The traditional definition of an elopement is wedding with just the couple present that is done in secrecy-family and friends are told about the “I dos” only after they’ve taken place.

But lately the definition has taken on an alternate meaning: marrying in the presence of a handful of guests (usually no more than four) in a courthouse or faraway place, similar to a destination wedding venue.

Both definitions require a marriage license from the county where the wedding will take place, an officiant, and a witness (who may or may not know the couple).

And just so we are clear, yes, there’s a difference between an elopement and a small wedding.

Let’s face it, a big wedding isn’t for everyone anymore.

Here are additional reasons an elopement is an attractive choice for many couples:

The guest list is small—usually under 10 people. In fact, some elopement ceremonies have no guests except for the officiant and witnesses.

The ceremony can take place anywhere—From your backyard or the county courthouse, where (and even when) you elope is somewhat flexible.

There is no reception—once the ceremony is over, it’s over. There’s no food served, first dances, or cutting of the cake. The lack of a reception is where the primary savings are found as catering, music, and a reception location often add up to a great expense.

An intimate wedding differs from an elopement in many ways.

For one, there is no secrecy like that of an elopement.

Secondly, the key difference from a standard wedding is the size of the guest list. There is often some type of reception after the ceremony.

An intimate wedding involves more guests than an elopement yet fewer guests than the standard wedding.

photograph Stories by Victoria, venue Gilbertsville Farmhouse, florals C & A Event Planning