The Do's And Don'ts of Wedding Decor and Design For Your Intimate Wedding

Here’s the truth: navigating the world of intimate wedding decor can honestly be one of the biggest design challenges you’ll face when planning your small wedding. Sure, you may not have the same burden you might face with a large, 150 person event, but if we’re be honest, intimate wedding design still comes with its own set of challenges.

You’re dealing with a smaller guest count, which means every last detail is even more noticeable than it would be with a bigger event. But as small wedding photographers who specialize in these types of events, we’re here to break down some of our best practices when it comes to choosing your wedding decor for your intimate wedding, from do’s to don’ts, so you can take on planning your intimate wedding with confidence.

Intimate Wedding Decor Do’s

DO: Choose a simplified color palette for your small wedding decor

If there’s one thing we’ve noticed from couples who are planning their intimate wedding decor, it’s that it’s SO easy to get carried away with the color palette. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with having a colorful wedding, but it’s important to stick to a color palette that can guide you through the entire process of planning your small wedding decor. A palette with three colors is ideal. You can assign a primary, secondary, and tertiary color. From there, you use those wedding colors as your guide when selecting elements for the decor.

Allow your primary color to be the star of the show. This is the color you will see the most in your wedding decor. For instance, the centerpieces of your table-settings will likely showcase this color in full. Then you’ll use the secondary color to complement the primary color, without overpowering it. The tertiary color should primarily be used for accents (e.g. gold or silver on your napkin rings). This type of color palette will give you a hierarchy for your wedding decor and will keep you from getting overwhelmed by all of the color options that may come your way.

DO: Make sure you incorporate your personal style

Here’s the thing. Your wedding day should feel uniquely “you.” Sure, looking at Pinterest inspiration is a nice jumping-off point when brainstorming the type of wedding decor you’d like to have at your intimate wedding, but we don’t recommend couples try to copy exactly what they see online. Why? Just like you probably want to get a wedding dress that looks good specifically on you, you want wedding decor for your small wedding that matches your personality, not some stranger’s.

That doesn’t mean that you can’t pull certain things from other small weddings you’ve seen. If you love certain decor elements, totally go ahead and incorporate them! But you don’t want your wedding to be a repeat of someone else’s. You deserve better than that, and you’ll love all of the personal touches that come with intimate wedding decor that feels distinctly yours.

DO: Leave yourself open to splurging on your wedding decor

One of the perks of small, intimate weddings is how much money you save by cutting down your guest list. Which now opens the door for upgrading your wedding decor, if that’s something that’s near and dear to your heart. We’re not advocates for spending on something that isn’t super important to you (and we definitely don’t promote wasteful practices), especially when it comes to small weddings and elopements. But if wedding decor is something you value highly, intimate weddings allow you to do so. Rather than planning table settings for a 200 person event, you’re looking at footing a fraction of that bill with a smaller wedding, and ultimately that can translate to getting the wedding decor of your dreams without breaking the bank.


Small Wedding Decor Don'ts

DON’T: Overreach when it comes to DIY wedding decor

DIY wedding decor can be an excellent option for couples looking to add their own personal flair to their small wedding decor. And it can also be a great way to save money, when done right. But oftentimes, DIY wedding decor can be more expensive than the alternatives. This is especially true when you’re working with a small wedding planner who has relationships with vendors and can score you a deal since you’re renting in bulk.

Another thing to consider when it comes to DIY is how much work goes into it. It can totally be fun to DIY small portions of your wedding decor for your small wedding, but DIYing too much of it will wind up being more stress on your shoulders, when you already have enough wedding planning stress to deal with.


DON’T: Try to set it all up without the help of a small wedding planner or designer

The last thing you want to worry about on your small wedding day is setting up all of your wedding decor yourself, or having to enlist friends and family to help out with it. Your intimate wedding should be a day of celebration, and it’s not fair to you or your guests if they’re all helping out with the set-up and tear-down.

That’s the huge perk behind having a wedding planner or designer who specializes in small weddings. They’re highly skilling in making your decor look amazing. They’ve likely done it hundreds of times, and are extremely fast and efficient at it. What does that mean for you? A wedding timeline that doesn’t run behind and the peace of mind that your dream decor will be set up exactly how you want it.

P.S. As intimate wedding photographers, we make it our job to help you figure out all of the little details when it comes to your small wedding or adventure elopement. From recommending specific vendors to recommending gorgeous venues, we love helping our couples achieve their small wedding day dreams. So if that sounds like something you’d like, give us a shout! We’d love to be a part of your adventure.


Planning your intimate adventure wedding or engagement session? Check out some of our favorite adventure elopement and engagement planning resources:


Sheena Shahangian is an adventure elopement and intimate, small wedding photographer based in the Colorado Rocky Mountains. We primarily serve couples looking to elope or marry in the western United States (Colorado, Utah, Washington, Oregon, California, Wyoming, Montana, and beyond), as well as a select few eastern states (North Carolina and Georgia). We love serving couples who’ve chosen to do their own thing on their wedding day, whether that’s eloping in a National Park or having an intimate backyard ceremony in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains. We’re here to make your adventure wedding photography dreams come true.

*Images taken by us while working for Cassie Madden and Alchemy Creative.

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