As small weddings are likely to be the norm for the foreseeable future, many couples who have postponed their wedding due to coronavirus have to start making some decisions. You might decide to postpone the entire wedding until you can celebrate as you hoped. However, you might still decide that a small wedding on or close to your original date sounds right for you... Discover whether an elopement or minimony might be right for you!
Lockdown has launched a whole new trend for couples hosting tiny versions of their planned wedding day and saving the big party for a later date. It’s completely up to you whether you choose to make this your legal ceremony or not. There are several types of small weddings that have risen in popularity, such as micro-weddings. Here, we are discussing the difference between an elopement or a minimony, often as a precursor to a sequel wedding. Read on to find out which option is best for you and your partner.
Image: Marc Smith Photography
What is an elopement?
Traditionally, an elopement wedding was a spur-of-the-moment event involving some secrecy. It was often conducted without the knowledge of the couple's family and friends, particularly their parents. However, that definition has changed in the last few years. Elopements have evolved due to couples wanting to be able to personalise their wedding. Now, an elopement wedding is simply a wedding ceremony, celebrated with just yourselves or a small gathering in a minimal, more casual fashion. The secrecy is less important but it’s still a quicker, more informal and definitely romantic ceremony.
Why choose to have an elopement?
You can have a unique location
The beauty of an elopement is that there are endless options as to where to hold your ceremony. As a result, elopements can happen in nature, in public parks or buildings, at someone’s residence, or even a family member’s property. With an elopement, the destination is essentially wherever you’d like it to be. As they usually require minimal setup, the opportunities for ceremony locations are open as much as you can imagine.
You can save money
The most daunting part of any wedding is usually the price tag. Elopement packages are an affordable alternative for the couple on a budget — or for the couple who wants to put their funds toward the honeymoon. An elopement in the UK is likely to cost hundreds not thousands, or you could even combine a basic ceremony package abroad with your honeymoon plans.
You can keep your wedding private
Until the time you decide to tell family and friends, there’s a really special time that no one knows you’re married except you. That secret can be precious and sacred for some couples.
It could also be that you and your partner can’t decide on whose family to marry near, one set of parents might live abroad and not be able to make the trip, or inviting certain members of the family might cause drama with others. Keeping it simple between the two of you makes everything more simple!
You value intimacy and romance
A big wedding just isn’t for everyone. Some aspects of the traditional wedding ceremony, such as being given away, the white dress or even being the centre of attention for an entire day, just don’t work for some couples. Elopements can be an intimate, romantic adventure for you as a couple.
Image by Jasmine Andrews Photography. Courtesy of Perfect Words Ceremonies.
You can have a truly personalised wedding
Elopement weddings offer couples full command of their day. With less people in attendance, you don’t have to make concessions to please everyone. This day is about your commitment to each other, so, why not take the financial and social pressures off the table? That way you can focus on what’s most important — each other.
How to plan an elopement
Planning an entire wedding can feel like a daunting commitment. While an elopement is a step away from tradition, there is still some planning involved! From the guest list to the legalities, here are some tips on how to plan an elopement.
Who to invite to an elopement?
Every ceremony will need two witnesses to sign the marriage register. So, some elopement ceremonies feature the couples’ intimate family or closest friends. But in many cases, an elopement party consists of the couple, the officiant, and the photographer, who often acts as the witness. It’s up to you who you wish to include but an elopement is usually kept to minimum numbers!
What are the legalities of an elopement?
You can’t elope quite as spontaneously as you might think. Regardless of which part of the UK you are marrying, you must ‘give notice’ to marry at the local registry office at least 29 days before, which includes details of your final venue. Also, elopements abroad will be subject to the laws of that country. So, don’t forget to check what you need to do to make sure your elopement is legal! A true elopement involves a legally binding ceremony, but if it is too complicated or you hit paperwork challenges, switch to a celebrant-led ceremony and sort out the legalities later.
Should suppliers be included in an elopement?
Just because you're having an intimate wedding doesn't mean you're completely on your own. Hiring a local wedding planner can take a lot of stress off. Also, make sure you hire both a photographer and a videographer to document your day. Even the most popular professionals are happy to take on bookings for small weddings this year. The ceremony itself can last only a handful of minutes, but those few minutes can be the most important of your life! That’s why many feel that a photographer is key to capture the essence of the ceremony. The memories and photos will be all you have left of the wedding day, especially if you’re eloping. For any family or friends who are upset they couldn’t be part of the day, having photos to share with them might help them still feel part of it.
What to wear to an elopement?
Your wedding attire is one place where having no social pressures of a traditional wedding is great! Because you’re not having a traditional wedding, you don’t need to go for the customary formal suits or a white dress. Of course, if you want the princess ball gown, go for it! Elopements are all about being personal to you.
What happens at an elopement?
You can’t just turn up! As well as the legalities, you’ll need to think about the ceremony, especially if you’re not tying the knot at a registry office. Think about your vows, rings, bouquet, all the usual considerations. While you may not be walking down the aisle, per se, you'll still want your highly anticipated elopement moment to be special. A little bit of planning ahead can change the whole experience.
How to let people know about an elopement?
You don’t need to justify what you did to anyone – an elopement is about what’s right for you as a couple. Just anticipate that it will come as a surprise to your family and friends, and some of them may be offended or upset that they didn’t get to share in the day with you. You might want to let those closest to you know before you tie the knot and then send out an announcement to everyone else afterward.
What happens after an elopement?
You may have an elopement because you want to avoid a large celebration. However, if you are planning a sequel wedding, a celebration at a later date after the legal ceremony, then you could let people know via your announcement cards. When you’re phrasing invitations, swap out “invite you to the marriage of...” for “invite you to a celebration in honor of their marriage” so guests know you’ve already signed the marriage license and that they won’t be witnessing your vows.
What is a minimony?
A minimony is a non-legally binding mini-ceremony which gives guests a preview of what’s to come when you throw your bigger, postponed ceremony and reception at a later date. This usually involves a celebrant (in-person or virtual), and possibly a very small group of loved ones if you are outside. Remember, as it isn't a legal ceremony you have to stick to the usual social distancing rules and limits on social gatherings. Some couples also opt to virtually stream their ceremony so friends can join from home or have plans to reenact the ceremony once larger celebrations are possible.
Why have a minimony?
Many of the reasons to have a minimony are similar to an elopement; personalisation, less pressure, intimacy, budget etc. Often the main difference is that a minimony is just a symbolic ceremony on their intended wedding date with some attendees instead of a legal ceremony with just witnesses. Many couples are choosing to have a minimony as part of the sequel wedding process. Choosing a minimony is preferable to those who wish to include their relatives in this ceremony or those who wish to save their legal wedding for when everyone can attend. It is a subtle difference between the two and which you choose is entirely up to which option makes you feel more comfortable.
How to plan a minimony
Even more so than an elopement, a minimony requires planning! Here are some tips on how to plan a minimony.
What happens at a minimony?
Well, it is a mini ceremony! Starting with the officiant, you can consider a virtual officiant for your ceremony, or perhaps someone local would be able to officiate the wedding while maintaining social distancing. Social distancing is still really important, so decide how you want to invite those you love. Outdoor weddings are the safest, and you could combine this with some virtual elements.
Vows, speeches and readings don’t all need to be said at your minimony. You can save these for your ceremony and reception at the later date. Instead, pick something shorter and more personal to say or read for the minimony.
Who is invited to a minimony?
The idea of a minimony isn’t to have your whole original guest list there. While that might be possible on Zoom, a minimony should be small and intimate, with just your absolute closest loved ones. Or, like an elopement, you can choose to keep this one private and celebrate your later wedding as the real thing. It is up to you!
What to wear to a minimony?
You could choose to wear what you planned to wear on the day if you have it! On the other hand, you may want to save your full wedding look for your sequel wedding. Do wear something special to honour the occasion.
Should suppliers be included in a minimony?
You’ve probably been working with your suppliers for months, so why not include them in your minimony, too? For example, ask your florist if they would be willing to make a small version of your bouquet for you or have a mini-version of your wedding cake
Even though this isn’t the big ceremony, you should still capture the special moments of the day. You will cherish these photos forever so it’s best to get a professional in. As long as you’re maintaining social distancing, it’s fine for your photographer to join you and get some wonderful snaps.
In the end, the decision is whatever best reflects you as a couple. If you want to have a minimony first followed by a sequel wedding and your dream party with your loved ones, great! On the other hand, if an elopement sounds like a better fit, then it’s a great way to remember your wedding day in a way that was yours.