Almost every couple considers it at some point during wedding planning. “Should we just ditch this whole wedding thing and run off to elope?” With the flood of epic elopement photos all over Instagram, it’s no wonder so many couples are opting out of traditional weddings. On top of that, COVID-19 has forced thousands of couples to ditch their big day for an intimate, no-frills wedding. In my experience, elopements are beautiful opportunities to get to the core of what a wedding is all about. The reality is, they aren’t for everyone. There are several details you should consider with your partner before you decide what makes the most sense for your situation. Here are a handful of questions to ask yourselves to determine whether or not eloping is right for you!
Can I Have a Wedding at My Dream Destination?
Many of the most beautiful places in the world to get married are prohibitive of large weddings. Tulum, Yosemite, and Big Sur, to name a few, can’t accommodate more than a small number of guests. So there’s a balance you have to strike when deciding on where you want to get married. Some places are even more restrictive. Destinations like the Oregon Coast aren’t suitable for more than 3-6 people: the couple, the photographer, the officiant, and maybe a videographer. Other highly sought-after countries like South Africa, Morocco, or Bali are logistically and financially burdensome for your guests. The question then becomes: do I sacrifice my dream destination or my desire for a big wedding? Which is a bigger priority for you?
Do I Want a Big Wedding?
This may seem like an obvious question but for many couples, this alone can be the dealbreaker. If you’re a couple who is struggling with this question, you’re not alone! Most brides’ ideas of their wedding day include all the traditional aspects we grow up seeing. It’s hard to imagine such an important event to be a certain way for years and years, only to have another appealing idea appear out of the blue. I’ve spoken to plenty of brides who can’t imagine a celebration that doesn’t include all their friends and family. I wouldn’t rule out a big wedding if you can’t bear the thought of not being able to walk down the aisle or dance with your bridesmaids. On the other hand, if your guest list is getting too long and your first thought is to abandon the idea of a big wedding altogether, eloping may be the route for you. Alternatively, you may want to consider an intimate wedding of 15-25 people.
Am I Over My Budget?
My husband and I had connections to tons of local vendors, went the affordable route when possible, did as much DIY as we could and we still went over our wedding budget. For most people, your wedding day is going to be the most expensive day of your life. The average cost of a wedding in Miami is nearly $31,000. As much as I love how my wedding day went, there are definitely things, in hindsight, I would have preferred not to spend as much money on. If you’re feeling overwhelmed about the prospect of spending tens of thousands of dollars, a big wedding may not be for you. Eloping may not always be inexpensive, especially depending on the destination, but it’s a fraction of the cost of a wedding. Choosing to elope locally is definitely the most affordable option. If you’re having a honeymoon abroad, you may want to consider combining the two.
How Big of a Priority is Photography for Me?
This ties in very closely with the first question above. If you’re choosing a visually stunning destination like Iceland, you want to have equally stunning photos. As a wedding photographer, my job is to make my couples’ photos come out great no matter the location. But, it is a lot easier with a beautiful backdrop. It’s hard to take bad elopement photos in Tuscany or the Maldives. So, by choosing the right photographer and the right location, you’re setting yourself up for a lifetime of looking back on gorgeous wedding photos. If photography is a priority for you, an elopement opens the door to more destinations and a higher likelihood that you’ll get the wedding photos of your dreams.
Do I Want to Combine my Wedding and Honeymoon?
This is something that’s much more common for destination weddings but it just as easily applies to destination elopements! If you’re planning to elope somewhere extraordinary, you can bundle your honeymoon to save money! For example, if you want to honeymoon in the south of France, you could elope in Greece, Morocco, or Italy and you’re only a short, inexpensive flight away from the start of your honeymoon. Ibiza is another great example of both a dream elopement and honeymoon destination. This is more a question of convenience. Do you want to fly 10 hours after one of the busiest days of your life? A destination elopement gives you the ability to start your honeymoon minutes after your wedding. If that doesn’t sway you toward eloping, I don’t know what would!
Throughout my 10+ years as a photographer, I’ve had the opportunity to shoot weddings of all sizes. As much as I’ve loved shooting 150+ guest weddings, smaller weddings and elopements have a unique and special feel. There’s no less ceremony to it, no less gravity, but much more intimacy. The decision to elope really comes down to you and your partner’s values. You both have to be a little untraditional, a little adventurous, a little unconventional. Whether you decide on a 200-person wedding or a tiny 2 person elopement in the middle of a jungle, I am here for you! Reach out to me with any wedding photography-related questions, inquiries, advice, etc and I will make sure to get back to you ASAP. With the right photographer, any choice you make will turn out great! Good luck 🙂