Whether your guest list is small or large, there are simple ways to make any event feel more intimate.
There’s nothing worse than putting your heart and soul into throwing a party – whether it be a wedding, family reunion or corporate event, and leaving feeling like you didn’t get a chance to catch up with all your guests. Creating an intimate event for your next party, whether big or small, is essential to making you feel fulfilled as a host, and making sure your guests have time well spent with friends, family and colleagues.
1. Tour a variety of venues and don’t be afraid to go outside the box
Now a days, no venue is off limits. Seriously – we’ve seen people book campgrounds, adventure parks, breweries and more for their weddings. And for birthdays, we’ve seen it all from house and cottage rentals to arcades. Less traditional venues offer more activities and more flexibility to space out the event, which allows guests to break off in smaller groups, encouraging socialization.
If the untraditional route isn’t for you – not to worry. With the right lighting, décor and layout, a banquet hall or restaurant can be as equally as intimate as some of the less traditional venues we mentioned.
2. Pick a well-staffed venue
If you’re planning an intimate event, you most likely want your guests to feel special. Nothing makes people feel like they aren’t special when they’re waiting a long time for drinks and food. No matter what type of venue you do end up picking for you event, make sure you ask about staffing levels. You can even ask about the option of doubling staff – it will be an extra charge, but if you’re really wanting to create an intimate experience it’s money well spent.
3. Don’t underestimate the power of paper invites
While we’re on the topic of making guests feel special, doing so starts with the invitations. If your budget permits, you should seriously consider sending out paper invitations. With so many people communicating over social media and email these days, paper invitations really stand out. Your guests will be oh so excited when they receive something in the mail that isn’t a bill for once (or to receive any mail at all!).
Sound too old school for you? There’s still plenty of ways to make e-vites more personalized. When people RSVP, consider asking them to suggest a song for the DJ to show them you care about their experience at your event.
4. Make a game plan to greet all of your guests
We’re willing to bet that being able to socialize with all your guests is probably one of the reasons you’re even researching ways to throw an intimate event in the first place. Even if you think you have enough time to say hi to everyone, or a small enough guest list to spend an equal amount of time with everyone, it’s easy to get caught up in conversations with the same people all night.
The best way to ensure you’ll be able to greet all your guests is to create a game plan in advance. A simple way to do this if you’re planning a wedding is a receiving line – whether at the end of your ceremony or at the beginning of your reception. Another option is to visit 1-2 tables between each meal course. However you choose to visit with all your guests, you’ll be happy you made the extra effort to do so!
5. Play around with different dinner seating layouts
There are so many more options for dinner or reception seating options rather than round tables. Play around with different seating arrangements like rectangular, u-shaped, bar seating and more. If you have a big enough space, you can make a large event more intimate by playing around with how many people you seat at each table. Typically venues seat 8-10 people at round tables. But, you can consider seating only 4-6 people per table instead.
6. Organize assigned seating
It can be a hassle to organize assigned seating for your event. But taking the time to do so can make guests feel a lot more comfortable. You can seat guests who know each other well and who you know will have a great time together. For guests who don’t know many people, you can assign them with other people or couples that you know that may get along with. After all, you know all your guests personalities better than anyone. By taking the extra time to organize the seating yourself, you’ll help everyone feel a lot more comfortable.
7. Organize ice breakers and activities to encourage mingling
A good host understands that socializing doesn’t come easy to everyone. Set up ice breakers or activities to help give people something to talk about. Think: scavenger hunt bingo, yard games, photo booths etc.
8. Personalize, personalize, personalize
Any personalized touches you add to the event will make each and every guest feel like they’re your guest of honor – whether it’s a personalized table setting, napkin, favor, or something else.
9. Set up lounge areas
Setting up little hideaways, like lounges or bar seating can help guests take a breather and mingle in smaller groups. Lounge areas are a great way to add some intimacy to an event with a larger guest list, allowing guests to relax and get away from the hustle and bustle of the main event area or dance floor.
10. Spread your event over several days
Who says your event only has to last one night? More and more, we’re seeing people span their celebrations over several days so they can spend more time with all of their guests. It can be as simple as scheduling a brunch for the day after your wedding or dinner party, or as extravagant as planning a destination event that includes activities several days leading up to the event and after.
And our best tip? Don’t be afraid to keep guest lists on the small side. Sometimes people think big event = better. But, that’s not always the case. If you need more ideas on how to make your next event feel more intimate, we’re here to help with a full-service event planning team.