Elopements, Micro Weddings, and Intimate Weddings – What is the difference?

With the threat of  COVID-19 present in everyone’s lives,  there has understandably been a lot of talk about SMALL Weddings. While small weddings have always been popular,  they have become more important than ever due to social distancing and restrictions on the size of public gatherings.  If you are considering a smaller wedding celebration then have no fear!  Today we are going to discuss some of the  terminology that wedding professionals are using in regards to having a small wedding.


Bride and Groom kissing at alter

Lorinda K Photography at Gardener Ranch

An elopement is generally limited to the couple, two witnesses (sometimes, but definitely not always), and the officiant. Elopements have two huge benefits for the couple: first they require less planning and the cost is considerably less.  In an elopement the  ceremony is the key focus of the celebration, and it is typically much shorter than a traditional  wedding ceremony. While it is common for  elopements to be “spur-of-the-moment,” this is not always the case. Unlike traditional weddings, an elopement typically does not involve a reception, however it is popular to have a reception for family and friends at a later time. 

Another advantage of  elopements is that they can really take place anywhere. For example, here in Monterey/Carmel state parks that are right on the coast are popular for elopements.  All that is required is a  permit that can be purchased through the CA State Park system very easily. Big Sur is also a very popular destination for elopements, since it  has several beautiful state parks. Again, all you need for your elopement is a simple permit. 

If your wedding has to be postponed or cancelled because of COVID-19 but you want to honor your original wedding date, an elopement might be the perfect option for you. Just contact your officiant, photographer and florist for a bouquet and then find that perfect spot to get hitched. 

Micro Wedding

“Micro wedding: is a newer term that has risen in popularity during the COVID-19 crisis. A  micro wedding is typically defined as a wedding with  25 or less people. 

Intimate wedding ceremony in a backyard

Back yard micro wedding in Pebble Beach by De Joy Photography

A micro wedding is very much  a traditional wedding and reception, just abbreviated in some ways because of the smaller guest count. A typical micro wedding includes a 10-15 minute ceremony  followed by a short reception (2 hours more or less). Most micro weddings  include  minimal drinks and  may or may not include  a served dinner.. Many couples  still opt  for traditions like a first dance, toasts, and cake cutting but skip  other formalities. One of the best things about micro weddings, as you can see, is that they are small enough to be very flexible.

Another reason why micro weddings are fantastic: if your original wedding day was derailed by COVID you can still incorporate  your vendors into your mirco wedding celebration.  Because so many weddings have been  postponed it is now possible to get great deals on  excellent services and venues that would otherwise be unavailable for a micro wedding. It is a great time to get value for your investment. 

If you are considering a micro wedding we should definitely connect!  There are a TON  of amazing packages from gorgeous venues in the Monterey/Carmel/Big Sur area

Intimate Wedding

An intimate wedding (sometimes also called a mini wedding) is nothing new, but something that many people haven’t  considered prior roCOVID-19. I define an intimate wedding as 65 guests or less, but other than the smaller guest count these weddings are just like any other.  I plan   several  intimate weddings every year and absolutely love the feeling and memories that my couples experience. 

Couple walking along the path in Big Sur

Megan Welker Photography in Big Sur

If you were originally planning a larger wedding in 2020 and still want to get married, consider  downsizing your guest count and proceeding  as planned in the later months of 2020. Believe me, I get that , delaying an entire year or more to celebrate isn’t ideal.  t However, if you were already planning on a wedding consider how much time, money and energy has already been invested  in your wedding day.  Instead of canceling your wedding outright, consider how you can adapt your original plans and still have an exceptional celebration.

In the new reality under which we are all currently living, the  benefits of smaller weddings are more appealing then ever. Your budget will go much further, you have a flexibility larger weddings just cannot offer, and you can have a lot more intimate,  special experiences with a smaller  group of 60 than you could with 150-200 people.  In California you can even consider downsizing to groups of 100 and still have an excellent day! 

Marry Now Party Later

There is no reason to not have a small wedding in 2020; in fact with all of the great deals currently available it could be a great time to get married. If you are struggling to change your current wedding plans, or struggling to start planning, I am here to  help you navigate this difficult, confusing landscape and get you married in a wedding that may be small but no less wonderful than you originally dreamed! There is no reason to let COVID win, if you had your wedding plans postponed, let’s find a great and creative way to get you married in 2020 and then have the big celebration later! Just contact me for more details and special pricing for 2020. 

  1. Eve Mitchell says:

    Thanks for mentioning that the cost of an elopement is significantly less. My fiance and I have been considering an elopement since we got engaged three months ago. We want to have a spring wedding, but it would be nice if we could elope as well.

    • Jamiemarie Reyes says:

      Hello, My daughter is highly considering a small wedding/elopement ceremony; preferably in the Big Sur area, I also believe the Carmel Beach area would be a beautiful area but the problem were running into is, trying to accomodate close to 50 guests. Any suggestions and/or recommendations would be greatly appreciated!

      Thank you in advance,

      Mrs. Reyes

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