Micro Wedding vs. Intimate Wedding vs. Elopement: What's the Difference?
Micro wedding, intimate wedding, elopement… what’s it all mean?
With the onset of COVID-19 and changing attitudes about weddings, these words are popping up more and more as couples start planning their weddings. As smaller weddings rise in popularity for varying reasons, couples want to know what this means for them and their celebrations.
We’re used to what a big, traditional wedding looks like, but what’s with weddings for just a few people?
If we haven’t met, I’m Keilah (pronounced Kayla) Stallsmith and I am a wedding planner who specializes in intimate weddings. I help break down wedding planning in practical ways for thoughtful couples, and I help couples in Kansas City plan their weddings with ease and intention. Since small weddings are the norm for me, I thought I’d throw in my two cents about this topic.
Let’s take a look at each option, how it's different from a traditional wedding, why someone might choose to celebrate that way, and what that means for you.
An intimate wedding is a wedding that’s intentional about creating an intimate environment for a full celebration. This allows for a leisurely pace, quality time with loved ones, and focusing on the details that matter most. Typically, an intimate wedding guest list tops out somewhere between 50-75 people. Couples who want an intimate wedding only invite those they have a close, intimate relationship with. There’s little room for friends of friends, loose acquaintances, or “plus ones”!
Why have an intimate wedding?
While larger weddings are here to stay, a lot of couples are starting to question whether or not the environment fits them. Some people don’t like hosting large events or making lots of small talk, or feeling rushed through a long day with lots of formalities. They don’t like the idea of all eyes on them as they walk into a packed ballroom, or saying intimate things in the spotlight, or making speeches in front of hundreds of people.
Intimate weddings are a good fit for people who have fewer close-knit relationships rather than lots of relationships with different people. The people invited to witness the vows are the ones who will help uplift and support what those vows mean. The people who are invited to dinner and dancing are already the ones you wine and dine, the ones who already cheer you on in life.
A smaller guest list allows couples to pour all their time, energy, attention, and resources into the people who matter most. It means everyone can be themselves and let their hair down a little more on their wedding day, relax, and get lost in the moment. It creates a slower pace, makes room for lingering moments, and provides a higher degree of quality time with each guest. It’s also a great option for more reserved people who want to create a shared experience rather than feeling like they’re in the spotlight.
While many smaller weddings may create a more relaxed environment, intimate weddings are far from less special affairs! People who choose to have intimate weddings care about their weddings just as much as any other couple, they just have different priorities. Some things that are universal are looking and feeling their best, good food and entertainment, a great ambiance, and documenting the happy memories.
Kansas city venues that are great for intimate weddings would be the Oak Street Mansion or Skyline Rooftops: Three Points. Each provides small spaces that are intimate and romantic, with all the amenities and care of a venue catering to larger weddings. They can handle sound, lighting, catering, getting-ready spaces, and more to make your day beautiful and memorable.
At Bespoke Socials, the term “intimate wedding” is a blanket term for a wedding that is intentionally built around close relationships. That means an intimate wedding can encompass a micro wedding as well.
A micro wedding is an intimate wedding done on a super small scale- around 25 people or less. You would expect to see just about everything that you would at a traditional wedding- beautiful attire, a ceremony, photos, and a full reception with food and entertainment. You don’t cut corners, just the guest count!
Couples who choose a micro wedding do so for many of the same reasons anyone would choose an intimate wedding- quality time with loved ones in a beautiful and happy environment. It’s just that when these couples put together their intentional guest list, it resulted in a much smaller group.
A micro wedding challenges the idea that someone would only want to celebrate their marriage in a meaningful way when done for a large crowd. For many couples with smaller guest lists, they still want to show up to their marriage as their best selves- with time and attention taken to their appearance. They still want to have a great meal in a beautiful environment. They still want a first dance, or speeches, or a cool dessert table. They’ve just let go of many of the expectations of what a wedding is “supposed” to be and thus created their own idea of what celebrating their marriage looks like. They keep all of the parts of a wedding that matter to them and let go of the things that don’t.
Planning a micro wedding comes with some difficulties and challenges. Not only are there fewer resources on how to plan a very small wedding, but many wedding professionals don’t cater to smaller guest counts. It can be difficult to find intimate venues and vendors who don’t have a guest count minimum. That means couples are getting creative!
Couples having a micro wedding are more likely to take advantage of vendors who specifically cater to smaller events. A micro wedding in Kansas City might mean a vacation rental (like Harding Creek Hideaway or Rivers Lodge) that can hold their entire wedding for a few days worth of celebration. It might mean a private chef over a caterer or a solo musician over a full band. With fewer people to accommodate, and coveted weekend availability typically reserved for larger affairs, many couples are also willing to consider weekdays.
Couples having micro weddings are usually thoughtful, creative, and nontraditional. They know it’s possible to have a big celebration on a small scale and think outside the box to make it happen.
Unlike an intimate wedding or a micro wedding, an elopement throws most of the wedding traditions out the window and focuses on the ceremony. It’s all about two people, their vows, and a beautiful environment to make a lifelong commitment. Couples who are eloping don’t care about the food or the entertainment, hosting, or accommodating a group of people. That means that while sometimes guests are invited to witness the ceremony, there are usually less than 20 of them.
While eloping usually conjures images of running away to Vegas in secret, an elopement has evolved to look very different for the modern couple! Elopements are just as varied and unique as weddings, especially since they are so mobile in comparison.
The “adventure elopement” has risen in popularity- where a couple seeks epic views, hiking, and the great outdoors. The city elopement is also popular, where a couple says their vows in a modern location with lots of amenities followed by pampered adventures like skydiving or limousine tours. The destination elopement is also a way some couples are combining the ceremony with the honeymoon in a bucket list location. For the eloping couple, they want to look amazing, get incredible photos/video, and make their entire day an experience.
Elopements in Kansas City can be very romantic! While people don’t typically think of the Midwest as a destination location, we have all four seasons for varied settings and cool photography opportunities. Our abundance of gardens, arboretums, and parks provide a beautiful backdrop for couples wanting nature. Our amazing rooftop bars, historical buildings, stadiums, and skyscrapers provide a modern, cool, and quintessentially Kansas City backdrop. Even for those who want to get away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life, we have plenty of hotels, bed and breakfasts, lodges, and private homes for short-term rental.
Intimate weddings, micro weddings, and elopements are all about doing more for fewer people. They’re big celebrations on a small scale that buck tradition and reinvent the way we celebrate our marriages. If you’re planning an intimate wedding and looking for support, do not hesitate to connect with me.