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What is a minimony vs a micro wedding vs elopement

Home » Blog » What is a minimony vs a micro wedding vs elopement

“Minimony.” Other than being really fun to say three times fast (go ahead, try it) what is a minimony? How is it different than a micro wedding, or an intimate wedding, or an elopement? There are so many terms floating around, it’s easy to get confused.

Since I’m a strong believer that it’s the intention of a small wedding that matters most, I hope whatever size or style of mini wedding you fall on is the one that is truest to you.

For the sake of clarity though, let’s go over what some of these terms mean when you book with most wedding and elopement photographers.

What is a minimony? Definition:

A minimony is an intentional, intimate and meaningful marriage ceremony with close family and friends. It often has elements which replace the traditional or religious ceremonies normally performed at large traditional weddings.

Note that also does not mean a minimony can’t be religious, it just means it doesn’t have to be!

It also means it doesn’t matter how it’s done, who is present, or what official paperwork needs to be signed. A minimony is how you and your partner commemorate your marriage ceremony. Period. It’s total ceremony freedom.

Many people say vows, exchange rings or other forms of symbolic commitment. All that matters is that it is a meaningful ceremony which you both will look back on for the rest of your lives with purpose, pride and nostalgia. It is the moment you acknowledge your union as a couple in front of an audience of your favorite humans.

Think of it as the point where you both start the clock at 00:00, together. From the point of your minimony or commitment ceremony forward, you are both married in your own minds, on your own terms. It’s the symbolic beginning of your union.

The only real “restriction” in the definition of a minimony is the number of people present. Although there doesn’t seem to be one solid consensus on how “mini” a minimony is, I consider minimonies, small weddings, mini weddings and an intimate weddings to be 10-25 people. Most photographers and vendors who specialize in elopements define the guest count similarly.

What’s the difference between a minimony, microwedding, elopement, commitment ceremony?

Let’s untangle these terms. While they are sometimes used interchangeably, “microweddings,” “elopements” and “intimate weddings” are umbrella terms for the overall day on which your small wedding takes place. “Minimonies” and “commitment ceremonies” are the specific point in time during your day which you and your partner officially acknowledge the beginning of your marriage.

Each term nests inside of the other: small wedding or elopement > commitment ceremony > minimony.

A minimony is a type of commitment ceremony with a small group of loved ones present to witness. This usually happens on the same day as your elopement or wedding, but can also be a great way to get the privacy of an elopement wedding for two and a second small wedding to be celebrated with family and friends. If you want to have both, an elopement plus a second wedding minimony is a great way to have your wedding cake and eat it too!

Reasons to have a minimony (Pros & cons)

While I totally believe a minimony is one of the best ways to kick off a lifetime of love and adventure, I know it’s not for everyone and there are some logistics to keep in mind depending on the rest of your wedding plans. Let’s review.


1. You Can Still Invite Your Friends & Family

One of the largest myths about minimonies, small weddings and elopements is that you can’t invite family. It’s not true! As a matter of fact, MANY of my couples invite guests. A minimony is the perfect way to include your closest friends and family and have them present to witness the beginning of your marriage. Since it is by definition a small group, it’s also much easier to plan a destination wedding. 10-25 people coordinating flights and hotels is much easier than 50-150+! You can all book a villa or a large cabin together and truly enjoy some quality time.

2. You Can Create Your Own Traditions

The great thing about a minimony is that it’s a commitment ceremony which can be symbolic or spiritual in any way that is meaningful to you. It is not a legal or church ceremony, so there are no rules to follow or restrictions to abide by. You can start your own anniversary traditions – you can do anything you want!

For example, an anniversary hike with a picnic, a mountaintop toast with your favorite wine or whisky, a small party with your friends and family, or reading love letters to one another. The possibilities are endless and unique as you.

3. You Can Choose the Time and Date for Your Anniversary

For a number of reasons, couples who opt to have a micro wedding or elope may already have the legal paperwork of their marriage done before their actual wedding day. This means that might end up with two technical marriage dates. By having a minimony, you can choose your wedding date and time. Maybe it’s the day you met, your first date, or the day of your engagement. All that matters is that it matters to you.


1. You Can Still Invite Your Friends and Family…

Not everyone wants to have family or friends present for their wedding day. For a number of reasons, some couples prefer to keep their day totally to themselves. If for any reason you or your partner, in your heart of hearts, know that a truly private two person vow ceremony is what you want, you are not obligated to invite anyone. If you find that your family is slowly nudging their way into your private wedding plans, sit down with your partner and make a list of boundaries you’re both firm on not crossing, and don’t be afraid to stick to them.

Telling family “no” can be uncomfortable and complicated. Just remember: this is YOUR day and about what YOU both want as a couple, nothing else.

2. Coordinating Travel as a Larger Group Can Get Complex

It’s generally pretty true that the larger something is, the more difficult it is to control all the variables. This is just as true with micro weddings, no matter how “micro” you keep them. Planning travel and timelines with a group of 5 is more difficult than with just the two of you, and a group of 10, 15 or 25 will no doubt create some unforeseen complications to work around.

A tip? The larger your group, the earlier you should start planning. 5 people may be able to get on the same flight on short notice, or in the same hotel, but 15-25 gets risky the longer you wait. Likewise, older family members may not be able to attend a hiking ceremony or board a long flight. Give yourself plenty of time to find alternatives in these cases!

3. It’s Not a Legally Binding Ceremony

That means you’re not legally married in the eyes of the state, and can’t claim any of the rights and tax benefits associated with a state registered marriage. It could also mean some people don’t quite accept or understand this as your “actual” ceremony while the legal paperwork does or doesn’t exist separately, and is irrelevant. This is likely still a strange concept to older or more traditional members of your family.

Whether you have the legal paperwork or not, a minimony wedding ceremony is just as meaningful with or without religious or state acknowledgement! Don’t let that technicality stop you from planning your minimony.

How to plan a minimony

A good rule to start with is the larger your minimony group, the earlier you should start planning. This is especially true if there is any travel involved. You want to allow plenty of time to book consecutive flights and hotel rooms, and alternative accommodations for anyone in your group who needs it. Booking early also means better deals and potential group discounts!

A group of people stand next to a couple exchanging rings on a snowcovered mountain during their minim ony ceremony

Planning the ceremony is then as easy as deciding what kinds of exchanges or activities hold meaning to you. There are no rules here, so follow your hearts and get as quirky or weird as you want. Don’t feel any pressure to consider “what everyone else does” or “what should a minimony look like?” Just do what feels authentic to you and embrace your creative side.

Keep in mind you can also include vendors, decorations and officiants if those options appeal to you. Florists can build an arch, a musician can set the tone, and a confectionist can bake a wedding cake. Any other number of artists can be hired to make your ceremony unique. All three of us here at Adventure Instead are ordained and are capable of officiating your marriage in most states.

Just as a rough example, maybe your minimony is 30 minutes long. You and your partner exchange rings and vows in front of your friends and family. Each member then gives a short toast to you both, and you all pop the champagne!

Minimony Ideas

Once the date, location, attendees and travel logistics have been settled, you can start planning your minimony! No two minimonies have to look alike and the possibilities really are endless. I encourage you to be as fun and quirky as you like! To help you brainstorm, you can include, combine or alter as many of these ideas as you want:

  • Handfasting
  • Ring or gift exchange
  • Matching tattoos
  • Vow exchange
  • Champagne toasts
  • First kiss
  • First dance
  • Mountaintop, beach or waterfall ceremony location
  • Sage burning
  • Unity ceremony

There are so many options, really! Get creative and be unapologetically you. I’m here for it.

A group of friends and family stand around a couple holding hands on a grassy mountain during their minimony elopement ceremony

Frequently Asked Questions about Minimonies

Is a minimony the whole day?

No. The minimony is your wedding day ceremony. For example, this would be the part that in traditional weddings happens in a church at the alter. It can take 5 minutes, 10 minutes, or an hour depending on your vision.

Is a minimony a legal ceremony?

No. While a minimony could include a legal officiation, many are spiritual or symbolic in nature only.

Do we have to have a minimony?

No. It’s only a way to officially acknowledge your marriage as a couple and can be totally left out if it doesn’t appeal to you.

Is a minimony the right decision for you?

A minimony is definitely for you if you want to have a commitment ceremony on your wedding or elopement day and can’t imagine NOT having an intimate group of your closest friends and family present to witness. It’s the best of both worlds option and is as customizable and flexible as it needs to be.


Thinking of a destination elopement or microwedding in Europe? Reach out using the form below!

I’m an American adventure elopement photographer based in the Alps. I travel the entire continent and world helping couples put together their dream elopement.




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