Traditional Wedding or Elopement – Which Type of Wedding is Best for Me

Jared Jarvis

Owner and Lead Photographer
Jared Jarvis

Jared Jarvis

Owner and Lead Photographer
Jared Jarvis Photography

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Which Type of Wedding is Best For Me?

A client recently wrote me an email that included a very simple question: “What’s the difference between a traditional wedding and an elopement, and how do I know which type of wedding is best for me?” The unfortunate thing about this ‘simple question’ is there is not a simple answer. The answer will be different depending on the person, as each option is heavily dictated by your specific needs, wants, and style. 

Let’s start with a few basics:

What is a traditional wedding?
This answer will vary depending on who you talk to, but a traditional wedding is usually defined as a wedding that uses more traditional locations and timelines. For example, a church wedding followed by a reception at a reception hall would fall under that traditional wedding category. 

What is an elopement wedding?
For some reason, the word ‘elopement’ sometimes comes with a bit of a stigma. Perhaps because a long time ago the term referred to someone who “ran away secretly in order to get married, especially without parental consent” (that’s the actual definition). I’m here to tell you that never fear, for that stigma is no more! Elopements are truly awesome, and very popular in the Appalachian Mountains. Elopements are weddings that don’t follow a traditional flow, may take place in adventurous locations, and are usually shorter and include fewer guests compared to traditional weddings.

What is a micro-wedding / intimate wedding?
This is a bit of a bonus, and I won’t be going into a ton of detail on micro-weddings  (also called intimate weddings) in this post, but a micro wedding is usually similar in structure to a traditional wedding but may be shorter in time and may include smaller bridal parties and / or a smaller guest list compared to traditional weddings. Certain wedding venues actually cater to micro-weddings depending on your location.

What is a hybrid wedding?
A hybrid wedding is any mixture of multiple wedding styles. For example: You hike up on top of a mountain and have a short ceremony surrounded only by your closest friends and family, but you invite a larger guest list to celebrate with you at a traditional reception hall later in the evening.

How to Decide Which Type of Wedding is Best For You

Here are a few ideas that may help you narrow down which type of wedding may be best for you. I’m intentionally leaving budget out of the equation, as any type of wedding may be dictated by budget. Since all budgets are different, I am sticking to individual style traits that may help you decide which type of wedding is best for you.

Traditional Wedding
– A more traditional timeline appeals to you
– You like the idea of a more predictable wedding day
– You have a large guest list
– You prefer a large group celebrating with you
– You want a wedding that is grande in scale
– You want a traditional reception

Micro / Intimate Wedding
– You have a smaller guest list
– You prefer to be surrounded by close friends and family
– You want a shorter wedding / reception
– Your venue of choice caters specifically to Micro / Intimate Weddings

Elopement Wedding
– You have an adventurous personality
– You want to get married in a non traditional location
– You prefer a more intimate setting
– You want to be surrounded by only your closest friends and family
– You want to get married outside
– You prefer to get married in a lower stress environment
– You don’t mind foregoing the traditional reception

I hope this post was helpful. If you need further help narrowing down what type of wedding may be best for you, please don’t hesitate to contact me here. I’m experienced photographing all types of weddings, and would love to be considered as your photographer for your big day. Whether your wedding is more traditional, an elopement, or something in between, you deserve to plan it exactly how you want, in order to make it one of the most special and memorable days of your life.

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