Does the thought of your wedding day scare you? Does the image of walking down the aisle, being gawked at and recorded by a bunch of people you don’t even know that well while you try to not stumble in your heels terrify you? What if I told you it doesn’t have to be that way?

*Enter elopements and intimate weddings*

If you’ve been keeping up with vendors in the wedding industry in 2020, you might’ve heard those terms being thrown around a fair bit. No thanks to COVID, many couples have had to either cancel their wedding or trade their dreams of a massive, extravagant event for a much scaled down version. But on the other hand, thanks to COVID, many other couples have had the chance to opt out of a traditional wedding they were somewhat forced into, and instead had the chance to have a more intimate affair with a handful of those they love and treasure the most. If you can’t already tell, I’m pretty biased in my opinion of why elopements and intimate weddings are my preferred option. But before we get to the benefits of these ceremonies, let’s define them.

What exactly are elopements and intimate weddings?

Ultimately, elopements and intimate weddings are marriage ceremonies. The distinction between them and “normal” weddings, though, is the size. While traditional weddings are upwards of 100 guests, elopements and intimate weddings are much smaller. It can be a little tricky to find a universal agreement on how many guests make up an elopement, but generally speaking, they are defined as having up to 20 guests, and as few as 1 (yep, you just need a single witness to make the matrimony official!). Intimate weddings then usually range between 20and 75 guests. Again, these figures are pretty rough, but the main takeaway is that these ceremonies are more small-scale than usual.

So what's all the hype about?

I’m glad you asked. All pandemic reasons aside, there’s been a massive increase of couples choosing these less-traditional ceremonies in the past few years. If you follow wedding photographers and other vendors on social media, you’ve undoubtedly seen breathtaking photos of brides and grooms saying their vows atop mountains, surrounded by nothing but sheer natural beauty. Or even couples in non-traditional wedding attire, celebrating their love with a small group of loved ones with a backyard candlelit dinner. Whether these images entice you or you just need that extra bit of convincing, here are a few reasons why you should marry small:

1. You're able to prioritise your love

So often the true reason for your marriage gets swamped with wedding planning stress. Many couples spend the lead-up to the big day worrying about catering for people that aren’t of particular value to them: maybe it’s that new co-worker that’d feel left out if the whole team was invited except them, or maybe it’s your mum’s too-nosey-but-nice friend that’s always asking about when you’ll get married… You know those people. Opting for an intimate wedding, however, not only allows you to create and spend an incredibly wholesome day with the family and friends you truly care about, but also gives you more quality time with your spouse, both on the wedding day and in the months before it.

2. You can afford the things you value

Not gonna lie: the way a large guest-list eats up your budget terrifies me. Statistics show that in New South Wales, wedding receptions charge anywhere between $150-$300 per guest. Although many factors contribute to this figure - location, peak seasons, extravagance etc. - elopements and intimate weddings give you the luxury of either spending less on your big day or splurging more on things that matter to you. This might look like saving much of your original budget for your future (whether that be a honeymoon, a future house, or whatever else) or having that freedom to invest in the things you couldn't otherwise have on your wedding day (that insane designer dress you've been dreaming about, or even flying out your few guests to your epic destination elopement... which leads to my next point).

3. You have flexibility of location

This is another awesome perk of small weddings. You know those breath-taking images I mentioned earlier? Yeah, try getting over 100 people up a mountain. Or if you’ve always dreamed of getting married in the blue-and-white churches of Santorini, you’ll find that there’s no way you can afford to fly all those people out. With a smaller guest-list, however, you’ll find that these locations are suddenly way more accessible and affordable! And even if you choose to not max out your budget on epic locations, you still have more freedom to select places of significance to you. This might mean holding the reception in your family home, or having the entire day in the small town you grew up in. Whatever this looks like for you, a smaller guest list makes the dream attainable!

So to sum things up:

"How's the serenity? So much serenity." Although it’s not usually a phrase you'd associate with weddings, I hope you can now see that it can be. Ultimately, that's the beauty of intimate weddings and elopements; the ability to breathe, take a step back, and really hone in on what's important to you and your love. No need to stick to traditions that don't make sense to you, or please people that don't matter to you. You can just share love with those you adore in a way that's special to you.