IN TERMS OF HOW MUCH WORK I WILL HAVE AND HOW HARD I WILL WORK FOR YOU, THERE IS NONE WHATSOEVER.
IN MY YEARS OF EXPERIENCE SHOOTING BOTH WEDDINGS & ELOPEMENTS, I FOUND MY WORKLOAD IS EXACTLY THE SAME.
I STILL SPEND MONTHS BEFORE THE DAY PLANNING WITH MY ELOPEMENT COUPLES, I STILL SPEND A FULL DAY WORKING HARD TO DOCUMENT THEIR STORY IN THE FULLEST AND BEST WAY POSSIBLE, AND I STILL SPEND WEEKS AFTER EDITING AND CRAFTING THE MOST BEAUTIFUL STORY I CAN.
WHERE YOU HAVE YOUR DAY, WHAT WE DO DURING IT AND HOW MANY PEOPLE ARE THERE HAS NO BEARING.
IN TERMS OF ITS VALUE AND WORTH? THERE ARE NO DIFFERENCES EITHER!
IF YOU CHOOSE TO ELOPE, THAT WILL STILL BE THE DAY YOU MARRY YOUR BEST FRIEND.
IT WILL STILL BE THE DAY YOU COMMIT THE REST OF YOUR LIVES TO EACH OTHER, AND THAT IS HUGE.
AND IT WILL STILL BE THE DAY YOU THINK BACK ON EVERY SINGLE YEAR ON YOUR ANNIVERSARY. I BELIEVE IT SHOULD MADE A BIG DEAL.
I WHOLEHEARTEDLY BELIEVE THAT THAT DAY IS JUST AS WORTHY OF CELEBRATION AS ANY OTHER TRADITIONAL WEDDING WOULD BE.
IT'S NOT ANY "LESS SPECIAL" BECAUSE FEWER OR NO GUESTS WILL BE THERE.
IT'S NOT ANY "LESS MEANINGFUL" BECAUSE YOU AREN'T FOLLOWING A TRADITIONAL FORMAT.
SO WHAT'S THE DIFFERENCE THEN?
IT ONLY LIES IN YOUR PREFERENCES, AND HOW YOU WISH TO SPEND YOUR DAY.
The Guest Count
While there is no official "number" for what constitutes a wedding vs an elopement, elopements tend to have a much smaller guest count than traditional weddings. The amount of guests you choose to include in your day will have a direct impact on not just the overall cost, but the mood of the wedding. If you're looking for a ballpark, weddings tend to have 50-200+ guests, micro-weddings/intimate weddings 20-50 guests, and elopements 20 to no guests.
Some basic planning does still go into elopements. I don't want you to think that an an elopement means you just show up on the day without any forethought and expect to have an incredible day. If you do that, chances are there'll be a lot of "Sorry, you can't get in here without a permit", "Sorry, we're full" and "Um, so what do we do now?" Things you'll have to plan for just change and are fewer (and therefore less overwhelming.) You'll have to hire vendors ahead of time still, you'll have to get a permit for your ceremony site, you'll need to plan where you want to do your portraits so you can see if there are any limitations that time of years, need for permit and so you can get the types of images you want (no worries though, I help you with that.) You'll need to decide what activities you want to do (and make arrangements for those), figure out transportation, make hotel/airBnB and restaurant reservations, and of course, purchase plane tickets if it's a destination. (It's a small list by contrast, I promise.)
Still unsure what's you?
Take the Wedding vs. Elopement quiz and find out:
What about Micro-weddings?
What if neither the traditional wedding nor the elopement fits my needs?
Thankfully, I am once more here with good news for you. The "Micro-Wedding" or "Intimate Wedding" is there for people who find themselves in between the two. With a guest count usually between 20 and 50 people, this type of wedding day includes all the the traditions of a wedding but a much calmer rhythm, lower price tag and more mindfulness and intimacy than those larger events can provide.
So the elopement is too small, the wedding is too big, and you need something that's just right. Or maybe you like the format and all the events that happen during a traditional wedding, but that giant guest list feels way too overwhelming and you really don't want to spend your day with (and and your money on) a bunch of people you really don't even talk to in real life. (Who really needs that distant cousin at their wedding anyway?)