Our Tips on Having an Intimate Wedding

Written 10th November 2020

The coronavirus pandemic has certainly brought with it a wealth of challenges, with the wedding industry certainly being one of the hardest hit. 


Social distancing measures have meant that many of our lovely couples have had to make life changing adjustments to their plans – and it certainly hasn’t been an easy ride for them, or indeed our wedding coordinators.


With many couples looking towards more intimate wedding ceremonies, we’ve spoken to our wonderful Weddings team for their expert advice to help those whose wedding plans have been affected throughout 2020.



It’s no secret that the current climate has had a huge impact on the wedding industry. Can you explain a little bit about how it’s changed over the past few months?

Couples are now re-evaluating as they look at having small intimate weddings with very close family and friends. Many of them are also booking large parties and blessings the following year to celebrate their 1st anniversary – so they get to celebrate twice!


Can you tell us a little bit about how your role has changed at Billesley Manor Hotel & Spa in line with the current circumstances?

Our current circumstances have made things very difficult. Our couples have been devastated, but we’ve been trying our best to provide support for all our couples through the changing regulations. Lots of our couples have been affected by this and we have moved bookings to other dates; in some cases, this has happened twice. My heart goes out to our couples, as they should be enjoying the run-up to their special day.


With the new social distancing rules meaning that brides and grooms are having to significantly cut their guest numbers, what advice would you give to those who are struggling to adjust?

It’s a really hard situation. However, if they are still wanting the big celebration, this is possible at a later date following a small intimate wedding – and, what’s more, they get to do it twice!


When it comes to the wedding day itself, how would you go about ensuring that 15 guests are sufficiently entertained?

 For smaller numbers, wedding reception lawn games like croquet or giant jenga and treasure hunts are proving popular. This also adds an interesting element to the wedding photography, as they make for great pictures. Guests at smaller ceremonies also enjoy a poker station, a dress-up booth and cocktail making, as well as quizzes and games, such as ‘play your cards right’. All are in demand for fun-loving couples.


Are there any particular benefits to having a smaller wedding? I.e., does it more easily allow for intricate details in venue design/themes and entertainment?

Yes, absolutely. Sometimes, with a large wedding, you don’t have the opportunity to speak to all the guests. The day itself can feel rushed at times, since there are so many guests to greet and welcome. With more intimate weddings, you can enjoy a wider choice of menus, and add those personal touches – whether it be wine glass charms or Billesley Bears for each guest. The reduced guest list often means a higher budget to work with, allowing for those extra special details. 



 In a nutshell, what can you do for 15 guests that can’t be done for 150?

Spend more time with guests and people that are close to your heart

Have the wedding of your dreams without breaking the bank

Add additional extras or a more extravagant honeymoon that you couldn’t afford if you were holding a larger wedding

Have a more relaxed feel for your special day

Re-evaluate what’s important to you as a couple

Make personal favours / gift bags for each guest attending


 What are your top tips for those planning their intimate wedding?

Think about what is important to you as a couple (i.e., location of the venue)

Think outside the box for entertainment – whether it be vintage game shows, or cocktail making  

Add additional extras to ensure your guests have a gourmet experience, and perhaps have a different wine to accompany each course of your meal

Discuss with your photographer how they can best capture your day, and ask if it’s possible to take interesting group photos


Do you think the current circumstances will set the wedding industry back in terms of developing new trends for 2021? Or do you think it will change with the times? Perhaps we’ll see trends we haven’t seen before?

Yes, certainly – our smaller weddings have been very elegant, and a real push towards a more luxurious, gourmet experience – from taster menus to multiple courses.


In terms of attire, ball gowns and huge trains are making way for jumpsuits, short dresses and flat boots. Brides are opting for comfort and practicality rather than the ‘princess’ factor. The royal wedding paved the way for a slew of chic yet plain dresses – a veer away from the figure hugging fishtails, lace and beading of years past.


How have socially distanced weddings held up so far at Billesley Manor Hotel & Spa? Did they go well and as expected?

Yes, they have been really successful. Each one has added a lovely feel to the day, as the guests are so dear and important to the couple, which makes it more special.


Our team has also been playing a huge part at our socially distanced weddings. They’ve been ensuring everyone is well looked after, with the opportunity to tailor to all individual guest needs. Smaller guest numbers for intimate weddings means that we’re able to get to know each person, thus giving us the chance to personalise the services we provide.


For those that are postponing their wedding until next year, what advice would you give to ensure that brides and grooms make the most of their extra planning time?

I would advise couples to make sure they make the most of the time between now and their ceremony, and enjoy the build-up to their new date. Usually, this time can feel rushed and busy, as couples have appointments with the venue and suppliers in preparation for the big day. My advice is to use the additional time you have to look after each other and spend time together. Your wedding day is the quickest day of your life, and goes so fast – so make sure you enjoy every moment, including the months before! 

Bride and groom embracing in doorway at Billesley Manor wedding venue.

In some cases, couples might want to use their extra time to book additional special features – including the all-important welcome drinks!


A special thanks to our Weddings team for offering their top tips on intimate weddings.


If you’d like to discover more about intimate weddings at Billesley Manor Hotel & Spa, do browse our website.


Alternatively, take a look at our previous post to explore the details of our recent multi-million pound refurbishment.