5 Main Differences Between a Micro-Wedding and an Elopement

If your ideal wedding celebration includes the words “intimate” and laid-back, you’re normally leaning towards an elopement or a micro-wedding. While these terms get tossed together a ton, they’re two very different ways of celebrating your love. Here are a few key differences between a micro wedding and an elopement!

micro wedding in la jolla california


Elopements are between you and your partner! The only guests would be an officiant, a witness, and whoever is there to document the day. Your photographer or videographer can normally serve as your marriage witness.

Micro-weddings are smaller-scale celebrations that have a guest list under 50 people. These are your VIPs!


Elopements have a casual, loose timeline and are normally between 3-4 hours so that your intimate moments and private vows can be documented. If you’re hiring an officiant, hair & makeup artists, the only official times scheduled would be your hair & makeup end time, and ceremony start time.

Micro-Weddings on the other hand, while still having that casual timeline and a shorter ceremony, are structured more like a wedding! You’ll likely have more vendors, including catering and musicians, so will need to have more solid timing in place.


Elopements can essentially happen in any location you choose! While you will need a permit to be married in most public locations, like National Parks, there is more freedom in choosing your backdrop since you won’t be setting up an altar, chairs or a gathering space.

For micro-weddings, you can’t set up an altar, chairs and a dining area anywhere you want, so you’ll need a definitive wedding venue or even an Airbnb that allows for small gatherings.


Elopement planning includes filing marriage license documents, choosing a location, filing location permit paperwork, and hiring your chosen vendors. You’re normally looking for at least 3 out of this list: officiant, photographer, videographer, florist, hair & makeup. As an added bonus, you might want to have dinner reservations for two or bring the celebration back to your Airbnb or home. Otherwise, planning is very minimal!

Micro-Wedding planning has all of the above, plus inviting your guests, setting up a ceremony and seated dining area, adding catering to the list and any additional entertainment your heart desires. You likely also will want a wedding planner to help you gather your vendors and set things up day-of! I highly recommend reaching out to my list of SoCal wedding planners if you need some help.


Elopements typically can cost you between $6000 – $9000 when you add up costs of hiring a photographer, officiant, hair & makeup artists, filing for permits and finding your perfect wedding attire.

Micro-Weddings will run you a bit more, since you have a guest list and therefore, catering, entertainment, decor and a venue. Plan on spending around $12000 – $15000 here.

Choosing to Elope in California? Find out how easy it is!

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