Should I Elope or Have a Wedding? – How to Know if Eloping is Right for You

There comes a time, for so many engaged couples, when you’re sorting through color schemes, picking out centerpieces, shopping for monogrammed napkins, and agonizing over the guest list, when suddenly you let out a frustrated sigh and ask yourself, “Should I elope?” 

Maybe this sounds familiar: 

The love of your life proposed to you and you were so excited to be engaged. But, as soon as you started telling your friends and family, you started getting unsolicited advice and opinions you didn’t ask for. People you haven’t talked to in years started asking where their wedding invitation is. Your grandma wanted to know why you won’t wear her wedding dress from the 1950s. Your mom wanted to make all the decisions for you. 

As an elopement photographer, it’s so heartbreaking to see so many couples get absolutely steamrolled when it comes to their wedding day. Too many couples spend all that time and money planning a party for everyone else, and they forget that weddings are supposed to be about you. If you’re feeling like the big, traditional wedding might not be for you, keep reading for the top ways to know that eloping is the right decision for you.

So let’s dig into the pros and cons of both an elopement and a big wedding so that you can make the best decision for your relationship! There’s even a fun quiz to help guide you in the right path.

What is Difference Between an Elopement and Wedding?

There’s a lot of confusion in what the differences are between an elopement and a traditional wedding, but let’s crack those myths here.

What is an Elopement?

An elopement is a couple centered wedding that provides complete freedom of choice to create the wedding you really want. Eloping gives you the option to ditch the traditional pressures, stress, and drama that can come with larger weddings.

How Many Guests Can You Have at an Elopement?

Although technically an elopement is a meaningful and intentional wedding, most wedding vendors will consider an elopement with a max guest count of 15 -20 people or less.

What Are The Pros of Eloping?

  • Avoid drama on your wedding day
  • Less expensive (average cost is $8,000)
  • Focused on what you want to do
  • Amazing photos
  • Less-stressful
  • Less planning
  • Unique and intimate adventure
  • You don’t have to perform in front of others
  • Eco-friendly
  • Creating a memorable experience

What are The Cons of Eloping?

  • Family or friends may backlash
  • Missing out of typical traditions
  • You won’t have everyone there that you know
  • Not receiving a lot of gifts

What is a Traditional Wedding?

A “big” or traditional wedding can be defined as a wedding that includes typical traditions and wedding guest count over 50 people. Big weddings can allow you to have a more clear picture of what your day will look like because they’ve been around forever!

The Pros of a Big Wedding

  • Having all your friends and family to celebrate at one location
  • More likely to hear words of affirmation (toasts, more people)
  • Longer time to plan (typically)
  • More gifts
  • High party vibes/enthusiasm

The Cons of Big Wedding

  • More expensive (average cost is $30,000)
  • Stressful
  • Have to book vendors much quicker and more in advance
  • More planning
  • High performance and more pressure
  • Being rushed/having it become a “blur”
  • More unwanted opinions
  • Family and friend drama
  • Typically more wasteful
  • Hard to get time with just the two of you

How to Know if Eloping Sounds Right For You

It’s obvious that I’m a strong advocate for eloping, but why? Well, again and again I see couples on their elopement day actually enjoying the memories they are creating and they are able to feel fully like themselves. A lot of couples that are drawn to eloping are introverted, outdoor enthusiasts, and value quality time with their partner. Keep reading on to see if you can relate to these reasons why couples elope!

Being the Center of Attention Sounds Scary

For many couples, walking down the aisle, saying their vows, and slow dancing in front of an audience sounds uncomfortable. If you’re an introvert, many aspects of traditional weddings can be particularly overwhelming. Public speaking is scary for a lot of people, and considering that saying your vows is one of the most vulnerable things you can do, it’s totally normal to be a little put off by the idea of having so many eyes on you. An elopement takes the pressure off, and allows you to be vulnerable and honest with your partner, without worrying about anyone else’s opinion. 

You Don’t Want to Stress Over Wedding Planning 

While elopements still require some planning, as you’ll still need to choose a location, get the necessary permits, and figure out some logistics, there’s no doubt that planning a big wedding is much more stressful, and requires a lot more time and energy. Especially if you’re not totally set on having a traditional wedding, trying to make all those decisions can be overwhelming. The stress of planning a big wedding is one of the main reasons that people start asking themselves, “should I elope?” 

Elopements allow you to focus on the stuff you actually care about. Instead of spending your time stressing about decorations, you can focus on what’s actually important to you about your wedding day. Whether that’s epic views, a hike to a ceremony spot, or traveling to a new place, planning an elopement gives you the opportunity to decide what matters.

You Want to Avoid Family Drama

No one’s family is perfect, but for those who have complicated relationships with their relatives, or those who don’t feel comfortable and free to be themselves around their family, a big traditional wedding can be especially traumatic, as it can highlight all those problems. 

On your wedding day, you shouldn’t be surrounded by anyone who doesn’t love and support you and your relationship. While some couples do choose to invite a few family members or close friends along for their elopement day, that choice should be entirely yours. 

If you feel that limiting your wedding day to just you and your partner would make you more comfortable (even if you have a great family, it’s totally okay to feel that way!), a tiny elopement ceremony is the way to go. 

You Want to Spend Money on Experiences, Not Things

There’s a myth that couples who elope do it because they want to save money, or don’t want to invest in their wedding day. While elopements do tend to cost less than traditional weddings, this is usually just an added perk, rather than the driving force. 

The average cost of a wedding in the United States is almost $35,000 – yep, that’s three zeros! It’s difficult to give an average cost for an elopement because they can vary so much – some couples have an intimate ceremony in their backyard, while others choose to fly to a country across the world for an adventure elopement. The main difference when it comes to eloping, is that you get to spend money on the things that actually matter to you. 

It’s a proven fact that experiences will bring you more happiness than material items, and elopements are all about the experience! You can spend money on plane tickets, travel, and epic adventures instead of decorations, food for your guests, and other items that you need for a traditional wedding. When you save money by not renting a venue or inviting 200 guests, you’ll be able to spend that on the things that matter to you.

You Don’t Want all the Pressure and Outside Opinions

The big wedding industry comes with a ton of pressure. There are so many expectations when it comes to who you should invite, how much money you should spend, where you should get married, and so much more. It seems like everyone has an opinion on how you should get married, even though in reality, the only opinions that should matter are yours and your partner’s. 

Weddings often turn into a competition of who can throw the best party – and at the end of the night, the couple didn’t even get to enjoy it. So many couples say they were so focused on saying hi to all their guests and making sure everything was going smoothly, that they didn’t get to spend any time together. A lot of couples don’t even remember most of their wedding day, which is so heartbreaking! 

Your wedding should be about you, and you should enjoy it! 

Should I Elope?

If you resonate with any of these reasons why couples choose to elope, the answer to your question, “Should I elope?” is probably YES! You don’t have to fall into the trap of how big weddings “should” be, and you don’t have to follow tradition just because everyone else does. 

Eloping is the absolute best way to have a wedding day that’s intentional, meaningful, and authentic. Eloping gives you the opportunity to start your marriage off in a way that feels true to you, and to make sure that your wedding day actually reflects who you are as a couple.

Once you realize that eloping can be limitless, you’ll never want to go back! But if you are still on the fence if eloping is right for you – I have created this fun quiz to help guide you in your wedding direction.

Just click below to take the quiz!


Should I Elope or Have a Traditional Wedding?

If you are deciding if eloping is right for you, take this short quiz to steer you in the right direction!

1 / 10

Are you more likely to relax at home or go to a house party?

2 / 10

How likely are you raise your hand in class (when you attended school) to answer a question?

3 / 10

Would you rather buy a new car/boat/etc. or take a trip to a new country?

4 / 10

Does the sound of planning a wedding stress you out?

5 / 10

Would you rather spend your wedding focused on you two or be with your wedding guests?

6 / 10

Are you conscious about eco-friendly options for living?

7 / 10

Are you comfortable with spending over $30,000 for your wedding?

8 / 10

Would you rather have mostly outdoor scenery for your wedding photos or an indoor location?

9 / 10

Are you more likely to keep the wedding traditions (cutting cake, toasting, dance party, etc.) or make new ones?

10 / 10

If any, how many wedding guests do you want?

I Wish I Would Have Eloped

Coming more from a personal note, I totally wish I would have eloped. When my husband and I got engaged, we honestly rushed into getting married because we were so excited and that’s totally okay! BUT – because of this we fell into following the traditional footsteps like all of our siblings had done before. We had no idea eloping was even an option!

Although we don’t regret getting married when we did and didn’t fall into every tradition that was thrown out to us, we definitely wish we would of done things differently. I look back with regret on the party we threw and the photographer coverage we lacked.

As an elopement photographer, I take my job very seriously to not let couples look back with regret on their most meaningful day. I’ll always advocate and empower you to create your most special day perfectly! So if you’re wanting a photographer who is solely focused on creating a wedding experience that is memorable for a lifetime, contact me or start learning on how to create your elopement here!

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