Planning a micro wedding or elopement can be truly magical! But when it comes to deciding on an elopement vs micro wedding, it’s easy to get bogged down in the details and trying to decide what your wedding day is and should be. Spoiler: it’s whatever reflects you. Read on to learn about what really separates an elopement from a micro-wedding and how they’re actually very similar.
Elopements vs Micro-Weddings: What’s the difference?
It was recently asked in one of my professional groups if “micro-wedding” was just a fancy word for us to charge more for elopement services. The responses to that question varied wildly and in some cases quite hilariously, so I figure it’s worth exploring here. I’m an intimate wedding specialist, so I feel pretty confident that I can set the record straight in that “micro-wedding” is not just a fancy word to make elopements cost more. 😉 In fact, most service providers I know charge the same for micro-weddings as they do for elopements.
So, here are some definitions:
Elopements: Conventionally, an elopement is when the couple would get married secretly, just the two of them, and often at a destination. Now elopements can sometimes include the couple’s closest family, like parents and sometimes siblings or grandparents In general, elopements will not have more than 10-15 people including the couple. Usually the elopement will consist of the ceremony followed by the couple (and perhaps their limited guests) exploring a unique location or doing a fun activity that is not traditionally available for weddings, making for some unique opportunities and experiences. Generally, the structure of the day doesn’t resemble a conventional wedding and is more free form and spontaneous.
Micro-Wedding: Micro-weddings often have most of the same elements of a traditional wedding day, but with slight adjustments and a much smaller guest count. Micro-weddings will have 15-40 guests, usually consisting of the couple’s family and a few close friends. The ceremony is often followed by a few photos and an intimate dinner in lieu of the typical dinner & dancing reception of larger weddings.
Where to have your elopement
Really, anywhere you want!! The great thing about an elopement is that because you’re with such a small group (less than 10 people if you include any guests at all) your location options are wide open. You don’t have to relegate yourself to city hall. Some great locations include city parks, art galleries, or New England’s amazing national and state parks.
Where to have your micro-wedding
More traditional wedding venues are out since they often have a minimum headcount requirement somewhere in the 100-person range. This is your opportunity to get a little more creative with planning your wedding. Instead a great micro-wedding venue is an inn or bed & breakfast. These places are nestled in beautiful locations and specifically cater to smaller weddings. Another great choice for a micro-wedding is your own backyard or a really cool VRBO or AirBNB!
What to do for your elopement
Again, the sky is the limit here (literally, because you could choose to go skydiving). Elopement days are 100% about you as the couple, which means getting to include activities and interests that are important to who you are and your relationship. That could be hiking, sailing, beach bumming, city walking, art making, puzzle doing, and whatever else floats your boat. There are no rules for what happens at an elopement. Well, except maybe the rules of physics.
What to do for your micro-wedding
Here there’s a bit more of a formula to follow. You’ll probably get ready for the day with select family and friends, maybe you’ll do a First Look with your future spouse, you’ll have your ceremony with the guests you’ve invited and then you’ll probably get in some family photos before you sit down for a luncheon or dinner reception. This is how micro-weddings are more similar to a big wedding, because you do need to entertain the guests you decided to invite. However, because you have such a small group the day is way more relaxed (and perfect for a backyard setting). This makes it a perfect wedding type to incorporate multiple lawn games, a firepit with smores, or if you’ve got a pool invite people to bring their suits!
Elopement or Micro-Wedding: Which One Is Right For You?
Probably when you were reading the difference between the two of them one of them immediately reached out to your heart and you said “Yes! That’s exactly the vibe I want for my day!” If getting married and hiking up a tall mountain in the same day sounds like your jam, then an elopement is your bread. 😉 If you and your future spouse can’t imagine yourself getting married without your families and small group of best friends in attendance, then a micro-wedding might be in order for you.
The only thing I know for sure is that the post-2020 world is fundamentally different and I think all couples everywhere should seriously consider both of these options as viable ways to move forward when planning their weddings instead of the larger 75+ headcount weddings. Intimate weddings like micro-weddings have always been a love of mine and I’m personally excited at the prospect that more of them might be on the horizon for me.
It is important to remember that choosing to elope or have a micro-wedding does not mean that you are giving something up.
All of my couples that have chosen to have an intimate micro-wedding wedding or elope have said that it was 100% the best wedding experience they could have asked for. Smaller weddings means less stress, more time to focus on your partner and the guests you do choose to include and the moments of the day. And most importantly you can still do all the things you would do at a conventional wedding that attract you, like having decadent flowers, a fun cake, and dressing up. And you can use the money you’re saving on a massive ballroom and catering bill to maybe splurge a little in other areas. For example, instead of paying $150+ plate fee per couple for them to attend your wedding and maybe only talk to them for five minutes as you make the rounds during dinner, you could use that money to have a gorgeous short magazine album created of the photos from your elopement or micro-wedding and send it to each couple you would have invited so they have a permanent keepsake from your wedding day (this is definitely something I can do).