Stunning & Memorable Small Wedding Ideas for 2023

Small weddings are no longer required – but that’s not stopping couples everywhere from choosing to celebrate in style with their closest family and friends. Cutting your guest list is one of the easiest ways to ensure an absolutely incredible experience for you and your guests alike, without blowing your budget on catering and rentals. If you are currently planning a wedding in 2023, I’ve gathered a list of some of my favorite small wedding ideas that I’ve seen over the last few years as a Detroit wedding photographer. If you are looking for someone to photograph your wedding in a timeless, joyful way, make sure to check out my experiences page (with pricing!).

Want to see a real micro wedding come to life? Madison and Kade’s intimate backyard wedding was featured over here!

small backyard wedding in Detroit

Choose a Detroit wedding venue that is the right size for your guest list.

Consider both traditional and untraditional wedding venues for your guest list. For a list of top Michigan wedding venues, head here. MANY wedding venues have started catering to more micro weddings, so choose a space that makes sense for your guest list. You don’t need to fill a ballroom with decor for your guest list of 50 people, and you don’t want space so large it makes your guest list look “small” instead of “intimate”. Trust me, there are more than enough wedding venues here in Metro Detroit, so don’t be afraid to be choosy with what you are looking for!

small wedding venue in Detroit

Splurge on Guest Experience

When you don’t have 150 guests to think about, you can really splurge on luxury details. Invest in the watercolor wedding invitation liner. Gift guests unique wedding favors from small local businesses. Hire a wedding calligrapher to create gorgeous place cards with each guest’s name. Trust me – gone are the days of small weddings needing to be simple. I’m seeing couples go over the top for their closest famil and friends and creating something really special (and VERY memorable!).

watercolor wedding invitationscalligraphy place cards succulents as wedding favors tablescape with menu cards

Choose a Unique Seating Chart or Escort Card Display

When you have a large guest list, you need to make sure everyone can find their name fast. If you are looking for places to create a wow factor for your more intimate guest list, this is a GREAT place to do it. After all, every single guest will interact with it to find their name!

luxury wedding escort display

Design beautiful spaces for guests to lounge

I’m a fan of lounge spaces for weddings of all shapes and sizes, but when you have a small guest list these spaces tend to get used even more. Make the most of your lounge space by having a signature cocktail station, petit fours, or a charcuterie board – the sky is the limit (I say that a lot – but I really mean it!).

wedding lounge furniture

It’s also a great place to cuddle up and take some wedding photos. I love small wedding ideas that do more than just look good.
couple cuddles on lounge furniture

Design ONE wedding reception table

Depending on the size of your guest list, consider having guests (and yourselves!) gather around just one table. It gives such an intimate vibey feel – whether it’s a larger table set up (U-style with rectangle tables) or a large square table like the one pictured below.

small wedding table gorgeous pink wedding centerpieces for small wedding vintage glassware, floral menu cards, and a patterned wedding linen

Have fun with your attire!

If you have been dreaming of a big ballgown or black tuxedo your whole life, go for it! But one of the benefits of a smaller guest list is that there is less pressure. After all, only your nearest and dearest are going to be there. So choose the colorful suit jacket, floral bowtie, short wedding dress, or WHATEVER catches your eye!

groom wears pink with floral bow tie

Lastly, Build Your Wedding Day Timeline to Include Lots of Wedding Photos!

Okay, I may be biased being a wedding photographer, but honestly one of the things I love most about micro weddings is the more flexible timeline they come with! Traditional weddings are stunning but can be jam-packed fitting in “all the traditions” into one busy day. Often a smaller wedding will include a late afternoon ceremony, a cocktail hour where the happy couple will attend and enjoy with their guests, followed by an intimate wedding reception.

If you want many beautiful wedding photos to choose from (and potentially more locations!), one of the best things you can do is structure your day to start with a first look before the wedding ceremony. From there, you can build in as many hours of wedding portraits (and wedding day bliss) as your heart desires.

first look wedding photos in Detroit first look wedding photos in Detroit metro Detroit wedding photographer

Don’t forget to treat yourself to little luxuries too!

If you’ve worked with me before, you know I love surprising my couples with little luxuries. Despite my best efforts, there can be parts of wedding planning that are stressful and it’s so important. Love the velvet ring box you found on Pinterest? Dying for more acrylic wedding day signage for that elevated, classic look? Treat yourself!

velvet ring box acrylic bride and groom seat covers

Detroit Wedding Planning in 2023

If you are currently planning your Michigan wedding for 2023, I would love to connect with you. I feel incredibly grateful to be working as a wedding photographer doing what I truly love, and would love to hear more about your wedding day vision. Don’t be afraid to go untraditional and prioritize the things that you really want. I love beautiful things and fine art details, but at the end of the day, your love is what makes the photos. For (almost daily) Detroit wedding inspiration, come find me on Instagram! Or, head straight to my contact form to connect!

Can’t get enough? Check out my Pinterest Board with a few of my favorite small wedding ideas!

  1. Claudia Gomez says:

    My husband just eloped on Valentine’s Day. We want to share our celebration dinner with 25 guests. I love your ideas, thank you for sharing♥️

  2. Sheila Rodrigues says:

    Hi, our wedding is planned for the 21st of December at Okemos, MI. We have about 20 guests at this time and the list might go up to 30 at best. We have planned for a church wedding in the early evening followed by an intimate reception with dinner, drinks and dancing. Would love to hear your ideas to make this day special and memorable for us.


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