Elopement vs Micro Wedding vs Traditional Wedding
A photographer’s perspective
Last week we covered a HUGE topic when it comes to wedding planning: setting a realistic budget. I chatted about all the things that go into a traditional wedding and what those costs look like for a 100-150 guest list. We learned that one third of couples find that they underestimated the costs of a wedding! Eloping has become a popular trend in the wedding world. And the newest craze? A “micro” wedding, which is kind of a blend between eloping and the traditional wedding. Today, we’re comparing an elopement vs micro wedding vs traditional wedding, and some of the pros and cons of all of them!
The traditional idea of an elopement was a spur-of-the-moment, unplanned wedding with just the couple, officiant, and maaaybe a witness or two. Traditionally, elopements happened in secrecy, with the couple’s family and friends finding out after the vows were said. However, these days, elopement have become much more trendy. Couples usually spend just as much time planning their elopement, while spending a whole lot less. Wedding planners for elopements are definitely a thing. They help scout locations, obtain the marriage license, and help book the necessary vendors such as photographer and florist. However, true elopements are still very small in numbers. I would say under 10 people in attendance constitutes an elopement.
Because of the smaller numbers, you can take your vows anywhere! Climb a mountain, hike deep into a National Park, sneak behind a waterfall. You have so much more flexibility in where you can go when you don’t have to worry about getting 100 people there! Obviously, your costs are MUCH, much lower. You don’t have rent out an entire venue with chairs, tables, and linens. You don’t have 100 mouths to feed. Instead, you can go out to dinner at your favorite restaurant and call it a night! The money you save can be put towards a really special experience for those in attendance, or an extravagant honeymoon.
This all depends on you and your wishes for your vows! Are you both more introverted and private? Then having a ceremony with just the two of you might not be a con at all! If family, relationships, and sharing your love story with those that have supported you through the years is important to you then most likely you’ll be sad to have missed out on a traditional ceremony. While weddings can sometimes cause drama or tension, there most likely will still be hurt feelings stemming from your elopement from those who wanted to witness your wedding day! So you’ll need to be sensitive to that. You’ll also have to accept that since you didn’t invite them…you don’t get a gift from them!
From a photographer’s perspective:
I still love to be there for the full wedding day! From getting ready to the toasts and cake cutting (if you choose to include that!), there are still countless memories you’ll want to look back on in years to come. We’ll have a lot more time for portraits of just the two of you, since we won’t have to spend time photographing large bridal parties or family groupings. This means you can go as EPIC as you want with your portrait locations. I’m along for the ride! If you’re game, I’m game. I shoot in rain, snow, in mud, in creeks, on mountain tops, in waterfalls, barefoot, in hiking boots, and anywhere and anything in between. You can truly customize this experience to be about just the TWO of you, and what your love looks like.
I think we all have a pretty good idea of what a typical, traditional wedding ceremony and reception entails. Getting ready with your bridesmaids/groomsmen, inviting family and friends that have influenced you or supported you throughout your relationship and life, saying your vows in front of all of them. Sharing a meal afterwards with dancing and fun to follow! It is like a giant party where you and your love are the stars of the show! You get to design, execute, plan, and invite according to your heart’s desire!
Everyone that matters to you can show their support and love. They can participate in the ceremony, make memories, take photos, and just be together with you on this day! This might be the first and last time your entire family and your spouse’s entire family are all in the same room at one time. You can take photos with family members and friends that maybe you haven’t seen in awhile. Again, it’s a PARTY to celebrate YOU and love!
It’s expensive. There are a lot of moving pieces to executing a celebration this big, which can be stressful. You risk hurting the feelings of people you didn’t invite or added drama with that many people coming together at once. Maybe you don’t like being the center of attention or being in a large crowd of people. Your location and venue is limited to a space that can occupy as many people as you’ve invited. You are on a stricter timeline when people are “waiting” on you.
From a photographer’s perspective:
Traditional weddings are my bread and butter! I think traditional weddings are still relevant, meaningful, and romantic. Not to mention, receptions are one of my favorite parts of the day – I LOVE a good dance floor, fun bridesmaids and groomsmen, and hearing toasts in honor of my couples. This is when I get to see my couples through their family’s eyes, and they always lend such an intimate, loving view of the people I’ve come to know through photographing them. I almost always tear up at least once at every reception! If this is what you’ve imagined for your wedding day, then own it!
Micro Weddings seem to be the perfect blend between elopements and traditional weddings. Typically, micro weddings host up to about 50 people. And while it can save you money, most couples still choose to spend their full wedding budget, just with a higher cost per person. “A microwedding is for the couple who wants to really focus and spend the majority of their budget on the smaller details, whereas it might be difficult to replicate the same experience for, say, 200 guests,” says event planner Stefanie Cove.
You can hug, kiss, catch up with, and truly enjoy the company of your nearest and dearest. With less guests, you have more flexibility to spend more money on each person. You can truly give them the special treatment. Splurging a bit more on the details and the day, while still sharing it with the ones closest to you, becomes possible. You may not be able to hike up a mountain with 50 guests like you could if you were truly eloping, but you still have access to more options for your locations than you would with 150+ guests.
You still may feel that some people are missing from your day! There is still a chance of hurt feelings.
From a photographer’s perspective:
Ultimately, don’t make your decision on other people! Yes, I mentioned hurt feelings. But, you’ll be getting advice from everyone on how to plan this day. Ultimately, it’s about the two of you. Make your day reflect who you are together.
Personally, having family portraits with my extended family and closest friends is special and important to me. It contributes to my family’s legacy and heritage. If there’s only one chance in my life to get them all in the same room together, then I’m going to make it happen and cherish it. I’ll also hire a great photographer I trust to capture it all because this will likely never happen again. Even if it means waiting to get married until we are financially capable….is this how I actually did it when I got married at 19? Heck no. But is that how I would do it now, if I were getting married again a decade later? Yes. I think for me I would end up with a somewhat micr0-ish wedding. My FAVORITE relatives and FAVORITE friends….but I would never say no to a good dance floor so there would definitely be a party to follow dinner as well!
As I researched this topic, I used information from Martha Stewart Weddings , The Knot, and Inside Weddings.
If you enjoyed this discussion of Elopement vs Micro Wedding vs Traditional wedding, be sure to check out other posts with Wedding Advice for Couples, such as the First 6 Things to Do After Getting Engaged or How to Make a Realistic Wedding Budget.
Meghan Rose Photography | Asheville Wedding Photographer
Meghan is an Asheville wedding photographer serving couples all through the Appalachian Mountains and the South. She loves sunshine, creeks, reading, and fields of wildflowers. If you’re interested in working with her for your wedding day, you can contact her here!
Prefer video? You can watch the IGTV episode about this here!
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