Maybe circumstances has forced you to think in new ways. Maybe the traditional has never really felt like the right fit for you. Or maybe you've come to realize some values that are important to you and you want your wedding to reflect that.
Firstly I want to line out what the traditional wedding often is, so that we can talk about alternatives to that. And this of course is my definition from having shot a 100+ weddings. A traditional wedding is full day event with 60 to 200+ guests. Beginning in the morning with preparations and culminating in a big dinner with a following party that goes on into the night. What's inside the frame doesn't have to be classic, but this is a classic frame for a wedding.
An elopement is an intentional intimate, smaller wedding. Often it is just the couple, but it can be with a smaller party too, up to 25 people. An elopement indicates that you travel somewhere else to get married. When you elope it is because you do not want to have the big wedding with all that follows and the traditions to define your day and your ceremony. You want to focus on just the two of you and what's important to you. Here's a quote from Becca & Reid.
"When we started planning a wedding, we quickly realized that we weren’t planning the wedding for us. We were trying to please everyone else. When we thought about our wedding, what we really wanted was to keep it simple and stress-free so that we could focus on what really mattered: our marriage and lifelong commitment. We knew that our family and friends would support us no matter what and that we would have opportunities to celebrate in the future."
Elopements of course can be whatever you want them to be or however you want them to be. Here are three examples of what it could look like:
1: The two of you.
You go to a country or a specific place in your own country that speaks to you and you have a small vacation. You spend two days or more and explore the sites and cities in that country or region. On your wedding day you go to the townhall and have a beautiful, small ceremony, after which you might spend a few hours with a photographer and then go to a restaurant in the evening or what romantic gesture is your juice.
Example: You go to Denmark and spend some days in the capitol Copenhagen. After that you go to the old town of Ribe at the West Coast and have your ceremony at The Old Townhall. You go on a photoshoot at the wast beaches of the West Coast for a few hours and spend the evening with a romantic dinner. After a day or two in Ribe you could go to another big town in Denmark, Århus and spend some days exploring that.
2: A small party
As above, but you have invited your close family and/or friends to come join you. Maybe they come in for a day or two or you all go together for a week. Or anything in between. This is a matter of budget and how you want to plan that. If they pay for their own travel and stay, you can take care of food and drinks. If you pay for everything - travel and accommodation - of course you need a rather large budget. On the day of your wedding or the day before you can have a photographer join you and shoot parts of the day or the whole day.
Example: You go to Mallorca for 10 days and ask your close family and/or friends to come join you for 3-4 days. You spend a day just hanging out and enjoying that they are there. On the second day of their stay, you have your wedding. You spend the morning together and then around noon you all split up and get ready. Late afternoon you have a beautiful ceremony at the beach, followed by a cocktail hour. You spend half an hour on portraits in the evening sun, after which you join your loved ones again for a dinner under olive trees and string light.
3: Adventure elopement.
The option for the wanderers, the ones who wants to get out and be one with nature. If you really want to get away and just be the two of you, surrounded by amazing scenery and landscapes, an adventure elopement really tells a unique story that is very personal to you. You choose a location for your ceremony and a huge part of the adventure is getting to that location. Depending on the location, you probably cannot have an officiant there, but that actually is not a problem at all. Because you can take care of the legal ritual beforehand and then have the commitment ceremony on your dream location.
Example: You choose to have an adventure elopement to get away from it all and focus on the two of you and you want to go to Icelands black beach for the ceremony. You have the legal ritual done a few days before the wedding. The day before your wedding you meet with your photographer - who of course has been a part of or is in on the planning - and run through the details of the wedding hike. On the day of your wedding you either hike in your wedding clothes or you pack it and change when you get there. On the location you have chosen wedding vows as your ceremonial act. This is a heartfelt and warm moment where you commit to each other and make your promises to spend your life together. Surrounded by majestic scenery.
A micro wedding is like a big traditional wedding, only with fewer guests. Or you could say a micro wedding is like an elopement, just with more focus on tradition.
Either way, a micro wedding is when you just don't want the hustle or budget of a big wedding and want to be more free. And it is understandable. If you celebrate with a 100 people or more, you need a big budget. And many people feel they could do so much more for fewer people with less money. And then spend those saved money on travel or a new house. Or maybe you just don't have 50.000 euro to spend, so you'd have to compromise and you feel like it's not gonna be your wedding anyways.
And let's be honest. 100+ guests aren't the nearest and dearest for most people. If you want to have 100+ people there, it is fantastic. Just have them there because you want to, not because you think you have too. That is very important, I can't stress that out enough.
With fewer guests comes less planning, less work, less concern about execution, less opinions, but a lot of other options. You suddenly open up for a variety of places and venues, that are not an option with big weddings. Bars, cafes, restaurants, galleries, parks. Your favorite cocktail place. And those places already come with their own decor, so you don't even need to think about that.
As for the ceremony you can have the more traditional and add in your own touch, for example reading your vows, which I think work wonderful for intimate setting. Or you can make your very own ceremony as you want it.
And worth mentioning here is the minimony. The minimony is just like a micro wedding, just even smaller with only up to 10 to 12 guests. But it still holds on to many of the traditions of the classic wedding. And then it is often followed up by a larger celebration at some later point.