How to Pull Off a Simple, Intimate Destination Wedding, with Wed Our Way

Published by Claire Gould on

Guest article by Martina Selvagi – Wed Our Way

It’s not about the frills, it’s about the faces. So many couples I meet today are family-first (or friend-first). What they want more than anything is an intimate wedding day they can fully drink in and enjoy with the people they love – one that isn’t so immersed in excess that the real meaning of the day gets lost.

If that sounds like you, then you’ll love the tips I have in store for you on how to create a perfectly personalized destination wedding that splurges in the areas you care about, but is simple enough to hold true to your values, priorities and budget.

1. Release Expectations

To really embrace the notion of a simple, intimate destination wedding, you need to first ditch the mentality of perfection and competition, including what you expect of yourself and what others expect of you.

On perfection

It’s only natural that you want your wedding day to be perfect. However, the more you pressure yourself to reach perfection, the more stressful and complex it will be. Remember, the perfect wedding is one that you and your guests have truly enjoyed. 

On competition…

You may have friends who have already tied the knot. And while you can learn from their experience as an observer, it’s not healthy to compare your event to theirs. You have different values, different standards and different goals for how you want to experience your day. Intimate weddings often break tradition and shatter expectations, so you may need to let go of previously held beliefs about what a wedding should and shouldn’t involve.

2. Love Your Location

A definite motivation for couples who opt for an intimate affair over a sizeable one, is to have more freedom to choose the most fabulous venue and location; never settling for a lesser option.

Here are 5 locations that can be incredible for intimate weddings:

Photographer: Aleksey Leonov


A small island with a Mediterranean vibe where everyone feels like a neighbour and no one is in too much of a hurry to get anywhere, Malta is practically made for intimate weddings. With its endless sea views, delectable dishes, historical sites and lush gardens, you might not want to leave.


Any couple who wishes to celebrate their union amid magnificent scenery and stunning surroundings must consider Iceland as a location. Just imagine saying your own vows alongside a cascading waterfall, inside a rustic brick church, high up in a gorgeous cliff, or even under the mind-blowing Northern Lights. And the best thing is, the process and paperwork is easy for foreigners who want to tie the knot in Iceland, legally.

The French Riviera

In the southeast corner of France lies the luxurious French Riviera coastline. Although this region is known for being a more extravagant destination, a smaller guest list could bring it within reach. To maximize your budget, explore less commercial wedding venues by working with a local planner who has resources beyond the tourist heavy areas.

Photographer: Studio Loha


The key to any budget-savvy trip is to know where to travel. And Croatia is simply brimming with affordable hidden gems, once you get outside popular Dubrovnik. Planning a wedding in Croatia is tricky because most really great vendors and venues either aren’t online or have websites written purely in Croatian, so having local help is essential.

In the southeast corner of France lies the luxurious French Riviera coastline. Although this region is known as a more expensive destination, a smaller guest list could bring it within reach.

New Zealand

If your goal is to create a private and romantic wedding setting for those dearest to you, then New Zealand is an ideal option. The serene, awe-inspiring beauty of its surroundings is perfect to hold any kind of intimate wedding. Your guests will appreciate you inviting them to a place with relaxing and mesmerizing sights of emerald mountains, snowy peaks, and vast farmland.

Photographer: Elliot Nichol

3. Trim The List

One of the greatest challenges for couples who want to plan a more intimate wedding is deciding who gets invited. The fewer guests, the more intimate.

No one wants to hurt feelings or exclude important people, but every couple has to draw the line somewhere. After all, no one invites every living soul they know to their wedding anyway, even if it’s a guest list of 300.

Luckily, the mere choice to have a destination wedding helps you reduce your guest list automatically in two ways:

  1. Fewer people expect to be invited to a destination wedding than a local one since it usually requires a greater commitment on the part of the guest
  2. Fewer people will elect to attend your destination wedding because it requires more time off, more funds and more planning

For intimate destination weddings, an acceptable range is up to 50 guests. A good practice is to agree to a maximum invite number as a couple and hold each other accountable to it.

Photographer: Aleksey Leonov

4. Slash & Splurge

One of the joys of having a smaller wedding is that it may afford you a few select luxuries in areas that really matter to you. However, deciding also to have a “simple” wedding means never letting things get too out of hand.

So how do you balance the two?

Commit up front to the one or two areas where you’ll enjoy a bit of extravagance, based on your priorities, and resolve to be highly conservative in the remaining wedding categories.

It’s all about budgeting and values. Know your full wedding budget and priorities, then allocate funds accordingly.

If what you value most is a tremendous guest experience, then consider which elements would create that for your weary travelers, such as cozy accommodations, world-renown cuisine far and above typical catering, extra time together at the reception, ease of travel from the ceremony to the reception site etc.

If what you value most is time alone with your new spouse, then invest in post-celebration honeymoon amenities, such as unique excursions, lavish pampering, private dining and upgraded accommodation.

Photographer: Pixie Dust Weddings

5. Personalize

Given that your wedding will be shared only by those closest to you, it makes sense to keep it as personal as possible.

And while, traditionally, this might apply to decor and DIY details, you want to think beyond just expressing your own style and personality. After all, you’ve just hand-picked a small group of special people to travel hundreds or thousands of miles to celebrate with you. It needs to feel personal to them too!

  • How can individual guests and close family feel like an important part of your day?
  • How can you send guests off with a permanent memory of your trip together?
  • How can you make loved ones feel welcome as soon as they arrive?

Any unique gesture you can make to help your close friends and family feel included will go a long way into making your occasion a truly private affair.

BONUS TIP: The Surprise Reception

If you’re struggling with the notion that some of your friends, colleagues, or relatives won’t be celebrating your wedding with you in a far off location, there is a great solution.

After arriving from your destination wedding trip and/or honeymoon, you can surprise all of them by throwing a post-wedding party. It doesn’t have to be as grand as a wedding. It can be as simple as a dinner party, backyard gathering or housewarming (if you happen to move into a new home); whatever brings extended friends and family together to celebrate.

Remember, ‘simple’ doesn’t always mean plain, ordinary, or boring. It can be an exciting adventure far from home with your favorite people – all in the name of love. If you choose to have a simple, intimate wedding, at the end of the day, it is you and your significant other’s happiness that really matters. So focus on that and let everything else fall into place.

Martina Selvagi is the fearless leader of Wed Our Way, an intimate team of destination wedding planners who create fun, low-stress, custom wedding experiences in Malta, Croatia and France.


Claire Gould

Claire spends her days writing - either in beautiful calligraphy or online. She lives on the edge of the English Lake District only minutes away from the beach, where she loves to escape and unwind. Claire's calligraphy can be found at Claire launched the English Wedding Blog in November 2009 - it's been a top 10 UK wedding blog ever since, with a regional focus we hope you LOVE.


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