Eloping or Inviting Guests – the Pros and Cons

Many of our weddings are very small groups; maybe half of our weddings have between around six and twelve guests.  We see lots of elopements, and weddings with under six guests, and we also do some weddings with twenty to fifty guests.  Mostly we have weddings with a small number of guests.  Recently, all weddings have had to involve a much smaller guest list than perhaps the couple had hoped for, but this is familiar territory for us at Wed in Central Park

I find it quite common for a client to send me an initial email and say that they’re hoping to get married in Central Park, and they’re sure of that, but they don’t know whether it will be just the two of them, or if they will have a small group of guests with them.  The majority of our couples have been from abroad in the past, so that usually means bringing a group with them from home.  Although, not always – for some couples with loved ones spread out over the globe New York is an in-between convenient meeting place for everyone!

Some people in weddings call an elopement a small group, but when I say elopement I mean no guests at all.  When I got married in the Ladies’ Pavilion, we had two human guests and our dog as guests and that suited us.  We wanted an easy day with no fuss.  Over three hundred weddings down the line from my own, here are some observations I have on the pros and cons of a small wedding versus an elopement. 

The obvious advantage of an elopement is that if it just involves the couple, it can be done on the spur of the moment, and in secret, should you wish to.  Many of our eloping couples already had a trip to New York booked and then decided to get married while they were there – so easy!  They get to spend the whole day together and really focus on each other in a way that’s just not possible with others around.  They can say exactly what they want to each other in the ceremony because there’s nobody else to hear them.  They can eat whatever they want and do whatever they want to celebrate their day.  If you’re not having to feed your guests then you’re also saving money with this option.

Some couples see the wedding as their day and a celebration of their love, and that’s why they want to be alone on their wedding day, to focus on each other.  Another viewpoint is that a wedding is a joining of two families, and many couples feel that they want to share their big day with their nearest and dearest.  If your friends and family have supported you over the years as individuals and as a couple then you may want them to be there with witness your wedding and to celebrate with you in the incredible city of New York.  If you’ve been to NYC before and you know that you love it, then a trip to the city for a few days to share your small wedding is a great way to show this fantastic city to your loved ones.  A short break together will allow your two sets of in-laws to get to know each other too, or for your friends to have a great group vacation.  Also, a bigger group for the celebration dinner or reception could be more fun that just the two of you having a quiet dinner – the more, the merrier!

Of course, if you do bring a small group to New York then you are somewhat responsible for them, depending on your plans.  You can ask them to book their own flights and/or accommodation or you can get everyone on the same plane and staying the same hotel.  You can organise some group activities and nights out, or leave them to their own devices until the wedding day.  You can make the group vacation aspect of the trip as major or minor as suits you.  My advice would be to manage expectations of the guests well in advance, though.  Inform people what you have in mind when you invite them, so they know what they’re letting themselves in for!  I wrote  blog post on how to make a destination wedding easy on your guests.

Many people consider the smaller, intimate wedding or micro-wedding to be the ideal compromise between a stress-free elopement or a big traditional wedding.  You can involve the people who are closest to you, without having to worry about acquaintances and distant family members.  This means that the couple do get to focus on each other much more than they would with a big wedding, but they’re sharing this important day in their lives with those who matter most to them.  With a trip to New York, even if you’re paying for the reception, it will still cost less than a big, traditional wedding and will be a lot more memorable for the guests – the day in beautiful Central Park will stand out against all those other traditional weddings that can be so similar. 

One thing to consider to get the best of both worlds is what many of my couples do on return from New York after either an elopement or a small wedding.  You could just throw a big party for everyone on your return.  That way people don’t feel left out and you include everyone, but still get a unique and unforgettable experience in the amazing city of New York.  If you elope, then nobody except your partner gets to see how fantastic you looked in your dress or suit or whatever you choose to wear, so it’s a great excuse to wear it again.  Another way to include people in an elopement or small wedding is to live stream or video the event and share with a wider group, they’re not quite there, but it’s a good compromise, especially if some people just cannot travel to be with you.

The main thing to keep in mind whatever you decide is that it is *your* wedding day, so you should have it how you want it.  It might feel as though eloping is the ideal way to have the day just as you want it.  I think that marriage, like life, is full of compromises so a small group might be the best way to help your nearest and dearest to feel involved in such an important day in your life.  Eloping does avoid all that time spent planning, but then your wedding is a big day, planning it can be quite fun!  A wedding is a celebration of your love and it’s good to celebrate with people who love you. 

If you would like me to help you with planning your own Central Park wedding or elopement, either with or without guests, visit our website.  Keep updated with our news and see lots of beautiful photos, “like” us on Facebook, follow us on Instagram and follow us on Pinterest

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2 Responses to Eloping or Inviting Guests – the Pros and Cons

  1. Pingback: Reasons to Elope | Weddings in Central Park, New York

  2. Pingback: How to Survive Planning a Destination Wedding if You’re an Introvert | Weddings in Central Park, New York

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