Should I Elope or Have a Wedding? — The Top Ten Reasons to Elope from Real Eloping Couples


Should I elope?

The Top 10 Reasons to Elope from Real Eloping Couples

You’ve heard about couples willing to give big weddings the boot to elope. You’ve seen the freedom they’ve felt and their newfound carefree attitude, and it’s left you wondering, “Should I elope or have a wedding?”

You’re not alone, sister. There is a community of folks learning to ask that very same question, “Should I elope or have a wedding?”

As elopement photographers, planners, and officiants, we wanted to put together a stellar tool to help you answer the infamous question, “Should I elope or have a wedding?” so you can truly know if this wedding experience is right for you. We know firsthand the freedom that comes with eloping, and we hope you see that it’s a REAL option for you too!

But you came here looking for some answers so let’s dive on in! We’ve consulted with real-life eloping couples to ask them “what made you realize eloping was for you?” and these were the top 10 responses:

1) Should I elope or have a wedding turns into, “We couldn’t find a venue as gorgeous or homey as our favorite travel spot.”

So many eloping couples are on the “adventurey” side or at least they like the option of their wedding day being outdoors. As you’re wedding planning and sifting through local venues or maybe even destination venues, you may realize that you much more prefer the views you’ve seen in a national park you’ve visited or a monument or a landscape you find yourself drawn to. That’s for a reason and probably a good hint towards your answer of, should I elope or have a wedding? These views feel like home to you, and they give you much more inspiration and freedom than the idea of exchanging vows in a building you don’t super love or haven’t had some meaningful memory there when you have so. many. amazing. memories. in the great outdoors. Mother Nature has done the decorating for you, and she’s done an AMAZE-BALLS JOB!

Does this sound like something you’ve been thinking? Nature has you wondering, should I elope or have a wedding? Are you wondering if getting married at that stuffy venue isn’t for you? That you might regret it? Maybe you’ve visited a dozen venues, and none of them feel just right. This is the story of so many eloping couples. Let us encourage you: you don’t have to be like everyone else, and you are completely free to exchange vows in a place that holds value to you. You are not too far down this wedding planning road to change your mind to what is actually more you.

So we put together an all inclusive list of the best places to elope in the US if that’s how you’re feeling too.

And that’s only one of the reasons to elope. Let’s keep going!! <3

2) Should I elope or have a wedding turns into, “Personally, I think a lot of what you pay for on a wedding day is for other people.”

I mean if you think about it, what is your wedding really about? Is it about others, or is it about you both and the commitment you’re making to love another for a lifetime? Your wedding day should truly be about you two and the realness of the commitment you’re making to another. While it’s true you certainly have family members or friends whom you cherish enough to invite into that special day, the people who really matter and really love you both shouldn’t expect your day to be about them either. You can certainly choose to honor guests on your wedding day, but often this snowballs into prioritizing other people rather than the vows you’re pledging. Questions like, “What caterer can fit everyone’s meal preferences? Do we need to add alcohol? Will everyone expect a DJ? If we don’t give them some decision to help with, their feelings will be hurt.” What starts out as trying to be sweet to those you value sadly can turn into paying a big bill just so everyone else gets what they want.

What do you really value enough to spend money on? Do you value spending big bucks on something soooo temporary like a huge meal for guests or favors they will ultimately trash? Or perhaps, you’d rather spend money on something no one can take from you—experiences. Experiences like summiting a new peak, or white water rafting that kind of makes you wanna pee your pants (lol), or that feeling of catching your breath after going on your first dog run in Alaska with your boo! These experiences last FOREVER, while a lot of things you spend money on during a wedding last only for that day.

Your investment matters. Your money matters. And your experiences matter. Make it count on your wedding day too. This is one of the top reasons to elope, and we’re here for it.

Answering the question, “Should I elope or have a wedding?” is a big one, and we’d love to help you answer it.

3) Should I elope or have a wedding turns into, “We want a marriage, not a wedding.”

Starting off your marriage putting on a “big wedding” and all the stress and financial weight that comes with them too frequently can be a real weight on your relationship. So many couples disagree or have different priorities when wedding planning, and this can lead to really hurtful conversations when you realize your priorities don’t always match up. Beginning your marriage with an elopement says to each other, “We have one priority—each other. And no event is going to tear that apart.” It is much easier to start your marriage well when you don’t have the extra added stress of event planning.

Is wedding planning already putting a strain on your relationship? Is that what’s leaving you wondering, “Should I elope or have a wedding?” Is narrowing down your guest list causing a riff in your connection? You might even notice a BIG change in body language when you change the conversation to wedding planning. Suddenly your partner isn’t so interested in hanging out if they know it’s going to be a planning extravaganza, and who could blame them?! If wedding planning isn’t fun for you, and if it’s causing disagreements—GET RID OF THE STRESS. And value your relationship more enough to elope. Eloping gives you the option to truly prioritize growing you relationship and time together.

Here’s a sad stat: 20% of engaged couples call their wedding off before the wedding day. That means 1 in every 5 couples will not follow through in getting married. Don’t let yourself be that 1 in 5.

Get rid of the stress and work on growing your marriage before the wedding day instead of leaving it as your second priority after wedding planning. Prioritizing your marriage should definitely be one of your reasons to elope.

4) Should I elope or have a wedding turns into, “Social anxiety lol!”

If you’re the kind of person that gets sweaty palms when you have to stand in front of a crowd and speak or the type of person that attaches themselves to the wall during group gatherings, then an elopement is for you!! Is it awkward for you to profess your deep love and devotion to your partner even in private? Maybe you’re not that dramatic of a person, and you just want to spend time together casually. Well, imagine 150 guests staring at you with their phone ready to catch every strand of emotion you have as you pour out your soul to your partner. That can seem like a really daunting or awkward moment to a lot of folks. But elopements let you be free from social anxiety when you exchange vows. If you want, your partner can be the only person in the world who hears your vows. You’re safe, yet truly heard.

Do you want to be showcased before the masses? Or would you rather know that only people who you feel safe around will hear your vulnerability during your vows? Some people truly do love social energy!! They thrive in front of crowds and belong there! And nothing is wrong with that. But there is also nothing wrong with knowing yourself well enough to see that you are more yourself in secluded settings with just a few treasured relationships around. Ya know, those pals you can dig deep with and learn alongside. That’s who you want around on your most precious and vulnerable day.

We get it. I literally cringe at the thought of being sappy in front of other people. Haha

You’re not alone, so reach out to your fellow anxiety-stricken photographers :), and we’ll craft a day where you’re safe keeping these reasons to elope in mind.

5) Should I elope or have a wedding turns into, “We’re saving for the future.”

A traditional wedding costs an average of $33,000, while an elopement can cost as little as one fourth of that. Our estimation comes out to $8800 for an adventurous elopement including all the vendors, fun activities, and travel for you both! Now that’s amazing. The cost of an elopement vs. a wedding is often really eye-opening to our brides. That leaves you with a whopping $24,200 left over to save for a house payment, pay off college debt, or put towards even more stellar adventures. Just imagine the possibilities of what you could accomplish with $24,200 towards your future. Not to mention, a lot of that $33,000 racks up as debt. We all know that debt grows interest, so as you’re paying off your wedding for the next 10 years, you’re actually adding to the initial bill. That’s crazy, right??

Do you have future goals you’d rather put your money towards? Odds are you do, and that’s one of your reasons to elope! You’re not crazy for wanting that tiny home on wheels or to think you can pay off all your debt by 35. You can help achieve those goals by eloping and have a more than stellar and meaningful wedding day along the process.

6) Should I elope or have a wedding turns into, “Our family situation is a bit crazy.”

We’ve all got weird family members, right? Well it goes a little deeper than that. What if your family background is kinda dark? Maybe your family didn’t treat you with love? What if you have some deceased family members that you can’t imagine having a “big wedding” without? A lot of eloping couples sadly walk around with hurt imagining their wedding day, because they are unsure if someone in their family will be hurtful to them, or if they’ll miss someone, or if an estranged family member will show up? Big weddings put a lot of emphasis on close family ties, but unfortunately not all couples getting married have rock solid families and fuzzy feelings at family get-togethers. Elopements give you the freedom to either a) have your day full of only you two with no guests or b) invite only those who have truly loved you well so you know you’re safe on your day.

Is your family situation kind of sticky too? This can be one of the big reasons to elope for most couples.

Des here, photographer & writer of this blog, and I’m going to be pretty vulnerable in the next few sentences.

So my mom & dad divorced when I was 3. I didn’t really know why, I just knew my dad was a bad dude that had really hurt my family. I tried to keep up with my dad for a long time via phone calls & visitations, but he was always pretty manipulative and selfish. So we stopped communicating about the time I started college.

Then I fell in love with Dan the man & wanted to get married.

There I was on my wedding day, almost in panic at the thought, “What if my dad shows up? I hope no one told him I was getting married. It would be so like him to show up and do something hurtful to my family.”

Because I did not elope, he very well could have heard when & where we were getting married. Eloping does not give unwanted family members or acquaintances the privilege or opportunity to ruin what’s supposed to be the most meaningful day of your life. Safe-guard your day from potential chaos by eloping. You’ll feel much more at ease knowing only the folks you really value will be there.

7) Should I elope or have a wedding turns into, “Our values didn’t really match up with a big wedding.”

If you look at what the traditional wedding looks like, you can determine what a big wedding pushes out into society. Big weddings push a consumerist agenda that tells couples and guests, “Spend more! Have more! All so you’ll be accepted and cool!” Eloping couples really care less about “being cool” and care more about being intentional in what they really communicate. A lot of couples that elope really value minimalism, land conservation, human rights, and so many more philanthropic causes that increase the quality of our earth in the present day and in the generations to come. Maybe you are big Leave No Trace advocates like myself. Eloping really is a way for couples to express their philanthropic vision before other individuals with questions. You are much more kind to our earth when you elope and share about what truly matters to you—whether it’s the earth, animals, global warming, or any number of issues that big weddings unknowingly fuel.

Are your values different than the typical consumer, and it’s become one of your reasons to elope? We believe that’s a good thing. And we believe that’s a good start to eh question of, “Should I elope or have a wedding?” We owe it to our belief systems to be different and champion causes, even in our wedding experiences.

8) Should I elope or have a wedding turns into, “We have the freedom to make every decision intentionally.”

There are so. many. decisions. that go into planning a wedding—so much so that people hire wedding planners to make a lot of decisions for them, because they truly don’t care enough or get too stressed to micro-manage all the teeny tiny details. We believe wedding planners deserve every penny, because they’re making calls on decisions no one else wants to, and they do it amazingly!!!

But a lot of couples are genuinely very intentional about their life decisions. They think deeply about decisions, purchases, and conversations. They believe, “If you can’t make a decision with intention, then it’s not a decision worth making.” But with so many decisions, it’s impossible to give intentionality to every decision in a big wedding. So with eloping, you get to lessen the amount of decisions and give yourself fully to them. You don’t have to hire a planner to make decisions for you when you have radically less decisions, and they are as exciting as elopement decisions are. Eloping gives you the option to be yourself and be intentional with every decision about your day—from the location, what you wear, fun surprise gifts to your boo, who you invite, what you eat, extra adventures, where you stay, your ceremony, and all the things you actually want to give your attention to. You get to create a day full of meaning, authenticity, and creativity. Your day is 100% you. Are you a pretty intentional person?

9) Should I elope or have a wedding turns into, “We really want an easy-going wedding day!”

Wedding days are full of schedules. We know, because before we started photographing elopements, we photographed big weddings and helped brides personalize their wedding day schedules. There is a lot you’ve got to pack into an 8 hour day: “getting ready,” family pictures, bridesmaid pictures, groomsmen pictures, your first look, the ceremony, reception, and exit. And that’s just what the photographer sees. Before that other vendors are arriving and needing your attention too! You can be pulled in a lot different directions on a wedding day. I can’t tell you the amount of times I’ve heard a bridesmaid say to the bride, “Have you peed today? Do you need me to hold your dress for you?” And every. single. time. the bride says, “OMG I don’t think I’ve peed since I got up!”

Couples don’t even have time to use the restroom, eat and hydrate, much less really delve into the majesty and emotion of what their day should be. Here’s another thing we’ve heard too many times, “Oh, I’m so glad the day is finally over!” So much stress and busyness pull at a couple on their wedding day, but it doesn’t have to be that way.

People don’t like stress—and that’s for a good reason. Elopement days have zero stress and have tons of flexibility and room for spontaneity. You’ve got a whole day to really do two basic things: 1) adventure with your partner and 2) exchange vows. The rest of what could happen in the schedule is up to you, and you’ve got room to change things around and be carefree if you choose.

Chill vibes can definitely be one of your reasons to elope!

Are you more of “down for whatever” kind of person who hates being put in a box? Eloping couples don’t like boxes. They create their own shapes with flexibility and spontaneity built in. What wedding day could be better than knowing you’re actually in charge, not the clock.

10) Should I elope or have a wedding turns into, “We were afraid we couldn’t create the wedding day we really wanted, but we were confident we could create an elopement that would be even more amazing.”

We hear a lot about pressure from family and friends in reference to wedding days, but we rarely think about the personal pressure you put on yourself about your wedding day. A lot of couples have super high standards for themselves in all aspects of life (and we are all about achieving goals!), but the reality is you may have dreamt up a big wedding day that you simply cannot or should not reach. Rather than feeling the pressure from yourself to excel and put on the greatest wedding anyone you’ve ever known has, couples are giving themselves the freedom to look past achieving the picture perfect wedding day and reach for something more realistic, something they really can excel at.

While it’s true you may have been dreaming of your big wedding your whole life, you owe it to yourself to stop feeling the need to prove your value and worth by the kind of wedding day you can put on. Prove to yourself that you are growing as an individual and free yourself towards creating a wedding day that’s wildly different. You deserve to be loved no matter what your wedding day looks like, even when it comes to loving yourself. Self-love is sometimes learning to be realistic and release the pressure we feel to achieve.

Are you putting on a big wedding just so you can feel good about yourself? That’s the wrong reason to plan a big wedding, and our heart breaks when we see hurting couples striving for something that isn’t them or striving for something they don’t really want just so they will be accepted.

You are accepted here. You belong here. You have community here. We are passionate about listening, and we’d love to hear your story. So reach out and give yourself the freedom to plan a day that’s beautifully yours.

If we had to sum it up…

Here are the top 10 reasons to elope:

  1. You’d rather spend your time somewhere you are excited about being.

  2. You understand what a wedding day is really about—each other & your commitment.

  3. Your prioritize your relationship over less-than-meaningful details.

  4. You value privacy and security over performances.

  5. You have bigger financial goals in the future than paying for a party.

  6. Your family situation makes a typical wedding day seem saddening or fearful to you.

  7. You feel crushed when you see the materialism often involved in big weddings.

  8. You’re an intentional person who wants to give genuine thought to decisions on your wedding day.

  9. You want to be carefree, not stressed, on the day you commit your lives to one another.

  10. You know yourself well enough to know you’re motivated by achieving big things, and for once, you need to let yourself just truly be happy with yourself as you are.

So if you find yourself screaming at your screen, “YESSSSS THIS IS MEEEEE!’’ Then hit that orange-ish button below, and we can talk about it!! We believe that eloping is truly the only way to have a meaningful, authentic, and creative wedding experience where you can exist truly as yourselves without stress and with intimacy and adventure. If that sounds like what you’re here for, then let’s friggin do this!!

Additional Resources for Couples:

Pros and Cons of Eloping | Because you might still need a little reassuring

Eloping in Montana | To show you just how easy and beautiful eloping can be

How to Elope | Because we all need an ultimate guide and checklist

Hey, it’s us!

We’re Des & Dan! Husband & wife elopement photographers, planners, and officiants! We help couples like you create elopement days full of meaningful details, authentic moments, and creative experiences because we believe you deserve a wedding day where you are truly heard—a wedding day you can truly remember.

We’d love to help in any way you can, so check out our other free planning resources or send us an email by hitting contact! We’d love to hop on the phone and see what you’re envisioning for your elopement day.

You deserve this.

Des & Dan


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