Updated: Dec 29, 2022
There are about a million different buzzwords floating around the wedding industry right now: Adventure Elopements, Intimate Weddings, Micro Weddings, and more. What do they all mean? What's the difference?
For starters, let me just say that I kind of hate labels. They can be restricting, seemingly arbitrary, and confusing. Your wedding day is unique, and I encourage you to focus on the type of experience you both want rather than worrying about whether that experience fits neatly into any of these boxes created by the wedding industry.
That being said, I do want to provide some clarity on what these terms mean because you'll probably see them floating around a lot as you start planning your wedding day.
Let's get into it.
"Adventure Elopement" has become the term for couples that plan their wedding day around breathtaking locations and activities in nature (hiking optional) and choose to share the experience only with themselves or a very small group of family and friends.
I believe that what makes elopements (adventurous or not) unique is the feel of the day. It's largely about rejecting the expectations, customs, and traditions that don't feel right to you. It's about choosing to celebrate this incredibly important day in a way that feels 100% authentic to who you are as individuals and together as a couple.
With an elopement, your day can be whatever you want. You can incorporate as many or as few vendors as you'd like. You can book a small AirBnb or venue or choose to spend the entire day adventuring in a national park. It's all up to you.
Looking for inspiration? Check out this Snowy Winter Adventure Elopement
The term "Intimate Wedding" has come to define what is essentially a small wedding. It's not quite as small as an elopement, but definitely not as big as a traditional wedding. Intimate weddings are, generally speaking, for couples that would like to keep the feel of an elopement (intimate, meaningful, and stress-free) while being able to include all their important friends and family.
Intimate weddings are often defined as weddings with anywhere from 15 to 30 people in attendance. This isn't a hard and fast rule though: the exact number can vary a lot depending on the exact vendor you speak to. Similar to an elopement, intimate weddings tend to be an intentional choice – couples choose to keep their wedding small and centered around the people most important to them.
"Micro Wedding" seems to be a relatively new term that's popped up mostly in the context of COVID-19 and couples that are needing to downsize their wedding to be COVID safe. The structure and flow of the day is often similar to a more traditional wedding, but the guest list is smaller (up to and around 60 guests). I like to think of these as the 'small, big wedding'.
Many micro weddings of the last year were directly a result of COVID forcing couples to plan smaller weddings to abide by state and county guidelines. However, micro weddings can absolutely be an intentional choice as well for couples who simply don't want to invite hundreds of guests to their wedding. It's a way to have all the time-honored traditions and a gorgeous venue without the overwhelming guest list.
So what type of wedding day is right for you?
Talk about these questions with your partner and think about the type of experience you'd like to have.
Do you want to share your day with other people?
Imagine reading your vows in front of all your guests, with plenty of them laughing and crying alongside you both. Now imagine reading your vows in private, just the two of you, sharing a romantic moment where you both share the most raw and intimate expressions of your love. Which one do you resonate with more?
What kind of scenery do you love?
Do you imagine yourselves hiking up a mountain? Exploring city streets? Driving to a lake? Getting married at a venue? Standing at a church altar? Snowmobiling to a snowy outlook? Riding a helicopter to a glacier? Walking barefoot in the sand on a quiet and secluded beach? Surrounded by tall redwood trees? The possibilities are truly endless. Take the time to dream up the perfect day together and decide on a location that feels right for who you are.
Do you love the idea of traditional wedding customs or are you looking for a more unique experience?
For a lot of couples, a big wedding with time-honored traditions just doesn't feel right. At all. You are unique and your relationship is one of a kind. Make sure your wedding day is completely representative of who you are as a couple, and don't feel obligated to stick to traditions if they mean nothing to you. This is YOUR DAY. Don't let anyone else tell you how to plan it.