Nicole and Humberto wanted an intimate, five star wedding with stunning views, but without the sticker shock. They found everything they wanted and more (at a fraction of the price) at the Hotel Atitlan in Guatemala. Coming from different religious backgrounds, the couple opted for a spiritual Mayan ceremony rather than a religious one. Surrounded by Lake Atitlan and majestic volcanos, the bride and groom were joined together as husband and wife by a Mayan shaman in a ceremony that can only be described as purely magical. They ended the night by sending wish lanterns up into the sky – a beautiful and fitting end to the perfect day!

Special thanks to Daniel Lopez and Mellisa Ballarin for capturing it all and sharing the photos with us today.

Guatemala wedding

Nicole, 32 & Humberto, 31

Lake Atitlan, Panajachel Guatemala

Wedding Date: November 25, 2014

Number of Guests: 10

Wedding Cost: under $5,000

Wedding Ceremony Location: Hotel Lake Atitlan, Guatemala

Wedding Reception Location: Hotel Lake Atitlan, Guatemala

Guatemalan sunset Guatemalan wedding altar white rose wedding bouquet Lake Atitlan wedding ceremony bride walking down the aisle


Why did you have an intimate wedding?

We didn’t want a traditional big wedding and to have to invite family friends out of obligation; we wanted something small that we could enjoy with our family. In addition, we wanted to have a million dollar wedding with five star food and breath taking views. We wanted to get the best bang for our buck so the idea of having a destination wedding and giving our family a vacation at the same time was perfect for us. It was the best decision we could have made because instead of having just one magical day to remember, we had 4 amazing days in a beautiful country where we met amazing people, and all for 1/4 of what a basic simple wedding would have cost us in the US.

Lake Atitlan Hotel Guatemalan fountain Lake Atitlan Hotel pool groom relaxing with groomsmen

What are some the challenges that you faced planning an intimate wedding? 

Getting our family to accept that no extended family was invited!! Also, I took on the entire wedding planning on my own as it was so small that hiring a planner was not needed. I was lucky to have amazing vendors who made it as smooth as possible.

groom portrait bride portrait

Was it difficult to pare down the guest list?

We knew we just wanted our immediate family (parents and siblings) and our best friends who happened to be married to each other, so it worked out perfect.

bride and groom on lake pier bride and groom portrait bride and groom kissing

Did you have any ‘issues’ with the small guest list from friends and family? If so, how did you address them? 

We really didn’t discuss our wedding plans with extended family or other friends. We kept our plans very private amongst our immediate family only and because our wedding was a destination outside of the country, it was understood that we were going to have a very small and intimate trip.

Guatemalan wedding ceremony flower girls walking down the aisle bride walking down the aisle groom waiting at the altar

What were the highlights of the ceremony?

So many!!! We had a Mayan shaman marry us on a lake surrounded by the most gorgeous views of the volcanoes; it was a dream and it was magical! The ceremony was so unique and tailored just for us. The shaman described our personalities perfectly and gave us wonderful advise. Being that my husband is Christian and I am Jewish, having a spiritual wedding versus a religious ceremony was perfect and so meaningful to us. And we will always have a very cool story to tell when we tell people how we got married.

Lake Atitlan wedding ceremony Guatemalan wedding ceremony Guatemalan wedding ceremony Guatemalan wedding ceremony Guatemalan wedding ceremony Guatemalan wedding ceremony Guatemalan wedding ceremony Guatemalan wedding ceremony bride putting ring on groom's finger bride and groom first kiss

What were the highlights of the reception? 

The hotel grounds are absolutely stunning and the hotel manager made everything exactly how I had asked. Everything was perfect, from the 5 star food to the live music to the flowers. Everything came out beautifully. To finish the night off we sent wish lanterns into the sky.

reception dinner setting gold charger table setting simple white rose centerpiece wedding reception dinner kids at wedding reception kid at wedding reception

What was the best thing about having an intimate wedding? 

Enjoying every minute of the wedding and experiencing the joy we gave our family. We would not have been able to spend the same quality time and made the memories we made had it been a larger wedding.

destination-wedding-lake-atitlan-guatemala-humberto-nicole_088 wedding guests releasing wish lanterns bride releasing wish lantern wish lanterns in the sky

What advice do you have for couples who are considering an intimate wedding?

Your wedding is about you and your fiance and what you want. Do not feel that you have to have a big wedding out of an obligation to please others. Not only is it a lot of money, but very stressful! By having an intimate wedding you will be able to enjoy the process of getting married, give your guests a great experience, and not go into debt doing it.

bride and groom releasing wish lantern


Photographer: Daniel Lopez and Mellisa Ballarin, we could have not have done it without them!! Not only were they very reasonably priced, they went above and beyond to accomodate our requests. They were so amazing to work with and gave us gorgeous pictures that we will treasure forvever.

Musician: Carlos Rangel. He was the sweetest man. From my first conversation with him to the day of the wedding, he treated me like family and was so genuine. His voice and his acoustic band were perfect for the setting we were looking for.

Shaman: Tata Pedro. Recommended by our photographer, he was exactly what we had in mind. The ceremony was so meaningful and beautiful. He provided a  fire pit and accompanying musicians playing typical mayan tunes. I recommend him 100%.

Hotel Atitlan Manager of Events: Guillermo. He was amazing! All I did was send him pictures of what I liked and not only did he deliver, he exceeded our expectations. He organzied everything for us, transportarion from the airport in Guatemala City to the hotel in Antigua and to Lake Atitlan, I didnt have to worry about any of it. The flower arrangements that were made were right out of a magazine. He worked one on one with the chefs to cater to our requests and was very attentive throughout the whole processs.

Venue: Hotel Atitlan. It is a stunning venue. The hotel is one of the prettiest I have ever seen. The gardens and views are perfection, it’s very reasonably priced, and they have very friendly staff.

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Tropical Wedding Inspiration

From pineapples to a bouquet of summer brights, you can easily transport your guests to sunnier climes with a tropical-luxe theme. Exotic decor combined with a stunning array of colors works well for a destination wedding also. For the color palette, work in eye-catching shades and keep things interesting with a variety of textures.

When it comes to centerpieces, include some fruits and leaves in with your floral arrangements.


If you’re going for a multicolored palette, then simple bridesmaid bouquets in one or two colors is a lovely idea.


Your wedding cake can be a focal point with an abundance of gorgeous cascading tropical flowers.

tropical wedding cake

Use exotic looking flowers for your floral crown, to transform it from bohemian to tropical.


A tower of macarons and complementary flowers is a perfect alternative to a wedding cake.


A lush green and floral table runner will elevate the look of wooden tables. Your guests will expect a tropical feast once they set eyes on your decor.

Ruffled - photo by -

Use the menu to your advantage with some delicious food that looks fantastic.


The humble pineapple is a must-have for a tropical wedding. Use them as vases for floral arrangements for a unique and cost-effective centerpiece.

pineapple-vase pineapple centrepiece

Gold accents work well with a backdrop of vivid tropical shades of green, orange and pink.

Ruffled - photo by -


Photo one:; Photo two:; Photo three: Burnett’s Boards; Photo four:; Photo five:; Photo six:; Photo seven:; Photo eight:; Photo nine: Project Wedding;  Photo ten:;

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Toronto’s elmspa is the ideal location to say your vows in an intimate, unique space. A calming atmosphere filled with natural wood, recessed water features, smooth pebbles and stunning light makes for a zen-like oasis that brings harmony and beauty to your wedding day.


The garden terrace at elmspa is the perfect spot for a small wedding ceremony. The hidden haven has seven treatment rooms – making it the perfect getaway for some pre-wedding relaxation or a bridal shower. Candles, linens, tables, chairs and printed menus are included and audio-visual equipment is also available.


Just a short walk away from elmspa is  the gorgeous Bangkok Gardens, which can accommodate up to 120 guests for a wedding reception.  The award winning Thai restaurant is a multi-level space with authentic decor that your guests will fall in love with. You can customize the menu and style of the event, with options including food stations, passed hors-d’oeuvres and a seated or buffet dinner.

If you’d like more information about having an intimate wedding at this fabulous venue, visiting their venue listing on Intimate Weddings.

Sponsored Post 

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DIY Fused Bead Table Numbers

table numbers

These DIY table numbers look a lot like doilies, but they are actually made from fused beads (aka Perler or Hama beads.) They are simple to make and add a charming handmade touch to your wedding decor.

table number hama

Adorable, don’t you think?

perler table

For these DIY table numbers you will need:

We found a lovely heart shaped Perler ornament on Pinterest (we could not find the source) that we used as inspiration for the border of the table number.


hama bead table numbers

This is how it looks when the flower border is complete.

table numbers hama

We then filled it in with white Perler beads and added a number in a different color.

hama table numbers

Here’s how it looks after it has been ironed:

perler table numbers

That’s it! Why not make some of your own fused bead table numbers? Once you are done, make some fused bead coasters to go with them.

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Jonathan and Katie’s Magical Paris Elopement

Wanting a unique and stress-free wedding experience, Jonathan and Katie opted for a Paris elopement over a traditional wedding. They considered bringing their friends along, but ultimately decided to keep things as private as possible, inviting only immediate family members to join them. Despite the cold temperatures and drizzling rain, the couple could not have asked for a more magical and memorable wedding day.

A huge thank you to Tala Nicole Photography for capturing their beautiful day in Paris and sharing it with us!

paris wedding

Jonathan & Katie

Paris, France

Wedding Date: November 21, 2014

Number of Guests: 6 (family only)

Wedding Cost: $3,000

wedding portrait in front of eiffel tower Paris wedding wedding ring shot pink and white rose bouquet groom portrait in Paris bride portrait in Paris bride and groom walking in Paris groom carrying bride bride and groom in front of the Louvre

Why did you have an intimate wedding?

We wanted our wedding to be different and meaningful. Unlike a traditional wedding, an intimate wedding is stress-free and easy, and the planning involved is minimal.

groom proposing in front of eiffel tower bride and groom in front of eiffel tower bride and groom in front of eiffel tower

What are some of the challenges that you faced planning an intimate wedding?

The culture difference, language barrier, transportation, and hotel accommodation were all challenging. I had a hard time choosing the bride’s bouquet from the local florist due to the language barrier, but I was lucky enough to meet some friendly people in the city who helped translate my request to the local florist.

bride and groom in Paris bride and groom walking in Paris bride and groom portrait bride and groom embracing bride and groom in Paris bride portrait bride and groom in Paris

Was it difficult to pare down the guest list?

Indeed it was. Some of our friends wanted to be part of our wedding ceremony, but we decided to keep it as simple and private as possible.

bride and groom walking in Paris groom dipping bride bride and groom walking in Paris bride and groom portrait

Did you have any ‘issues’ with the small guest list from friends and family? If so, how did you address them?

Not that I can recall. There really were no major issues at all.

Paris wedding portrait intimate wedding portrait paris-wedding-jonathan-and-katie_0725 bride and groom in Paris bride smelling bouquet bride and groom portrait

What were the highlights of the ceremony?

The moment when I knelt down in front of the Eiffel Tower. It was under 3 degrees celcius and drizzling rain, but we were so excited that we could barely feel the cold. It was an unforgettable experience!

Paris wedding portrait bride leaning on groom's shoulder bride and groom by the Louvre bride and groom walking in Paris bride and groom by Paris fountain groom lifting up bride

What was the best thing about having an intimate wedding?

I would say the best thing was that it was totally stress-free. We are glad that we didn’t have to go through all the hassles and troubles like many couples do. We enjoyed our day and had so many memorable moments with our families.

bride and groom portrait in Paris black and white wedding portrait bride and groom portrait by locks oflove

What advice do you have for couples who are considering an intimate wedding?

Set your budget wisely and plan well.

bride and groom by locks of love


Make-up: Bonnie Chou 

Photography: Tala Nicole Photography

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