Before You Decide to Elope, Here's Everything You Need to Know

Is it the right choice for you?

Updated 10/28/19
is eloping a good idea
Skye Parrott /Trunk Archive

I’ve been a bridesmaid in three weddings this year, and although I’m not married yet, I can only imagine how stressful the wedding planning experience is—from worrying about the weather to trying to involve both sides of the family to staying within your budget (and still getting most of what you want). At a certain point, I have to imagine that many couples ask themselves the question: Is eloping a good idea? The term “eloping” seriously seems old-fashioned, something that used to take place when your parents thought you were too young or thought you were engaged to the wrong person. But nowadays, elopement seems to be a way to escape the craziness of modern-day wedding planning and focus on the person you’re marrying—and why.

We hinted at it above, but yes, weddings have gotten a bit out of control lately. Let’s just say that, as a guest, it can sometimes feel like you’re walking into a My Super Sweet Sixteen party instead of someone’s nuptials. And while weddings aren’t always stressful for those involved, they tend to be pricey across the board—research says the average wedding costs more than $30,000. So whether it’s for financial reasons or something else entirely, elopement might be something for you and your S.O. to consider. Below, let us weigh the pros and cons of whether eloping is a good idea.

PROS

You'll save a ton of money

Remember that $30,000-plus we mentioned above? If you decide to elope, you can put that money toward a down payment on a house or something else that’s valuable to you. As expectations for marriage ceremonies rise, couples are finding themselves spending cash on everything from monogrammed corn hole boards to custom wedding guest favors to specialty cocktails. It’s a lot to invest for just one day, especially since some couples swear all of it goes by in the blink of an eye. (We have to remind you: Money isn’t everything, and if you’re a highly sentimental person, it’s still rational to spend the money on a wedding,)

You'll avoid the pressure that comes with planning

Merging two families is difficult in itself, and there’s no denying that tons of situations come up throughout the planning process that can leave a couple stressed. (Just some that come to mind: Who is paying for the rehearsal dinner? Should I ask my mother-in-law to get ready with us? Who will walk me down the aisle?) “Wedding planning can be a stressful, complicated process,” says Sasha Chou, founder, and CEO of Picvoyage, a destination photography service that covers elopements. “My clients choose elopement because they want freedom and intimacy.”

The ceremony can be just about you two

When you have an extravagant venue, a long guest list, and a massive bridal party, it can be hard to focus. The point is that you’re marrying your partner in crime for life (yes, it should be a big deal). If you take a step back and realize that the wedding has become about more than you and your S.O., then that’s when you should consider whether eloping is for you. And side note: Just because you’re eloping doesn’t mean you need to forgo all the things you dreamed of having. “I wanted the dress, the vows, the flowers, and the pictures,” says Carey Provost, who eloped in wine country a few years ago. “But when you have guests, we feel like it ends up being more for them and not for the bride and groom. We wanted it to be for us.” Provost still got her own photographer and a dream wedding dress. But what they were missing? “There wasn’t a distant cousin or mother or girlfriend there adding stress,” she admits.

CONS

Some family or friends might get hurt

There’s no denying that close family members or friends might feel like you’ve excluded them from your special day. Weddings have become such grand affairs that some people can’t understand why if they’ve attended their best friend’s former teacher’s daughter’s wedding why they won’t also be able to attend yours. At the end of the day, you will be able to mend your relationships—it may just take some time. (The rule of thumb is that if they love you, they’ll come around.) One more thing to mention: If you are particularly close to your parents, you may want to give them some sort of heads up.

You don't get the whole "planning process"

Friends have told me that one of the best parts about getting married is that you spend so much time with those closest to you. (Some brides have said that a bachelorette party is like your ultimate birthday—it’s one of the only times all of your friends are there celebrating you.) When you elope, you usually miss out on venue tours and choosing your registry. Terrica, a chief planner at Cocktails and Details Weddings, decided to elope when it came to her own wedding, which she regrets today. “I am sad about missing out on the key moments of the wedding with my family and friends,” she says. “I also skipped the planning process with my mom, my friends, and my husband. They all felt slighted and robbed of the experience.”

It may feel like less of a big deal

Part of what can make matrimony feel so monumental is being surrounded by a group of all of your family and friends. Since you spend most of your life celebrating your milestones with them, you may miss getting to share this particular event. Plus, most wedding ceremonies are followed by a reception with music, dancing, and dinner, and you won’t necessarily have a party in your honor if you choose to elope.

Deciding whether eloping is a good idea is a big decision, and it’s not one to take lightly. What did you think of these pros and cons? Continue the conversation in the comments.

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