Updated: Jan 21, 2020
It's tricky, right?
You get engaged and excitedly start down the typical, big wedding industry funnel of Pinterest boards, complex planners, guest lists and menu options...
only to realize that...
it doesn't feel quite right.
It's not quite you.
And it's getting overwhelming!
$58 a plate? Your budget can cover a max of 100-120 guests. The question quickly becomes, who do you exclude?
Picking and choosing from family and best friends to stand with you.
Deciding on color schemes and chair cover rentals.
Maybe you have sensitive family dynamics and don't want to manage them on your wedding day.
Feel strange about being a host to so many, or the center of attention?
Menu items, special dietary requests to accommodate.
Buying all the thoughtful "thank-you" gifts for your family and wedding party.
The music list you want your parents to approve of, since they're pitching in, yet, you'll still want to party to.
Are your cousins really going to bring their three kids too!!? What will there be for kids entertainment?
The list is truly endless. And you're not alone.
Good news though, there are endless other ways of going about this instead. I've got a magic word for you. Elope.
You may have this impression that "eloping" is still a dirty word. I'm here to tell you it's not. Whether you are eloping, or keeping it very intimate with a small guest list, there is really nothing more beautiful and intensional, that a couple could do for themselves, than to make their wedding day entirely about them, maximizing the time they spend together, free of distractions and stress.
Elopements and intimate weddings aren't about less, they are about quality; quality time, engagement, connection, and memories made.
And, they are about infinite possibilities; grand or conservative, indoors or out, on the ocean or in the mountains, on an island or in the dessert. In a greenhouse or a museum. Snowmobiling, helicopter tour, romantic stroll through downtown, or champagne picnic cliffside, post jump.
There are no rules and only a million possibilities to consider.
Buckle up, this is a longer one. But, it's worth the read if you're on the fence at all about if eloping or an intimate wedding is for you. You might be someone who is struggling to understand why someone close to you has decided to elope.
Here are the top reasons why people go this route.
It's not personal, it's personal.
Top 7 reasons to keep your wedding gathering intimate:
INTENSIONAL INTIMACY and AUTHENTICITY
A standard wedding day sees a couple separated until their wedding ceremony. Following the ceremony, there are licences to sign, guests to greet, photos to be taken, toasts and speeches to be made, often followed by inebriated dancing in a large group of sweaty people.
Probably the most disheartening part of a typical wedding day is the fact that a couple gets nearly zero time together during the entire day.
Ultimately, the day becomes about putting on a show for your guests; seating arrangements, their comfort, aesthetic of the location/venue including flowers, chair covers, rentals, etc. Touching on every guest stretches the couple thin and doesn't allow for meaningful interactions, there are menu considerations and dietary restrictions to consider, your guests dependants, your elderly family, being sure to thanking in every which direction, accommodating music choices... Even the vows are often written in a way that reflects what the couple thinks the audience wants to hear, trying to make them laugh or cry, versus just speaking honestly and openly with their partner.
The truth is though, 95% of these people are likely not with you week to week, and certainly not day to day, in your marriage. You are (maybe a close handful of others?). These moments on your wedding day should be for you. Not them. How is it that you can expect to be your very selves in front of, and playing host to, 100+ people? Many couples may not even think to consider this until the day is very close and all the RSVP's are in.
Overall, the message here is that, that's a lot of energy being redirected from your new spouse onto everything and everyone else.
Elopements and intimate weddings are designed to be intensional and personal. Your interactions are not spread so thin. They are wholesome and meaningful in nature, and include genuine conversations and experiences. Because they are calm, these events feel more memorable and fulfilling.
You and your new spouse will spend most of your day together, enjoying one another's company; either alone, or with a handful of your most valued family and friends, exactly as you are. The activities you choose, the music you hum and dance to, the vows you share are all your own, designed and tailored entirely for you, not them. And just like that, the wedding is shifted back to being for the couple.
LESS WASTE AND LOWER CARBON FOOTPRINT
...versus all that garbage.
Managing a huge gathering, all the needs of the guests, and ensuring they have a great time, is a lot of pressure on someone who has never had to arrange this type of thing before. It's also a lot of pressure on your budget and poor mamma earth.
I was listening to a wedding podcast yesterday, and heard that the average 100-120 guest wedding, produces 400-600lbs of garbage. I went to cross-reference this, and according to The Green Bride Guide, among many other publications, this seems to be the rule of thumb.
In Canada alone, in 2018, there were approximately 220, 000 weddings. Of course, that's not to say they were all "average" weddings. But, I feel it's relevant for some couples to consider the one-time-use products, massive food waste, favor packaging, flowers, decor, travel and individual consumerism waste of your guests mounts up. The carbon footprint of a wedding can be outstanding. There's the energy consumption of prepping and executing your day. How far is everyone is coming from (flights, rentals, etc.)? Hotels (Period.). There's prepping of venues, linens, lawns, gardens, and farming that needs to happen in order to provide yourselves with the most average wedding. Then there's the gifts you have no use for and the factory operations, packaging, and shipping that went into them, too.
There's so much happening behind the scenes that we don't tend to observe or consider, right? It's kind of eye opening to do a quick search into this topic and just see how you feel about it after educating yourselves.
Some people choose to elope or keep it intimate for those reasons alone.
At the very least, if you decide that a big wedding is for you, consider looking into ways to offset the impact your day is making, and find eco-friendly alternatives wherever you can. You can also take those vanilla, traditional speeches and make good use of them, taking a moment to educate your guests on causes that are important to you, on how your guests can help you to lower the impact of your day, just giving them some food for thought.
FAMILY DYNAMICS, GUESTS LISTS AND PEOPLE-PLEASING
...Then there are all sorts of sensitive family dynamics that just shouldn't have to be managed by a marrying couple. Butting heads with your sister, or a divorced couple who were your best friends. Your parents who can't be in the same room together or a mother/father you've always secretly resented. Ew. What a way to bring down the mood on your wedding day and keep it about them, not you. How awful to spend a fortune to accommodate everyone as best as you can and still have to manage highly volatile situations. That can turn into anxiety, tip-toeing and really take over the feeling of your day.
People-pleasing isn't for everyone either. Many people just aren't comfortable to play host to 100-150 people. They might feel awkward being the centre of massive attention. They don't want the pressure of making small talk with 150 people, including distant cousins, or friends of their parents.They don't feel comfortable putting on a show. Your guests won't feel like they got enough of you, and you'll feel you didn't get enough of your favourite people, or the ones who have contributed most to your life as a couple, or wedding day.
Then poof, everyone's gone home again. It's over.
Eloping and intimate weddings are inward facing only. They leave you with only those you are the very most comfortable around and who you can trust to fend for themselves. No hosting required. It's more your guests privilege to join along and serve you if at all possible.
There's only the carbon footprint of you or a few others which you can reasonably help to offset. No need for cheesy favours and thank you gifts. No need for the production. You spend time with the people who know you best and who you enjoy the best. Those who can appreciate your taste in music and activities. Those who know your kind of love almost as well as you do.
Most of all, your interactions are memorable when you're not having to juggle too many balls on your wedding day. Couples who hold intimate weddings have genuine conversations that last more than a moment or two. They can respectfully spend time with each witness as well as each other. They enjoy quiet moments. They laugh about old memories not from bring addressed in a speech, but from a valid exchange. And importantly, they make new memories with each other, and those people around them.
BUDGET AND QUALITY
With the average Canadian wedding coming in around $30,000, wedding budget is a legit concern. You don't want to start off your new life together on the wrong foot; in debt and possibly unhappy with the results of your big wedding. For some people, it's totally worth it. For many, it not. And it is a gamble.
Some people can truly afford to have it all. Most of us need a firm budget in place. And, the truth is, no amount of money is ever going to ensure that nothing goes wrong. Especially when maneuvering around so many different vendors, people and emotions.
Putting the focus on quality over quantity can help couples stay within a reasonable budget while buying the best of what they feel they need for their wedding, and leaving the rest behind. Eloping and intimate weddings provide couples with the freedom to really stick to the budget that they set, and plan something satisfying, but not wasteful. Planning a quality experience to generate favourable memories that you'll want to relive again and again is likely a far better use of your budget than party tents, trinket fans, chair covers and catering.
Affording what you actually want to do for your wedding is a fantastic feeling. No buyers remorse and debt guilt. Sticking to what you dreamt for your wedding day, if it means less guests, or no guests, is money well spent. Affording the trip you dreamt of taking, the environment and sights you've always wanted to see, affording the photographer you feel would best document your day, affording yourself the time you needed to draft your own vows... These are the things that will make you feel full at the end of the day. Not the fancy guest book, the uplighting or silverware.
A quick google of married couples wedding regrets will help you to see it from the other side of your wedding day.
PRIVACY AND RESPECT
Respect for yourselves, respect for others.
Perhaps you've been down this road before.
Perhaps there are complicated family dynamics, which I mentioned earlier.
Perhaps you lead a lifestyle that others are sensitive to.
Toning down the production to include only yourselves, or your accepting loved ones, is the path to freedom, I tell ya! It's the path to letting go and diving deep into your own wants and needs on your wedding day. You feel the desire to formally commit yourself to your other half... but you don't necessarily want to rub it in others faces, awkwardly exclude people, or endure others judgement.
OVERALL FREEDOM AND SIMPLICITY
Keeping it intimate allows you to live so freely and truly enjoy yourselves without any hesitation. I often refer to elopements and intimate weddings as "freedom weddings", because they really empower you to reach for the stars and achieve your wildest dreams, when you say "I do". To some couples, a party of two is so much bigger and better than a diluted day surrounded by a crowd.
During the lead-in, I mentioned a bunch of random scenarios in which you might find yourself saying "I do"as an eloper. Try coordinating 120 guests along to any of those scenarios. Eloping, you get to choose what will make your heart sing (without the approval and cooperation of nearly anyone else)... and then just do it. It's like going on a dream vacation and getting married in the process.
That's simple freedom at it's finest.
Keeping things simple allows couples to reflect on their why. Why are you getting married?
When plans remain simple, the shackles come off.
Simplicity equals that freedom I'm referring to above.
BEAUTY, SERENITY AND FLEXIBILITY
You are free to be your beautiful selves and display your beautiful love however feels right.
You can surround yourself with whatever setting is beautiful to you; something you've been longing to see with your own two eyes, or some place familiar and nostalgic to you.
You aren't limited by the freedom and mobility of anyone else or anything else so, take it all in, toots.
Eloping means you can handpick your location, right out of a fairytale. You can choose a space that gives you quiet and peace, an old stomping ground, or a new one you've never experienced before...one that challenges you, or one that is guaranteed to simply leave you shaking your head in jaw-dropping awe.
Intimate weddings let you pick up on the sounds and smells of your day; fresh wind blowing, birds chirping, water crashing, gravel crunching, hints of pine, lilacs, whatever... There's nobody delegating, nobody rushing you, no strict timelines to adhere to. You get to absorbe the serenity and let your day unfold in it's natural course.
What if the weather is out of control? Maybe there is a rain storm, snow storm, or mega-high winds. An elopement offers this incredible flexibility that traditional weddings just simply cannot. As long as your photographer is willing (and most of us would be!), shifting your wedding ceremony by 6 hours, or even pushing it until the next day is entirely possible.
Maybe splitting the day is also possible. Maybe aiming for sunrise portraits and then setting out at evening for your ceremony location feels like it makes sense.
Because this is about you. And, if it means switching the day around a little bit to make sure you get to say your vows in a way that feels powerful and incredible to you, it's what's gotta happen! There's very few (or no), rentals, venue, vendors, schedules, guests, or party to consider.
I love to encourage couples who are thinking of keeping it intimate on their wedding day for so many reasons. Overall,
It's freedom to be yourself and enjoy yourselves. This really translates well in the photographs of your day.
It's easier to stay within budget while still affording quality.
You can plan exactly what you picture as your ceremony.
You're free to personalize whatever meaningful/memorable kind of celebration you like.
There's no judgement from those involved. No hesitation based on the feelings, opinions, freedom or capabilities of others.
Less stress and distraction
Less waste/carbon footprint
No chaos, keeping things light
Beauty and serenity
Flexibility the day of
You encounter genuine interactions and experiences.
The day is memorable, exciting and fulfilling.
This feeling of ease opens up so many opportunities to illustrate your love story exactly as you are. Authentic, real, unique to you.
Documenting this type of union feels so real and fun, versus scripted and overly orchestrated.
If you're thinking of canning "big wedding" tradition, please reach out to discuss how I can help serve you in planning and photographing your authentic wedding day.
Ali Logan Photography Services
I am a Canadian elopement and intimate wedding photographer based out of Kingston, Ontario, Canada who is available for travel and adventure of all sorts. Try me! I offer inclusive packages to take the guesswork out of add-on fees.
I am involved. I support the planning process of adventure-style elopements and intimate weddings, and photograph them with a unique, timeless style and perspective for my clients to reflect on as the years pass by.
I also work with businesses and brands to create professionally curated photographic content to be used on social and other web channels to extend the reach of their businesses online, building connections with audiences while saving them time and money.
I am an inclusive person/photographer/business and encourage people and businesses from all walks of life to reach out to work with me.
#ygkelopementphotographer #ygkphotographer #ygkphotography #kingstonphotographer #kingstonphotography #kingstonengagementphotographer #kingstonportraitphotographer #kingstonsmallbusinessphotographer #kingstonsocialphotographer #ontariophotographer #ontarioengagementphotographer #ontariocouplesphotographer #smallweddingphotographer #intimateweddingphotographer #kingstonon #kingston_on #ontarioelopementphotographer #canadaelopementphotographer #adventureelopements #adventurewedding #coupleportraitphotographer #torontoelopementphotographer #ottawaelopementphotographer #bellvilleelopementphotographer #brockvilleelopementphotographer #guelphelopementphotographer #londonelopementphotographer #niagariafallselopementphotographer #montrealelopementphotographer #quebecelopementphotographer #novascotiaelopementphotographer #capebretonelopementphotographer #PEIelopementphotographer #newbrunswickelopementphotographer