If you’ve ever wondered about an elopement, some things you might have wondered are: why elope? No really, why do couples choose to elope? Is an elopement right for me? Is eloping better than having a traditional wedding? These are all valid questions to have when considering reasons to elope and this guide is here to help answer those questions for you! Read on to discover the top 10 reasons to elope.
Why Elope? Some things to consider.
There is so much going on in the wedding industry today. A mass of noise and information, all telling you what you should or shouldn’t do. What a wedding should be or shouldn’t be. Pages on pages of wedding etiquette, outdated traditions, and more. The reality is, it is no one’s place to tell you how you should get married. It’s completely a myth that there are traditions you can’t break or that you have to fulfill all of the expectations of others on your wedding day. And I’m not here to tell you that you absolutely should elope, but rather to serve you as a couple by giving some food for thought from other couples who have been there. I want to help highlight reasons to elope so that if it is something that speaks to you, you can make an informed decision.
For a moment, I want you to shut out all that wedding planning noise and focus on what you and your partner truly want for your wedding experience. Think about how it would look if the two of you decided to have a very intentional day that focused on who you are together. What would your best day ever look like? If you could do anything at all on your wedding day, what would you do? What kind of scenery would you like to say your vows in? Can you picture it? What’s filling your senses when you think about it?
As you continue to think about that, consider that there aren’t do-overs for a day like this. All the moments you might miss as you’re hurried through the crowded schedule of a wedding day, they can’t be brought back. A great wedding photographer can capture some of them for you to later see, but it isn’t the same as being fully present in your day. It’s so important to think about how you want to feel on the day you say, “I do.” The kind of wedding that you choose to have will definitely impact how you feel looking back. Let’s explore the top 10 reasons to elope along with what couples have shared with me about their choice.
Top Ten Reasons to Elope
#1 – Something Truly Extraordinary + Just Us
Without a doubt, the first thing many couples give as a reason to elope is that they want to have an awesome experience that is just between the two of them. They want to bring the focus away from all of the details that go into a traditional wedding and focus instead on the more intimate experience an elopement provides. You can let the anxiety, stress, and challenges of traditional weddings melt away and instead choose to do something that is just for you as a couple. Elopements allow you freedom to express the way you’ll commit your love to each other in a unique way and will give you that feeling of being the only two people in the world.
Kristen told me that she and her fiancé “love the idea of focusing on each other the day we get married.” And that is exactly what they did when we planned + photographed their elopement on Oahu! No busy distractions, no worries, just the two of them. The day was fully about them, focused on celebrating by the bay and taking a special night tour at a spot that had significant meaning to them.
Rebecca + David shared that they’d been swept up in planning and had lost focus: “After planning a huge wedding with all our families and friends we quickly realized we were planning the wedding everyone wanted but not the wedding we imagined.” This happens so often. The craziness of planning a large, traditional wedding has a tendency to absorb all of the joy and turn the day into something that is about everyone else. With an elopement, it really will be about just the two of you.
Jessica shared that she and some friends were discussing wedding regrets over dinner one evening and her friend “added to the list of people who said ‘we should have eloped and done what we really wanted to do.'” This conversation led her to the idea of just eloping and doing what they wanted to do instead of what was expected by others.
I see this sentiment again and again. Trinity + Ryan told me that they “started planning a wedding but stopped when we realized all the stress and money that would just be going towards making other people happy and decided on eloping.” You can spend an absolute fortune on a traditional wedding day and it will definitely give your guests a good time, but at the end of the day, isn’t it better to invest in each other? In having the experience of a lifetime together?
#2 – The Honesty of an Elopement
Elopements all have one thing in common: they are honest, authentic experiences. Couples are able to feel safe + free to be themselves when they elope. There isn’t this feeling of putting on a performance for guests that can lead to a very inauthentic experience. There are just so many traditions that go along with big weddings that can take away from the authenticity of a relationship, it just doesn’t make sense to many of the couples I’ve talked to. Rather than go through a day of pomp + circumstance, some couples want to have an experience that feels like them through and through.
Having the freedom to make all of these choices in how your day will be gives you liberty to really have fun. Sandra + Justin told me “We want to have a fun, non-fussy, really special day exploring an island and being ourselves.” An elopement on the island of Lanai felt right to them, like it would really allow them to be themselves.
If you’re looking at planning a traditional wedding and it’s just not feeling true to you and your partner, it may be a sign that an elopement is something you should consider. As much as it’s completely fine if you like a big wedding, it’s also perfectly okay if you would rather do something different. The important thing is to be honest about what you’d like to experience on your wedding day and go from there.
#3 – Elopements are Intentional
Elopement days are intentional. They are slow, insightful, meaningful, and beautiful right down to the core. I fully believe that this is because you melt away all of the distractions that come with a big wedding. Distractions of traditional weddings can come in many forms, everything from finances to that crazy relative we all have. Elopements allow for couples to erase those distractions and truly be intentional with their time, money, and with their love. I think this is a beautifully put explanation that I wanted to share from a bride I spoke with recently.
“We can’t justify spending twenty thousand dollars on a dream wedding with all the bells and whistles when we know that we would have the same dreamy feeling if it were just the two of us. We originally thought that eloping would be the right choice for us because it’s such a special and intimate way to get married. Exchanging vows and promises we will keep for the rest of our lives in a meaningful and intentional way is so important to us. I don’t want our wedding day to be stressful whatsoever. Recently we’ve thought more seriously about the idea and we’re pretty positive that’s the way we want to go. I don’t need to have the ballroom, the cheesy DJ, the garter toss or the bouquet toss, the electric slide, or the huge dinner with expensive food.. that’s just not us. I want it to be all about us and sharing the love we have for each other.” – B+T
It’s absolutely true that traditional weddings average $34,000 in the US. Holy. Wow. And I can tell you that we spent about that much when we had our traditional wedding. Worth it? Not in my opinion. You can do some incredible things for an elopement day and still only spend about a third or half of that amount, leaving you plenty to start married life with. If you value experience over things, an elopement is definitely the way to go. Rather than spend on table arrangements and tangible items that will produce hundreds of pounds of waste, you’ll be investing in the experience of a lifetime together. You’ll be doing something intentional with your time that will truly celebrate you as a couple.
#4 – You Can Do What You Really Love
The amazing thing about an elopement is that you can really make the day about the two of you and what you love doing. Do you love to travel? Maybe you’ve always dreamed of jet-setting to Morocco and arriving to your elopement by camel or perhaps you’d like an excuse to explore Bali with your love. Are you a National Parks fan? An elopement in Yosemite or Zion could be right for you. Want to take a helicopter to a crazy beautiful, otherwise inaccessible spot for your vows? Guess what? That can totally be your elopement day. The beauty of elopements is that if you can dream it up, you can include it in your day. Sounds a little cheesy, but it’s true! By choosing to elope, you can have a wedding experience that you’ll really love.
When sharing reasons to elope, couples often tell me things like “We love the outdoors and nature. We frequently travel and hike beautiful locations.” (Ashlee + Sam) It makes complete sense that if you love the outdoors, nature, and hiking, you might want to include those things in your wedding day. And with a big, traditional wedding you just can’t really do this. What you can do if you’d like to have a few of your nearest and dearest along for the adventure is invite a handful of them to hike with you and be there for your vows. With an elopement, there’s no pressure to invite a ton of people you barely know. You can elope just the two of you or with a small crew of your best people.
Emily shared that she thought “at the end of the day, we want it to be relaxed and fun, include exploring a new place.” This is exactly the kind of thing that you can do for your elopement. You can plan to go somewhere entirely new and experience that excitement in exploring that place together while eloping. Many couples choose a place that’s new to both of them so that they can really share in the experience. Others choose a place that has deep meaning to them. Whatever the case, you can bet that you’ll be able to choose a place you absolutely love rather than settle for a venue that’s just okay.
#5 – You’ll Have Way Less Stress
Another big answer that I’ve gotten from couples as a reason to elope is that it’s far less stress than a traditional wedding. Elopements are practically stress-free because you aren’t following some complex, ten page timeline or worrying about a thousand things that have nothing to do with marrying your best friend. Imagine waking up on your wedding day and instead of rushing to prep with tons of people around, you enjoy a slow cup of coffee with your love. You spend time finishing your vows together, talking about any and everything instead of being separated for the whole morning. When it is time to get ready you can choose to do so together, creating new traditions you’ll laugh about for years to come. You have plenty of time to make your way to meet your elopement team rather than feeling the rush to make it to the aisle on time, being whisked around by a planner with a clipboard. Once you arrive, instead of hundreds of faces staring at phones which are pointed at you, you take in the beauty of the special location you and your love picked to get married. Your vows and ceremony are intimate, easy, and you’re free to show each other a range of emotions you might not want to share in front of an audience. After you’ve sealed it with a kiss, you’ve got time to roam. You get to explore this incredible world and celebrate your marriage with amazing pictures rather than a gallery full of all the awkward dance photos from a reception. Instead of barely getting to eat and rushing around from table to table, you are able to be present. You get to absorb the vows you said, have time alone together, and really experience what it is to be married. If that sounds awesome to you, you may have a reason to elope.
Couples have told me: “we just want to enjoy a stress free day enjoying the beauty around us.” (Caitlin + Nick) During an elopement, you’re free to get lost in the beauty of the natural world around you. You’re free to get lost in each other, focusing only on the two of you instead of a hundred or more guests who will all want a slice of your attention. Instead of feeling like a Stretch Armstrong being pulled in seven directions, you can go in just one. This was such a common thread that I noticed among couples planning on eloping. Ashlee told me, “We would love to have a beautiful stress free elopement with a beautiful setting and amazing pictures.” There it is again: stress free.
#6 – Love for Adventure
Adventure and elopements seem to go hand-in-hand. I sometimes photograph shorter elopement days in a really simple way, a few hours on the beach, but more often I photograph adventure elopements. Couples who choose to elope are often very adventurous and are in love with nature. They enjoy getting outdoors, hiking, surfing, paddle boarding, skiing or snowboarding, exploring, and just being out in nature in whatever way possible. They say that the one of the reasons to elope is to be able to experience an adventure together while getting married.
Lauren + Mathew said, “We love the outdoors and adventure but are also very romantic.” Elopements allow for couples to tie together their love of nature, adventure, and a little bit of romance. Elopements also allow couples the freedom to choose a spot for vows that really speaks to them. Elizabeth + Phillip mentioned “We both love adventure and being outside in nature. I would like the ceremony to be somewhere with a stunning backdrop.” Imagine saying your vows overlooking an incredible view instead of at a standard venue. The vision really puts things in perspective.
Of course, there are plenty of fun ways to celebrate on your elopement day that aren’t necessarily outdoorsy. You can plan an urban getaway that revolves around the relaxing, fun things you like to do in the city. Adventures don’t just have to be hiking mountains, you can definitely center more on running around the streets of Paris together or taking in the incredible views of a city like Edinburgh. This all goes back to doing what you really love!
#7 – Off The Beaten Path
I often hear from couples that one of the reasons to elope is to do something that is unique, something really uncommon. Currently, traditional weddings dominate the industry and are the most common. They can honestly become a little bit repetitive and thanks to Pinterest, it’s easy to get caught up in a sea of same. But Courtney shared that she “never wanted a huge cookie cutter, expensive wedding day so when we got engaged I started researching eloping and realized that it was what we wanted.” That honest desire to go off the beaten path to do something that was truly unique with her best friend is really what many elopements come down to. This one really resonates because we all want to express ourselves in a way that is true, we want to be known. Choosing to go against the grain and elope lets you do both.
#8 – Easier Planning
Another reason to elope is the significant difference in planning demands. Planning a traditional wedding can be a real nightmare. It often starts out so fun, too, so it really shocked me when I was planning for my own wedding how quickly things turned. In the beginning, I had fun creating a Pinterest board where I saved all of my inspirations for what our wedding might be. I had some ideas of the vendors and venue, who we might invite, and all that. However, what I didn’t account for were how many people would want to weigh in on these things and the aggressive way in which they would do it. So many wanted to control the seating chart that I ended up ditching it in favor of open seating, which pissed some guests off. To be honest, planning + having my traditional wedding was the most stressful thing I have ever done. In contrast with planning our vow renewal (essentially an elopement at our five year anniversary) this past winter in Yosemite National Park, there is a night and day difference. We only had to think of what we wanted to do and how we wanted to do it. No fuss, no stress, just easy planning.
“That’s why we want to elope, to escape the wedding planning stresses, and focus on a moment that should be about us and our love.” Tanya + Matt
Planning an elopement can really be very simple. Especially when you have an incredible elopement photographer to come alongside you and help guide you. Since we have experienced so many elopements, elopement photographers can help you in many things. Perhaps the hardest part will be choosing where to adventure and what to wear.
#9 – No Playing Star of the Day
Surprisingly (or perhaps not), one of the common reasons to elope that I hear all the time is that couples don’t want to be the center of attention. It can be a lot of pressure to stand or speak in front of hundreds of people. It really begins to feel like a performance as you float from one event to the next. Often, though most try to keep them private, first looks are spied on by family + friends who are too excited to butt out so you may feel on display there. And then it’s time to take wedding party photos, walk down the aisle and say vows into a microphone, recess for more group photos, dance on a stage or dance floor in front of everyone, make a toast, and toss some things into a crowd. While some may love attention, others feel that this just isn’t for them.
Ashley + Eric shared with me “We are really looking forward to our elopement and some time for just the two of us. Neither of us love to be the centre of attention and are not really into the big one day event with hundreds of people. Our families are very important to both of us so we are hoping to do something special with them after that will be far less stress than a big wedding day.” This really speaks volumes to the kinds of nerves that couples can experience about getting up in front of everyone and the stress of planning this type of event.
Sarah + James told me “We want to have a day that feels like us and no pressure except doing it the way that feels right for us – which for both of us means more intimate and no expectant audience.” Notice the word “audience.” That’s kind of what it feels like when you stand in front of a couple of hundred guests, whether you know them or not. And the truth is, many of them are expectant. Whether it’s expecting to speak with you, snap photos of you, or snag a selfie with you, many guests come with a list of expectations for a wedding. This can lead to a lot of pressure and a lot less time spent with just the two of you. When you elope, there simply isn’t that feeling of being the center of attention as you’re far more focused on each other.
#10 – Skip the Drama
Unsurprisingly, a common theme with couples planning to elope and avoid a traditional wedding is family drama. Honestly, while planning my own wedding I was up to my neck in family drama and repeatedly wished to throw in the towel + elope. My love, however, was very tied to the idea of a traditional wedding so we kept moving forward with it. But as I said, we have definitely suffered some regret when it comes to that decision. That definitely ties in to why I am so passionate about helping couples make brave choices when it comes to their wedding day. You don’t have to put up with all of that drama, you can have a day free of those awkward moments and hurtful comments.
“We started planning our wedding at a local historic building. However after a few months of planning we decided to cancel the venue due to family drama and not wanting to deal with the stress.” R+J
No matter where you are at in planning, if family drama has already begun or you feel it might be in the works, know that you have every right to choose to elope instead. When you elope, you might still have a little drama to deal with. Couples have confided in me that their families didn’t take the news well in some cases, but that they had no regrets. Regardless of if family is a bit dramatic about the elopement, the fact remains that they weren’t in attendance. You still have this whole day, perhaps a whole trip, where you were able to just be yourselves without any drama.
We’re in, how do we elope?
Did hearing from couples like you and reading this inspire you? I am so excited for you to consider an elopement! I have some helpful free resources that can get you started and I would love to hear from you to see if we can create something wonderful together. Just fill out the form below to get in touch!