Published in  
June 4, 2021

Intimate Ceremonies that Pack an Emotional Punch 

Many couples these days are choosing a small, no-fuss elopement or simple ceremony over a big shebang. Here are a couple of tips on how to keep it meaningful
Photos by: Sophie Lin Berard
Photos by: Sophie Lin Berard

A few years ago, my husband, Emile and I planned a ceremony honoring our daughter Jojo and the "god-parents' we chose for her. We wanted the ceremony to be small and intimate but worried that it wouldn't feel like enough of a moment to warrant the participants traveling so far, or all of us gathered at all. We learned a lot putting this together and are happy to share some quick tips.

Pick a Great Location

Choosing a beautiful place will make the moment feel important and will put everyone at ease. The travel time it takes to get there is a good buffer for before the ceremony so all the participants can be in a calm headspace when they arrive. With that, of course, it's best to leave early and be relaxed on the way over! Choosing a place where tons of ceremonies have taken place (like the Tree of Life, shown here) will give some real gravity to the event - you can almost feel it in the air! Just be sure to consider permitting, and that perhaps others might have the same idea as you, at the same place and time!

Pick a Symbol or Token

People are capable of filling inanimate objects with all kinds of meaning and memory, use that to your advantage and provide something tangible. In our case, Jojo loves Rainbows, so we painted her face with the symbol and provided each guardian with a rainbow pin. It's just a small thing, but will remind them of the larger commitment they made and continue to make. 


Hire a Professional

Bringing in a photographer or videographer (or in our case, both!) alleviates the need for you to be trying to capture moments on your phone rather than being in the moment. Especially if you aren't planning a wedding, there are tons of professionals around to help record the day at reasonable rates. Being able to go back and hear what was said allows you to relive those precious memories!

Speak from the Heart

This one is easier said than done, but really taking time to say how you feel and what you mean will make the biggest impact on the tone and effectiveness of the ceremony. Your message shouldn't be something you say every day for instance (I love you, anyone?) . A great tip for coming up with good, sob-worthy material is to record yourself speaking off the cuff for a period of time, listen back and then pick out the parts that resonate with your heart and gut. If it feels like it might be hard to say, it's probably worth saying. Just sayin.


Planning a special lunch, brunch or reception after the ceremony will give the group ample time to reflect and wind down. Sharing a favorite restaurant or a delicious bottle of wine puts an exclamation point on the whole experience!

Intention Leads to Enjoyment

The most important thing you can do when planning an intimate moment for your family and friends is to be invested. Let your intention lead the way and be sure to give some thought and time to the planning. When the day comes, let it unfold, be present, and focus on enjoying the time with your nearest and dearest!


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