If you’re recently engaged (!!!), you’ve probably realized just how many terms are thrown around in the wedding industry. As an elopement and intimate wedding photographer (and recent bride), I know just how confusing it can be to navigate the “world” of wedding planning. And while each wedding professional will have their own little slice of advice, I’m here to walk you through the real differences between intimate weddings and elopements. My biggest goal is to shine a light on taking the stress out of planning your dream wedding (or elopement). So let’s get into it, shall we?!
While terminology might not technically “matter” when it comes to marrying the love of your life, it can come in handy when figuring out the nitty-gritty details (and what resources will best serve you).
Intimate weddings typically have 15-30 guests, but no more than 50. Elopements, on the other hand, typically have less than 10-15 guests. Intimate weddings may also include a wedding party, whereas an elopement typically opts out.
Most intimate weddings take place at some sort of hosting venue. Whether that be a wedding venue, Airbnb, or a park. Intimate weddings also include more “traditional” elements than an elopement. Because an intimate wedding includes more guests, folks can expect to witness a ceremony and enjoy a meal. However, it’s important to note that just because it’s “tradition”, doesn’t mean you are obligated one way or another!
Alternatively, elopements don’t necessarily need a hosting space with such a small number of guests in attendance, or just the couple. Popular locations for elopements include out in nature, national parks or forests, atop a mountain, along a beach, etc. The possibilities are truly endless with such a small number.
As previously mentioned, intimate weddings have many elements similar to a traditional wedding – including vendors. Most intimate weddings include a florist, catering, rentals, a DJ, etc.
And while elopements can have as many (or as few) traditional elements as a couple desires, many opt just for a photographer and maybe a bouquet.
Although many eloping couples spend just as much (or even more) than an intimate wedding, many opt for eloping rather than hosting guests. The more guests = the more money spent (regardless if you’re having an intimate wedding or an elopement).
When budgeting for your big day, it’s important to keep in mind your priorities as a couple. If location and photography are most important to you two, perhaps eloping is the best option. Maybe you and your partner have always dreamt of getting married in your childhood church in front of your favorite people; an intimate wedding might be more your speed. Your budget will be best adjusted once you know your priorities.
If there’s anything that we took away from life post-COVID, it’s that small weddings are it. More and more couples are choosing to create more intentional days, rather than compromising on their wishes to make a big group of people happy. The real differences between intimate weddings and elopements may include logistic aspects (vendors, budget, guest list, etc.). But what it really comes down to is the similarities; intimate weddings and elopements both place value in curating a dream experience to last a lifetime. After all, isn’t that what your wedding day is all about? You and your partner. ‘Nuff said.
Searching for more elopement and intimate wedding tips, tricks, and inspo? BINGE THE BLOG! And be sure to check out the ‘Gram (@sydneybreannphoto) to keep up with my latest adventures as a Montana elopement and intimate wedding photographer. So, what do ya say!? Are you ready to wander?