Venues That Are Best for a Small Wedding: 7 Creative Ideas for the Big Day

7 creative venues for a small wedding

The big day is finally in sight for you and your fiance and you can’t wait to plan your wedding! You’ve done the first step and gone over your guest list and decided a small wedding is the way to go (in case you’re wondering, a small wedding is averaged at around 50~ guests, while a medium wedding is up to 130~). Now, you need to select the right venue to accommodate your plans that also fit into your budget.

With most wedding venues feeling like they’re made for medium to large-sized weddings (over 100 guests) it can be daunting for couples who are striving for a small, intimate feel without paying an overpriced fee for amenities they don’t need.

We give our best tips for researching small wedding venues near you and we recommend our top 7 favorite wedding venue ideas that should accommodate any style of small wedding you have planned.

Tip #1: Check All Minimum Cost Requirements

Some wedding venues are straightforward about their guest list minimum – this is because they’ve arranged their packaged costs to meet a certain number of people. 

However, some wedding venues will have a cost minimum vs a guest minimum. This is especially common when they partner with other vendors (caterers, bartenders, etc.) whose minimums they need to meet.

This provides couples the flexibility they need to book any venue they like, however, you do go the risk of overpaying for food or drinks you don’t need. Many of these minimums must be met even if your guest list dips below what you expect, even after you sign the contract.

Do the math to ensure you’re not paying more for head than you’re comfortable with (meals and drinks average out to $100 a person, but this ranges based on casual weddings to high-scale luxurious affairs).

always check venue pricing for a small wedding

Tip #2: Can the Wedding Venue Scale to Meet Your Needs

Some wedding venues are built to accommodate a range of guests without leaving the wedding reception with big gaping areas of space. 

If you were looking for a garden wedding in Woodbine, for example (or a rustic, cozy charm), both our Lounge and Meadowview bouquet rooms adjust with spacers and table sizes to create an open and yet not empty space for weddings of various sizes.

Always talk with venue owners about how they fill a space to create a welcoming, comforting atmosphere. Some venues have partitions, decorations, curtains, and more to close off a space so you don’t have guests feeling they are too far away from one another or the activities.

how to make a venue accommodate a small wedding

Tip #3: Find Venues That Don’t Limit Vendors

If you opt for a traditional wedding venue, inquire about their vendor list. Most couples who want a small wedding are often out-priced by vendor cost minimums that the venue already agreed to.

If you love a space and can select your own vendors, you can often negotiate your price directly with catering and bartending so you’re not overpaying for services you don’t need.

This is our best advice for couples striving for a small wedding. It means you can even utilize food trucks, local restaurants, or friends and family who cook because you’re not serving dozens of people that would otherwise require a traditional wedding caterer or bartending service.

BYOB totally helps in cases like these if you’re looking for a casual feel, as well; don’t be nervous about brainstorming something untraditional that may work for you and your crowd.

select your own wedding vendors for a small wedding

Tip #4: Get Creative with Venues Near You

The best thing about searching for a small wedding venue near you is you can get creative. Many large-scale weddings are locked into traditional settings to accommodate their guests – country clubs, resorts, etc. With a smaller guest list, you can pivot your search to different venues or areas.

We urge all couples who go this route, however, to check the fine print on any contracts that might otherwise limit weddings on the property (this will prevent cancellation headaches in the future) but otherwise, you have your choice of total variety. Check out our favorites below.

Here Are Our Best Recs for Creative Small Wedding Venues

Boat Wedding

Some of the best small weddings we’ve seen were held creatively on a boat – you can rent a large party boat or have it on a public cruise or other local area ship. 

Couples get creative with historic boats or they can go to their favorite body of water with a simple boat rental. Keep it private or have it public – either way, your day is going to shine on the water and have a unique flair.

Plus, a picnic reception or reception at a local marina can be beautiful, elegant, and the perfect party place.

boat wedding

Park Wedding or Scenic Location

With a smaller guest list, you are more likely to be able to coordinate a wedding at your favorite park, state park, or scenic location. Mountain views, hikes, overlooks, valleys, waterside, and more all offer beautiful locations that are more accessible to smaller wedding parties. 

Talk to your local state park coordinators to see what you can do to set up your wedding at your favorite location; if your guest list is compromised of active friends and family, go with something a little further out of the way and get a beautiful view as your backdrop with a little bit of a hike.

The reception can include a pavilion, picnic, or a short trip to your favorite nearby lodge.

scenic park wedding

Garden Wedding

Do you love the idea of tea in the garden, florals, or something spooky in the colder seasons surrounded by fall fauna? A garden wedding is perfect for small weddings with fewer than 80 guests. 

Surround yourself in nature and look into garden wedding venues in Woodbine or near your local area – tour the outdoor seating, reception areas, and more and see how you can create a cozy, intimate, conversational atmosphere for your big day that is both casual and luxurious with minimal effort.

If you want something with an indoor option, look at local inns (like we mention below), wineries, or ballroom venues that offer different seasonal options.

garden wedding ideas

Destination Wedding

When you’re not managing over 100 guests, and especially if you’re under 50 guests, your small wedding can be wherever you want it to be. Destination weddings were tailor-made for couples who only want to share the day with their most intimate friends and family. 

Look into nearby states, air travel, or even a foreign country if you’re not picky about your entire guest list making it. These are much more accessible on a tighter budget with a smaller guest list, so open up the possibilities.

Pro tip – many resorts will have an entire package plan for destination weddings, so work directly with the venue or a wedding coordinator to minimize planning efforts.

destination wedding

Bed and Breakfast or Inn

If you’re looking for something idealistic and romantic, nothing beats the classic Bed and Breakfast feel. Talk to your local BnB owners or reach out to venues in your favorite state that mimic that inn feel. 

Discuss your small guest list and what their accommodations are – in some cases, the entire guest list can stay on-site, turning a wedding day into a wedding weekend that is fun for all.

Wineries, barns, and even out-of-season camps can all also offer a similar look and feel depending on their own site accommodations.

inn wedding

Vacation Rental

Similar to a BnB rental, a vacation rental is the perfect way to change your wedding day into a weekend-long wedding celebration. This is because vacation rentals – whether directly through the company or via a third-party app like Air Bnb – have the space to both host the wedding and all of the guests. 

Couples have chosen castles, large houses or inns, and homes with guest lodging to separate themselves from the guests to create an intimate yet still private affair.

Look for lodging with multiple bathrooms (or space for porta johns), a large yard or indoor space for mingling, something eye-catching to serve as your alter backdrop, and a romantic bedroom for a honeymoon space. Don’t forget dining options, tables, or even a party tent rental to beat the weather.

vacation rental wedding

Restaurant or Bar

For casual couples or those who like to keep everything on-site, talk to a restaurant or bar you favor about a wedding ceremony and reception combo. 

You can use, in some instances, an outdoor patio space or a brewery to serve as the altar and ceremony space and then easily move the reception to the traditional dining area.

This is great for venues that also already have a dancing space, music, and niche designs for a fun and unique ambiance. Plus, it keeps all vendors on-site for less coordination. Fun, easy, and simple.

bar wedding

Get Excited for Your Small Wedding Today and Feel Confident Booking

No matter what type of wedding venue you choose for your small wedding, remember to stay true to yourself and what you enjoy. Follow our quick tips, ask questions, and always tour a space in person when possible. 

You can get the dream wedding you envision, just stick to what makes you and your partner happy and explore all the options available to you.

Ready to tour a local wedding venue in Woodbine, MD? Contact us today to see our barn, outdoor area, and more to create the perfect space. We’re happy to help coordinate. And congrats!

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