An inclusive intimate wedding and elopement photographer, Xilo Photography, Kati Douglas who is based in Oakland, California in the bay area, took this picture of a same sex gay couple on their wedding day/elopement day as the two grooms lean in near the beach with waves crashing in the background at Fort Funston, CA which was their intimate wedding venue. Ever wondered what is an intimate wedding or what would be considered a small wedding? This is a great example of both!

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Intimate Wedding VS. Small Wedding VS. Micro-Wedding

I know you’ve been searching for the perfect aesthetic for your wedding day, and you’ve run across the terms micro-wedding, intimate weddings, and small weddings. 

And heck, who wouldn’t be confused and need a little clarification on the difference between the three. Not to mention figure out which one is the right fit for you and your wedding budget (so you can prioritize the vendors and plans that matter most to you).

An intentional wedding and elopement photographer, Xilo Photography, Kati Douglas who is based in Oakland, California in the bay area, took this picture of a same sex gay couple on their wedding day/elopement day as the two grooms hold hands while running together in their tuxes at Fort Funston, CA which was their beach wedding venue.
Fort Funston, California was such a breathtaking and intimate wedding and elopement venue for this LGBTQIA+ same sex couple. The cliffside, the beach, and the vast skies made for such beautiful wedding pictures of this adorable couple on their wedding day. The images were captured by Xilo Photography Kati Douglas, Bay Area Intimate Wedding Photographer. She specializes in helping couples intentionally plan and enjoy their intimate and authentic wedding or elopement of their dreams. learn more at xilophotography.com

What is considered an intimate wedding?
Intimate weddings are usually more intentional and focused on the feel of the event, and often with a special focus on the bond between the two partners. While these can be small, medium, or large it really comes down to how it’s organized and planned.

Intimate refers to the feeling of closeness between two people or a group of people.

The intent is to create that feeling in your wedding ceremony and reception so that you look back on your wedding day with nostalgia, and your wedding guests do too!

What is a small wedding or a micro-wedding?

(Spoiler, these are not all that different after all!)
The core of these is essentially the same as any other wedding, however it’s on a smaller scale. Which means venue, guest list, wedding party, food, are usually on a smaller scale as well. The emphasis is that it’s not a large-scale wedding. That’s what really differentiates it from other traditional wedding types.

Lake Tahoe, California mountain, forest and beach wedding with the most beautiful views. This was considered a fairly intimate small wedding. The views did not disappoint and neither did the bride in her gorgeous romantic A-Line wedding dress. It was beautifully complimented by the nature trails, trees, wood, and greenery during the forest wedding first look pictures. Photographed by Bay Area photographer, Kati Douglas with Xilo Photography based in Oakland, CA

Okay, but can you have a wedding that is intimate AND small?

Yes, this is where some of the confusion sets in for many. You can have an intimate wedding that is also small or micro, but the terms are not mutually exclusive.

You can have an intimate wedding on a small, medium, or large scale too though. While most utilize the term “intimate wedding” when referring to weddings on a closer/more small scale, that’s not always the case.

How do I know which is right for my dream wedding?

When you are brainstorming and planning for your wedding, one of the most important questions to ask yourself is what kind of vibe, feeling, or aesthetic you want to experience and look back on.

Lake Tahoe, California mountain, forest and beach wedding with the most beautiful views. This was considered a fairly intimate small wedding. The views did not disappoint and neither did the bride in her gorgeous romantic A-Line wedding dress. This image shows the wedding isle, the seating arrangements for the vow exchange and ceremony, guests, and the stunning and unique mountain arch decor. Photographed by Bay Area photographer, Kati Douglas with Xilo Photography based in Oakland, CA

If you’re wanting a deeply personal, authentic, and tailored to you wedding, you will probably want an intimate wedding. All that’s left to decide upon is what size you want!

Small Wedding/Micro-Wedding: Up to 50 guests

Medium Wedding: 50-150 guests

Large Wedding: 150+ guests

Lake Tahoe, California mountain, forest and beach wedding with the most beautiful views. This was considered a fairly intimate small wedding. The views did not disappoint and neither did the bride in her gorgeous romantic A-Line wedding dress. This image shows the wedding isle, the seating arrangements for the vow exchange and ceremony, guests, and the stunning bride, and her father and mother walking her down the isle to get married. She is holding her colorful bouquet in her hand. Photographed by Bay Area photographer, Kati Douglas with Xilo Photography based in Oakland, CA

What’s most important is the actual size of your wedding doesn’t compromise the intimate and “close” nature that you’ve been dreaming of.

Larger weddings (usually 150+ guests) while beautiful, can actually limit the amount of time you get to spend with each of your guests too. With a smaller wedding guests will often feel more relaxed, and you will too!

Smaller weddings (up to 50 guests), usually fit best with smaller budgets. The larger the scale (and more guests you have) the more costly the food, venues, and vendor packages can be.

How To Find The Perfect Vendors For Your Wedding:

When booking your wedding vendors, communicate openly with your vendors (especially your wedding photographer, and wedding planner) about what your style of wedding looks like to you so they can be sure to provide you accurate quotes, accommodations, timeline, and planning tips to bring your wedding from a dream to reality. Not to mention they may have some really stellar tips for how to word your save the dates and invitations to reflect your ideal wedding experience to your guests (so they also know what to expect).

Pictured here is the wooden wedding decor mountain arch with floral wedding designs for inspiration for wedding planning. This was taken in Lake Tahoe, California during a mountain, forest wedding and beach wedding venue. This featured natural wood decor, and an outdoor forest beach ceremony. Photographed by Bay Area photographer, Kati Douglas with Xilo Photography based in Oakland, CA.
Pictured here is the bride and groom in their wedding tux and gorgeous gown, on the dock at Lake Tahoe, CA. They are kissing during the sunset and the skies are a mix of pinks, purple, and coral colors. This was taken in Lake Tahoe, California during a mountain, forest wedding and beach wedding. Photographed by Bay Area photographer, Kati Douglas with Xilo Photography based in Oakland, CA.

As we’ve covered above, the terms can be quite relative, so explaining how intimate actually looks for you, and what size of a wedding you’re looking for will help them see your vision.

An inclusive and intimate wedding and elopement photographer, Xilo Photography, Kati Douglas who is based in Oakland, California in the bay area, took this picture of a same sex gay lgbtqia+ couple on their wedding elopement day as the two grooms celebrate and lean in for a kiss at the restaurant with their family and loved ones. This took place just after leaving their intimate wedding venue and was an unconventional and unique reception option.  Ever wondered what is an intimate wedding or what would be considered a small wedding? This is a great example of both!
An inclusive and intimate wedding and elopement photographer, Xilo Photography, Kati Douglas who is based in Oakland, California in the bay area, took this picture of a same sex gay couple on their wedding day/elopement day as the two grooms pour themselves champagne so they celebrate their wedding day in their tuxes at Fort Funston, CA which was their intimate wedding venue. Ever wondered what is an intimate wedding or what would be considered a small wedding? This is a great example of both!

Intimate wedding discussion points
with your wedding planner and vendors:

  • Budget
  • Venue (max capacity, accommodations, length of time allowed for setup/takedown)
  • Guest list
  • Wedding favors or gifts 
  • Intimate wedding dinner and food options
  • Invitation wording, style, quantity
  • Intimate vows
  • First look with your photographer
  • Timeline
An inclusive intimate wedding and elopement photographer, Xilo Photography, Kati Douglas who is based in Oakland, California in the bay area, took this picture of a same sex gay couple on their wedding day/elopement day as the two grooms lean in and touch noses under an umbrella near the beach with waves crashing in the background at Fort Funston, CA which was their intimate wedding venue. Ever wondered what is an intimate wedding or what would be considered a small wedding? This is a great example of both!

Pro Tip: Start an Intimate Wedding Photo Inspiration board on Pinterest to save wedding photos, tips, ideas, and resources that inspire you for your special day.

An inclusive wedding and elopement photographer, Xilo Photography, Kati Douglas who is based in Oakland, California in the bay area, took this picture of a same sex gay couple on their wedding day/elopement day as the two grooms lean in near the beach with waves crashing in the background at Fort Funston, CA which was their outdoor beach wedding venue.

You can show this to your wedding planner and photographer later to give them a better idea of the things you love. You can even collaborate on a board together. Genius, right?!

Speaking of Pinterest, I have an array of intimate wedding photos that feature décor, guests, dresses, bridal parties and groomsmen, venues and locations, invitations, and flat-lay details on Pinterest as well.

Let’s connect! www.pinterest.com/xilophotography Feel free to peruse my boards and use my pins to articulate your dream!

An inclusive and intimate wedding and elopement photographer, Xilo Photography, Kati Douglas who is based in Oakland, California in the bay area, took this picture of a same sex gay couple on their wedding day/elopement day as the two grooms pour themselves champagne so they celebrate their wedding day in their tuxes at Fort Funston, CA which was their intimate wedding venue. Ever wondered what is an intimate wedding or what would be considered a small wedding? This is a great example of both!

As an Intimate Wedding Photographer in Oakland, California, I’ve had the pleasure of capturing the weddings of numerous intentional couples throughout the San Francisco Bay area. From intimate California weddings to romantic small or micro-weddings in the bay, I adore them all.

I’d love to inspire you to plan an intimate wedding experience of any size, or even a small ceremony and reception with your closest loved ones and guests at your favorite venue.

An inclusive intimate wedding and elopement photographer, Xilo Photography, Kati Douglas who is based in Oakland, California in the bay area, took this picture of a same sex gay couple on their wedding day/elopement day as the two grooms lean in and touch noses near the beach with waves crashing in the background at Fort Funston, CA which was their intimate wedding venue. Ever wondered what is an intimate wedding or what would be considered a small wedding? This is a great example of both!

If you’d like to see more photos, ideas, and tips for planning an authentic and intimate wedding of any size, check out my Instagram at @XiloPhotography – and feel free to say hello!

If you’re looking for a Bay Area photographer to capture your romantic wedding day, head over to https://xilophotography.com/weddings

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