The past few years intimate weddings + elopements have become SO popular amongst the wedding world. Maybe it had something to do with COVID and the restriction of having 80+ guests at your wedding or maybe it’s because couples are starting to realise that having a traditional wedding isn’t the only way to celebrate. With a smaller group, you’re able to savour each moment and you don’t feel like the hours are flashing before your eyes. You get more of a slow paced and intentional day.
But what’s the difference between an intimate wedding and elopement? There was a time where I thought the two were one in the same. Now after being a wedding photographer for some time, I realised there are soo many amazing differences.
So maybe you’re engaged now and you’re tossing up the idea of having an intimate wedding or elopement but don’t really know what your limits are for each one. If that’s the position you’re in, I’m SO glad you’re here!! Keep on reading and you’ll know exactly which type of wedding will suit you and your relationship best.
An intimate wedding will have 30 (more or less) of your closest family and friends all together to help you celebrate saying “I do.” to your love. With a smaller group, you’re able to curate your day to exactly what you want!
During an intimate wedding you can still have those moments a traditional wedding has – speeches, first dance, cake cutting. But you don’t NEED to. It’s not as structured as a traditional wedding. You can have an idea of when you want things to happen but it’s more of a go with the flow type day. And it can be this way because there’s less people to manage. It’s much easier to round up a group of 30 than a group of 80+.
You might want to have a private vow exchange as your ceremony and meet up with all the guests at a different location for your reception. Or maybe you want a DIY wedding in your backyard but you take out all the traditional wedding moments and just have a cruisy day mingling, playing yard games, with a buffet style dinner.
An intimate wedding can still be just as classy too though. Maybe you choose to have an intimate wedding because you want that 4-course meal at a small venue that in the best way, is “extra”. It could mean that the things you want to lash out on can be more affordable if there’s less people there.
Whichever way you choose to plan your intimate wedding, just know that there’s no right or wrong way! It’s about what you want and what’s most important to YOU.
I feel like the word elopement holds so much power, right?? You sneak off out of state or to a different country and get married without a soul knowing. It’s an extremely adventurous and in the moment decision a couple makes. And while so many couples choose to have their elopement that way, there are so many others that choose to have their elopement a different way. And honestly, this is the BEAUTY of elopements – you truly can do whatever the heck you want!
Elopements to me are a dream. It’s insanely intimate, low-key and low-stress. But don’t be fooled, there is still plenty of planning to be done!
Typically you’ll have 10 or less guests at your elopement. With this amount of guests you can go off to a remote location, hire a helicopter to say your vows on a mountain looking over an insane view. Maybe there’s a waterfall at the end of a hike and you’ve had a dream of saying your vows to each other there. Whatever you want, is yours!
Eloping doesn’t mean you have to get rid of all the traditional wedding moments, though. You can still have your photographer (aka me!!) get those getting ready detail photos. I can bring a speaker so you can still have your first dance. Maybe even bring a picnic or charcuterie board to snack on after your vows. If you bring along a few guests, you can still have them read out speeches. So this is what I mean when I say you can curate your elopement to something that represents your relationship and dream elopement to a tea.
When planning your elopement there is something to consider – most couples will choose to get legally married before or after their elopement in a courthouse, whereas at a traditional and intimate wedding, your officiant is there for you to legally sign right after the ceremony. But that doesn’t mean you can’t bring your officiant along your elopement adventure! Many couples love sealing the love right then and there.
If you love the idea of an elopement but there are friends + family you just can’t leave out – many will choose to have a reception when they return home or they’ll bring their favorite people along with them. I’ve had a couple travel a few hours in the morning to elope at a favorite location and in the evening all of their friends and family were waiting for them for what they thought was an engagement party. When the couple arrived they announced that they were married and had a celebration. I was not a part of that elopement celebration in their hometown but it’s one unique way to have the best of both worlds!
If you’re still tossing back and forth and can’t decide between the two because you want all your family + friends there but also want that epic adventure, I’d recommend having an intimate wedding and booking a scenic bride + groom session for another day. That way you get the celebration you want as well as those epic bride + groom photos.
If you want more information on the scenic bride + groom session, send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org
I hope this blog helps you choose a wedding that represents your relationship the most! Intimate weddings + elopements both have their charm and I love them the same! Feel free to get in touch with any questions you have!
Lots of love,