Elopements and small weddings aren't a new way of getting married anymore in the US. Couples from all over the nation have found that a small wedding feels more 'them'. There are so many benefits to having an elopement or small wedding. A big reason is being able to still include your family and friends. While it is possible to find a public location to fit up to 20 guests; it can sometimes be easier logistically to have it at a small venue. This blog post is all about the Best Elopement and Small Wedding Venues in the US, to make your planning easier.
What is Considered a Small Wedding
A small wedding in the US can mean different things to different people. Some may consider under 100 people "small" while others think a guest list with over 50 is "big" to them. Typically speaking a small wedding will have a shortened guests list; and may contain less logistics and events than a traditional wedding. However, that is totally customizable to each couple, and you get to determine what "small" or "big" is to you. Having a small wedding DOES NOT mean it is any less amazing though.
Small isn't synonymous with cheap or tacky. You can have an epic intimate wedding at a destination you've been dying to go, and bring with you your closest loved ones to celebrate. It may be the same cost as a big traditional wedding, but will definitely be a totally different experience. On the other hand couples may choose to host a smaller wedding that includes lots of personal DIY projects, or have guests pitch in. It may include less decor and details than a traditional wedding, which might reduce costs if that is the priority. Keep reading for more tips and some of the best elopement and small wedding venues in the US!
The Benefits of a Small Wedding
Couples choose to have a small or intimate wedding for a variety of reasons. Whether that be for the budget, a better fit for introverted personalities, fewer logistics, or other personal reasons. It's not as off to find out a friend got married and didn't invite all their co-workers or extended family. At a big traditional wedding couples often find that not only is the planning process an overwhelming and expensive experience; but the wedding day itself can be filled with chaos and tension. Scaling back on the guest list and events of the day can therefore bring a more peaceful and relaxing experience, and opens up a lot more options for where/when you get married.
Why Choose a Small Wedding Venue
While choosing a small wedding venue over a public location can add more cost, it can sometimes be well worth the money. It also completely depends on the number of guests you plan to have. I recommend asking your wedding planner or photographer for recommendations. Below are some of the benefits to choosing a small wedding venue over a public place.
- Logistics. If you are worried about having people bounce between locations then getting a small wedding venue could help with that. Generally you can have your getting ready, ceremony and reception at one location. Which makes the transitions of the dance much more simple. If you think of your day and ask yourselves "what do we want?" And the answer is "no stress", then this could be a great option for you.
- Privacy. Are you hoping for a more private ceremony? Having your wedding at a small venue can ensure that no strangers will be around to witness it. Just make sure to check in with the wedding venue to make sure that is definitely the case!
- Be in a place that is special to you. A lot of people want to elope in the outdoors because they feel it's the only way to be in a place that is special to them. Whether that's the mountains, in the forest, or by the ocean. There are so many public locations that you can feel free to be where you are happy. But there are plenty of small wedding venues that can get you the same feel without the stress.
- You are catered to. Having a venue can allow for additional vendors to cater to you for a stress free day. These small venues are there to help make your day just as special as you are hoping it would be.
The Best Elopement and Small Wedding Venues in the US
The Best Western US Elopement and Wedding Venues:
Cloth + Flame. Phoenix, AZ + beyond
Inclusive full-service outdoor weddings. They take you out of the "wedding factory" vibe of country clubs, ballrooms, and into scenic outdoor venues, compelling historic buildings, and countless hidden gems. They create weddings in deserts, forests, mountainsides, and beaches, for groups as small as 20 and as large as 1,000
The Red Earth Venue. Moab, Utah
Red Earth is like renting your own private national park. Surrounded by red rock cliffs, native desert vegetation, big views, and endless recreation in Moab, Utah. Located on 17 acres in the heart of canyon country. The Red Earth Venue is surrounded by open views. The outdoor site requires a shuttle, a bathroom trailer, lighting, tables and chairs and power to be brought in.
The Best PNW Elopement and Small Wedding Venues:
Waterfall Lodge, Ben Lomand, CA
The Waterfall Lodge & Retreat’s many features and vistas allow for infinite creative combinations for hosting your reception, ceremony and festivities. The recommended capacity at Waterfall Lodge is 125 guests, with a maximum capacity of 150 guests.
The Griffin House. Columbia River Gorge, Oregon
A very private wedding and event venue, perched on the cliffs above the Columbia River Gorge, in Hood River, Oregon. Choose your own vendors, access to furniture inventory. Option to reserve the venue for the wedding weekend to provide a home base for the bridal party and families. Max 175 guests.
Altimeter Cabins. Ashford, WA
This venue is absolutely perfect for small & intimate weddings, elopements, family reunions, girls' trips, church & Scout groups, corporate, military, and/or other special retreats. When you rent Altimeter Cabins and Event Venue, you have access to 2 acres of old-growth forest, lush ferns & flora with picture-perfect backdrops of territorial mountains.
Island Wood. Bainbridge Island, WA
IslandWood is the quintessential Pacific Northwest backdrop for your wedding. A 35-minute ferry ride from Seattle, our 250-acre property is gorgeous, private, and tranquil. You and your guests can roam and explore our forested trails, pond, meadow, garden, two treehouses, suspension bridge and canopy tower
Trinity Tree Farm. Issaquah, WA
The Lodge at Trinity Tree Farm is a venue that feels like you are celebrating at home. The Barn at Trinity Tree Farm is a rustic, versatile, venue perfect for outdoor weddings with lawn games, s'mores, and TTF selected food trucks.
The Best North East Venues:
Maine Elopement venues:
- French's Point: Located in Stockton Springs, Maine. French's Point is a private oceanfront estate with abundant gardens and a variety of settings for weekend festivities making it an ideal coastal Maine wedding venue. They offer a few different options for ceremony and reception setup, with a max guest list of 150.
- Terramor. Bar Harbor/Acadia, Maine
New Hampshire Elopement venues:
- NH Audubon: Variety of locations around New England.
- Sunset Hill House: Sugar Hill NH. Located in Sugar Hill, NH. With one of the best views in the Franconia Notch, the Sunset Hill House is one of the most popular places to stay and have a small wedding in the White Mountains. They offer weekend packages, your guests to book rooms, and have a full restaurant as well. The ceremony location is stunning, just look!
- Morningside Camps: Located in Olmstedville, NY.
Some additional advice
As you begin planning your elopement or small wedding, there are a few more topics I like to discuss with my couples before they go ahead and start planning.
Timing: With venues, they will typically rent out the full weekend for weddings. Therefore, they have minimums for how much you will need to spend. If you can be flexible with your timing and try for a week day, there may be more options for you.
Event options: One thing to think about is if a venue has a max capacity for an elopement or small wedding, but you are over that capacity, think of other ways to celebrate with all your loved ones. You could always have a smaller group of people for the ceremony, then meet up with the rest of the guest list at a brewery you rent out!
I hope this guide on The Best Elopement and Small Wedding Venues in the US helped! Reach out with any questions!
A New Hampshire + Vermont based adventure elopement and intimate wedding photographer team for the adventurous souls. We specialize in New England and destinations worldwide, empowering you to create the most beautiful, adventurous day and give you the memories you'll be able to look back on for all the years to come.
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