The Pros and Cons of Eloping

April 15, 2018

In our parents’ generation, when a couple chose to elope it typically meant they were running away to get married quickly and didn’t have to worry what anyone had to think about it. Nowadays, eloping has taken on an entirely new meaning and is a great solution for couples who want to celebrate their marriage in a special way, without having to spend tens of thousands on a “big wedding”. More and more couples are choosing to skip the big wedding and instead elope in a beautiful location (think waterfalls in Iceland or the top of a mountain) and bring along a photographer along to document it.

Having been a wedding photographer for 6 years, I’ve seen a lot of what goes into the “big day” and just how much of it is just an unnecessary expense we buy into because we think it’s what we’re supposed to do. It’s why I choose to shoot more elopements now more than ever.

The average cost of a wedding in the U.S. is $35,000 and for many couples, that’s just not the way they want to start off their first year of marriage! But is eloping really a better option or are you missing out if you choose that alternative route?

I actually did something even more untraditional and chose to elope AND have a big wedding later on, and my feelings on that will be shared in a later post! But I got to see the pros and cons of both, and here is what I learned:

Pros of Eloping

I couldn’t be happier I got the chance to elope. Having my very own Big Sur elopement is something I still smile every time I think about but beyond the location and the memory, it came with a lot of additional benefits. Looking back, here are what I found to be the biggest pros of eloping.

Eloping Lets You Save For What Matters

The most obvious perk of eloping is that you save tens of thousands of dollars by choosing to opt out of the big party. Venues, tables, chairs, food, and alcohol aren’t cheap and the more people you host, the more expensive it gets!

When you elope, you get to spend your budget on hiring your dream photographer (and sometimes videographer) and traveling to a beautiful place to celebrate your marriage and take photos in. Eloping doesn’t mean you have to just go to the courthouse – you can travel to a place you’ve always wanted to see, your favorite National Park, or any place you love outdoors to adventure.

You Get To Focus on the Two of You

Something people naively think is that weddings are all about the couple, but the reality is they are just as much about all the people you invite. Especially if you are getting help paying for the wedding, what your family wants takes a priority and you often have to sacrifice to make other people happy. Not to mention, weddings days are a whirlwind and you get barely any time to be alone and just enjoy each other!

The beautiful part of eloping is it’s all about you and your partner. Besides a photographer, videographer, and maybe an officiant it’s just the two of you and you get to focus on the reason you chose to make this lifelong commitment in the first place. An elopement ends up feeling much more intimate than a traditional wedding for that reason.

Eloping Can Also Be A Honeymoon

For my friends, Chaise and Dallas, whose Iceland Elopement I got to photograph last year, we spent a few days together traveling and shooting then we parted ways for them to spend another week or so honeymooning. Not only does this save money, but it turns your wedding into an adventure you won’t ever forget!

You Get To Take Really Epic Photos

As much as people spend on weddings to make them “photo-worthy”, the truth is that you often don’t get much time on your wedding day to take photos of just the two of you. Not only that, but there are so many factors that go into making a good photo and having a choice of the location is a big part of that.

If having great photos if really important to you, then eloping gives you the chance to take photos together in some really rad places and spend all of that time on you!

Cons of Eloping

Unfortunately, eloping came with a handful of unexpected drawbacks. For every positive aspect of eloping I got to enjoy, there came a negative side I didn’t necessarily expect. As an elopement photographer, I’ve only had the chance to see the positive side of things but going through it for myself gave me new insight. From my experience, here’s what I found to be a few of the cons of eloping.

Eloping Can Be Lonely

One of the downsides to eloping is feeling like you don’t get to share it with all of your friends and family. Not having other people there might feel lonely and make you wonder if you should have just spent the money on the “big wedding”. After all, happiness is best when shared so without people to share it with, the moment can feel empty afterward. The best solution to this is having an intimate wedding where you only invite your closest family and friends that are willing to travel and have just the people that mean the most around you.

Family May Not Support It

Unfortunately, eloping still gets a bad rap amongst older generations that know it to be something very different than it is today. Your family may not support you in your decision because they want to celebrate with all of your family and friends or don’t understand the idea of it. Making the decision to get married is a huge one and not having the support you need can be difficult. It’s important to be honest and upfront with your family and share your heart for why you want to elope, and why you believe it’s the best decision for you.

May Cause FOMO

The “Fear Of Missing Out” is a real thing, especially when all of your friends are having “big weddings” and you’ve had so much fun at many of them. I know this feeling all too well, which led me to spend way more money than I wish I would have so I could have the best of both worlds. But it’s important to remember that your wedding is about what’s best for you and that you can always opt to have a simpler party later with your close family and friends, or even invite them to the elopement!

Eloping Is Not For Everyone

Your decision to elopement comes down to what you value. If you don’t like getting your hair messy and care more about inviting everyone you know, then eloping probably isn’t for you. But if you’re more interested a memorable adventure and don’t mind hiking to get there, then eloping might be what’s right for you! All that matters is that your love is the focus and you listen to what you know is best for you.

Final Thoughts on Eloping

All in all, eloping was more than worth it for me. Every couple is unique and has different taste in what they envision. Maybe you see yourself in a forest or on a tropical Hawaiian island. My cons may not have been the same as yours, so I encourage everyone to consider thoughtfully with their future spouse about what might be right for your situation. I love to be a resource for anyone weighing their options, so reach out to me and I’d be happy to help with any elopement photography needs you may have. Fill out a form submission or give me a call at 786-270-8527 and we’ll get a conversation going!