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Elopement vs Wedding, how to know what is right for you

Elopement vs Wedding vs Micro-Wedding

You've just gotten engaged, how do you decide between an elopement vs. wedding? This photo shows a Denver Studio Engagement, at Realm Denver. Engagements are where the wedding planning starts, here is how to decide what ceremony is best for you!

So you’re engaged! Congrats! You’ve found your person, and that’s the hardest part. But what to do next? Elopement vs wedding vs micro-wedding?

One benefit of living in the 21st Century is that there are many different celebration options for your marriage. From elopements to large weddings to the new fashionable micro-wedding, it can be overwhelming to start to determine what makes the most sense for you and your partner. 

First, let’s breakdown what each of these terms means.

An Elopement is traditionally just you and your partner, and occasionally your pet. It used to be that elopements were usually secret and gave the impression that a couple was “running away with” one another. Today many eloping couples chose to tell friends and family beforehand or send out announcements after. It’s entirely up to you!

The new term Micro-Wedding has been thrown around a lot because of COVID. Micro-Weddings usually consist of 30 or fewer people. In other words, they considered intimate affairs that generally only involve the closest friends and family.

Weddings typically have a larger guest count than the other celebrations, with most large weddings involving 100-300 people.

It can get confusing because technically, all of these are weddings! You’re still marrying your person and promising each other forever. None of these options is necessarily better than than the other; there is only the best option for you.


Here are the top questions to ask yourself when deciding on the type of celebration you’d like to have. In an elopement vs a wedding, it’s really all about preference!

What will feel most true to ourselves?

This question involves a little bit of inquiry work together. Are you the type of couple who likes to host guests? Do you prefer adventures by yourselves? What are the most romantic moments you’ve had together? Talk with each other about what type of ceremony would feel the truest to you as a couple. Do you want other people to be watching? Have you always envisioned your wedding a certain way? How can you create a day that revolves first and foremost around you?

Adventurous Colorado Elopement Inspiration by Josie V Photography. How do you decide between an elopement vs a wedding? Here a couple hikes into the water for their adventurous Colorado elopement. This mountain lake is backdropped by the Rocky Mountains of Colorado, creating a perfect reflection and stunning elopement inspiration.

What will be the least stressful?

There are lots of moving parts to a 200 person wedding day. Sometimes the planning, dealing with friends and family, and budgeting can become stressful. I have seen many weddings where the couple couldn’t concentrate on the moment, due to demands from their family or other guests. If you aren’t great at setting boundaries with friends and family, you may want to consider a smaller ceremony.

I always recommend getting a planner for whatever type of wedding you have to help organize the details and take the stress off of you on the day. Planner’s and other vendors can help run interference so that you aren’t being bombarded with logistics and details on the day, making sure you can focus on the moment. Many of us have complicated problems with family, and ultimately, it comes down to the question of if you be more stressed if friends and family weren’t there? Or if they were?

Lesbian elopement photos on top of a Colorado mountain at sunset during the fall. Lesbian couple went with an elopement vs a wedding. Together they run through the fields on top of a mountain pass in Colorado.

What do we have the budget for?

The average wedding cost here in Colorado is $30,000. And that’s just the average! Lots of couples simultaneously hit house hunting and wedding planning all at once. These two significant life events can be stressful financially. Add in child planning you have the possibility of needing lots of money all at once. While some people may have the good fortune to be given money from their parents, many couples are not or may not wish to take said money. If you’re someone whose parents have saved for your wedding, you may be thrilled, or you may feel pressured and stressed! However you feel is okay, and the best thing to do is honor your feelings. You don’t have to accept any money given to you. If you think this money will become a burden, don’t take it! Plan the wedding you can afford and spare yourself the guilt about the rest. If this money feels right to you and is something you want to use, go for it! If no one is giving you cash for your wedding, talk together and come up with a budget that seems reasonable for you.

I always recommend discussing the top three most important aspects of your day with one another and using those aspects to estimate your budget first. For example, for every guest you invite, you’ll need to provide food, drink, invitations, and most rentals like plates and chairs. For instance, most people spend around $50-$100 per guest. A great way to determine your guest count is to ask yourself do I want to spend X amount on this person? It may seem harsh, but it’s true.

Bold Colorado bride looks out over her wedding at Bonnie Blues Venue in Elizabeth, Colorado. Bride wears a bold Sweet Caroline Styles gown with a unique wedding bouquet that includes fresh fruit.

Are my friends and family the type of people I’d like to throw a party for?

We each have different people in our lives. Therefore, if you threw a party for your friends and family, would they enjoy it? Would they appreciate what you enjoy? Would you be able to plan a celebration that is everything you want and everything most guests would enjoy? If your values don’t match with your guests, it won’t be a great time. While planning my wedding, we knew that our friends and family loved to dance, and since a great dance floor was one of the most important things to us, we knew our values would line up, creating an enjoyable experience for everyone involved! Similarly, if you want to get married in a remote location but know your friends and family will bitch about getting there, don’t invite them. It’s all about matching values.

Photo from a Downtown Denver wedding at the Denver Athletic Club in Colorado. Wedding reception photography inspiration. Fun wedding reception photos at a Colorado Wedding Venue.| Wedding Photography | Josie V

Bride and Groom party with their friends at a romantic Wilmington wedding at the Brooklyn Arts Center. Fun reception photos for you wedding. | Wedding Photography | Josie V


What will be the most meaningful?

In the same vein, to the first question, this will take a bit of inquiry work together. What are the parts that you’ll look back on in 20 years and be so grateful that you included? For example, will you want to remember the mist on your face as you said your vows on a quiet mountaintop? The love and joy from friends and family surrounding you? How connected you felt to each guest? Above all, what will help you remember feeling authentic and present? 

Dog surrounded by couple at their wedding. Puppy wears flower collar for wedding photos. In deciding between an elopement vs wedding do you want to have your dog there? This couple included their dog in the ceremony and the afterparty.


Elopement vs Wedding vs Micro-Wedding

In conclusion, start here, start with self-inquiry, and start by honoring yourselves. There are a lot of different deciding factors between an elopement vs a wedding vs a micro-wedding, but only you can truly know what is the best fit for you. However, try to make this decision before talking to too many people. People will always have their opinions about what you should do, but their opinions will also always be affected by their own desires. You deserve to have whatever ceremony fits you the best, trust yourself!

Couple reads their vows to one another during their adventurous Colorado fall elopement. Their dog stands with them on this snowy mountaintop ceremony.

Stuck between deciding on an elopement, or a wedding? Check out these blog posts to see previous celebrations!

Elopement: Jeremy + Domenico

Wedding: Erika + Pat

Planning your own celebration and want some guidance + killer images?

Get in touch!


  1. Sandra says:

    This is such a great breakdown of the different options thank you for this! Also, stunning photos!

  2. Jessica says:

    This is such a comprehensive list for couples who are deciding what is the best fit for them! I totally agree that it’s about honouring themselves and going with their gut. Also, beautiful images to accompany these tips!

  3. Thijsiena says:

    that is such a great idea to make a guide for what kind of wedding type your are or even what different options there are.
    Thank you so much for this information. ilove the pictures and styl

  4. I 1000% wish I had had this when I was planning my own wedding! Good stuff that’s not always talked about until you’re already invested in one way of getting married…

  5. Lucy says:

    Such a great resource for couples trying to decide what is best for them! I can imagine how confusing it can get for them, so this could definitely help!

  6. Leah says:

    Great guide! Thanks!

  7. Liv says:

    OKAY. WOWOWOWOW!!! This blog post is just what everyone needs right now!! I’ve seen so much confusion between an elopement, micro wedding, and traditional wedding and this post just perfectly explained all the differences and is so helpful for anyone wrestling to make this decision!

  8. Samantha says:

    love love love this!!! Sooooo helpful for those who don’t know the difference!! Love this!

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