How to make your Intimate Wedding Special


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Intimate weddings are a special way to really focus on the things you love – creating a beautiful day with your nearest and dearest. Whether you were always planning a smaller affair, have adapted your bigger wedding to a smaller day or have decided to split your wedding into two events (ceremony & party later […]

Intimate weddings are a special way to really focus on the things you love – creating a beautiful day with your nearest and dearest. Whether you were always planning a smaller affair, have adapted your bigger wedding to a smaller day or have decided to split your wedding into two events (ceremony & party later on) then this blog post will hopefully give you plenty of lovely ideas to make your intimate wedding feel extremely special. We have had the pleasure of talking to our wonderful industry friend Chenai from ByChenai Events, who has kindly put together some amazing advice for any couples who are planning an intimate day. Ask yourself what’s really important to you and choose to focus your time, energy and budget on those elements!

Q&A with Chenai – How to approach your intimate wedding

What type of venue would you suggest for a micro wedding?

Intimate/ micro weddings are actually an opportunity to consider a wider variety of venues and locations. It’s key you pick a space that is appropriate for the numbers; a grand ballroom for 15-30 people would leave too much empty space. Consider restaurants and private dining rooms as alternatives beyond traditional wedding venues, especially in London where there are so many to choose from.


“We got married at the Old Marylebone Town Hall, followed by a small reception for 10 people at The Peasant in Clerkenwell. Despite originally planning a wedding for 100+, we soon had to drop it to 30 guests, and then eventually 10 – but what we lost in numbers, we gained in intimacy and we think it actually made it all the more special and memorable. Despite being a much smaller wedding than planned, we felt very lucky and had a very special day.” – Real Bride, Charlotte


Real Bride Charlotte in Joy, Photography by Stephanie Green Weddings

Are luxury venues offering smaller wedding options at this time?

All venues have had to adapt to the restrictions set out by the government and have been very flexible in this space. I actually think couples will consider the more expensive venues, if they have smaller numbers but keep a large proportion of their original budget, they can really go all out on personalised and luxurious details in these venues.

What are the benefits of having a smaller wedding?

You have a wonderful opportunity to focus on making your intimate wedding uniquely yours as you have more time to work with. Wedding Planning is a huge time investment , it’s a job in itself and can be stressful if project planning and management is not your forte particularly when you are planning a wedding with large numbers. The admin that comes with guest management, RSVPs , planning seating, accommodation, transport is all vastly reduced and in some cases entirely removed as these are not necessary for smaller weddings.

Real Bride Charlotte in Elizabeth and Bia Cape

Have you any advice for any brides who have downsized their wedding?

Ditch the traditional format, with smaller numbers you have the freedom to really curate the day of your dreams. Change up the timelines of when you do speeches or how you serve food as you won’t be constrained by the format of a bigger event and there isn’t a need for more rigid timings.


“Our wedding was in our backyard, in Washington DC on October 24th. Due to Covid, we kept if very, very small with a friend officiating, a friend doing video and the photographer. Our closest family and friends tuned in from all over the US via Zoom. We hit all the high points: a dramatic entrance, vows, a kiss, a toast, a first dance and individual chats with all attending. We followed up with some photos outside of the National Gallery of Art and a very small, very socially distanced outdoor cocktail hour with a handful of friends at a neighborhood bar. It was a really great day and despite all of the “social distancing” it felt so very intimate with our friends and family and we felt so very celebrated.” – Real Bride, Brooke


Real Bride Brooke wearing Clarice, Photography by Em Calary

Any advice for brides who are splitting their day into two events?

If you’re having a sequel wedding ensure that you plan your budget accordingly to ensure the larger party has enough allocated towards it to have the party you really want. Most couples who are doing a wedding in 2 parts tend to have small ceremonies to formalise the legal part by themselves or with just close family or witnesses in some cases. The beauty of having a party later on is having the time to plan something that may be just a huge party and totally different to what you had envisioned the first time round. You really have the freedom to make these celebrations whatever you want them to be so don’t hold back and hire a professional to help you ( hint hint) if you can!

Real Bride Becky in Rebecca Lace Coat, Photography by Lily Bungay & Co

What are your budgeting tips or advice for a smaller wedding?

No different to a wedding of large numbers. Have a conversation about what your priorities are and allocate the most resources to that i.e venue, then food and beverage which always tend to be the biggest costs. consider what type of entertainment would be appropriate for a small wedding, would a playlist actually be better than hiring a band if restrictions allow? Whatever you do don’t scrimp on a photographer though, I always advise couples that this is so important as your photographs really are the only tangible thing you have to keep forever from the day.

What is your top tip to make a smaller wedding feel special?

Personalise, personalise personalise. It’s your day, you have less guests to manage, less moving parts to organise . Use the opportunity to make every moment exactly how you want it and reflect who you are as a couple. You can actually achieve the tablescape you’ve been curating from the pins you’ve saved on Pinterest and ideas you’ve gathered on Instagram. You can really splurge on hiring beautiful tableware as you’re not constrained by budget in the same way as you would trying to replicate this for 100 guests.

Planing: Marie Isabel Merfort , Photos: Anika Valentina, Stationery: Wedding Mark , Cake: Lotta’s Torten , Flowers: Mayrie Floraldesign , Rentals Bar Setting: Party Rent , Rentals Cake Setting: One Fancy Fox , Drinks: Laori Drinks (@laori.drinks)

Are you working on smaller weddings right now? And what does that involve?

I’m working on a particularly gorgeous small wedding that began life as a wedding for 150. It’s for an Andrea Hawkes bride actually, her and her fiancé have decided to opt for small numbers but still have a really fabulous celebration. I am working with her to really personalise the ceremony from hiring a string trio to play a particular pieces of music throughout their blessing , we are designing some really lovely installations with our florist and working with our caterer to create a bespoke menu with ingredients that celebrate the season but also give a nod to my client’s heritage. There are going to be more delightful little touches throughout but you’ll just have to keep your eyes peeled on my social media and blog to see the end result!


Thanks so much Chenai, we can’t wait to see more of your beautifully planned weddings this year. Now we have covered the wedding day itself let’s move on to your wedding day outfit!


Wedding Dresses for Smaller Weddings

At AH we never think your venue size should restrict your outfit in any way but we do understand that most brides want to feel relaxed and in keeping with their setting. When choosing a wedding dress for your intimate wedding it’s helpful to ask yourself a few questions

Do you want a short relaxed style? Or would you prefer a more classic wedding dress?

Would you like the chance to wear something less traditional? Such as a bridal jumpsuit?

Is your dress something you want to maximise your budget on? Or would you rather find a more cost effective option?

Once you have some answers to the above it will help direct you to the right options for you!

A shorter, Casual wedding dress

Shorter designs are the perfect option for any bride who wants a more relaxed look that is manageable to wear. Our short wedding dresses are an elegant choice that will allow you to show of your shoes and dance the night away! Here are some of our shorter wedding dresses to help give you some inspiration, which feels the most you? And remember! We can make any of our designs in a shorter length so you are not limited on style at all – perfectly demonstrated by our Wallace and Amelie dresses, both of which are also full length gowns with trains in our main collection.

From left to right, Amelie Civil, Everline, Audrey, Morgan, Wallace Civil

A classic wedding dress for a small wedding

If you want to go all out with your wedding dress and opt for a more classic option then absolutely go for it! There is nothing to say that you cannot wear a more traditional dress in a less traditional setting, you need to choose a dress that makes you feel special. At AH our designs have a timeless feel to them and are extremely comfortable to wear. Choose a flowing a-line design with a beautiful train and skirt split like Clement from Elements Collection or a bias cut shape such as Aerin or Wren for a glamorous modern look. Style these dresses with lace tops, capes, veils and jackets making it your very own. These can all be made as a standard size or made to measure.

From left to right. Wren, Clement, Lucian, Cora, Aerin & Aerin Cape

Bridal Jumpsuits and Bridal Separates for an alternative bridal look

A smaller occasion may make you think about alternative options. A wedding dress may not be the right choice for you. Why not consider a bridal jumpsuit, separates or capes? Having a more intimate wedding allows you to really explore with your own personal style and wear something that feels uniquely you! Our Mila and Hadley bridal Jumpsuits are the perfect choice, they are such versatile pieces that can be styled in so many ways, from adding a lace top like our Reece Geometric cover up through to adding sashes and bold earrings.

From Left to right.Reece Top and Hadley, Mila Jumpsuit, Yanna Top & Trousers, India Top & Kirsten Skirt, Hadley

Maximising your budget? Why not opt for our Made to Measure or Bespoke Service?

If you are having a smaller wedding this may mean you can maximise your budget on the things that are special to you, whether that be the food, stationary or your dress. If you are looking to allocate more of your wedding budget to your wedding dress why not explore our made to measure service or our bespoke options? Made to measure is the really lovely experience of having your dress made to your body measurements with our team at our London studio. You will get to spend time with our team and have a wonderful personal bridal experience in the lead up to your wedding day. It’s not every day we get to have an item of clothing made this way so it could be a really lovely way to treat to yourself.

A bespoke option is a great way to build a dress from an idea you may have. Have you always wanted to wear a customised gown that no one else has? This is the ideal time to make that happen. Our bespoke service is a really special way to create a design with our team that will be unique to you. Choose your fabric, colour, neckline, skirt shape, train length & details with the full support of our amazing team.


“After searching through lots of bridal websites I soon I realised I wanted a very simple elegant outfit but with an unusual edge, which was leading me to something quite bespoke. Andrea’s ‘Audrey’ dress was the closest thing out there to it, so we used this as a base and set to work.

I’m sure I was quite a challenging client a times, but Andrea and her team were so patient and accommodating. They got to know me and really tried to tailor everything to how they thought I would like it, but at the same time making sure it would look good and work well! We certainly went on a journey together and developed a great relationship, which resulted in the end product being even more amazing than I could have ever imagined!” – Real Bespoke Bride, Maxine


Smaller wedding, smaller wedding dress budget? Our standard size designs and sample sale wedding dresses are for you!

If you are looking to find your wedding dress at a more gentle price we have plenty of amazing options for you! You do not need to have a high price point to be able to wear one of our designs and it is always helpful to be upfront and honest about your budget so that we can find the best option for you.

Our standard size collection pieces are a great choice. We have all of our collection pieces patterned to all UK dress sizes which are ready to be made straight away, this helps us to keep the pricing a little lower than a made to measure or bespoke design. The great thing about this option is you can still make some changes and customisations to your dress such as fabric, colour or sleeve length. You can view our Collections, Style Pages or Online Shop to see all of our designs.

If you have a slightly lower price point we suggest to take a look at our amazing sample sale dresses. These designs all sit between £200-£1,000 and offer exactly the same qualities as a new AH dress. They have all been made in London by our team and they are all made from the same natural silks and French lace. There may be some slight wear and minor imperfections but we take great care of our samples and most are in good-new condition.

For both of these options our team are here to support you throughout! We can offer guidance with styles, sizing and also offer a fittings service in house.


“I attended the sample sale at Andrea Hawkes and this was my first experience of wedding dress shopping for myself and I had to go on my own so was feeling a little nervous. All of the staff there were so fantastic, helpful and instantly made me feel at ease. There were so many gorgeous dresses (not helpful when you are as indecisive as me!) and I struggled to choose but both staff and customers were wonderful and helped me choose THE dress for a great price. Wonderful experience and I would highly recommend them to anyone! Thank you Andrea Hawkes Bridal for everything!” – Real Bride, Katie


Real Bride Anne-Sophie wearing Lupin from our sample sale

Extra little touches…

Shoes & Accessories

Once your dress is ordered, it’s now time to start thinking about your accessories. No matter your budget there are so many accessories that will elevate your outfit and make you feel even more incredible on your day. Treat yourself to a beautiful pair of shoes (we love Emmy London) or a special pair of earrings. It’s nice to think about the longevity of your accessories too, find something you know you will wear again and love for a long time. You can add one of our bridal tops or capes to your dress for a transitional look throughout your day or across multiple events. We love these Emmy London shoe options with our shorter designs.

Dress Clement with Emmy Florence, Dresses Audrey & Morgan with Emmy Bluebell & Sienna


Scent holds a lot of memories and will play a big part in remembering and cherishing your day. Choose a perfume that you love, something unique that will remind you of your wedding day for years to come. Think about your venue too, is there a way you can incorporate the same scent? Maybe through candles or reed diffusers. Jo Malone offer a wonderful option to help you scent your wedding day.

Skin Care & Make-Up

Just because you are having a smaller wedding doesn’t mean you have to miss out on pampering or hiring a make-up artist. Invest in some skin care advice and products that you can use in the lead up to your wedding day, this is a great way to prep your skin for your make-up. Hiring a make-up artist for the morning of your wedding is a lovely idea and a such a treat, Pamela & Andrea from P&A Make-Up are always our go to recommendation. They have such a lovely energy and will make you feel at ease. If you prefer to do your own make-up you can always have a trial/lesson beforehand and invest in some new make-up especially for your wedding day!

Make-up by P&A Make-up

Hand Made Favours

As you are having fewer guests it might be a lovely opportunity to make some sustainable favours for your guests. Why not do a short calligraphy course and create plantable seed paper name cards or make some beeswax or soy candles? There are so many ways to personalise your wedding favours and these are really thoughtful ways of doing that without breaking the bank (or having to make 100’s!).

How to include guests who cannot attend

If you would like to include more guests on your big day then why not set up a mass zoom call at your ceremony? Our bride Shannon did just that and all of her guests could share that special moment with them. If that feels a little overwhelming you could take a small part of your day to speak with those who couldn’t make it on video call, our brides Brooke and Jilla shared some small, private moments with their loved ones who couldn’t make it. A really special way to keep everyone you love connected on your day.

Another option is to hire a videographer for the day, get them to record your ceremony and any special moments you have planned. You can then share this with your friends and family who couldn’t attend after the wedding.


We really hope you found this blog post helpful in bringing together your ideas for your micro-wedding! If you are ready to find your wedding dress please contact our team and we’d love to find you the perfect dress for your intimate wedding day.

Team AH