intimate weddings naturally yours events

first-hand experience

If wedding planning during the past year has taught us anything, it’s that it is important to be adaptable, roll with the punches, and embrace intimate weddings. Many couples have turned to alternative celebrations with lower guest counts, virtual elements, and untraditional receptions but they may be looking for how to begin planning a smaller event that still feels like it has the fanfare of a larger celebration.

That is where Naturally Yours Events comes in as the perfect planning partner.

Intimate weddings are nothing new. As a company, we have planned handfuls of weddings that are intimate and alternative- we absolutely love them! At the same time, we also understand you may not have always imagined having a more intimate setting for a wedding. So, you might be grappling with either planning a smaller event now or continuing to hold off plans in order to host a larger gathering in the future.

Even as we eventually return to “normal” with larger celebrations in a post-pandemic world, we anticipate intimate weddings aren’t just going to be a trend of the times because they have so much to offer! We know how this style of wedding feels from first-hand experiences as many of our team members have had intimate weddings of their own, or like many of you, even had to pivot their 2020 larger celebration plans.

Thus, we wanted to take this opportunity to share some of our team’s experiences from planning our own intimate weddings in hopes that you feel inspired to have a wedding that is meaningful and memorable no matter the size or style.

an icelandic elopement & firehouse soiree

Carlene is the owner of Naturally Yours Events and therefore has seen her fair share of weddings- big to small, traditional to the uber funky. When she got married, she had certain expectations of what she wanted for her event (good quality food, specialty craft beer, lots of unique touches) and knew it would be more challenging to accomplish her vision with a larger guest count and consequently a larger budget.

Plus, she wanted to be able to spend as much time with friends & family as possible. It can be nearly impossible to talk to every guest when you have hundreds of people gathering with you and wanting your attention- especially if you want any time for yourself to eat or go to the bathroom (these things are important!). While it can be challenging to limit your guest list, Carlene & Eric made a rule that guests had to be connected to both the bride & groom. This allowed the guest list to remain more intimate.

Iceland was a dream honeymoon spot for them and when an opportunity presented itself to go on a trip with their photographer friend, they made the decision to elope! A trip to city hall began their journey to make things legal, then they packed their bags for an Icelandic elopement to share their vows in private.

Back in Chicago, they planned an intimate wedding reception to celebrate their nuptials. A cocktail style wedding fit the laidback, summer vibe they wanted to achieve with specialty drinks, a live band, an extravagant dessert display, and custom seating lounges. An empanada food truck, appetizers, and a noshing station kept guests well fed as they were able to mix & mingle inside Firehouse Chicago or out in the venue’s garden.

Carlene & Eric’s favorite part of the way they celebrated was the fact that they were able to share so much quality time with their invited guests and that they had time to DANCE! Some advice they’d give to themselves if they were planning this event again would be to add more event time. Originally, she thought a smaller party needed a shorter amount of time, but their guests proved them wrong and they ended up extending an hour just to keep the party going!

Guest Count: 50

Vendors: Photography- Tuan B & Co / Venue- Firehouse / Caterer- Paramount / Food Truck- 5411 Empanadas / Florist (Wedding)- Romee Willow Florals / Florist (Elopement)- Becca Blue / Hair & Makeup- Nika Vaughan / Music- Gussied / Rentals- Rent Vintage Chicago / Bakery- Cacao / Bar- Bottles & Cans / Invitations- Spilled Ink Press / Composter- Collective Resource / Attire- Paco’s Custom Clothier and Ultimate Bride / Alterations- Dame Couture / Rings- Mineralogy

the one where we surprised the bride

Kristen and Jim wanted to be able to invite their close family & friends to their wedding but struggled with the options available based on what they were looking for. The date neared that they wanted to get married by so they decided to keep things simple and made plans to get married in a courthouse wedding.

However, being a part of the Naturally Yours Events team, Kristen should have known that we couldn’t just NOT plan a wedding for her. So conspiring with the groom & a team of amazing secret-keeping vendors, we planned an intimate wedding celebration at The Lytle House in the couple’s neighborhood of Edgewater.

A cocktail style reception allowed us to create modular areas for a standing ceremony space, cocktail & dining tables & a dance floor. The ceremony felt intimate and truly personal with close friends sharing words of wisdom & well wishes. Having all your guests standing, surrounding you as you share your vows is a really special experience that makes guests feel like they are a part of your love story & support system. This feeling may not have been achieved in same way with a larger group sitting in ceremony rows of chairs.

Having originally only planned a courthouse elopement, Kristen & Jim truly appreciated each and every person who travelled near & far to be a part of this surprise. And they had the ability to visit with all their guests while still dancing to multiple Beyoncé jams and cooking up some custom-flavored marshmallows at the S’mores bar.

Guest Count: 60

Vendors: Photography- Tuan B & Co / Venue- Lytle House / Floral- Romee Willow Florals / DJ- Cage & Aquarium / Catering- FIG / Decor & Signage- Naturally Yours Events / Linens- BBJ / Photo Venue & Surprise Location: The Library 190 / Hair & Makeup- We Only Do Pretty

love in a pandemic and in a living room

Lauren and Tyler were a month away from their 140-person April 2020 wedding when a stay-at-home order went into effect and all events for the next eight weeks were mandated to be cancelled. They quickly worked with their vendors to put plans on pause all while going through the emotions of not having the wedding they had imagined.

Having already been together for eight years, buying a house, and building a family with their dog Pita- they didn’t want to wait any longer to get married. So, they decided to keep their original date and have their parents & siblings in their living room to witness their vows while a few close friends joined in on Zoom.

Since everything was going to take place in their home they were able to get ready with each other which allowed them to still share their morning coffee, put the final touches on their vows, and combat any pre-wedding jitters together. They enjoyed being able to steal private moments throughout the day that are sometimes difficult to capture with a larger wedding celebration when you’re being pulled in a million different directions.

The intimate nuptials, officiated by the couple’s close friend, allowed for a genuine, personalized, and conversational ceremony filled with laughter and joyful tears. Afterwards, the newlyweds strolled around their neighborhood park taking photos, shot by the groom’s sister,  before enjoying a meal from their favorite neighborhood falafel & shawarma restaurant and a lemon cake baked by the bride herself!

While they plan on rescheduling their bigger reception to celebrate with all their extended family & friends, they’ll always have their original intimate wedding as a special memory. They missed everyone that was supposed to be there but at the same time enjoyed not having to spend energy on making sure guests were having a good experience or getting enough face time with the couple. They could just focus on each other and the commitment they were making together.

Guest Count: 14

Vendors: Photography- Seraphina Rose Photography / Attire- Leanne Marshall & Express / Bouquet & Boutonniere- Field & Florist

small backyard party on facebook live

Evelyn and Julian were looking forward to their big summer 2020 wedding but the planning of all the small details and the millions of options in front of them became overwhelming at times. As the likelihood of them needing to either cancel, postpone, or minimize their wedding grew- they were heartbroken and frustrated but realized they shouldn’t sweat the small stuff. “It is our day and our time. Let’s make the best of it,” they said. They thought about exactly what they needed in a wedding day and didn’t stress on all the ‘wants’.

They chose to have their immediate family present for an intimate wedding ceremony in their family’s backyard while extending an invitation on Facebook Live for everyone else to view. They enjoyed reading all the well wishes that were left in the comments by everyone tuning in. With so many non-local guests, this was a way for everyone to still feel connected to their wedding celebrations.

In addition, they hosted a drive-through reception so guests could honk & wave to send congratulations to the newlyweds. While they didn’t have all their originally planned decor, the father of the bride constructed an ‘I Love You to the Moon and Back’ photo backdrop as an ode to the bride’s grandmother who couldn’t be there in person. Guests loved being able get out of their cars to snap a socially distant photo with Evelyn & Julian to commemorate the special occasion.

Their family even surprised them with a mariachi band playing some of their favorite songs that the bride sung along to. At the end of the day, they weren’t even thinking about all the extra “stuff” that they were originally planning. They said, “our wedding day went perfectly as it was meant to be…we soaked it all in.”

Guest Count: 20 plus drive-through reception guests

Vendors: Photography- Matthew Gibney / Attire- Ultimate Bride / Florals- Blissful Blooms / Cake- Cakes XO / Mariachi- Mariachi Tamazula / Tent & Chair Rentals- Oaklawn Party Rentals

embracing intimate weddings with ceremony pop-ups

Moving into 2021, many couples have hopes of planning the large wedding of their dreams. While we long for large parties with full dinner tables and packed dance floors, intimate weddings are going to continue whether required by current safety restrictions or just because couples opt for a more intimate experience. Intimate weddings may fit their personalities and guest dynamic better or a couple could choose this style to fit all their wants within their chosen budget. They may also just want to able to focus on only their nuptials- and not a wedding reception party.

Through Neighborhood Nuptials, Naturally Yours Events has embraced the idea of the smallest of intimate weddings. This pop-up style experience allows couples to get married in an unique, meaningful way at a neighborhood venue with their closest friends & family present for an intimate gathering. Our previous associate, Stephanie, and her husband chose to tie the knot with Neighborhood Nuptials for one of our fall pop-up dates.

A close friend officiated their ceremony while their siblings read meaningful passages in English and Spanish. They come from multi-cultural families so having this represented in their ceremony was important to them. They celebrated with a champagne toast and sliced their favorite pizza in place of a cake cutting before heading to a private dinner in Big Delicious Planet’s canteen.

With only two dinner tables, they paid close attention to the tablescape decor that featured gold flatware, rustic wicker chargers, vintage amber glassware, and mercury glass votive candles. Floral centerpieces were filled with lush, fall flowers & greenery alongside beer crowler inspired bud vases which touched on the couple’s love of craft beer & cocktails.

Guest Count: 12

Vendors: Photography- True Grace Photography / Ceremony Venue- Fairlie / DJ & Live Stream- Cage & Aquarium / Videography- James Murray Video / Florist- Romee Willow Florals / Transportation- M&M Limo / Rentals- Vintage Place Settings / Caterer & Dinner Venue- Big Delicious Planet / Hair- Michelle Finch / Makeup- Juan Alvarez / Dress- Grace Loves Lace

planning your intimate wedding

Now that you’ve learned a little bit about our own intimate weddings, we’d love to help guide you through the process of planning yours! Here are a few questions to ask yourself to start thinking about what is best for you and your partner.

  • If you are engaged (congratulations!!), are you considering an intimate wedding as an option? Why or why not?
  • What is your most important element to incorporate into your wedding day? (i.e., the people you love most being there, big dance floor, food & drink options, decor, etc.)
  • Will you be attending any intimate weddings this year or have you in the past? As a guest, what do you value most out of being part of a smaller celebration?
  • What are your and your fiancé’s family dynamics? Do you have large extended families or a smaller group of relatives – or maybe one of each?
  • Who is paying for your wedding? If not the two of you, are you allowing this person(s) to have any say over the guest list?
Leave us your thoughts on intimate weddings you’ve attended or if you had one yourself in the comments below! What do you love or dislike about them? Do you think they are a trend or here to stay?