August 26, 2021

Elopement Vs Intimate Wedding

There is a lot of talk about elopements and intimate weddings these days. The terms, standards, and expectations have changed over time. But I believe, while there are some basics to each, it is your day to design the way you and your love want it to be regardless of what you call it! 

However, for the sake of terminology and planning let’s take a closer look. There is a difference between an elopement and intimate weddings and understanding what the industry deems as the difference makes the planning process easier for everyone. Both types of ceremonies are obviously intimate and romantic in nature and involve few, or even no guests. While downsizing weddings are a growing trend for various reasons, you don’t have to sacrifice style, staging or beauty. And there are some services you just can’t skip, like hiring a professional wedding photographer for your day. Capturing images from your special day is my honor. I love, LOVE, and love capturing it!  Let’s take a closer look at the differences in order to help you decide which way you want to go with your ceremony and celebration.  

 A Closer Look at Elopement

According to the Webster dictionary, to elope means to run away secretly in order to get married, especially without parental consent. Eloping makes me think of romance movies where the girl climbs out of her window or runs out the front door. She and her lover speed away across “the line” into the next county or state where a judge or preacher sleepily climbs out of bed to wed them. However, the idea of eloping has taken a huge turn from its original definition, movie, and song concepts. Today eloping creates visions of adventure and romance, sometimes in your own town, a destination close by or in a far away place.  People opt for an elopement for various reasons in many stages of life! It is no longer for kids trying to defy their parents or even necessarily a secret.  Let’s take a look below:

  1. The guest list is small — usually under 10 people. In fact, some elopement ceremonies have no guests except for the officiant and witnesses.
  2. The ceremony can take place anywhere — From your backyard or the county courthouse, or a destination in another state or country.  
  3. There is no reception although some couples opt for a small cake to share between them and a special dinner created for the two or their small group. 

Most of the couples I speak with really just want to have the focus be on THEM and their love. They don’t want to put on a party for people but rather spend the time completely focused on each other. Many of the couples had rather spend what would be the “wedding” money on a nicer honeymoon and adventures together or even a down payment for a home.  

A KEY to remember is that an elopement doesn’t mean you have to give up the niceties of a wedding. You can still have the dress, the suit, a beautiful bouquet, matching tableware, an amazing cake, and pretty elopement announcements. Smaller doesn’t have to mean less than in style unless you want it to mean that. And if you do, that is perfectly okay. It is YOUR day!

What Defines an Intimate Wedding

The number of “intimate” weddings is on the rise as couples seek to maximize their budgets without minimizing their experiences.

While small in size, intimate weddings need not be short on extravagance, personalization or unique character. In fact, fewer guests often mean more resources that today’s to-be-weds are using to make their weddings something special.  

The main difference in an intimate wedding is:

  1. Generally 20 to 75 guests.
  2. There is a reception. However, I have seen some couples create a weekend experience for their guests rather than an all out reception.  

There are no hard and fast rules to intimate weddings or elopements just as there should be none to a standard or large wedding. It is your day. Use your imagination coupled with your largest desire. If your desire is to be able to spend more quality time with your guests then an elopement or intimate wedding may be for you. If you want to maximize your money spend and have all the great features you want and that means cutting your list, then do it. However, It is important to be on the same page with your fiance and to discuss who is most likely to show up and who gets cut without hard feelings.  

Elopements and intimate weddings both make great destination ceremonies. When it comes to locations for destination elopements and destination intimate weddings, Savannah Georgia is on the top of the list!  

Torianna Brooke is an internationally award winning photographer.  She owns and operates Torianna Brooke Portraiture and Intimate Weddings.  She serves couples in Savannah, Hilton Head, Charleston and around the world.


Torianna Brooke

Hi, Welcome to my blog! I'm a wedding photographer in Georgia & South Carolina providing my clients with photojournalistic meets editorial images. Serving clients who find trust in the process of my photographs as well as brides who are joyful and sophisticated. 

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