As a lot of you already know, the COVID-19 pandemic really turned the wedding industry on its head. And in many ways, I’ve really enjoyed the changes! For instance, the number of truly intimate ceremonies I’ve had the honor of photographing over the past year fills my heart with such joy. Everyone leaned hard into the power of love, the value of family, and the significance of the commitment they were making to one another, and it was truly awe-inspiring to experience alongside them.
At this point in my career, I’ve photographed numerous microweddings and elopements, two of the most popular small wedding styles these days. And even as the world begins to open up again, a lot of my new couples continue to contemplate these types of weddings. They often ask me about the key differences between them, so I figured I’d offer some clarification here today.
The Guest List
Microweddings are small and intimate, often including only immediate family members and very close friends. Guest lists are capped around 50 people. Elopements usually feature the couple exclusively (minus the officiant and photographer, of course).
Because microweddings require a lot more orchestration, they typically require a set venue and planning with that particular venue (even if it’s a family member’s backyard). Elopements don’t always require this rigidity—or even a ceremony location booked in advance! For instance, many couples choose spots in national parks and just pay an entrance fee before making their way to the space in which they want to say, “I do.”
Similar to a larger event, a microwedding runs on a pretty strict timeline. Guests arrive by a certain time for the ceremony with the cocktail hour and/or reception to follow. It’s still a highly coordinated dance between vendors and usually fills most of the day. Meanwhile, an elopement can be a lot looser and more casual since the attendees are just the couple and you’re working with a lot fewer vendors. Elopement experiences tend to last just a few hours.
Beyond the Ceremony
A microwedding may be smaller than a big, traditional wedding, but it’s still the full event, including a ceremony and reception at the very least. An elopement, on the other hand, can be solely the ceremony itself, held in a memorable location on a date with a lot of significance for the couple where they can exchange personalized vows with one another. Many couples who elope today choose to throw a reception-style party at a later date with family and friends, but this element is not standard or required.
No matter the wedding style, the budget depends on the couple. Some find that going with a microwedding helps them save quite a lot of money while others decide to spend a “big wedding” budget on a more elaborate experience for fewer guests. Elopements, alternatively, tend to keep the budget in check because you only have to account for two people. But expenses can still vary depending on the destination you choose for your elopement.
Are you leaning toward a microwedding or an elopement for your upcoming nuptials? Connect with me to learn more about how I can work with your dream wedding vision!
Happy Wedding Planning!
Sarah Keenan, Wedding Photographer
Knoxville, Nashville, Outer Banks, Williamsburg