For the longest time, NYC weddings have been divided up into two main types. There are your traditional weddings, where you, your families and all your friends gather together to celebrate. And then there are elopements which, typically are you two, your officiant and your New York City wedding photographer. However, times are changing!
For one thing, New York elopements don’t have to be as confined anymore. And, in recent years, the micro-wedding has very much become a thing. But what’s the difference between them and elopements? And how do you decide which option works best for you both? Keep reading to find out everything you need to know about elopements vs micro-weddings and how to choose which is right for you.
The first key difference between NYC elopements and micro-weddings is about how many guests you have along with you. Remember, elopements were traditionally carried out in secret. They involved a couple running away to marry, with no friends or family to witness the event. While elopements don’t have to be a big secret these days, some elements still carry through. There is still very much a sense of it just being about you two.
So, New York City elopements, for the most part, are the two of you, your officiant and your NYC elopement photographer. Of course, because there’s less emphasis on the “secret” part these days, the rules are a lot more flexible. So, people do sometimes include their most immediate family members and bring them along.
However, if you’re considering eloping with more than those few people, then you’re moving into the realms of a micro-wedding.
Micro-weddings look very much like their bigger, more traditional siblings, only smaller! While the definition varies depending on where you look, most agree the number of guests for a micro-wedding is up to 50. You may know it as an intimate wedding, which confirms these weddings as smaller and more personal.
We bet you know how guest lists can get kind of wild when it comes to planning a wedding. When you start thinking about how many people there are to invite, the numbers can soon climb into the hundreds. So, think about the guestlist for a micro-wedding as those true VIP guests, people you can’t imagine doing your day without!
For larger weddings, the wedding day timeline holds a lot of importance. It covers exactly how the order of the day will go to keep things running smoothly. That’s because you’re dealing with a lot of people in one place and, if you didn’t have a timeline to follow, chaos would reign!
With Brooklyn and Manhattan elopements, you’re only dealing with what you both want. You’re not having to keep a large group of guests entertained while you finish getting ready. You don’t need to keep lots of people fed and watered so that everyone stays happy and relaxed. When it comes to elopements, the only people you have to please are yourselves!
That’s why elopements throw the wedding rule book out of the window. And it’s why lots of couples going the elopement route choose to have an adventure and a day filled with unforgettable memories. With an elopement in NYC, you can choose to get ready together. You can have a first look that can take place in any way, shape or form you want. Your ceremony format can be totally personalized. You might like to exchange personal vows or read out letters to one another.
Plus, you can get wed at any time of day you choose – super early in the morning, later closer to sunset, whatever works for you two. Because that’s all you need to worry about! There also isn’t a need for a wedding breakfast or formal dinner. You can do whatever feels right for you, book a restaurant, grab a slice of pizza or have a picnic in the park if you prefer. And you don’t need to worry about formalities like a first dance, cutting the cake or speeches either. You can have the day you want and have your elopement photographer in NYC capture it all for you.
A micro-wedding, on the other, is a traditional wedding on a smaller scale. It follows more of a format, so you’ll want to include some formalities like a meal or food, speeches and so on. You can still have things like a first look with a micro-wedding. But your timeline may look a little more like a traditional wedding to allow for guests to get there on time.
The beauty of an elopement is that you can have it in any place you like with very little need for prior preparation (although do bear in mind, here in New York City, there may be places where it’s best to get a permit!). You might opt for a City Hall elopement, with a whistle-stop tour of the city for lots of fabulous photographs.
Or you might prefer to get married in a special location, like one of these beautiful spots in Central Park or one of these iconic NYC locations. Because you only have to worry about the two of you, the possibilities for locations are endless. So, have a good explore of the city and choose a place that means something to you both for a wedding full of meaning.
A micro-wedding, meanwhile, does have the added consideration of guests, even if there are less than a bigger, more traditional wedding. With a micro-wedding, you’re more likely to need to pre-plan and book a venue or location to make sure you can all be in the same place at the same time!
However, when it comes to a micro-wedding, the fact that you only have a small group of guests does offer you more flexibility. It may be that you could host a backyard wedding, something we’re seeing a lot more of in recent times. Backyard weddings are wonderful because they’re typically in your own home or a parent’s house, so there are lots of personal touches. And, if it’s a home you grew up in, this can be a super memorable occasion for everyone involved.
Another option is to book a restaurant or some other small venue if you’d prefer not to do it at home. Wherever you decide, an intimate, micro-wedding will still allow you to enjoy the day with your favorite people whilst having a little more freedom to choose where it will be!
Of course, we were going to chat about the money at some point! Because, while elopements and micro-weddings are more budget-friendly, there are still a few differences between them.
As you might suspect, elopements are lower budget than micro-weddings because you’re not paying for a venue or catering. However, depending on the type of elopement you go for, it’s possible to end up spending more. Adventure elopements, with helicopter trips and impressive locations, can max out the elopement budget. But it’s possible to keep things low budget and low key, yet still beautiful and memorable.
As we mentioned, though, with micro-weddings, there’s that added element of putting on a spread for your guests. Yes, it won’t be as pricey as a wedding with 100+ guests, but feeding up to 50 people comes with a cost. You can keep budgets on the lower side by booking things like food trucks, a BBQ or a buffet as an option for food, though. And we love the idea of guests bringing along items for an informal way of doing things.
Ultimately, the focus of an elopement really is all about you two. Because there’s no one else there, other than your officiant and New York wedding photographer, of course, to focus on! Many couples elope because they don’t want to deal with having to please a crowd of people. There’s nothing like an elopement for doing exactly as you please!
With a micro-wedding, there is more of an emphasis on the event as a whole. You’ll want to make sure your guests are having a great time, have food to eat and drinks to enjoy, and that everyone is happy. That can take the focus off of the two of you, but, on the plus side, it is far less overwhelming than a much larger event with hundreds of guests to try and please. While not being totally all about you two, micro-weddings are usually a more informal kind of wedding. So, you can have a little fun and use your imagination when you plan it!
Whatever you decide, we’ll always recommend having a great NYC wedding photographer (or two!) to capture it all for you. We had a micro-wedding ourselves, with 27 guests, and we love looking back at all the amazing Brooklyn wedding photos to stir up the memories of our day. We’d love to chat with you about your elopement or micro-wedding! Get in touch, and let’s book a chat. We can’t wait to hear about all your plans!
Hudson Valley, Westchester, and Catskills wedding photographers for non-traditional couples. Available in Ulster County, Orange County, Dutchess County, and beyond. Wedding photographers based in Beacon, NY serving all throughout the Greater New York Area including Tarrytown, Hudson, Kingston, and more. Proudly serving LGBTQ+ couples.
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