A typical conversation…..

Me: “I had a few weddings this week but many of them were very small weddings.”

Friend: “Small? Like how small?”

Me: “Oh, like a very small wedding: just the couple and a few witnesses (often just two).”

Friend (exasperated, sometimes visibly shocked!): “What!? Who gets married like that?!”

And although I’m sure my friend didn’t mean to sound snarky or judgmental, he did. I can’t help but get into my defense of the small wedding mode!

Most of us assume there is only a slight variation from the acceptable way to get married and a very small wedding is not a typical deviation. We only think of a few possible options: in a church or not, inside or outside, stand-up reception or dinner, many guests or more guests than you really want but: guilt.  Most of us have only ever been to these types of weddings.

Very few of us have ever been to a wedding with only the couple and a few witnesses.

The truth is, most of us haven’t had the privilege of being such a special guest.

We haven’t been there when two people are standing with their toes in the sand, sunshine on their faces, committing their lives to one another because that is what matters to them: making this life-long commitment.  

We haven’t all seen our sister and her fiance gather at city hall to tie the knot. Most of us aren’t privileged enough to be on the inside of something this intimate. And unfortunately, ignorance can breed confusion or even (*gasp!) judgement.

What matters to couples who have very small weddings is not the hoopla of fancy dresses, appetizers (newly renamed called ‘canapes’) and chalkboards telling people the washroom location. What matters to them is being (almost) alone with their partner, professing their love and being able to get married their way.  Many couples follow a very small wedding with a bigger dinner, BBQ or party – and some don’t.


At Young Hip & Married, we refer to this type of wedding as an “elopement” – but it isn’t always an elopement in the typical “run away and secretly get married” way. In fact, it is most often not that at all.

Typically an elopement is chosen by a couple who simply want a small wedding for any number of reasons:

  • their families are very large, complicated or live far away
  • they don’t have $30,000 to spend on a big party for all their friends (or they don’t believe in spending that kind of money on one day)
  • they are very shy or don’t like being the center of attention (major fear for many)
  • they feel as though a big wedding distracts them from the real reason they are getting married (because they love their partner so much)
  • they have watched too many of their friends become complete stress balls for 15 months as they plan their wedding (you know you’ve seen it)

I myself was married at a typical wedding venue, in August, in front of 130 people. A very small wedding is not for everyone but they are very much for some.  

Many people feel it is important for their families to witness their wedding, others feel that having all their friends and family there is a tangible way for them to offer support to the new couple. Yes, these are great! One of the things I love most about being a wedding officiant is the variety of couples (and weddings they chose) that I get to work with.  We at Young Hip & Married, love big weddings and small weddings.  What we really want is you to get married YOUR WAY!

But if one of your friends, coworkers or even family members elopes, congratulate them, celebrate with them but don’t judge them for doing it differently than you!

(Photos courtesy of Rebecca Wilkowski and my sister’s city hall elopement)

Post by Officiant & Head Coach Jane Halton