Home Budgeting and Finance The benefits of a small intimate wedding in Europe

The benefits of a small intimate wedding in Europe

When my partner and I decided to tie the knot, like many other couples, we were faced with myriad choices. From selecting the ideal venue to crafting the guest list, every decision seemed momentous. As we delved deeper into the planning, the allure of a small intimate wedding became clear. We chose Europe, with its mesmerising landscapes and rich heritage, as our backdrop. Our experience, filled with charm, intimacy, and economic prudence, became a cherished memory. In this article, we wish to share the numerous economic benefits and the enchanting allure of hosting a small intimate wedding in Europe, drawing from our own journey and extensive research.

▶️ Read also: Tips to save on your European wedding

💰 Economical advantages of intimacy

The allure of reduced costs is a prominent reason why many couples are gravitating towards small intimate weddings. This is particularly evident when you compare the per-head expenses of a large wedding with that of a smaller affair.

To give you a more tangible perspective, let’s imagine planning a wedding with 15 guests in the scenic city of Porto, Portugal, known for its romantic riverside settings and historic charm.


  • Large Wedding: Renting a spacious venue or a grand ballroom in a luxury hotel can easily cost upwards of €5,000 for a single night.
  • Intimate Wedding: Conversely, a boutique hotel or a riverside guesthouse in Porto might set you back around €1,000 to €1,500 for a more intimate space suitable for 15 guests.


  • Large Wedding: The average cost of a wedding meal can vary but assume €100 per person. For a wedding with 100 attendees, you’re looking at €10,000 just on food.
  • Intimate Wedding: With just 15 guests, even if you splurge a little on a more gourmet experience at €120 per person, you’re spending €1,800.

Drinks: Porto is renowned for its port wine.

  • Large Wedding: An open bar or an extensive drinks package could cost €3,000 or more for a large group.
  • Intimate Wedding: For a smaller gathering, you could handpick fine wines and ports, spending around €500 for a premium selection tailored to your guests.


  • Large Wedding: Hiring a band or a renowned DJ might cost €2,000 to €3,000.
  • Intimate Wedding: Opting for a local trio or a playlist curated for your group, coupled with a live traditional Fado performance, might come to around €800.

Decor and miscellaneous:

  • Large Wedding: Extensive decorations, seating arrangements, and other miscellaneous expenses can easily amount to €5,000 or more.
  • Intimate Wedding: With fewer tables and a more focused space, you could spend around €1,000 on exquisite, personalised decor.

Adding up these approximations:

  • Large Wedding Estimate: €25,000 and upwards
  • Intimate Wedding Estimate: Around €5,100

The reduced costs are evident. Hosting an intimate wedding in Porto with 15 guests could save you a substantial amount, allowing you to either pocket the savings or reallocate them to enhance your wedding experience further or extend your honeymoon.

Of course, these are ballpark figures, and actual prices can vary based on the specific choices made. However, the contrast is clear: smaller, intimate weddings, even in a beautiful location like Porto, can be significantly more cost-effective than their larger counterparts.

▶️ Read also: Navigating the legalities: Getting married in Portugal as a foreigner

🥂 Enhanced guest experience

An intimate wedding does not merely translate to reduced costs, but paves the way for a richer, more memorable experience for each guest. With a limited guest list, couples are no longer tied down by the vast logistics of hosting a larger crowd. This opens up avenues to provide a unique, tailored experience for every attendee, making the celebration not just about the couple but also a special occasion for those close to them.

With the allure of European destinations like Porto, the wedding can transform into an extended celebration over several days. Instead of a one-day event, couples can curate a multi-day itinerary, blending the wedding festivities with local experiences. For instance, day one could involve a relaxed wine tasting at one of Porto’s renowned wine cellars, introducing guests to the rich history and flavours of Port wine. The following day might include a guided tour of the city’s historic Ribeira District, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, or a scenic boat cruise along the Douro River. By weaving in these local experiences, guests not only partake in the joyous occasion but also build memories exploring a new destination. Such an approach elevates the entire wedding experience, turning it into a cherished getaway for every attendee.

🔎 Destination variety

Opting for a smaller wedding allows couples the freedom to venture beyond the conventional and explore lesser-known but equally enchanting locations. While popular destinations like Paris or Rome are perennial favourites, an intimate gathering provides the perfect opportunity to consider venues like a centuries-old castle in the Scottish Highlands, a serene lakeside villa in Slovenia, or a rustic farmhouse in the rolling hills of Romania.

These venues might be overlooked for larger events due to logistical constraints, but for a close-knit group, they offer an unmatched atmosphere of exclusivity and romance. Such diverse choices mean that every couple can find a locale that resonates with their story and vision, making their wedding a truly personalised affair.

♻️ Sustainable choices

Sustainability has emerged as a cornerstone of modern living. With increased awareness about environmental impact, couples are now considering the ecological footprint of their big day. Smaller, intimate weddings inherently align with the principles of sustainability, making them a conscious choice not just economically, but environmentally as well.

A reduced guest list results in lower resource consumption. From the amount of food prepared to the electricity used at the venue, the overall consumption is significantly decreased. Fewer guests also mean less transportation. Whether it’s avoiding the need for large buses or reducing the number of flights for destination weddings, there’s a tangible reduction in carbon emissions. Moreover, intimate weddings often lend themselves to more locally-sourced provisions. Whether it’s food, decor, or favours, there’s a focus on local, reducing the carbon footprint associated with transporting goods over long distances.

Europe, with its strong focus on sustainability, offers a plethora of options for eco-conscious couples. From eco-friendly venues that operate on renewable energy to caterers who focus on farm-to-table offerings, the options are vast and varied. Additionally, with a smaller group, waste can be better managed. Excess food can be reduced, single-use plastics can be avoided, and decor can be planned in a manner that minimises wastage.

Incorporating sustainability also adds a layer of meaning to the celebrations. By choosing eco-friendly options, couples send a message about their values and commitment to a better future. It’s a step that not only reduces the environmental impact of the day but adds depth, purpose, and intention to the wedding narrative. An intimate wedding in Europe, with its blend of romantic destinations and sustainable choices, offers couples the chance to begin their journey together on a conscientious and impactful note.

▶️ Read also: How to organise an eco-friendly wedding in Europe?

💍 Focus on details

In the world of weddings, it’s often the minutiae that crafts the most memorable moments. Large weddings, due to their scale, can sometimes limit the depth of personalisation, leading to generic or template-based decisions. However, with fewer guests and a concentrated setting, intimate weddings in Europe offer couples a canvas to paint their unique love story with fine-tuned precision.

For starters, let’s delve into invitations. With a smaller guest list, couples can swap mass-produced cards for artisanal, handcrafted invitations. Think delicate lace sourced from a traditional lace-maker in Bruges, Belgium, or using eco-friendly, handmade paper embedded with wildflower seeds that guests can later plant. The dining experience is another realm where details shine. Instead of a one-size-fits-all menu, couples can work with chefs to curate a culinary journey, perhaps inspired by their own travels or shared favourite dishes. A dinner in Tuscany might feature a specific wine the couple discovered on a date, paired with dishes using ingredients from local farms, each course telling a part of their journey. The decor, too, can be thoughtfully curated. Instead of bulk-bought flowers, couples might opt for local, seasonal blooms or personal elements like a family heirloom or photographs, creating intimate table settings. Even entertainment can be bespoke. A jazz duo could recreate the couple’s favourite song, or a local dance troupe might introduce guests to traditional European dances.

In essence, the intimate scale of the event means that nothing is ‘off the shelf’. Every choice, from the texture of the table linen to the scent wafting through the venue, becomes an intentional reflection of the couple’s narrative, providing depth and character to the celebrations.

A small intimate wedding in Europe presents an array of economic benefits, from reduced costs and enhanced experiences to sustainable choices and investment in the future. With a myriad of enchanting destinations to choose from, couples can create a unique and memorable celebration that reflects their personality and values, all while enjoying the financial advantages that come with a more intimate gathering.


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