April 12, 2022  •  5min read

Intimate vs Elopement Wedding – What’s the Difference?

intimate vs elopement wedding explain

Elopement and intimate weddings are two different things and knowing the difference can make the planning process for anyone who just got engaged.

Both ceremonies are naturally romantic and simplistic and don’t involve many guests. Even though downsizing weddings is becoming a trend to save money, there are services still essential no matter your wedding size, including professional wedding photography.

Every moment of your wedding is special and you’ll want to capture most parts of it. As you consider the kind of ceremony you want, understanding the difference between an elopement wedding and an intimate wedding can help you tailor the perfect ceremony. 

Definition of Intimate and Elopement Wedding

Let’s look at the meaning of both styles, so you can better understand both intimate and elopement weddings.

Elopement Weddings

An elopement wedding is an act of running away secretly in marriage, which evokes a sense of romance and adventure. This doesn’t only save you money but also eliminates the pressure of planning grand weddings. Here are some of the reasons why elopement is the type of wedding for some couples:

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The guests are usually under 10 people. Some elopement ceremonies don’t even have any guests except for the witnesses and officials.

You can have the ceremony anywhere! From the backyard or in the courtyard, it is also flexible when you want to have it.

There are no receptions in elopement weddings and it’s over once the ceremony is over. Therefore, serving food, first dance and cake cutting are all unnecessary. This is where the primary savings occur, as the reception is the time for catering, music and wedding cocktails.

Intimate Weddings

An intimate wedding is your typical wedding, except it has a smaller guest list. You’ll find the same giant banquet hall and the chicken and potatoes meal—however, it’s set in a smaller location with only one or two dozen guests.

Just because of the smaller guest size doesn’t always mean it costs less to hold an intimate wedding. In fact, couples tend to splurge more on intimate weddings where instead of spending $25,000 to cater to 120 people, they use the same amount and create fantastic people for the 20 guests they’ve invited.

Intimate weddings are non-traditional and are usually very relaxed. The bride and groom can get ready in the same house and stroll down casually in the hallway to have their first look. Sometimes, some formal seating for dinner isn’t even included. Even though the focus is on pretty portraits, they also focus on photojournalistic shots – a storytelling approach to the day for capturing every moment between you and your guests.

Intimate vs Elopement Weddings: in Photographic Terms

You only need 2 to 3 hours of coverage for elopement weddings. It only consists of capturing the ceremony and the portrait session. There aren’t any photography sessions for cocktail hours or reception coverage, as elopement simply doesn’t have these sessions. The photographer will only take 2 to 3 hours to capture the day’s ceremony and offer the images reflecting the hours they’ve spent.

On the other hand, intimate weddings are the same as a full “traditional” wedding. Couples usually still want the getting ready images, the ceremony, formal pictures with family members, and the reception coverage. Photographers can still spend up to 12 hours on an intimate wedding day.

Photographers and their costs don’t depend on how many guests you’ve invited. Therefore, if you choose an intimate or elopement wedding, you’ll still pay the same hourly rate whether they’ll be taking pictures of 2 people or 200 people, an hour if a photographer’s time remains the same. Suppose a photographer takes pictures of a 12-hour intimate wedding and a 12-hour traditional banquet hall wedding. In that case, you’ll likely get a similar number of pictures as both events to require the same amount of photography work.

Are Elopements Ideal for Photographers?

Photographers need a roof over their heads, feed their families and keep the electricity on with what they’ve earned from shooting weddings. Full day weddings are what they usually look for, which take place mostly on Saturdays. Photographers may also reserve Fridays and Sundays for weddings till around 7-10 weeks out when they might accept elopement weddings.

You shouldn’t expect photographers to reserve a date on Saturday (or Friday and Sunday) in advance for only a 2 or 3-hour shoot. These days are almost guaranteed to be filled with full-day weddings, which wedding photographers look for. If you find a photographer that offers a reserve on Saturday that is far in advance for only a few hours of the shoot, they’re likely to charge you a standard full-day rate for the proper compensation.

Wedding photographers couldn’t survive purely on elopement, as elopements are usually icing on the cake. This is why photographers usually offer actual elopement packages at a slightly lower rate.

Guntur author at Bali Wedding
Guntur has been writing tips and tricks for weddings in Bali since 2020. He has written everything from preparing a pre-wedding in Bali to the best wedding dress and makeup you should choose for a wedding in paradise.

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