Planning to Get Married? Read the Four Types of Weddings to Get Started

With the average wedding in the United States costing around ~$34,000 in 2019 (The Knot), couples should be informed of all wedding types before spending any money!  There are 4 basic types of wedding:  civil, elopement, micro-wedding, traditional wedding.

Below is a brief explanation of each…

Civil: You, Fiancé, Legal Official (Judge), Witness* and a courthouse

Guest Count:  0

civil ceremony is simply a nonreligious, legal marriage ceremony presided over by a legal official instead of a religious one.

Simply, this is the basic route to legalize your marriage.

Elopement: You, Fiancé, Officiant, Witness* and a spectacular location

Guest Count:  1 – 5

Merriam-Webster Definition: to run away secretly with the intention of getting married usually without parental consent.

This is no longer the case with a modern elopement!  Couples are now hand-crafting their elopements and including a few people such as an amazing photographer, best friends, a few family members and even a pet. 

Micro-Wedding / Intimate Wedding: You, Fiancé, Officiant, Witness* and a spectacular location or venue

Guest Count:  6 – 25

From The Knot: A micro-wedding, like its name suggests, will typically include a guest list of up to 50 guests—often immediate family and super-close friends only. 

50 guests seem like a lot, although standard weddings are around 150+. Typically, micro-weddings are averaging around 25 people.  If you’re able to create a focused guest list of your closest friends/family and not feel obligated to invite your sister’s boss and father’s golfing buddies, this is a perfect compromise between an elopement and a wedding. 

Traditional Wedding: You, Fiancé, Officiant, Witness* and a spectacular venue

Guest Count:  25-50++

The traditional wedding is exactly what people think about when they hear the word “wedding”, which may include a wedding venue, reception, dinner, cocktail hour, wedding party, etc.  These details create the perfect traditional wedding. 


Virtual Wedding: You, Fiancé, Officiant, , Witness*, and Computers

Guest Count: As many users as the program allows!

Virtual weddings aren’t legal across the United States. Read more here: The Year 2020: Virtual Weddings. If you’re located in one of the few states that recognize this type of union, GO FOR IT!

Regardless of the type, two things remain constant:

  1. Your love for each other.
  2. An Officiant. 

Remember, whatever type of wedding you and your partner decide on is strictly up to you.  This day is about your love for one another.  Family, friends, even your wedding vendors should be there to support you both.  This is your time to truly enjoy your day just as you two have envisioned it.  Please don’t let anyone sway your decision! 

Photo by Anny Patterson from Pexels

The Officiant, whether it is a judge, priest or minister is always required when legalizing your union.  An officiant will perform a marriage ceremony and sign the necessary documentation to legalize your marriage. 

In short, the type of wedding solely depends on who is present, although two things will always remain the same.

*Please note that a witness(es) is indeed part of marriage ceremonies, however, the state of California allows confidential marriage licenses where a witness is not required.

To read more about the type of officiating services I offer, please read: Marriage Officiant Etiquette and Officiating Services.

Published by Mindy Haffke

Marriage Officiant located in Reno, NV helping couples through the post process of engagement!

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