Many little girls dream of a big fancy wedding, complete with all your family and friends. In 2019, The Knot estimates the average number of wedding guests in the United States was more than 130 guests. However, due to covid-19 and the every changing world, we expect guest counts to drastically drop for the remainder of 2020 and into 2021. If you’ve decided to reduce the number of guests at your wedding, due to government restrictions, cutting costs, or simply because you want to celebrate just the two of you, we’ve got you covered with 7 ways to turn your big wedding into an elopement or intimate wedding, and still have the big wedding feel!

A note From Dee and Kris: Shelter in place guidelines vary by state and county and continue to change, daily. If you are planning an elopement or continuing with your wedding plans during the covid-19 outbreak, remember to follow your government guidelines. As a company, we will be adhering to the CDC recommended guidelines, including wearing a mask and keeping a 6ft distance until the shelter in place order has been lifted.

Elopement Vs. Intimate Wedding

Let’s start by breaking down the difference between an elopement and small intimate weddings and decide what works for your special day. An elopement comes from the idea of secretly running off to get married and telling family and friends after your officially married. Elopements generally happen during the week with 3 to 4 people: the bride, the groom, a photographer, and your officiant. Maybe a witness or two, but you can use your photographer. It’s the most cost effective, and requires very little planning. 

An intimate wedding implies you will be inviting some guests, under 25 people. Many intimate weddings are similar to elopements in the sense that they day is about your ceremony and your love without a huge reception and fancy party. When hosting an intimate wedding you might make plans for a nice dinner for your guests, a few decorations, and possibly a group activity before or after you’re married. 

Whether you decide to do an elopement or an intimate wedding, instead of your original big wedding plans, Dee and Kris are here for you and can’t wait to help you celebrate your love. We have come up with 10 ways to take your big wedding plans and create a one of a kind small intimate wedding or elopement.

Plan Your Day Around Photography

While we might be a little bias, we think many would agree photography is one of the most important pieces to an incredible elopement, aside from the two of your getting married of course! You have already done a bunch of research to find the perfect wedding day photographer, so work with us to bring your vision to life! Whether your elopement happens at your original venue, or a new adventurous location, we can help make the day feel like it was meant to be.

Since your day is more striped down than originally planned, we have time for a killer romance session. We’ll help you plan your elopement time around the sunset so we have an opportunity to capture some incredible shots. We’ll have time to more a more in-depth session with you so feel free to bring some props, a second outfit, or a secondary location!

Bring Your Big Weddings Details to Your Elopement

Since you’ve been planning your wedding for 6 month to a year, (or even two years!) you have all these special details that were going to be a part of your wedding day. Good news, because you DON’T have to give these things up. We encourage you to bring your original wedding day details like: your invitation suite, ribbon decor, welcome signs, Mr. & Mrs. signs, or guest gifts. Without the rush of a busy wedding day, we have time to turn your elopement into a stylized shoot. We’ll be able to work together to create beautiful detail shots, exactly how you imagined it. If you were planning to rent decor, and cannot get the retainer back, ask if you can use what you already paid towards rentals for a smaller amount of items for the day.

Anything that was important to you for your big wedding can be incorporated into your smaller wedding. An elopement or intimate wedding also allows you to focus more on details that you had to cut because of costs. Let’s face it, we know wedding are extremely expensive, and the more guests you invite, the higher the cost gets. When you cut your guest list to only the essential guests, you have a bigger budget for the details that are important to you. Splurge on that special archway or the wedding dress that previously was out of budget and don’t be afraid to stage your detail shots exactly how you want. Make this day about the pictures!

Turn your elopement into a styled shoot with the help of Kristina Elyse Events!

Set a Table for Two

Even if you plan to host a large reception to celebrate your marriage in a few months or on your first anniversary, plan to dine together as husband and wife following your ceremony. Remember that beautiful sweetheart table you planned for your reception? We encourage you to use it! Bring in two sets of your table settings and decor, then order delivery to your elopement spot for a one of a kind dining experience that represents everything you love. 

If a sweetheart table isn’t something that’s important to you on your day, let’s head out to your favorite restaurant! How fun would it be to stop into In-and-Out Burger or Taco Bell, we’ll be right there with you photographing all your special moments!

Unique Locations Outside The Courthouse

With smaller intimate weddings or elopements, you have a larger variety of unique locations to get married at. The traditional elopement location is at the court house. San Fransisco court house weddings are extremely popular, not only is the architecture of the building make for some incredible pictures, but you have the city at your finger tips for fun things to do during the day!

If you’d like to take your elopement or intimate wedding to the next level, consider saying your vows at a view point that is special and memorable. One of our favorite elopement locations is at Yosemite National Park. There are tons of different view points throughout the park, and a ceremony permit is only $150! If you have a few people you’d like to invite, Yosemite ceremonies allow up to 50 guests. For our adventurous couples, pack up your wedding dress and suit and head out for a hiking adventure and say your vows at a location that’s not easily accessible to the masses. When you decide where you’d like to say “I do,” you’ll need to apply for any necessary elopement and photography permits. For information on eloping in a California State Park, visit their website HERE.

Invite Your Guests Via Video Chat

Due to social distancing, large guest count weddings have been put on hold. If you choose to elope during the covid-19 pandemic, but having your guests witness your vows and I do’s is an important piece to your wedding day, consider inviting all your guest via video chat. Companies like Zoom have made it super easy for all your guests to tune in and watch. Bring your computer to your elopement spot and set your virtual guests in a prime location to watch you become one!

Another option is to stream your wedding on facebook or instagram live. This is a great option if you want everyone you know to be a part of your wedding day. 

Get Creative with Pre-Record Guest’s Well Wishes

Every guest that was originally invited to you big wedding still wants to be able to congratulation you on your marriage. A fun and unique way to do that, is to ask every guest to record a short video of themselves with a message to the bride and groom. Put someone important, like the best man and maid of honor, in charge of putting together all the clips into a video for you to watch after you say your vows. That way each guest has the opportunity to wish you well and you can save the hugs for later!

Plan a Vow Renewal

When it comes to planning an elopement, you don’t need to choose an elopement over a big party. You can have them both! If you still want to celebrate with all your guests later, but get married now, plan a vow renewal at your original venue for next year. This will allow you to save more money to put towards you party.

For more on Sacramento Elopements with Dee and Kris Photography, contact us today!

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