How to plan the Perfect Intimate Wedding in Pittsburgh: Tips from a Wedding Photographer

December 5, 2023

Natalia Baqueiro

Destination Weddings, Eloping, Pittsburgh Locations, Weddings

Bride and Groom smiling after their wedding ceremony in Park Guell in Barcelona

What’s the Difference between traditional weddings and intimate ones?

A lot has been said about big weddings, and all the perks of it, and to me one of the best things about them is all the guests that get to be in one place at the same time with you celebrating love and union, which is what matters the most in life.

However, I can also see the beauty of an intimate small wedding where there are very few family members and friends invited, or none and it’s just the two of you.

That’s why I want to give you the best tips and ideas of why you might want to consider an intimate wedding.

I’ll show you two of my favorite ones I did at the gorgeous at Pittsburgh Botanic Gardens and at Mansion on Fifth Hotel Pittsburgh.

Bride and Groom looking at each other in front of a forest at Bride and Groom standing with umbrellas and an officiant at Pittsburgh Botanic Garden


Okay. So you have been thinking about it, but you’re not entirely sure if it’s the right thing for you. I get it.

I want to give you some clarity on it though and let you know that it’s your wedding and you can do whatever you want to do, and have as many weddings as you want!

In this particular case, the couple chose to do this on 2023 to later have the big wedding with their entire family and friends on 2024, so you get the best of both worlds.

Chairs in Pittsburgh Botanic Garden from an Intimate Wedding

How to evaluate if an intimate wedding is the right fit for you

The idea of a big wedding is just downright unappealing to you 

If It sounds like you appreciate the idea of a small, intimate wedding, where the focus is on the close relationships with your loved ones rather than managing a large event with numerous guests, keep on reading.

Many people find smaller weddings more personal and less overwhelming, allowing for more meaningful interactions with loved ones, and taking in the little moments.

Creating the right Atmosphere and ambiance

It’s all about creating an atmosphere that resonates with you and your partner, ensuring that your wedding day reflects your values and preferences.

Whether it’s a cozy gathering with a few close friends and family members or a destination wedding with an intimate group, the key is to tailor the celebration to suit your comfort and vision.

Ultimately, the most important thing is that your wedding day feels authentic and special to you both!

You want the focus of the wedding to be more about Connection

This one is the one that would make me opt in for an intimate wedding, at least for the first half of the celebration.

Small weddings are less about the wedding venue, what the food was like, how good the DJ was, or what all the decorations looked like.

Instead the focus becomes more about love, and the connections between you and your boo, and the few guests you choose to include in your wedding day.

You want more flexibility with your wedding budget

When you have a big wedding, a huge chunk of your budget gets eaten up by the wedding venue, the catering and the entertainment for all the guests.

That means you might be under-budgeting for other aspects of your wedding that you would rather be less conservative on, such as flowers, photography and the overall experience for you both.

With an intimate wedding, you get to have more flexibility with your budget and it allows you to splurge in what matters the most to you.

The Benefits of Having an Intimate Wedding

If you’re still on board, you’re now in the intimate wedding camp, and you’re probably wondering how to plan one.

Don’t worry! I’ve got some tips for you to help you navigate it all and make sure is authentic to you and what you want it to feel like.

Let’s start planning the intimate wedding of your dreams!

Like I said before, there’s not “right way” of doing things, but I’ll give you some general tips and some knowledge I’ve gathered from being a Pittsburgh Wedding Photographer.

What’s a small wedding guest count?

Small weddings are generally between 30 and 60 guests. A very small wedding, or a a micro wedding can consist of 20 or fewer guests.

However, what we consider “small” might not be the exact definition that another couple has in mind—so what constitutes a small wedding is ultimately up to you. 

Black and white couple holding each other by a window in black and white

Finding the right Venue for your Intimate Wedding

Let me give you some pointers to finding the right wedding venue for your intimate wedding in the grater area of Pittsburgh that have plenty of options for a unique and personalized experience.

If you’re going this route, I recommend to start thinking outside of the box and explore non-traditional Pittsburgh wedding venues or the traditional ones which have intimate wedding spaces, and or even elopement packages you can explore more of.

Trust me, there are plenty.

Imagine exchanging vows by the scenic riverside, followed by an intimate reception at one of the Strips charming local eatery or rooftop bars to watch the sunset.

If you’re guest list is small, you won’t have much trouble making a reservation in one of your favorite places.

One of my couples had their small intimate wedding and reception at Eddie Merlot’s (Located in the Four Gateway Center at the corner of Liberty Avenue and Stanwix Street).

It’s a great location right in the heart of Downtown Pittsburgh, not only to have the city at your mercy, but it gives you the flexibility to walk to Point State Park and spend some time taking romantic bridal photos of you two, while your guests have a drink.

Hosting an Intimate Wedding

While hosting a smaller wedding in Pittsburgh brings numerous benefits, it’s crucial to be mindful of fixed costs such as a venue’s site fee.

Places such as Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens in Pittsburgh PA and Pittsburgh Botanic Garden have packages for couples looking to have an intimate wedding on their off-wedding days. Such as Thursdays and Fridays.

If you want my opinion, I would consider all options before settling for one particular place. Including a destination wedding.

It might also be a good idea to consider a cozy and stress-free atmosphere, such as your backyard, childhood home, or a family member’s property.

There’s a unique warmth in celebrating in a place that holds sentimental value for you.

Thinking beyond traditional wedding venues?

Opting for a Pittsburgh Airbnb venue could be the a great and unique idea as well.

Bride and Groom Next to the Piano at The Mansion On Fifth Luxury Hotel

Tips for Choosing your Small Wedding Venue in Pittsburgh

Like I said before, there are so many places that will let you host your wedding reception at their location, and it’s all about asking.

One of my favorite locations this year was Mansion on 5th, which is a great option for any time of the year.

The weather in Pittsburgh can be tricky. Many times, groomy, rainy and snowy are part of the weathercast. So if you don’t want to commit to having your entire wedding day outdoors, we can definitely find a place such as a hotel, or a venue that has amenities that provide activities.

One of my favorite things about Mansions on Fifth Hotel Pittsburgh is that they have a fire place, a bar, restaurant, piano and even a place for you to dance, sit or even go outside and take advantage of the sun if you choose to do so.

They can also provide a place for you to have a small wedding ceremony, and accommodate you and your guests.

Bride and Groom about to kiss at the staircase of Mansion On Fifth Luxury Hotel after their wedding ceremony

Tips for Choosing your Wedding Vendors

Just like everything in life, not every vendor is the right match for your intimate wedding, so here are some things to consider when looking for the dream team for our small intimate wedding.

Do you need a Wedding Planner?

While some may view a wedding planner as an unnecessary expense for a small celebration, the value they bring in saving you money, time, and stress is significant.

Seek wedding planners with experience in micro weddings or intimate events, as they are more likely to align with your vision.

How to choose your Intimate Wedding Photographer?

Choose an intimate wedding photographer whose portfolio aligns with the vibe you want for your wedding day and whose personality resonates with you.

Trust is VERY important, so make sure you feel at ease when talking to them. The photographer will mostly be with you for the most part.

So it’s crucial that you enjoy their company, and that they truly grasp and appreciate the wedding experience you’re curating.

Why your story is Essential for me as your Wedding Photographer

As an intimate and documentary wedding photographer, when I’m planning for a couple photo shoot your story is very important. It’s part of the process and overall experience you will have at Natalia Baqueiro Photography.

I’ll take what you share with me and use it while I’m shooting your engagement photos—embedding your story in each of the frames you end up with.

In the case of Lane and Creed we did elegant and subtle, but with the show stopper of the Carnegie Museum of Art as the background, which resulted in a mixed of intimate and sensual photos against a dramatic architecture.

As I said before, we collaborated into creating art. If you want an authentic and beautiful engagement photo shoot, send me all the deets here!

Catering or take out?

Anything works!

If your venue doesn’t offer restaurant services, explore creative catering options like family-style buffets, food trucks, or unconventional choices such as a barbeque buffet.

Some caterers may have minimum head count requirements, so be sure to factor that in.

Consider a food truck, or taking out from your favorite restaurant. Yes, that includes pizza! Think outside of the box. It’s your wedding and you make the rules.

Entertainment for your Intimate Wedding

While DJs are common for larger weddings, consider live musicians for a more intimate vibe if you’re skipping the dance reception.

Lawn games can also add a fun touch to your cocktail hour and/or reception activities.

Florals are a MUST!

Florals are one of the things I would say are a must.

Choose a florist who can envision and execute the floral design for your intimate wedding.

Some florists have minimum investment amounts but can work within your budget to create custom installations that suit your vision.

How to choose the right officiant for your wedding

Ensure you connect with your officiant on a personal level, and they understand the significance of your small wedding.

Whether you opt for a Justice of the Peace, an ordained friend or family member, it’s crucial that they align with the intimacy of your celebration.

Make up and Hair

While having a professional hair and makeup artist (HMUA) is recommended, some brides and bridesmaids opt for DIY for a small wedding.

Stay at a special place on your Wedding Night

Choose a relaxing accommodation for your wedding night, but whatever you decide to do, make it memorable!

From staying home, to an AirBnB before you head out to your honeymoon.

Black and White wedding Walking and laughing as they hold hands

Additional Tips to having an amazing intimate wedding

Extend the Celebration with an After-Party After the main event, it’s time for the encore – think silent discos, late-night snacks, or even a karaoke session!

I absolutely adore it when couples add a little extra surprise to delight their guests. If there’s room in your budget, consider a s’mores bar, bring in a food truck, order some pizza, or set up games!

Keep it authentic to your style, something that resonates with your guests, and then let the good times roll!

Cherish What Truly Matters

Celebrate your love surrounded by those who matter most. We don’t want to get too sentimental, but your wedding is about love.

Ultimately, that’s what it’s all about. Treasure the moments and take it all in. Your wedding is a celebration of your beautiful relationship. Through thick and thin, you’ll always have each other!

Add Your Personal Touch

With a small wedding, try to focus on elevating the details – decor, venue, and food.

Embrace the flexibility to tailor your celebration to match your unique style.

Stay True to Yourselves Amidst the wedding planning journey, you might face doubts about the decision to have an intimate celebration.

Crafting an Intimate Wedding Ceremony

Involving guests in the ceremony, whether blessing rings or setting intentions is a meaningful idea. This creates a beautiful, unique, and spiritually meaningful moment. Involving your guests adds a special touch to your intimate celebration.

I would love nothing more than to be there documenting your love story and your wedding day, weather you decide to do an intimate, destination or traditional wedding, I’ll be there capturing the timeless moments for you.

Inquire to find out if I’m available for your date! Can’t wait to start planning this experience with you.

Bride and Groom smiling after their wedding ceremony in Park Guell in Barcelona

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