Expert’s Guide: All You Need To Know About Planning An Intimate Wedding

Wedding planners, photographers and makeup artists tell us about the intimate wedding trend and how to plan one for yourself.

Published On Nov 21, 2022 | Updated On Mar 05, 2024


Since the pandemic, many new couples have been giving the big fat Indian wedding a skip and are opting for an intimate wedding with select guests. Not that an intimate wedding can’t be grand. Couture designers have been busy coming up with statement pieces which will be memorable regardless of the size of your baraat. A small survey by the wedding planning website, WedMeGood, found that a quarter of the weddings done by the vendors on their channel this year had under 100 guests, thanks to Covid making smaller weddings socially acceptable.

“White weddings with vows are becoming increasingly popular in Tier 1 and 2 cities, even by non-catholic people, because they are subtle, intimate and low-key,” says Aashna Lalwani, co-founder of Three Entertainment, a design studio that specialises in customised wedding solutions. “Sit-down dinner receptions are currently in for being extremely close-knit and intimate. The 1,500-people reception at a banquet hall with a stage and guests greeting them does not exist anymore,” she adds. “Sufi night sangeets are also here for the win. Open-to-air mandaps are popular right now,” informs Lalwani.

Your ground rule, advises Lalwani, should be less is more and do not clutter. Décor should not be over the top and focus on smaller details and personal touch points for your guests rather than cluttering the space with heavy-duty production. Lighting is a game changer so make sure you focus on that to change the vibe without trying too hard. Fewer the people, the more attention they will pay to the details. So, incorporating personal elements, parts of your love story or just telling a story through your decor for different events to your guests is a nice way of making it memorable for all. Lalwani has worked on many cool cocktail ideas such as monochrome jungle, airport-themed cocktail parties, art and techno parties, fun fairs — all of which give scope for little details.


“The main idea behind creating a theme-based cocktail party is to tell the guests a story about the couple,” says Lalwani. “For instance, Anmol and Shriya, for whom we did an airport-themed cocktail night, had been dating long-distance for many years. Travel and airports were a big part of their relationship. We incorporated elements that are both ‘Instagrammable’ yet personal to them. So, when you look back you will always remember the details and not just because it was a cool thing to do,” suggests Lalwani. She adds that couples are incorporating themes in their weddings, sangeets and mehendis as well.


Omitting people from your guest list can be a tricky affair, especially with Indian weddings. Lalwani suggests that people should make a list starting with family, inner-inner friend circle, inner-outer circle, outer-inner and outer-outer. Once this exercise is done, you only invite the first three categories if you are trying to keep it intimate.

Food becomes even more important in an intimate wedding because your guests will sit down at the table and eat and make conversation. “Make sure the time between courses is not too long, the food is heated and prepared well, the service even, and the runner in the centre of the table is not too high so people across the table can talk to each other whilst making eye contact. Make sure there are enough servers and enough options for all types of food group eaters,” says Lalwani.

Sit-down course meals work well for intimate dinner receptions but you must make sure you know about the dietary preferences of your limited guests. You might be tempted, but stick to two to three cuisines that complement each other. Too wide a spread is not recommended for a small group. It’s all about quality over quantity. Do not overcomplicate. You can opt for some fancy dishes but few should be basic and standard as well.

No wedding is complete without a set of beautiful candid photos to remember your day and to brag on Instagram. It can get difficult to shoot in a small space, but it is not impossible. For smaller weddings, the focus is more on capturing verticals and tight horizontal images that cover candids and intimate moments says Shrey Bhagat, luxury wedding photographer and videographer. A wide lens also helps in making the space bigger and having better coverage, he reveals.


“Every photographer will vouch for natural light as being the best. But as far as artificial lighting is concerned, face lighting is a must for proper coverage of video and photos. The decor is also a major contributor to this. It should not have patterns or bold colours that match the bride and groom's outfits. These become too distracting for the image. So, for photos and videos, a clean decor that contrasts the couple's outfits and possibly includes some natural backdrops works exceptionally well,” he recommends. So, remember to speak with your décor team about your outfits before you finalize the design.


Inform your photo team about the location as it's always a good idea to carry external lighting, especially for intimate events. “Intimate weddings truly bring out a special emotion, and it is evident in the photographs. The journey is never about the shot, but the underlying stories of the entire experience. An intimate wedding gives us the liberty to beautifully capture all of the moments, making it a wonderful experience for the couple and us as their photographers.”

The biggest makeup trend since the pandemic has been dewy skin that glows from within with a tinge of subtle flush. Even actor Alia Bhatt showed off a freckled look on her wedding day, which was an intimate summer wedding ceremony.

Bridal makeup artist Shradha Luthra of DollYouUpByS says that she has seen an evolution in the wedding industry and the approach people have towards their weddings in the recent past. “The brides of today are confident and believe in being themselves. When it comes to makeup and hair, many brides opt for a transitional look these days, but one that is easy to maintain,” says the makeup expert. Transitional looks help when you need to do a quick change and can change your look by just changing your lip colour or doing an updo if you have let your hair down.

“While some brides opt for a super minimal, sun-kissed look, others do prefer glamming it up, but not in a cakey way. For hair, clean and sleek hairstyles that stay true to the natural hair type are what most brides opt for. Blending in for people on your big day, even if for an intimate wedding, is out of fashion. It’s about individuality, every bride makes sure they express themselves completely, and that is probably one of the most beautiful transitions we are witnessing today,” Luthra sums up.

Photo: Instagram/Dia Mirza; Featured brands