Small Wedding Planning Philadelphia

bride and groom osteria Italian restaurant Philadelphia



Mini Wedding 

You are engaged and now it’s time to start the wedding planning – how exciting! If you have decided to forgo the big wedding day for something smaller and more intimate you are not alone and there are so many ways to make your wedding day special with your closest friends and family. Here are some tips on how to plan your small wedding in Philadelphia.

small wedding ceremony in greenhouse at Osteria Philadelphia



1. How far in advance should I plan my small wedding?

Many weddings are planned a year or more in advance, but depending on the size of your wedding. With a smaller gathering or micro wedding, you may be able to pull it off in a matter of months. Of course, the more notice you give to your family and guests the more likely they will be able to come, so keep that in mind. If you are truly doing a micro wedding with a small guestlist of 20 guests locally it’s easier to pull something together in a shorter time. I have seen couples plan some pretty sweet small gatherings in 1 – 6 months. It really depends on the guest list and how simple or complex you plan to go with your wedding.

Vaux wedding chapel ceremony Philadelphia



2. Decide on your guest list

One of the first things you will want to do is decide on the guest list. This will help set the tone for the day and will be a determining factor in what venues might be a good fit. “Small”  is a relative term when talking about a wedding. Are you thinking small as in 65 guests or small as in 10 guests? You would be looking at different venue options with different size guests list. This can often be one of the hardest parts, paring down the list! Once you have a number in mind, it’s time to pick your venue.

empty small wedding ceremony space Philadelphia



3. Choose Your Small Philadelphia Wedding Venue

Philadelphia has some pretty great locations for small weddings. Larger venues can sometimes welcome smaller guest lists on a weekday – it never hurts to ask! Restaurants can be a great option for small weddings(and great food!). For example, Osteria has a wonderful greenhouse space for ceremonies and receptions and even a little-known “Kitchen Table” dining area that seats up to 14 guests for private dining tucked next to their bread ovens.  There are of course pretty outside locations in Philadelphia such as Race Street Pier. Just be sure to check if you need to secure a permit for a park or outside location and of course, you have to consider the weather. Have a look at this Ultimate Guide for small Philadelphia Wedding Venues for more small venue ideas in Philadelphia.

cocktail hour food



4. Select your Caterer or Restuarant

After the ceremony, many like to celebrate with a delicious meal and perhaps a glass of champagne. There are so many ways to celebrate. If your venue allows, you could do a quick champagne toast or cake cutting right after the ceremony. Or perhaps you will want to make a reservation at a restaurant for your you and your guests – there is an abundance of amazing restaurants to choose from in Philadelphia! Of course, you could always have a small dinner catered at home – or even have a backyard BBQ if you are going for a more laid-back and casual.

bride and groom at merchant exchange philadelphia



5. Pick your wedding photographer

No matter how big or small your guest list is, weddings are a monumental day and having a photographer to capture your day will allow you a keep looking back at your wedding for years to come. For smaller wedding celebrations you may not need or want a full day of photography coverage. Perhaps just the ceremony, couples photos, and family photos. Deciding where you want to take your photos is also something to consider when planning out the flow of your day. Will you have time in your venue or location for photos? Is there somewhere in the city that is especially meaningful to you where you would like couples’ photos? Have you always wanted that iconic “Broad Street Photo”? Are you trying to keep it as simple and streamlined as possible? These are some questions to consider in deciding how much time you would like for your wedding day photos.

I am always here to chat about your photography. Click this link to reach out.

Philadelphia Wedding Chapel ceremony



6. Choose Your Outfit for Your Small Wedding

Choosing your outfit for your small wedding could be a tuxedo or wedding dress with a veil and long train and all the trimmings or you could also go a little more casual with more cocktail dress or suit/button-down look. This is your wedding day and you make the rules! Are you going traditional or non-traditional? Laid-back and causal or pulling out all the stops? Just because you are going small on the guest list doesn’t mean you can’t go big on your wedding day look.

bride and groom in West Chester PA



7. What Other Vendors Do I Need For My Intimate Wedding?

This is a great question! The other vendors you will need on your Philadelphia wedding day really depend on your vision for your day. Are you doing a bridal bouquet or boutonniere? Do you need to hire an officiant or are you doing a self-uniting ceremony? Do want hair and make-up for your day? Do you have your heart set on a special wedding cake? If you are trying to keep your costs down you can do some things yourself or enlist friends or family to help. My advice is to decide which things are most important to you and splurge a bit on those – it is your wedding day after all! On the things that are less important to you perhaps you can DIY or skip them altogether. For example, there is no rule that says you have to have a wedding cake at all.

white and green wedding  bouquet and wedding ring



8. Other special touches

Sweet, sentimental or meaningful touches can really make your day extra special. There are endless possibilities of course but here are a few examples to get you thinking. Perhaps you ask a friend or family member to read a poem or meaningful passage during your ceremony. Maybe you want to write your own vows. Some couples decide to wear special items on their wedding day such as a grandparent’s watch or jewelry. Do you want anyone to stand beside you at the altar while you exchange vows? Including flower girls or ring bearers is always an option. There are so many ways to include or honor people in your family and your faith or special touches that really celebrate who the two of you are as a couple. At one wedding I photographed the couple were big foodies and for their cocktail hour they included all their favorite foods from around Philadelphia. It was their way to share a part of who they are and what they love with their guests.



9. Small Wedding Planning Philadelphia

Ultimately, think about what makes you happy and do that! It sounds like such simple advice but it might be the best advice. Enjoy, enjoy enjoy!


Planning your small Philadelphia wedding