Should I Elope or Have a Wedding? Pros + Cons To Consider

Have you been trying to decide whether or not you should elope or have a traditional wedding? There are many things to consider and weighing the pros and cons should help you when determining if eloping is right for you.

adventurous mountain elopement photo in rocky mountain national park

Should I Elope Or Have A Wedding? 9 Things To Consider

To begin, it is important to know the different types of marriage celebrations that are out there. 

A traditional wedding celebrating is typically a ceremony either at a church, venue, or ceremony site followed by a large party, meal, and dancing. Smaller weddings are around 50 – 100 guests, mid-sized weddings are around 100 to 200 guests, and large weddings will exceed 250 guests. 

An intimate wedding is a smaller format wedding where the guest counts are limited to immediate family and close friends. The guest count for an intimate wedding is usually less than 25 people. Some intimate weddings take place at a venue, some take place in a backyard, and some take place in the mountains or destination. Intimate weddings have become increasingly popular since 2020 while venues had restrictions on guest counts. Although many restrictions have been lifted in many places, intimate weddings continue to gain popularity.

An elopement is when two people get married with just the two of them. Usually, just the officiant, a photographer and videographer will be there to capture the exchange of vows and small ceremony. Elopements can be as extravagant or as simple as you want. Many people will elope at the courthouse, someplace special to them, or travel to a destination. 

1. Affordability: Is Eloping Cheaper Than Having a Wedding?

Whether or not an elopement is cheaper than having a wedding definitely depends on the type of elopement or wedding you want. That being said, elopements typically end up being more affordable than a wedding. 

The average cost of a wedding is about $34,000 whereas the average cost of an elopement is $6,000 to $15,000. The biggest expense for an elopement will be the travel costs and the photography and videography coverage. Because it’s an intimate environment couples typically invest in quality photography and videography to ensure there is something beautiful that they can share with their friends and family back home. 

2. Which Is More Convenient, An Elopement or a Wedding?

More often than not, there can be a lot of stresses that go into planning a wedding or elopement. Whether one is more convenient than the other totally depends on your family dynamics and what you as a couple want for your big day. For some couples who grew up in the same home town and all their closest friends and family live nearby, a traditional wedding may be more convenient for them and check all the boxes that they imagined for their day. 

For some couples who have dicey family dynamics, crazy future inlaws, large families or a lot of people that live out of state, an elopement or intimate wedding may be much more convenient for them. Some people just want to skip the drama and elope instead. This allows them to have the day that they dreamed up as a couple rather than having outside influences and drama dictate their day. 

Organizing a small elopement or intimate wedding has a lot less logistics and moving parts than a larger wedding. This is something to keep in mind as you won’t have to worry about seating charts, placement cards, hiring a coordinator, hosting a cocktail hour with food and drinks, paying for catering and table decorations.

3. Will I Regret Eloping instead of having a wedding?

When trying to decide if eloping is right for you and your partner,  This is a really valid question to consider and while some people may fear that they may regret eloping instead of having a large wedding, we often hear of couples who have been in the planning process and regretting not eloping.

4. Do Elopement Marriages Last?

If you’re considering eloping, you might be wondering if your marriage will last. Many studies have shown that couples who elope tend to have longer-lasting marriages than those who have expensive, extravagant weddings. There are a few reasons for this: first, elopements can save couples money which means that they will start their marriage with less financial stresses. Financial stresses is one of the leading causes of divorce and so starting with a good foundation can be  key to a lasting marriage.

Additionally, eloping can often be seen as more romantic and intimate than a large wedding. This is because the focus is on the couple rather than on the event itself. Intimacy and romance are important components of a happy and healthy marriage. Finally, eloping can help couples to plan their day around what they are passionate about making the planning process more enjoyable, exciting, and less stressful creating a solid foundation for their future marriage.

5. Can I Elope and Then Have a Wedding?

Yes! Many couples choose to elope and then have a wedding reception with their friends and family at a later date. This allows you to have the best of both worlds – a private and intimate ceremony followed by a fun party with all your loved ones. There are a few things to keep in mind if you plan to do this, such as making sure your marriage is legally recognized and letting your guests know about your plans in advance. But overall, eloping and then having a wedding is a great way to have the best of both worlds.

6. Does My Partner Want To Elope or Have a Wedding?

Whether or not you decide to elope will have to be a mutual decision. Some people are more hesitant to leave the traditional wedding behind because they have friends or family with opinions or expectations. The most important thing though is to make sure you both are on the same page. The first thing you should do is ask your partner how they feel about the idea of eloping. Listen to their reasons for why they may want or not want to elope.

Once you’ve heard your partner’s thoughts and feelings on the matter, share your own reasons for why you are considering eloping. If you guys decide to continue with exploring your options for elopements, brainstorm different wedding scenarios together and see if there is a compromise that can be reached. Consider places you love, activities you enjoy, and dream up a day that excites the two of you. See if there is a scenario where you both are happy. If you are still stuck, try talking to a third party like a close friend or family member who can offer impartial advice.

7. Is An Elopement A Legal Marriage?

Yes, elopements are legal in all 50 states and recognized as a legal marriage just as much as any other marriages performed in a traditional wedding setting. In order to be legally married, you will need to obtain a marriage license from your county clerk’s office and have the ceremony officiated by a licensed officiant if the state you are getting married in does not have self-solemnization. Self-solemnization is the act of getting legally married without the requirement of oversight, officiants, witnesses, or any third party signatures. Currently there are only a handful of states that offer self-solemnization  which include; Colorado, California, District of Columbia, Illinois, Kansas, Maine, Nevada, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin. While you can technically elope without telling anyone, we recommend at least telling your parents or closest relatives so they can share in the excitement!

8. Are There Any Consequences of Eloping?

There are a few potential drawbacks or complications of eloping that you should be aware of before making the decision to do so. First, eloping without telling your parents or close family members can cause a rift in relationships. If you have always been close with your family and they are expecting to be a part of your wedding day, eloping may come as a shock and disappoint them greatly.

Additionally, eloping may also mean that you have to forgo certain traditions or rituals that are important to you or your spouse-to-be’s family. If these things are important to you, it is worth considering whether or not eloping is the right choice. Finally, while eloping can save you money on wedding costs, it is important to remember that you may still have to pay for a marriage license and other associated costs.

All in all, eloping is a personal decision that should only be made after careful consideration of what you value and if you do decide to elope, carefully and respectfully plan out how you will communicate that with close friends and family.

9. When And Where Do You Want To Tie The Knot?

There’s no one answer to the question of how to choose when and where to elope. Every couple is different, and what works for some might not be right for others. The most important thing is to figure out what will work best for you as a couple. Here are a few things to consider when making your decision:

Location: Do you want to elope in a place that has special meaning to you, or somewhere that’s just incredibly beautiful? Consider both practical factors (like whether you need a permit) and logistics (like how easy it will be to get there).

Time of year: Are you hoping for warm weather, or does the idea of a winter elopement appeal to you? Keep in mind that peak tourist season can make it harder (and more expensive) to book vendors and find accommodations.

Your budget: How much are you willing to spend on your elopement? Keep in mind that eloping typically costs less than a traditional wedding, but there are still associated costs.

Your guest list: Do you want your closest family and friends to be there with you, or would you prefer to keep it just the two of you? Keep in mind that fewer guests usually means less stress.

Ultimately, the decision of when and where to elope comes down to what will make you both happy. There’s no wrong answer, so go with your gut and choose what feels right for you!

So, Should I Elope or Have A Wedding?

elopement photography in northern minnesota

Here are some pros and cons to consider before deciding if eloping is right for you

Pro: Your day is more about you and less about pleasing others. 

Con: Parents or other relatives may not approve

Pro: More intimate and personal

Con: Friends and family may feel left out 

Pro: Eloping can be cheaper than having a wedding

Con: You have less control over the environment

Pro: Can be a more unique experience

Con: Your dress might get dirty

Pro: Elopements are typically less stressful

Con: You might not have any wedding gifts to open

Pro: Elopements can be better for the environment

How To Plan An Elopement

✔️ Step 1: Decide if eloping is right for you

There are many factors to consider when making this decision, such as whether or not you want a large wedding, your budget, and how traditional you want your wedding to be.

✔️ Step 2: Start planning 

Eloping can take just as much (if not more) planning than a traditional wedding depending on your vision and what you want to do. You’ll need to figure out where you want to go, how you’re getting there, what kind of ceremony you want, what your budget is, and more. Dreaming up your perfect day is the fun part and you can incorporate activities and places that make for your best adventure yet.

✔️ Step 3: Choose your destination and date

This is perhaps the most important step in planning an elopement. You’ll want to pick somewhere that has meaning to you and your partner, somewhere that’s visually stunning, or perhaps somewhere that’s easy to get to. Wherever you decide to elope is your choice and it will always carry meaning for you. Choosing the time of year to elope is also important to consider. Some seasons are busier, some have better weather, and some are more affordable to travel to during different times. Do your research, have fun, and choose a place that checks off the boxes that are most important to you and your partner.

✔️ Step 4: Book your vendors

While there are typically less vendors to book when you elope, they are still a very important part of the day. Photographers and videographers typically book 8-18 months in advance and so once you know your date and location, start reaching out to photographers and videographers to book them before it’s too late. 

As a husband and wife photography and videography team, we typically book well in advance. Our photography and videography package is the most popular and we recommend that couples fill out our contact form as soon as they have solidified their date and location so we can set up a meeting and get on our calendar!

✔️ Step 5: Book your travel and acommodations

Once you’ve decided on a location, it’s time to book your travel and accommodations. Choose a location that is fun that you’ll enjoy being at. Consider if you’re going to want coverage of getting ready or possibly host a small reception or dinner for families if you’re inviting any close friends or family. While elopements are technically just the couple and their officiant and vendors, some people still like to invite immediate family members or a few close friends. Booking travel for yourself and any other guests or vendors will be important to do in advance. There are so many great airbnb locations that could be perfect for your elopement weekend.

✔️ Step 6: Get your paperwork in order

If you’re eloping in a different country, you’ll need to make sure you have all the proper documentation. Check with the consulate or embassy of your destination country to find out what you need.

✔️ Step 7: Choose your witnesses

Like any marriage, you’ll need to choose who will witness your marriage and sign the documents. If you’re getting married in a state that offers self solemnization, you can skip this step.

✔️ Step 8: Have a backup plan

Things don’t always go according to plan, so it’s important to have a backup plan in place in case something goes wrong. This could include things like having a backup location in mind in case the first choice doesn’t work out or having an indoor location lined up if the weather is bad. Regardless, you’re marrying your best friend and so no matter what may come up, prioritize the why you’re doing what you’re doing and just know that things might not, and probably won’t, go perfectly according to plan.

✔️ Step 9: Enjoy your special day! 

Once everything is planned and ready to go, it’s time to relax and enjoy your elopement.

About Us

elopement photographers

We’re Luke and Halle (also known as Lulle) and we’re a husband and wife photography and videography team. We specialize in weddings and elopements and are here to help you dream up your perfect day! If you’re looking for a fun, adventurous, photo and video duo to capture your big day, let’s connect!