• Kirsten White

Weddings vs. Intimate Weddings vs. Elopements

You're officially engaged! And now it's time to start planning the big event, also known as a wedding. But you start to do research, and find out there are more ways to tie the knot than what you originally thought.

So many couples get stuck with the idea that to get married, they have to do it the same way as every other couple. They think they have to invite every cousin, aunt and uncle, and all of their parent's co-workers, only to realize that there's very little room for their friends and the people that matter the most to them.

So what are the different types of weddings and how do they differ?

Traditional Weddings

These are typically the first thing that come to mind when a couple starts to plan their nuptials. Traditional weddings can vary on guest count, but can have anywhere from 50 to 300+ wedding guests. The events of the day include a ceremony that lasts about 30-45 minutes, cocktail or happy hour, and a reception.

And just like the differences in the guest count, the events of a reception can vary for a traditional wedding. Most receptions include dinner, first dance, a father/daughter and mother/son dance, speeches, a garter toss, a bouquet toss, and cutting the cake. Receptions usually last anywhere from 3-5 hours and usually end with the guests sending the newly weds off in a car as they head for the honeymoon suite before they leave the next day for a honeymoon.

A traditional wedding can cost anywhere from $10,000 to $40,000 (OR MORE) depending on the vendors and guest count.

Intimate Weddings

So many couples are starting to consider a more intimate setting for their nuptials. They've decided they don't want to do anything too extravagant, and they just want to enjoy the moment with their closest friends and family. Intimate weddings usually have a guest count of 30 people or less, depending on family size and number of close friends.

With an intimate wedding, couples tend to have a little more flexibility of where and when they can do them. Most of the time, these happen during the week, or on a day other than Saturday, as it's not something that takes all day. They can take place in a backyard, in a park, the small event space of the couples favorite restaurant, or wherever the couple decides.

Intimate weddings usually only last as long as a ceremony and dinner. And dinner is usually the part that lasts the longest, as everyone just wants to hang out and enjoy the events of the day.

While there isn't always a first dance or flower toss, there is some planning that needs to be done. But it's minimal compared to the planning that goes into play for a traditional wedding. The biggest perk to doing an intimate wedding, is the fact that couples don't have to worry about spending several thousands of dollars and months of planning to tie the knot.


If you were to tell a grandparent that you and your significant other were going to elope, they would probably have a heart attack. In this day and age, it doesn't seem like that big of a deal, but to older generations, it is the most dramatic thing you could do.

Eloping nowadays means that a couple has decided they want the most intimate moments to be cherished only by them a handful of others, typically the officiant, their photographer, and maybe a friend or two. But to our grandparents, and maybe even our parents, eloping means running away, and getting married in haste.

Sometimes it's a total surprise- courthouse weddings are a great example. But sometimes it's the only option that couples can consider- especially during times of pandemics, like what we've experienced with COVID-19.

If you were to ask me what type of wedding is my favorite, I'd have a hard time answering. Each type of celebration has a special purpose.

Traditional weddings allow a couple to celebrate and include everyone in their big day. There are so many great moments that happen throughout the day that a couple gets to reflect back on, and a wedding day is always fun.

Intimate weddings are great because it allows a couple to have a laid back day, celebrating their love for one another. And they can include their closest friends and family, without hundreds of eyes watching them.

And elopements are especially romantic, because it can feel like it's just them versus the world. They get to spend more time cherishing each other, instead of having to cater to others on their special day.

My advice to all couples is to really spend the time to make a list of what is truly important when deciding what to do. And then decide what is possible with the resources available.

If you're a couple that is very social and inclusive to everyone, a traditional wedding might be the route to go. But if you're a couple that tend to be homebodies and prefer to keep the personal, personal- then an intimate wedding or elopement might be the better route.

The main thing to keep in mind, is that your wedding is YOUR wedding. Don't let someone else tell you how to celebrate your love. Make your wedding personal.

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