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Eloping vs. Wedding: 8 Reasons to Ditch the Traditional Wedding and Elope Instead

Angelica + Jeremiah
Angelica + Jeremiah

It’s finally happening – you’re marrying your best friend! What could be more exciting than that – right? But as you flip through wedding blogs and try to conjure up visions of your dream day, something feels ….off. And your left questioning – Eloping vs. Wedding – what should I do?

Every 90’s romcom ever, painted the picture of what your wedding day would look like. Parties to prepare for more parties, walking down the aisle, all eyes on you, parent dances, toasts, speeches and lavish details.

Meanwhile – as you attempt to dream up your wedding day,  the dread and the overwhelming feeling grows, and you’re left with a feeling of disconnect. If this just caught your attention, then maybe it’s time to forgo the traditional wedding and opt to elope instead!

Before I lay out my top 8 reasons you may want to consider eloping instead, let’s first define what it means to elope.

Here’s my definition: Practically speaking, an elopement is a wedding day without the rules and with less guests. When you elope, the focus shifts from planning an event for other people (typically with a traditional flow of activities), to creating a meaningful and intimate experience that is a true authentic reflection of who you are together.

Ok without further ado - Elope vs Wedding - my top 8 reasons you know it's time to ditch the traditional wedding and elope instead!

couple reads vows at gold creek pond elopement

1. You feel overwhelmed at the thought of throwing a big party

You thought you knew what you signed up for, but the stress of throwing a 100+ person event is more than you bargained for. Dreaming was fun but now you’re looking at the logistics of choosing party members (aka. Publicly telling some friends they are more important than other friends), defining a guest list, table assignments, choosing a venue, parking, entertainment, how to ‘affordably’ feed 100+ people, and so many details you had never even considered.

A key difference between a wedding and elopement is the number of people invited. It’s not that eloping is always stress-free, but ultimately throwing a big event and tending to the needs of hundreds of people is generally going to be significantly more stressful than planning an intimate day focused on you (and a small number of your closest friends and family).

Maybe you’re one of those people with the pinboards of inspiration who’s been dreaming up every detail of their dream wedding for forever. But…if that’s not you, and you find yourself questioning… “what’s really the point of it all?” Then maybe eloping vs having a wedding, might be the right choice for you.

2. You find yourself worrying more about your guests' experience of your wedding day, then you are of your own.

Are you naturally a people pleaser? As you start to envision your wedding day, are you shying away from ideas that ring true to you because of how others will react? Or worse, are you settling? Settling may look like: having a dance party even though you don’t like to dance, inviting your mom’s boss, or your great aunt Linda even though you haven’t seen her since you were 10, or maybe sitting through speeches because you wouldn’t want to offend your mom who has always dreamt of giving a speech at your wedding. If your day is becoming more about what other people want and expect and less about what’s important to you – or if you feel consumed with worry about how your guest might be inconvenienced if you are true to your dream wedding experience, then eloping vs. having a traditinal wedding might just be for you.

3. You want your wedding day to be intentionally crafted, where you do things that feel meaningful and exciting to you (versus traditions that don’t resonate or feel particularly special to you).

You don’t just want more time together, you want that time to be intentional. You want to get outside of the wedding box – the party pageantry, the pre-planned back-to-back itinerary of dances, speeches, and staged portraits. Maybe some of those things hit home and maybe some don’t. You want the freedom to plan a day that you feel emotionally connected to. Dancing not your style? Stargaze instead. Trade champagne speeches for stories around the fire. Trade hours of time apart with the wedding party, and instead, spend the morning getting ready together while listening to your favorite songs from when you met all those years ago. Do the things that feel true to you and your relationship together. If this sounds appealing to you then maybe eloping vs. a wedding is more your thing.

4. You’re ok with, or even excited at the idea of narrowing down the guest list.

This one is key, if not a bit obvious. As I previously defined, to elope is to have a day with no rules and ‘few guests’. Therefore eloping is really only for you if you are willing to reduce the guestlist. 

Whether you’ve known all along that you want very few close friends and family to attend your wedding, or whether you are now realizing that inviting fewer (or no) friends and family is a worthwhile trade-off – to have a more intimate and intentional experience, a dream location, more spontaneity or adventure, or to enjoy special activities. If you are willing to reduce the guest list for whatever reason(s) are important to you, then an elopement vs. a wedding might be a great option for you.

eloping couple embrace in forest by river
eloping couple eats donuts in front of lake

5. You have some awkward family dynamics and you’d rather skip the drama on your wedding day.

Maybe it’s divorced parents who don’t behave when they’re around each other, friends who expect to be in your wedding party, or your mother-in-law who insists on paying for the catering bill so she can dictate whose invited. If your version of the family drama is looming overhead and you’d rather avoid it altogether, then eloping vs. the big wedding might just be for you.

6. You want a wedding day that feels intimate and connected - to each other and to the people you choose to spend your day with.

My couples have many reasons for choosing to elope, but this is by far, the number one, most important reason. By its very nature, an elopement is typically more cozy and connected. Fewer people means more time spent enjoying the company of your very closest friends and family. It also means more time together. My eloping couples often choose to forgo tradition and spend the entire day together – they may even get ready together. Conversely, at a traditional wedding, it is not uncommon to go the entire day until the late afternoon or evening ceremony, without seeing your partner. Does it sound better to you to get to spend the whole day in an intimate way together as a couple? If yes, then eloping vs. the traditional wedding may be the better option for you. 

7. You want to keep costs lower or at least focused on what you want to do (rather than throwing a big party).

The average wedding cost in the United States is roughly $28,000. And that’s because throwing a big party for 100+ people is expensive. There’s the cost of a venue, catering, party favors,  stationary, a DJ, and tons of rentals. 𝗣𝗹𝗮𝗻𝗻𝗶𝗻𝗴 𝘁𝗼 𝗲𝗹𝗼𝗽𝗲 𝗺𝗲𝗮𝗻𝘀 𝗳𝗼𝗿𝗴𝗼𝗶𝗻𝗴 𝗺𝗮𝗻𝘆 𝗼𝗳 𝘁𝗵𝗲𝘀𝗲 𝗲𝘅𝗽𝗲𝗻𝘀𝗲𝘀 𝘄𝗵𝗶𝗰𝗵 𝗮𝗿𝗲 𝗺𝗼𝗿𝗲 𝗼𝗿 𝗹𝗲𝘀𝘀 𝗿𝗲𝗾𝘂𝗶𝗿𝗲𝗱 𝗳𝗼𝗿 𝗮 𝗹𝗮𝗿𝗴𝗲 𝘁𝗿𝗮𝗱𝗶𝘁𝗶𝗼𝗻𝗮𝗹 𝘄𝗲𝗱𝗱𝗶𝗻𝗴, 𝗮𝗻𝗱 𝗶𝗻𝘀𝘁𝗲𝗮𝗱 𝗽𝗹𝗮𝗻𝗻𝗶𝗻𝗴 𝘆𝗼𝘂𝗿 𝘂𝗻𝗶𝗾𝘂𝗲 𝘃𝗶𝘀𝗶𝗼𝗻 𝗼𝗳 𝗮 𝗯𝗲𝘀𝘁 𝗱𝗮𝘆 𝗲𝘃𝗲𝗿. 𝗬𝗼𝘂 𝗺𝗮𝘆:

𝗕𝗲𝗰𝗮𝘂𝘀𝗲 𝘁𝗵𝗲 𝗱𝗮𝘆 𝘆𝗼𝘂 𝗲𝗹𝗼𝗽𝗲 𝗶𝘀 𝘀𝘁𝗶𝗹𝗹 𝘁𝗵𝗲 𝗱𝗮𝘆 𝘆𝗼𝘂 𝗴𝗲𝘁 𝗺𝗮𝗿𝗿𝗶𝗲𝗱. (But ultimately yea, it’ll probably cost less than a traditional wedding because that’s not hard to do 😉 Do you want to save the money and pour it into you two as a couple? Then elope and skip the big expensive wedding!

8. You want to get married in a specific meaningful location, or you were dreaming of an epic natural backdrop.

Maybe you want to get married on a Cliffside or mountaintop, in a hot air balloon, beside a waterfall, or under the canopy of a rainforest. If you have a specific vision for where it is you say your vows, or for the kind of wedding experience that you want to have, but that vision is not logistically possible with a bunch of guests, then you may want to consider eloping instead.

Elope vs wedding – there is no ‘better’ option, only what is better for you. I may be a big supporter of elopements, but I am by no means anti-wedding. For some people, a more traditional wedding is completely authentic to who they are! For example a more extroverted couple who loves coordinating parties, and being the center of big group activities, might really connect to the idea of a big traditional wedding. And if that describes you, then awesome sauce – by all means, go have a kick-ass wedding! But if not, this one’s for you, and my goal is to offer you the clarity and permission you need to ditch the rule book and have a wedding experience that feels true to you (and makes you so damn excited!)

So there you have it – Eloping vs. Wedding – my 8 reasons to ditch the traditional wedding and elope instead. Did any of this resonate with you? If you ticked YES on a number of those bullets and you’re thinking…yeah, ok, maybe, just maybe, I should elope instead, then be sure and check out my step by step guide all about how to plan your very own dream elopement experience. 

portrait of elopement photographer on the beach with driftwood

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Hey there, I'm Jess

I’m your Wedding and Elopement photographer, but i’m also your dream enabler, permission grantor, and co-conspirator. I’m here for you, holding your hand, and helping you to craft an outside the box wedding experience that is unique, intentional and true to you and your life adventure together.

Washington & Oregon Weddings & Elopements

Packages starting at $2,800 – Contact for full pricing and all locations. All packages include:

  • Local to Seattle? Let’s grab a beer! Otherwise we begin with a get to know you questionnaire and phone/video chat. My connection to you is what allows me to weave together and tell your unique story.
  • 40+ page Exclusive Planning Guide 
  • Unlimited calls and planning guidance
  • Custom location recommendations (for elopements)
  • Timeline planning
  • Fully-edited high-resolution images delivered in a beautifully curated gallery
  • Creative editing that brings your story to life
  • My travel is included – I fly free

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Jess Albonico

Jess Albonico

Seattle + PNW Wedding Photographer, helping couples ditch the rulebook and have a wedding day as epic and unique as there life adventure together.

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