Robert Carr Chapel Wedding in Fort Worth by DFW Wedding Photographer Kyrsten Ashlay Photography

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Traditional Wedding vs. Intimate Wedding vs. Elopement: What’s The Difference?

Wedding Wednesday

January 25, 2021

Elopement vs. Intimate Wedding: Choosing Your Perfect Wedding Day

While downsizing weddings is a growing trend due to that pesky pandemic, I believe this trend is here to stay. So, what’s the difference between an elopement and intimate wedding?

While these smaller do tend to save money, there are some vendors you shouldn’t skip, like hiring a professional wedding photographer. 

As you consider the type of wedding you want, understanding the difference between an elopement and an intimate wedding will help choose which one is best for you. 

What’s an Elopement?Sunset Cliffs, San Diego Elopement by Dallas based Destination Wedding Photographer

By definition an elopement is “an act or instance of running off secretly, to be married”. However, not all elopements need to be done secretly. 

An elopement can take place anywhere – from the courthouse, a destination location, to even your backyard. Typically, elopements have no guests except for the officiant and the photographer who acts as your witness. If there are guests the list is typically smaller around 10 people. 

Elopements are more ceremony-focused since there’s not a formal reception for elopements. 


You might save money — you can invest in the details that matter most to you

It’s more intimate — the whole day is about you & your fiancé 

Less stress & more flexibility

More “You” focused rather than “guest” focused


You may miss your loved ones at the ceremony

Your decision may cause some hurt feelings in your family and loved ones. 

Elopement Galleries:

Boho Winter Elopement

Sunset Cliffs Elopement

Untraditional Galveston Elopement

What’s an Intimate Wedding?Eagle Mountain Lake Wedding

The key difference between an intimate wedding from a traditional wedding is the size of the guest list. The focus is keeping the guest list smaller yet still enjoyable for your guests. Typically, intimate weddings are 25-50 guests.  

Having a smaller guest list means you can splurge on what matters to you — your details, the venue or destination, gourmet dinner options, craft cocktails, or fabulous entertainment. This really allows you to create a personalized experience for your guests. 

Intimate weddings make for a great destination wedding but also for local weddings.  In short, an intimate wedding is a smaller-scale wedding that lets you save on your overall wedding budget and gives you more room to play with your budget due to the smaller guest count.


You can celebrate with those closest to you 

More relaxed timeline for the day 

Wedding budget goes further to splurge on what matters most to you


More planning involved than an elopement

Some family/friends could get hurt feelings for not being invited 

Can be expensive 

Intimate Wedding Galleries:

Robert Carr Chapel Intimate Wedding

Fall Dallas Intimate Wedding

Eagle Mountain Lake Intimate Wedding

Intimate Fort Worth Wedding

Pros & Cons of a Traditional Wedding:


You can celebrate your marriage with your family & friends

You’ll create lots of memories with your loved ones & get lots of treasured photos of those people


Can be expensive

Lot’s of planning 

Less relaxed timeline 

Your wedding day whether you choose an intimate affair, an elopement, or traditional wedding deserves to be captured by a professional wedding photographer. Your wedding is not less than your more traditional extravagant affairs. 

Now, making the choice between eloping vs. intimate wedding vs. a traditional wedding will be a completely personal decision. Weigh your options. Take a moment to sort through the pros and cons and choose what is most important to you. 

if you found this blog post helpful, check out these posts:

Questions You WANT to Ask a Wedding Photographer

5 Reasons You Need an Engagement Session

Wedding Advice from KAP Brides

looking for a wedding photographer?

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Kyrsten Ashlay Photography is a Dallas Wedding Photographer specializing in romantic, heartfelt, timeless imagery for joyful couples. If you’re looking for a wedding photographer to capture your special day in Dallas or  the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex, I’d love to hear from you! Send me a note – can’t wait to connect!

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