The Top 13 Small Wedding Venues in Iowa for an Intimate Gathering

Quality over quantity is the name of the game with these spots.
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Lauren Nowack
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Lauren Nowack
The Knot Contributor
  • Lauren is a freelance writer for The Knot Worldwide.
  • While Lauren has been writing her whole life, she began her career by travel writing and reviewing outdoor gear.
  • Lauren is passionate about encouraging people planning a wedding to make it exactly what they want and need it to be.
Updated Apr 11, 2024

Keeping your guest count low means more time with friends and family, a lower budget and cozy vibes on your special day. If this sounds good to you, it's probably how you've ended up here searching for small wedding venues in Iowa. These spots will vary from venues that have small spots to celebrate within the larger venue as well as truly intimate places where you have it all to yourself. As you decide whether you want an all-inclusive venue for ease or want to prioritize a more private party with your small wedding venue, you'll be drawn to one of the choices below when figuring out how to plan a small wedding.

VOWS DSM in Des Moines, Iowa

Whether you have just two guests or 65, VOWS DSM in downtown Des Moines is a one-stop-shop wedding venue. Its sleek, modern design with well-curated details, such as low hanging lights and exposed wood beams, create an atmosphere that needs little else to feel ready for a celebration. The on-site team is happy to provide everything you need so you can host your wedding with zero stress at one of the best small wedding venues in Des Moines, Iowa.

  • Guest Capacity: 65

RiverView Lodge in Le Claire, Iowa

An exclusive, boutique hotel overlooking the Mississippi River with an indoor, heated pool and retractable roof? Count us in at the RiverView Lodge in Le Claire, Iowa. The five suites can accommodate up to 20 guests in the lodge. Most couples choose to get married outside here due to the breathtaking views. Small parties could host an intimate reception in the house, while larger groups can rent the Banquet Hall nearby, which is best for parties under 100. The combination of luxury, privacy and river views here make it stand out among Iowa's small wedding venues.

  • Guest Capacity: Lodge sleeps 20, Banquet Hall maxes out at 150

Surety Hotel in Des Moines, Iowa

One of the first skyscrapers in Des Moines, the Surety Hotel highlights the city's rich history with its ornate architecture while delivering an artsy, sumptuous style. With many unique spaces for a ceremony and reception, the Surety staff is ready to make your day perfect. The venue's clean wood lines and metal accents showcase its Beaux-Arts inspiration. With a solarium, lobby, lounge and tavern as just a few of their meeting spaces, you're bound to find something that fits your vibe, be it boho chic or 50s glam. The attached Mulberry Street Tavern can hold up to 50 guests at the established tables and bar.

  • Guest Capacity (with 8-person round tables): 60 in Courtyard, 135 in Surety Ballroom, 50 in Solarium, 40 in Midland Meeting Room

Dubuque Arboretum & Botanical Gardens in Dubuque, Iowa

Boasting over 60 gardens to meander through, the Dubuque Arboretum & Botanical Gardens has numerous spots to exchange vows and celebrate with friends and family. Various locations have classic brick paths, relaxing waterfalls and unique bridges for photo ops, as well as lush lawns perfect for an intimate ceremony. With many indoor options too, this venue provides the most options for a couple at an incredibly low price.

  • Guest Capacity: Ceremony spaces: 50 in the Japanese Garden, 200 in the Lagen-Buelow Gazebo and Rose Garden, 25 in the Formal English Garden, 100 in Whispering Pines, 100 in the Conifer Forest; Reception spaces: 60 in The Hafeman Veranda, 30 in Garden Room, 200 in The Packard Pavilion Amphitheater

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Promise & Blossom in Cedar Rapids, Iowa

Promise & Blossom in Cedar Rapids, Iowa
Photo: Courtesy of Promise & Blossom

Beautiful, personal and fun is what you get at this true micro-wedding venue. Maxing out at 20 people, Promise & Blossom is a flower farm and wedding venue in Cedar Rapids. Run by owner and flower gardener Carrie Ball, she is dedicated to making your small ceremony everything you want it to be without going over budget. With a multitude of easy add-ons, like a fresh-flower bouquet cart for guests to get creative or a fire pit with s'mores, there's plenty to turn a wedding into a celebration.

  • Guest Capacity: 20

Cedar Ridge Winery & Distillery in Swisher, Iowa

From the scrumptious wine to the valley views and the classy space, there's so much to love about a winery wedding, and Cedar Ridge Winery and Distillery does not disappoint. Since 2005, this business has been perfecting its craft, including whiskey, wine and events. While there is plenty of room outside for a ceremony with wonderful views, there are three indoor spaces for varying size groups. For an intimate wedding, the Vineyard Room's floor-to-ceiling windows give gorgeous views of the winery's grounds while the Tasting Room's rich wood and 25-foot bar provide a delightful spot for a cocktail hour.

  • Guest Capacity: 60 in Tasting Room, 40 in Vineyard Room, 200 in Event Center

Walnut Woods State Park in West Des Moines, Iowa

If you're planning a budget-friendly Iowa wedding, state and local parks are often the first place to consider. By keeping venue costs low and letting nature take the lead on your decor, you're already ahead of the game. The lodge at Walnut Woods State Park holds 75 people inside and 55 outside for a reception, with plenty of scenic spots nearby to hold a ceremony. The park also contains a lake and the largest natural stand of black walnut trees in the US, which will likely pique the interest of nature-loving friends and family.

  • Guest Capacity: 75

The Loft at The Carriage House in Cedar Rapids, Iowa

When a well-loved venue with all the bells and whistles has an intimate space available for a small wedding, we're all ears. The Loft at The Carriage House gives romantic, rustic vibes when hosting events under 50 people. With beautiful getting ready suites and even The Vault, a secret spot filled with high-end spirits, wines and cigars, there are more than enough fun touches to make your day unforgettable. Larger parties can rent The Carriage Room, which seats 150, the Courtyard, which seats 200, and use the Veranda and Deck for cocktail hour and special moments. The variety of spots here truly makes it a great choice as far as small wedding venues in Cedar Rapids, Iowa go.

  • Guest Capacity: 50 in the Loft, 150 in the Carriage Room, 200 in the Courtyard

Beehive Ballroom in Northwood, Iowa

Above Worth Brewing Company in Northwood, Iowa you will find the Beehive Ballroom, a delightfully renovated space that preserved gorgeous details like the original pressed tin ceilings and Douglas Fir wood floors. While the space can fit 100 for a sit-down dinner, smaller parties will work better for a wedding reception. For micro-weddings, consider settling into the Speakeasy Lounge, a classic jewel of a space with city views and beautifully preserved classic architecture.

  • Guest Capacity: 100 in the Ballroom, 25 in the Speakeasy Lounge

Mississippi River Distilling Company Celebration Center in Le Claire, Iowa

Riverviews, classy drinks and a splash of character is just part of what the Mississippi River Distilling Company Celebration Center brings to the table as far as small wedding venues in Iowa go. Before your ceremony, get ready in the Bridal Suite or Whiskey Cellar then head up to the Pilot's Lookout for unbeatable views of the river below. Larger groups can head to the expansive banquet room while smaller parties can opt for the River Watch Room, which includes a concrete patio overlooking the water. Between the views and the room options, and the incredible spirits, this venue is easily one of Iowa's best small wedding venues.

  • Guest Capacity (at tables): 150 in Banquet Hall, 80 at Pilot's Lookout, 25 in Barrel Cellar, 48 in the River Watch Room

Old Capitol Museum in Iowa City, Iowa

Picture yourself saying "I do" underneath a crystal chandelier with 1,000 pendants reflecting the light around your love. Well, that's exactly what can happen at the Old Capitol Museum's Senate Chamber, one of the more classic Iowa wedding venues. While the venue can fit up to 165 for a ceremony and reception, it provides a steep discount to couples hosting a wedding under 50 people. This deal gets you into the historic building, bubbling over with charm and warmth. Wooden spiral staircases and a beautiful rotunda room are just a few of the elements awaiting you here at one of people's favorite small Iowa City wedding venues.

  • Guest Capacity: 165, 50 for Pop-Up Wedding with discounted rate

Dolph's Den at the Gary Dolphin Iron Bar in Dubuque, Iowa

Casual but classy is what you get Gary Dolphin's Iron Bar in Dubuque. The attached Pressbox and Courtyard event venue means Gary Dolphin and his team know how to pull off an event without a hitch. For small weddings, consider renting Dolph's Den, a cozy den complete with couches, a fireplace and plenty of University of Iowa memorabilia. Adjacent to the main bar, you'll have anything you need just a step away.

  • Guest Capacity: 25

Blank Park Zoo in Des Moines, Iowa

How about hosting your ceremony or reception overlooking the giraffes on the African plain? That dream could come true at the Blank Park Zoo. The Africa Pavilion holds up to 50 guests under its eaves, while rooms like the Waterfall Room and Palm Expanded Room hold similar amounts with views of the free-flying aviary and botanical gardens. You can even hold an intimate ceremony in the aquarium or another beloved spot in the zoo beforehand. Either way, this incredibly unique venue gives both you and your guests a one-of-a-kind celebration.

  • Guest Capacity: 50 in Africa Pavilion, 40 in the Waterfall Room, 60 in the Palm Expanded Room, other options for larger groups available

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