What is an intimate wedding?

I'm just going to come out and say it...I LOVE INTIMATE WEDDINGS! They are by far my favourite kinds of wedding to shoot, and the more I have the opportunity to photograph intimate weddings, the more I think every bride and groom should at least entertain the idea of having an intimate wedding as opposed to grand, lavish affair. Now before I share with you why I highly recommend smaller and more intimate weddings, I do want to preface my thoughts with saying the following: I have nothing against big, beautiful weddings! If your dream has always been to have 200 or more guests attend your special day along with a three course meal at an exclusive wine estate with an open bar and an amazing DJ playing awesome tunes that everyone can break it down to on the dance floor - then please, don't let me stop you from having at it. This post is just me providing an alternative twist that can help you on your wedding day in order to make it special and uniquely you. So, let's talk intimate weddings... What is an intimate wedding? What isn't an intimate wedding? What to consider when it comes to wedding photography coverage and intimate weddings? Intimate weddings are just "normal" weddings but with a smaller guest list. The typical guest count of an intimate wedding is typically anywhere between 20 - 50 people. Now, this isn't necessarily a hard and fast rule especially because our life experiences can play a big part in how we view and define what a small or large gathering is. In some families, 300 people attending a wedding would be about normal, so if they were to attend a wedding of just 100 people - well, things would feel pretty small and intimate to them. Conversely, there are some families who are so small that weddings or family gatherings already feel small and intimate by default, so if you put that same family in a gathering of 100 people or more then it's probably safe to assume that the gathering will feel anything but small and intimate to them. Having said this - regardless of where you fall when it comes to life, family experiences and perceptions - a good guideline to follow when it comes to weddings and guest lists is that: 20 - 50 people is typically considered to be a small wedding by most wedding vendors. 50 -150 is typically considered to be a medium wedding by most wedding vendors. 150 guests or more is typically considered to be a large wedding by most wedding vendors. In recent times, there have been a lot of people wanting intimate weddings and there has also been a rise in elopements, and while the two types of weddings may hold a similar appeal, it is important to note that intimate weddings and elopements are not the same thing! Strictly - and perhaps even traditionally speaking - elopements are when two people secretly slip away in order to get married. Today, sometimes the elopement isn't so secret and can even be done with the blessing of the couple's families. Some people elope and have a ceremony where it's just their chosen photographer and the officiant who are present while some couples "elope" with just their families present. And while I have no doubt that this may feel very intimate, personal and special, it still isn't considered a intimate wedding per se. When it comes to wedding photography, it is my opinion that the biggest difference elopements and intimate weddings is they type of wedding day coverage that each kind of wedding requires and the subsequent workload that the photographer has to deal with after the fact. Now, I will come right out and say that I am not an elopement photographer - not because I have anything against elopements (to each their own and what works for them) but simply because it's just not my thing. I'm more of a traditional type of gal who's more into the classics then anything else and my heart naturally resonates with similar type of things and like-minded couples. Anyways, what I'm really trying to say is that when it comes to photography, I don't have any experience working with eloping couples...BUT...I do know several photographers who do shoot both elopements and "regular" weddings and one thing that they all tell me consistently across the board is that the kind of wedding day coverage they provide to eloping couples greatly differs from the kind of wedding day coverage that they provide at larger weddings. The biggest difference is the length of the wedding day coverage. Elopements typically need 2 or 3 hours of coverage - the photographing of the ceremony followed by a beautiful portrait session with the newlyweds and that's it. No getting ready images. No cocktail hour pictures, And definitely, no reception images. Where as larger weddings and even intimate weddings typically require more coverage then that. While intimate weddings may only differ from "normal" weddings in guest list size, when it comes to wedding day coverage - the work load for the photographer can often times remain exactly the same. As with normal weddings, an intimate wedding may still require getting ready shots; ceremony coverage; family formals; bridal party photos and of course, a gorgeous bridal portrait session. Then there's also the reception and all the special events that it contains - cutting the cake; throwing the bouquet; the giving of speeches; the first dance and any other special events that the couple wants included and documented in their reception. All of this is to say that from a photographic point of view, elopements and the amount of work that it requires from a photographer differs greatly from an intimate wedding and the amount of work that it requires from the photographer - this is the biggest reason why intimate weddings and elopements are not the same thing! If you're interested in learning more about intimate weddings, I'll be writing more blog posts where I share more of my thoughts on the subject and why I think you should - at the very least - entertain the the idea of having having an intimate wedding for your special day! In the meantime, feel free to drop your thoughts and comments below. I look forward to reading what you have to say. Thanks for reading and I'll chat to you again soon! Rachel

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