There used to be a time when the only option for a wedding, was a wedding. Traditional, scheduled, and essentially the same across the board. Bigger was always considered better, and there wasn’t much room for personalization or flair, unless you had the budget for it.
But times have changed (thank goodness), and wedding have evolved to include a variety of styles that accommodate any couples desires. Two styles of weddings that are growing in popularity (especially in the COVID era) are elopements and micro weddings.
While you may have heard the terms micro wedding and elopement used interchangeably, these two weddings style are far from the same. Here we’re outlining the differences between micro weddings and elopements, as well as the pros and cons to each to help you decide which is right for you.
Eloping used to imply that the ceremony happened in complete secrecy, with just the couple present (maybe one or two witnesses) and the event was often spur of the moment. Family and friends would often find out about the vows after the fact.
Nowadays, eloping still means an incredibly small crowd (think the couple and 0-4 guests), but it isn’t necessarily done in secret OR without planning. The term eloping has evolved quite a bit over the years, and now includes carefully planned events with extra special touches of personalization and uniqueness (think getting married on a boat or under the moonlight after a midnight hike). In fact, many venues and hotels have fully embraced the elopement trend, and offer personalized packages to help the couple pull it off.
Personalization – elopements are the gold standard for personalization in a wedding. Since you have nobody to please, aside from yourself, you can personalize every single detail according to exactly what you want. Hike up to the top of a mountain, wear a hot pink wedding dress with Crocs, or have your post-ceremony celebration be a 7 course experience. Eloping means that every little detail has you written all over it.
Flexibility in Location – again, you won’t find a wedding option that allows you more flexibility and choices in location than eloping. Since it’s just you and your partner, you can say ‘I do’ on a beach, in another country, behind a waterfall, basically wherever your heart desires.
Flexibility in Schedule – the truth is, a more traditional wedding isn’t only about the couple getting married. You constantly need to think about what your guests will be doing and feeling at each turn. With an elopement, you can create a schedule that allows you to fully enjoy the day. Many couples who have eloped express how incredible it is to take the time they wanted getting ready, without feeling rushed or stressed. Since there are far fewer people involved, it’s much easier to design a schedule that make you feel happy, content, and relaxed.
Saves Money – the average cost a wedding hovers around 30k, but an elopement can usually be pulled off for 5k or less. The money you save can be put towards an epic honeymoon, a reception for later, or simply remain in your savings account for later.
Simplified Planning – there’s no arguing this fact – elopements take far less planning than a traditional wedding, and even a micro wedding. When you don’t have to think about 250 people waiting on you to do your photos, or what/how you’re going to feed a massive crowd, you can actually focus on the things that are important to you, like where you’ll hold your ceremony and what you’ll do afterwards. Planning an elopement becomes even easier if you choose a venue with a package that handles the majority of the details.
Focus is Solely on the Couple – isn’t it funny that people often gush that ‘this day is all about you’, when in fact, it’s very much NOT? Traditional weddings have a lot of emphasis on accommodating the guests that are invited, whereas an elopement is truly focused on the couple getting married.
Less Stress – if the thought of reciting your vows in front of a crowd is enough to make you want to cry, throw up, or do both, then an elopement might sound like the perfect solution. This is also true if you’re an introvert who’s exhausted just at the thought of entertaining people all night long. Remember, your wedding is something you should enjoy!
Lack of Loved Ones – if you’re someone who is especially close with your friends and family, then you may eventually look back at your wedding and wish that they’d been a part of your day.
Push Back From Family/Friends – if you choose to elope, especially without forewarning, then expect some backlash from the people around you. There may be some very real hurt feelings about not being included in this very special day, no matter how much you try to explain that this was the best option for you and your partner.
Photographer Availability – if your elopement ceremony is scheduled for a weekend, then you might have a hard time booking the photographer that you want. Most photographers won’t choose shooting an elopement over a traditional wedding solely based on how much they’ll be making. To work around this, try to schedule your event on a weekday to increase the likelihood that photographers and others will have wider availability.
Micro weddings are exactly what the name implies – a more traditional wedding in a smaller package. Think food, photography, flowers, and all of the other little details that make up a magical day, just minus the massive guest list. Many people are beginning to view a micro wedding as a blend between a traditional wedding and an elopement, with micro wedding guest lists usually topping out at 50 people.
This style of wedding especially speaks to those couples who want all of the elements of a traditional wedding, but crave making the event actually about them and the people they love.
Personalization – while this is a pro of elopement, it’s also very much a benefit of a micro wedding as well. A smaller event means much more space to put your own creative and personalized touches on each and every element. This is especially true if your micro wedding is on the smaller side. If you dream of throwing a backyard wedding with a food truck serving epic street food on your block, that’s entirely plausible with a micro wedding.
Focus on Time Spent With Loved Ones – many of our brides express that this was one of their top reasons for hosting a micro wedding. When you have a smaller, more intimate event, then you gift yourself with much more time and space to relax and enjoy the company of every person you’ve invited. You’ll get a chance to truly connect with each guest, and have much more significant memories of them being there.
More Money to Spend Per Person – throwing a micro wedding doesn’t necessarily mean doing it on a micro budget! Many couples choose to work with a more traditional budget, and splurge on treating their guests to delicious dinners, top shelf cocktails, and stunning decor. Think having an individual cake for each guests, rather than a single wedding cake. This is where the idea of quality over quantity truly shines, and you’ll have a chance to really see your dollars go to a high class experience.
Flexibility in Location – while there isn’t quite as much flexibility in location as elopement (try getting 50 guests to hike to the top of a mountain without someone initiating a mutiny!), there is still a much wider range in location choices than a traditional wedding would allow. A smaller event means destination weddings are more feasible, and backyards, airbnbs, and restaurants can all easily serve as a venue.
More Opportunity for Guest Involvement – it’s difficult to truly involve your guests in things like the ceremony and planning when you’re hosting a big bash, but micro weddings make this much more approachable. Some people choose to involve their guests in the actual ceremony, while others just relish in the fact that since they’ve only invited their closest loved ones, they are more than willing to help out with planning and executing on the day of.
Emphasis on the Little Things – hosting a smaller event means that there’s time and space to focus on the little things that matter most to you. This might be the meal that’s served, the arrangements on the table, or simply the flow of the day.
Possibly Less Expensive – this pro is a big MAYBE, because a micro wedding can easily cost the same amount as a traditional wedding. Yes, hosting less guests can easily mean spending less money, but this isn’t always the case. If you’re throwing a budget micro wedding, then you’ll still need to be mindful about costs in every element of the day.
Less Wedding Package Options – while micro weddings are gaining popularity, they’re still not completely mainstream. Many venues only offer traditional packages and elopement packages, so it can be tricky to find somewhere that’s ready to host your event at a reasonable cost.
Can Still Be Expensive – micro wedding doesn’t necessarily mean a micro budget. Just like with a more traditional event, you’ll have to be creative and strategic if you want your micro wedding to be on a budget. While it can be done, if you’re not conscientious about your decisions, the expenses will quickly add up.
Limited Locations – yes, a micro wedding offers a lot of flexibility in location that you wouldn’t normally find with a traditional wedding, but it can also limit your options in other areas. Some venues are simply not equipped to host a much smaller event, and if they try, it can end up feeling out of place.
Hurt Feelings – while you may hurt some feelings if you elope, it’s a bit easier to explain to everyone that NOBODY received an invite. A micro wedding can be harder to explain to your co-worker friend why they didn’t make the cut. Be prepared to have some hurt feelings when people realize they didn’t make the cut of ‘nearest and dearest’.
The choice between a micro wedding vs. elopement is a deeply personal one. We always suggest that a couple truly reflect on the most important aspects of their wedding, and decide what’s right for them. What makes sense for one couple might be the worst choice for another.
Some final questions to consider when deciding between a micro wedding or elopement include:
- What do you envision when you think about your special day?
- Who do you see being there?
- How much money do you want to spend?
- Where do you dream of saying ‘I do’?