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Should we just elope or have a proper wedding? Tips to help you decide.

Updated: May 18

FFS.. what’s a “proper” wedding. The real beauty of the way we do weddings in Australia in the 21st century is that there are virtually no rules anymore. A few around the legal aspects of marriage but none about what the ceremony should look like.

The word “elope” seems to mean different things to different people o I’d like to take the time to talk about it from an industry professional’s perspective.

should-we-elope, elopement, small-wedding, micro-wedding
Intimate hinterland elopement

What is an elopement?

In the past, eloping was what Romeo & Juliet did. It was sneaking out of the bedroom window in the middle of the night, running away and getting married. Up until very recently (and if you ask anyone over 50 they will all agree) eloping still meant sneaking off and getting married without telling anyone.

The idea of “eloping to Vegas” is because Nevada doesn’t have a long waiting period between getting a marriage license and being allowed to have your ceremony. (My previous blog post was explaining how/why we don’t have “marriage licenses” in Australia and what we do instead if you’re interested).

For a genuine elopement all you have are the couple, their celebrant and two witnesses over 18 (and their kids if they have any, obvs). These days I hear people talking about an elopement with “only 20 guests” which if you want to be pedantic (and I usually do) is NOT an elopement. It’s a Micro-wedding.

How is a micro-wedding different to an elopement?

Post covid, the average number of guests that attend a wedding has dropped quite a bit. I think the pandemic made us realize that if mum’s old neighbour’s second cousin wasn’t invited (even though mum went to their wedding in 1982) the world didn’t come to an end.

I rarely have a gig now with more than 40 guests and do way more with only a dozen or so than even two years ago. Thanks to the interest rates going up like a rocket at Riverfire there’s just way less cash to splash around.

A lot more of these micro-weddings (with 20 or less people) are happening at home or in a local restaurant because venues haven’t caught up with what’s going on. Sit tight, because I’m sure that many that are still imposing minimum number of 100, 80, or even 50 will lower that limit. They will have to.

should-we-elope, micro-wedding, small-wedding, why-elope, intimate-wedding
Micro-wedding with less than 20 guests

With an elopement or a micro-wedding, that whole long introduction where the celebrant writes and tells your entire love story from first meeting to the proposal isn’t necessary; everyone there knows what happened. That’s why they’re generally quicker and cheaper, it’s got nothing to do with the number of guests.

With me you can choose to have me write a ceremony uniquely for you and incorporate your passions and dreams or pick a registry style ceremony from my book. My favourites are the private elopements when my couple trusts me to surprise them on the day which I think is a great way to make it special for them.

So, should we elope, have a small wedding, or go the whole Big Fat Wedding?

Gone are the days when the bride’s dad just paid for everything; fathers of girls knew the time would come and many saved up for it (mine did) (a very long time ago). The 21st century is a lot different.

  • Most couples are paying for it themselves

  • Many couples already have a family

  • Many either already have a mortgage or are saving their deposit.

Should you elope?

  • Do you want to spend the least amount of money?

  • Are you really introverted and don’t want to be the centre of attention?

  • Do you feel it’s a very intimate event and you’d be happier with just you and your kids?

  • Not having a wedding party (bridesmaids or other attendants)

  • Do you just want to be married with no fuss at all?

Then yes. What you need is an elopement.

Should we have a micro-wedding?

  • · Do you want to share the moment with your immediate family and a handful of best friends?

  • · Just one attendant each

  • · Do want it a bit luxe but don’t want to spend tens of thousands?

  • · Or do you want to get married in your own back yard and have a barbie afterwards?

  • · Are you comfortable being the centre of attention for a short time in front of your closest friends and family?

  • · Are you having between 5 and 25 people at your wedding?

This is a micro-wedding and if you answered yes to a few of these, it’s probably the best choice for you.

should-we-elope, micro-wedding, small-wedding, intimate-wedding, big-fat-wedding
The Big Fat Versace Wedding

When does a micro-wedding become a full blown wedding?

  • If you’re inviting over 30 guests and it may be a small wedding but it’s not micro

  • If each of you having two, three or even more attendants

  • Your wedding invites include plus ones

  • The photographer is booked for the reception as well as the ceremony

  • There’s a cocktail hour between the ceremony and reception

  • You’re pretty sure you need an MC

  • Your budget is over $20k

I can help you with all of these and more; we haven’t even touched on DIY backyard weddings, which are a particular love of mine. Whatever the size of your celebration there’s a package to suit your dreams and your budget if you head over to the weddings page.

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