If you are curious about the difference between a traditional wedding, a micro wedding, and running off into the sunset to elope, this is the episode for you! Alexandra Denniston of Eventlightenment Planning is on the podcast today to share about her expertise. What are the benefits of eloping? Why could a micro wedding cost just as much as a traditional wedding? Alexandra and Sara answer these questions and more on today’s episode of Wedding Secrets Unveiled!
I am a luxury wedding planner based in Rhode Island but destination inspired. That means I help folks plan their dream weddings all over New England and the East Coast, and I’m definitely open to international weddings.
How did you get started in the industry?
So, I have actually been in the industry for a little over 13 years. I have worked for florists and I’ve worked for other freelancers. I have run venues, worked for caterers and eventually decided it was time to do my own thing. So, I’ve been off on my own for about 2.5 years now, and it’s been going really with lots of fun experiences!
I think that’s kind of the beauty of this industry. In my opinion, to be a good a wedding planner, you need to have that experience in all the different areas.
Let’s get right into the topic we’re going to discuss: the difference between elopements and micro weddings. Since COVID years we’ve been hearing these terms a lot. What is a micro wedding and what’s an elopement?
Absolutely. I think there’s a bit of confusion about how micro weddings and elopements differ. In my experience, an elopement tends to be the couple and maybe a witness on either side. They generally go to a specific location or destination that means something to them and get married. That’s it. Micro weddings tend to be more intimate groups – maybe 15 to 50 people, which is much smaller than your traditional wedding day.
How can a couple decide what way they want to go if they decided they want a smaller wedding day?
I think a large part of that decision is just personal preference. But, another big component is the budget. If you’re going somewhere – you and your spouse – that can obviously be a more affordable cost. When you begin to involve those 15-50 people, there’s a more significant cost. Are you helping facilitate any travel or accommodations for these people? Then obviously, the décor pieces, meals, and other things to consider in the budget. If the budget is a driving force of your decision, then have the conversation with your spouse to be sure you’re on the same page of what you’d like to spend and which idea is best for you.
I aloes think the budget goes hand in hand with the guest list. So if you’re finding your guest list get out of hand, your budget will too. I’ve also found that with budgets for these events – couples can often focus on the elements that are most important to them when they keep the guest list smaller. So, it doesn’t always mean that micro weddings are less expensive – but it means that you can spend more in the places you want. The budget can go further because you have fewer people to spend it on.
A lot of people have a decent budget but their vision for a larger wedding doesn’t match that budget. So if you want to accomplish your vision, pare down the guest list so your dream wedding is attainable to you.
What are some other differences between an elopement and a micro wedding?
I would say the other piece that folks want to keep in mind when they’re deciding between the two options is the politics of a wedding day. If you have a lot of people close to you who have very strong differing opinions about how things can go, it may be time to step back and focus on what YOU want. I always tell couples, it’s your wedding – you want to look back on it with fond memories and be 150% happy with every decision you made. So, sometimes a smaller more intimate day or elopement can be the best option for people who have different views around them about how the whole day should go.
How would timing affect your decision to either have an elopement or micro wedding?
I think that either elopements or micro weddings can be planned on a tighter timeline. If you’re looking to get married in the next 3-6 months, this might be one of the better options for you. If you’re looking for a wedding next weekend, definitely an elopement! With a smaller guest count, there’s just less logistics to plan which makes planning in a shorter time frame more realistic. There’s simply less to organize.
Absolutely. I think COVID really helped couples and the industry find new creative ways to celebrate. People began to have smaller wedding days and some of the traditional elements were thrown out. For example, we saw fewer cocktail hours and formal dinners. The traditional trajectory of a wedding day just didn’t exist anymore. We also saw couples tie the knot in a private ceremony then later on, save up for the big party when it was safer. So, it’s important to see that these options don’t have to be isolated. They can be combined.
How do some of these intimate options compare to a traditional wedding day?
I think the number one thing I talk to my clients about regarding the size of their wedding is their engagement with the guests. I always remind them: the larger the wedding, the more time and energy you have to put into greeting people or “working the room”, if you will. The more people you have, the more time you’re going to be taking away from the fun parts of the wedding. 100 people to 200 people is a HUGE difference in terms of time. Obviously, that differs greatly from a micro wedding. With a guest list of 50 people, you’re inviting the most intimate circle of people in your life. In that case, you’re really going to get that quality time with your loved ones.
Want more tips about how to acknowledge your guests? Check out our podcast about wedding etiquette!
Obviously, another big difference is the budget. When it comes to a more traditional wedding, more people and a larger venue means a larger costs. I just think it’s something you have to think about from the very beginning. I suggest that for any couple who’s going to be getting married, I don’t care if you’re having a micro wedding or a 300 person wedding, figure out what you are spending first. Don’t become sticker shocked later and then not know how to deal with it.
Absolutely! I want to say about the greeting your guests tip – if you plan to have a receiving line to see your guests, then you need to plan your timeline around that because it can take a longer time. If you don’t plan to have a receiving line, make sure you have an exit plan from your ceremony because otherwise everyone is going to try and talk to you right after the ceremony.
What are some other things couples should consider to decide if they’re going to do an elopement or micro wedding?
Something else to think about is your venue selection. I think when you’re deciding which option is good for you, you need to consider about where you want to be. If you have a vision for a super intimate garden wedding, 300 people will smash that vision. But, if you have a guest list of 25-30 people and you’re targeting an opulent elegant hall, you may not meet the minimums for rentals. On either side of the spectrum, you need to think about your location and where you want to be. That will definitely dictate some of your decisions.
If you are someone who wants to throw a big party, you can also be creative. This is one of the only times in your lives that you’ll probably get everyone important from both sides together. So, if you really don’t want a big ceremony, there’s options. I’ve seen people have invite everyone to the ceremony at the venue they wanted then have a party with those folks and an intimate dinner with 8 people later. Or the opposite way. You can truly make this day yours! It’s also an ice way to consider your guests – like maybe your Grandma really won’t enjoy the loud party. But she’d love a quiet dinner. You’re basically looking out for your guests and providing them with a party that is best suited to their preferences, which is pretty impressive.
The other thing to consider is what are your aspirations for travel and locations. It’s becoming more popular to pick a destination but you have to think about what your guests can actually accommodate. Is it realistic to ask 300 people to come to Southern California from the East Coast? You know your guests best, but it’s important to think about. You might just want to have a more intimate guest list then. But, it really is an important part of the puzzle to consider as you’re planning. It’s also important to consider that you might invite 80 people, expecting 40 to come. But they might all come… so think really carefully before you send out those invitations.
I’ve seen so many couples plan multiple weddings in two locations – like we had a couple out in California and host a ceremony here, too.
I think that’s, that’s kind of the beauty of having all these different styles of weddings. The name of the game is whatever you make it: you can do just one, you can combine a couple or all three of the styles in whatever length of time you deem appropriate for you. Consider all the things that we’ve been talking about. And in the end, if it means that you’re doing all three, go for it.
What are some key points that couples should consider when they are deciding what type of wedding they’re planning for their perfect event?
Consider your overall vision and how your budget could be allocated.
If your vision exceeds your budget for a full-size wedding, consider a micro wedding so you can have all of the elements you’re dreaming of within the budget you have available.
Consider an elopement if your budget is more restrictive, you love travel, or you just want a quiet wedding day!
What We Discussed
Budgeting and Smaller Weddings (6:19)
How Timing Can Impact Your Decision (10:54)
Receiving Lines + Guest Interactions (23:01)
How Venue Choice Impacts Your Wedding Day (27:08)
Ways to Combine These Options (30:15)
Wrap-Up Question (37:22)
Links Mentioned in the Episode
You can find Eventlightenment: Website | Instagram | Facebook | Pinterest
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