount of pressure around assembling your guest list. The people who make it on really should be your closest people. Ask yourself who is going to help you grow and maintain your relationship. Those are the people you want at your intimate wedding.

You also should be very intentional about your guest list because you want to give them an incredible experience! You’re essentially throwing the most luxurious party of your life. Who do you want to sweep off their feet with fun activities and gorgeous details?


Guests toast a couple during a small wedding reception

5. Add the personal touches.

The best small wedding reception ideas come down to the personal touches. Having an intimate wedding means you get to put more energy into details that create a complete experience. The small things are what create the visual and emotional atmosphere.


Black and white photo of band Temecula Road playing a small wedding reception

There are so many ways to give guests a luxury experience. Try welcome gifts or champagne as they arrive. Interactive elements, such as the Atlanta Prosecco Van or Frothy coffee cart, make decadent experiences out of popular refreshments. Likewise, champagne towers with coupes and late night snacks will delight your guests.


Small wedding reception ideas to have champagne tower with  coupes

Aside from food, don’t hold back on florals, rentals, and linens that add comfort and elegance to your small wedding reception. It really is amazing what a difference cloth napkins and coordinating floral installations can make.


Guests enjoy a small wedding reception with blue  linens

Would you like to see more small wedding reception ideas? Check out this intimate wedding at Meadowlark 1939!

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