Having a big wedding isn’t the perfect fit for every couple – and that’s perfectly okay! In my experience, there are so many reasons couples will choose to elope together to tie the knot, from the stressful planning process to the environmental impact of that one big day.
When you’re thinking of your dream wedding, it’s so important to find the best option for you. Today, I’m laying out all the reasons you may (or may not) want to consider eloping.
It’s not the perfect option for everyone, but I know firsthand how much some of my couples have loved their special day together. Here are 7 reasons to elope – and why eloping might be the perfect fit for you.
1. A Big Wedding Doesn’t Excite You
Many people find it hard to admit to themselves that a big wedding just might not be the right option for them. After all, we grow up with stories of big weddings with the whole extended family and all your friends. It’s almost like an expectation engrained deep within us.
But big weddings aren’t for every couple – and that is perfectly okay. There are many reasons to elope and many reasons you may not want a big wedding, including:
- You don’t want to be on “stage,” or be the center of attention for the day.
- You don’t want to talk to so many people during the day — whether that is 200 people or 20 people.
- You don’t want to rush through the day, running from one thing to another to fit everything in.
- You have never dreamed or envisioned a massive wedding day.
- The idea of a big wedding doesn’t really fit who you are, deep down. Maybe you’re more quiet or introverted.
- The idea of a crazy, stressful day doesn’t sound good to you.
Whichever of these reasons to elope resonates most with you, understand that it’s okay to let go of expectations and pick the choice that works best for you both.
2. You’re Looking for Some Freedom
An elopement provides an element of freedom that some traditional weddings can’t offer. When you think of traditional weddings, you probably think of a traditional wedding day structure: the ceremony at the big venue, the photos, the cocktail hour, the reception, the garter toss and more.
Many couples may not want to participate in some of the classic wedding traditions, and that’s normal. So many of my couples have told me that they never wanted to do a garter toss, for example – ESPECIALLY in front of their parents and grandparents.
There are so many reasons to elope, but freedom is one of the most important. Elopements give you an element of freedom that a traditional wedding will not. I can’t even TELL you how many couples have told me that they felt they had to do certain things on their wedding days, or follow a certain schedule, even if they didn’t want to do any of it.
You are ALLOWED to say “yes” to certain traditions, and “no” to others, when you elope – and no one will judge you either way.
There’s freedom in almost every element of an elopement.
There are no limitations on venues: you can pick from a world of possibilities to say your vows. You can even opt to have your elopement and honeymoon in the same place to create so many special and epic memories all in the same place.
With that freedom comes another freedom: at most outdoor elopement locations, you have no minimum bar tabs, no regulations on types of food you need to serve, and no requirements of any sort, really.
You can craft a wedding day that is meaningful to YOU without spending money on things you don’t necessarily want on your big day. It’s all about your love, your way.
3. You Value Intimacy and Intention
Setting aside the time and the space to celebrate your love, your way is a wonderful and meaningful way for many couples to start their lifetime journey together. It’s not just about escaping into nature and adventuring — for many couples, one of their reasons to elope is for a more intimate and intentional day.
Planning an elopement will give you flexibility to create the perfect day for both of you — and that means building intimate moments into your day’s schedule. You’ll be able to see each other on your wedding day (if you want!) and you’ll be able to do exactly what you want to make your own day with intention.
When couples think about how they want their elopement to go, vows often come up as one of the most important moments for my couples.
Believe me, it can be difficult saying your vows in front of an audience. Many couples want to write honest and authentic vows — and sometimes, that may include something you’d rather not say in front of your family, or your partner’s family.
Vows can be extremely personal and extremely private for many couples. If you elope, you can customize the way you say your vows, without worrying about it. In fact, I don’t even have to HEAR your vows. It’s one of the reasons I have a long lens. If you want to keep your vows just between the two of you, I can stand back and use a long lens to capture the intimate moment.
If you choose to have a larger elopement with several people present, you’ll both have the ability to have meaningful conversations with everyone there — instead of the two to three minute rushed conversations you would have at a larger wedding day.
4. You Want a Drama-Free Day
Weddings can be tricky when it comes to family – and any potential family drama. Growing up, we’re led to believe that all families will come together in perfect harmony for your wedding day. The reality can be quite different for many couples – and that is perfectly OKAY!
You may not have a close relationship with your immediate (or extended) family, and you’re worried that your family will cause a scene on your big day. Or maybe you’re worried a family member will make a big deal about something during your wedding. Your family might not accept your love, or your life choices.
To be honest with you, I was one of those people who felt pressured into a big, traditional wedding. Leading up to the wedding, there was too much drama with family and friends. It made the wedding day more difficult, and looking back, I wish I could have avoided all the unnecessary drama and just eloped
No matter the reason you want to elope, it’s okay to acknowledge to yourself that you’d rather have a private ceremony – or a smaller ceremony with select loved ones. Many people deciding between a big wedding and an elopement have told me that they feel as if picking an elopement would be like telling their family they don’t love them, or want them there.
But that’s just not true. You can still love your family and have an elopement. It can be a difficult decision to make, but it’s so important to be true to your love and be true to what makes you happy on such a big day for the both of you.
Nowadays, there are so many types of elopements. An elopement can be anything you want it to be, and you can have members of your family there if you want. If you choose not to have a large ceremony, you can still have a reception afterwards with family to celebrate your love and your union.
5. You’re Looking to Minimize Stress and Anxiety
As someone who has had a big wedding, I can tell you firsthand that planning a big wedding can be stressful. In my situation, the stress didn’t stop on the wedding day, either.
Having a big wedding can involve months of planning and decision making, and not everyone can afford an expensive wedding planner to help out with the process.
What color palette will you pick (and how do you even PICK a color palette)? Is your wedding venue in a convenient location for all wedding attendees? What menu options will you offer to suit everyone?
Many of my couples want to skip the wedding planning anxiety and opt for something much simpler, and much more true to their love.
An elopement involves some planning, it’s true – but not nearly on the same scale as a big wedding. Here are some of the elements you’ll need to think about for your elopement (all with my help and guidance, of course!):
- Picking a location (but don’t worry, I have literally dozens of ideas if you need help!)
- Picking your outfits and rings for your big day
- Planning a rough timeline for your wedding day, and adding any traditions you may want to incorporate, like a first dance.
- Hiring a photographer
- Figuring out how you will do your hair and make-up for the ceremony
- Ordering flowers (or fake flowers, if you’re planning a multi-day backpacking trip!)
Even that may seem like a lot, but trust me – there aren’t as many things to manage as a bigger wedding. And dealing with less people ALWAYS means less stress!
Plus, with a small or private elopement, you’ll be able to shift your focus from worrying about other people’s experiences on your wedding day to just worrying about the two of you and celebrating your love.
6. You Want a More Environmentally Friendly and Sustainable Option
Many couples have to reckon with the fact that their big wedding may not be compatible with their sustainable lifestyle.
According to The Green Bride Guide, a book which details the environmental impact of weddings, the average wedding produces around 400 pounds of garbage and 63 tons of CO2. That number adds up, BIG time, when you take into account that there are more than 2.5 million weddings each year.
That doesn’t even include the amount of money you’ll shell out for these one-time-only wedding necessities, including decor you will throw away, invitations that may end up in the trash, one-time-use flowers and more. Depending on your venue and caterers, you may also be facing a minimum bar tab payment – and you may not even drink enough to justify the cost!
There are so many ways in which your dream big wedding might not align with your green-friendly lifestyle. That’s why some of my couples opt to spend time outdoors and plan an incredible, intentional adventure together with minimal impact on the environment.
I’m a Leave No Trace certified photographer, which means I’ve taken an educational course on photographing elopements on public lands, all while leaving minimal impact. When one of your reasons to elope is to have less impact on the earth, it’s important to remember the other side as well. Both my couples and I follow the 7 Leave No Trace Principles on their elopement day.
7. You Value Experiences Over Things
If you value experiences and memories over items, an elopement may be the best path for you and your partner. An elopement allows you to spend your wedding budget on incredible adventures that further connect you to your partner – instead of spending your wedding budget on items, like invitations, wedding goodies and more.
Instead of spending tens of thousands of dollars on your venue or your catering, you can use that money towards your incredible elopement and one-on-one time with your significant other.
Instead of a minimum bar tab, which may cost around $1,500, you can take a helicopter ride to the top of a mountain and say your vows in an intimate moment – for roughly the same price.
Instead of paying for a venue, you can combine your honeymoon and elopement and have an astonishing week-long adventure together. Some of my couples will opt to combine their elopement and honeymoon to have a stress-free adventure at one special location.
Years later, you’ll look back on your wedding day and think of all the wonderful adventures you had together during your elopement – with so many beautiful shots to show your loved ones.
In the end, what’s most important is making the best decision for YOU.
No matter your reasons to elope, it’s okay to admit to yourself that an elopement may be the best fit for you both as a couple. Many of my couples look back on their wedding day and their wedding photos and cherish the intimate and beautiful moments they shared together.
It’s normal – and natural! – to consider what your family might say to an elopement, or how your family may feel about being included, or excluded, from your wedding day. Before you make any decisions, though, remember that your wedding day is about YOU. Celebrate your love and your union in an intimate and intentional way, no matter the type of wedding.
If you have any questions about planning your elopement – or elopements in general – reach out to me, and I can walk you through all of it!