Intimate weddings and elopements are becoming more and more popular. In our post-pandemic world, a lot of people realized they didn’t need the 300+ person wedding. And everyone has really started to embrace things that THEY (emphasize on they) want to do for their wedding – cutting out all the noise and putting their needs and wants first.
I like to think of weddings like squares and rectangles. A square is always a rectangle but a rectangle might not always be square. (Stay with me!) An elopement is always a wedding but not every wedding is an elopement. And the same goes for an intimate wedding. So, what really is the difference? Let’s talk about an intimate wedding versus an elopement
What is an intimate wedding?
An intimate wedding is an intentionally small wedding with a limited number of guests so that a couple can feel free to be themselves, have fun, and do what they want on their day.
The guest count is give or take 30 to 70 people according to some online accounts. And while bigger 150+ people weddings can be more of a show or because a couples’ parents insisted on inviting 50 people. One of the best parts of an intimate wedding is that the couple remains the focus the entire time. Which is what sometimes can get lost in a bigger wedding environment.
Big wedding can feel impersonal, hectic, and there can be very limited time to actually interact with guests. While at an intimate wedding the couple can there’s no rushing for activity to activity and intentional thoughtful time can be spent with all of the people attending. You get real one-on-one time with the people you love the most, and you get a day you truly enjoy.
According to the knot the average spend on weddings is around $30,000! And here in the San Francisco Bay Area, they average spend is just about double!! That’s literally crazy. Fewer guests means you’re saving money on the venue, invitations, wedding favors, seating, catering, cake, etc. Couples opting for an intimate wedding get to take some of that extra money not spent and spurlge on themselves with maybe a longer honeymoon or a little rainy day savings.
When it comes to an intiamate wedding versus elopement it can be hard to decide which one to pick. And some couples opt to not pick at all. One day that’s an initmate wedding with their closest friends and family and one day with just each other. The best of both worlds. If that something you’re currently struggling with definitely think about it as an option. Sharing this with your loved one can be invaluable but so can sharing private vows with just the two of you.
What about a micro wedding?
To keep it plain and simple in my book an intiamte wedding and a micro wedding are the same thing. Essentially synoyms of each other.
According to Brides Magazine, “A micro wedding is an intimate affair, typically with no more than 50 guests. They still feature time-honored traditions that make a wedding but on a much smaller scale.”
I feel like the weddin industry just comes up with all of these different terms to confuse and rebrand things to make them a bigger deal or “fancier” more extravgant.
What is an elopement?
Way back in the day an elopement was a term that was used in reference to a marriage that had been conducted in a sudden and secretive fashion. It often times that involved a hurried flight away from one’s home since the couple getting married was doing so without parental approval.
However, nowadays an elopement means something completely different. Couples now are choosing to elope to keep their day entirely focused on them. They are deciding to skip the b*llshit and plan a wedding day around their own needs and wants. That can mean anything from eloping at the peak of a mountain to going to San Francisco City Hall and adventuring around the city afterwards.
Eloping means your foregoing the typical traditions and saying I do to each other on your own terms. What that looks like for each couple is completely different. A big wedding isn’t for everyone and in the post-pandemic world couples are more often than ever choosing a day that’s intentional.
What is a Destination Wedding?
Traditionally a destination wedding is a ceremony that’s held outside of the couple’s hometown, which requires travel for most (if not all) of those involved. Most of these weddings are held at picturesque locations, like the Amalfi Coast or Tulum, Mexico. According to the Knot in 2022, 18% of couples hosted a destination wedding. Which is a lot considering that nearly 5 million weddings take place in just the U.S. every single year.
A destination wedding is almost like a compromise or mix between an elopement or intimate wedding. One common reason couples are opting for these option is cost. The venues cheaper and often times include more whether that be with planning and food. But, also since the wedding is taking place in other countries couples send out a large number of invites with the expectation that a lot of people will not be able to or even want to go. Therefore keeping the costs lower.
For couples that don’t necessarily want to invite everyone but feel obligated too this is an amazing option. However, as a guest it can feel like a pain. Since even to just attend the wedding they are dropping 1-2k min. However, you don’t need to leave your country to have a destination wedding somewher out of state is just as feasible.
Intimate Wedding Versus Elopement – How are they different? TLDR
Initimate weddings ALWAYS include guests while elopement do SOMETIMES.
How do you choose?
Some people know exactly how they have always pictured their wedding. Some people go back and forth and some people have no idea the possiblies of everything that is out there. If you are having some trouble deciding between an initamate wedding versus an elopement they take this quiz below! (And I promise you won’t have to enter your email to get your results!)
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Hi I'm Torez, a die-hard romantic and San Francisco-based wedding photographer with years of experience capturing love stories against the backdrop of our charming city. From intimate City Hall ceremonies to epic coastal elopements, I've seen and photographed it all. I know the ins and outs of navigating wedding planning in San Francisco like the back of my hand - from selecting the perfect location that aligns with your love story, to creating the dreamiest wedding timeline that lets you enjoy your day to the fullest. And guess what? I'm sharing all of that expertise right here with you.