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9 ways to make a large wedding venue feel intimate

9 ways to make a large wedding venue feel intimate

Written by Katie Byrne

Because sometimes, you might want to make a venue feel a little more, well, contained


Whilst space is usually an advantage, some couples will want to transform a spacious venue into something more cosy and intimate. Equally, if you’ve booked the venue of your dreams but are inviting a smaller number of people, you might want to enlist these tricks to avoid your reception venue feeling too spaced-out.

#1 Ask your venue if certain areas can be blocked off

Room dividers can literally be wheeled into place to shut off areas, making a space feel smaller without it being obviously reduced in size.

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#2 Create focal areas

Design a layout that includes various well-spaced 'distraction' areas: for example, a candy cart, a guestbook area, multiple food station areas... And so on. 

Image: Tatum Reid; see the rest of Celia and Tom's wedding here.

#3 Use suspended decorations to distract the eye

Hanging decor is having a serious moment right now and the trend also makes for a savvy way to create a visual illusion. 

#4 Opt for multiple, smaller tables rather than fewer, larger tables

Not only will this cover more space in your wedding breakfast area; it will also encourage and nurture conversation amongst guests who haven't met before. Decorate your tables with ice-breakers and 'tall' centrepieces that will, again, distract the eye. On the subject of seating: opt for mix-and-match tables. A mix of round and rectangular tables will break up the space perfectly; opting for a top table rather than a sweetheart table will also help to use up the space, as will a distinct speeches stage. 

Image: Julia & You; see the rest of Lauren and James' wedding here.

#5 Avoid reflective surfaces

Much like mirrors are great for making a smaller wedding venue appear bigger, they'll also amplify a large venue and make bare spaces even more evident. 

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#6 Use lighting to add to the mood

Lighting is a powerful thing: harsh lights can emphasise an empty space, whilst a softer, dimmer glow can create a romantic, chilled-out atmosphere. Talk to your venue about what they'd recommend, as well as what they allow - for example, whilst displays of candles are perfect for adding some flickering cheer to a room, some venues don't actually allow them owing to the fire hazard.

Image: The Lou’s; see the rest of Joanna and Connor's wedding here.

#7 Create cosy areas for your guests to relax 

We're talking nooks and crannies that can be filled with rented sofas, squashy armchairs, cosy cushions...

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#8 Have a photo backdrop wall as opposed to a contained photobooth

Faux blooms, paper fans, pom-poms, washi tape displays, strips of wallpaper... They're all gorgeous ways to bring an otherwise unexceptional wall firmly into the party. Plus, having an 'open-plan' photo area - rather than a self-contained booth - will allow multiple guests to take pics at the same time, as well as help people realise that, well, the photo area is even there! 

Image: Krista Lee Photography.

#9 Set-up a designated kids' zone

Fill it with games, toys, activities - maybe even a TV or games console! 

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