Small (Outdoor) Wedding Ideas that Make a BIG Impression


These small wedding ideas prove that a wedding with a short guest list can be intimate and larger-than-life. While that may seem contrary, there are quite a few ways to create a small, personal affair that makes a big impression on guests.

Small (Outdoor) Wedding Ideas that Make a BIG Impression 1

Small Wedding Idea #1: Set the stage with a beautiful entrance.

It can be a challenge to choose an entrance for an outdoor wedding, but that doesn’t mean couples shouldn’t try to create a powerful first impression. This is a couple’s chance to create a setting that makes guests stop and say, “wow.”

There are two ways to make guests stop in their tracks: by choosing a venue with a breath-taking view or by creating a wonderful setting with beautiful outdoor wedding décor. This can be accomplished with a walkway and linens that guide couples and create a wonderful flow, unique signage that matches with décor, a red carpet that makes guests feel like celebrities, a beautiful ceremony set-up…the possibilities are endless.

This wedding planning tip comes with a “but…” Couples should always plan for inclement weather (like scorching Chicago summers and unpredictable storms) by adding a tent to their list of outdoor wedding supplies. For an open and airy feel, select a wedding tent with open sides or clear sidewalls that allow guests to take in the panoramic beauty of the wedding setting. (There are quite a few options for wedding tents. An event specialist can help a couple choose the best tent for their wedding day.)

head table in wedding tent

Small Wedding Idea #2: Make everyone feel like family.

One of the perks of having a small wedding is the endless chances to mingle, and there are so many settings that make it easy for guests to do just that. Guests appreciate the perfect combination of wonderfully decorated cocktail tables and family-style seating that make it easy to socialize and enjoy delectable wedding dishes.

Family-style seating makes every guest feel like family, and can be a stylish part of wedding décor. Long tables allow guests to pass platters around and elicits memories of a wonderful holiday meal. This seating set-up is perfect for couples who want a sit-down or family style dinner service.

seating arrangement in wedding tent

Small Wedding Idea #3: Lounge and relax with guests.

There are so many benefits of adding a lounge area (or multiple sitting areas) to the list of outdoor wedding supplies. Comfortable seating is a great place for guests to relax and enjoy the wonderful setting (and view!) These lounges are a wonderful place for guests to enjoy each other’s company and can be carefully selected to fit with a rustic, elegant, or casual wedding.

These lounge areas can be beautifully complemented with chill tables or elegant drink bars. The combination is perfect for guests who want to sit and enjoy their cocktails, and raise their drink to toast the newlyweds.

party tent with dance floor tables and chairs

Small Wedding Idea #4: Create an interactive station with a bar.

For couples that love tastings, an interactive tasting station can be the perfect way to include local tastes and share the experience with guests. This small wedding idea is a big hit with guests as they line up at a beautifully decorated bar to try local brews and wines. (For self-proclaimed “foodies,” this small wedding idea can be adapted into a dessert or other favorite dish tasting station.)  

For a more personal experience, consider adding a cocktail named for you to the line-up. Your signature drink can push the experience over-the-top. (Plus, it’ll be tons of fun sampling and coming up with a signature beverage perfect for the occasion.)    

chill station at chicago outdoor wedding

Small Wedding Idea #5: Personalize those wonderful wedding favors.

A wedding with a small guest list is an opportunity to create personalized wedding favors that goes beyond making guests feel special. There are a ton of options for memorable wedding favors: bottled drinks, fans, sunglasses, mints, flip flops, shot glasses…the list can go on and on (and does, on this list of wedding favor ideas).

Wedding favors can be incorporated into the wedding reception for maximum effect. (An event specialist can make recommendations.) They can be beautifully presented in stainless steel tubs, on the dessert table, or around the bar for maximum effect.

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