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Elopement vs Wedding: The Pros and Cons

You’ve gotten engaged and now the planning can begin! Well, first things first, an engagement photoshoot is due - you can book your engagement and wedding photos and day after photos right here. Once that’s done you can begin to think about the big day, and you may be asking if you want a traditional wedding or an elopement? What is considered an “elopement“ anyway? How is it different? Here is a full breakdown of all the details!


Eloping used to mean running off and getting married in secret. Now there’s nothing wrong with keeping your business to yourself, but in today’s world eloping has taken on a whole new, fun, and exciting role.

What is an elopement?

Today, elopements are really just small weddings. They can range from super small (just the two of you) bite-size (a handful of people). There is still an officiant and marriage certificate so it’s just as legitimate as a traditional wedding. You can elope at a venue or in an entirely remote location like a jungle in Hawaii (if that’s what you’re doing, hit me up - I’d love to shoot that!).

Elopement Pros

  1. Cheaper - Of course this may not always be true, you can definitely rack up a pretty bill for an elopement if you wanted to. However, most many couples come to the decision of eloping because it is the easiest way to save money on a wedding. If you decide to get married on the beach and invite your immediate family, you wont have to spend any money on a venue, catering, a DJ, decorations or booze. Even if you wanted to get married at a venue, with a small event like an elopement, you won’t be paying top dollar. The main things you will pay for are your attire, photographer, some flowers (highly recommend flowers even for elopement, they add a special touch to your photos), and travel.

  2. Adventure - Since you’re saving all this money - we’re talking several thousand dollars - you an allocate some funds to have a destination elopement! 3 flights to Paris from San Francisco are less than $2,000 at the time of this writing (3 flights: one for each of you and one for me, your photographer 😊) - wow! Getting married at a destination is definitely something for the wild at heart and if you choose a place you’d like to honeymoon at, you’ll already be there and you would have bought those plane tickets anyway. Wins all around.

  3. Intimacy - If you are a romantic, then an elopement may be for you. When you have a small wedding like this, there is no distractions - it’s just you. Exchange your vows and make powerful promises in an intimate way, sort of protected from the public eye and ear. When you think about it, the wedding is about you and your marriage and you will remember it for the rest of your life but for your guests, it’s not the biggest day of their life, and they are honestly likely to forget it. Eloping is a perfect way to say to each other, “it’s just me and you, babe.”

  4. Photos - Now I am a little biased here as a photographer, but I do believe elopement photos are more fun! I would still absolutely love to shoot your traditional wedding, but these elopements have a special place in my heart. Why? Because they are unique, adventurous, and a little daring! Some weddings can seem like copy & paste duplicates, but an elopement can really get outside the box.

Elopement Cons

  1. Who’s On The Guest List - Cutting your guest list down to a few people is a lot harder than it may seem; and even worse, you may hurt some feelings in the process. If you have a big family, this could complicate things.

  2. Gifts - Now this is absolutely superficial and hardly a con, but its usually true that you will receive less gifts (monetary or otherwise) when you elope.

  3. The Guilt - It's very likely that some of your family or friends will be bummed that you won’t be having a big wedding, so bummed that it could make you feel guilty.

  4. Dirty Dress - If you were hoping to keep your dress in mint condition, think again! It’s likely that an adventurous elopement will call for some dirt, but most dresses can be dry cleaned.


We‘ve all been to a wedding before: ceremony, reception, food, dancing. Many things at weddings are done out of pure tradition and always turn out a good time. Let’s look at the pros and cons of having a traditional wedding:

Wedding Pros

  1. Gifts - Most guests bring gifts to a wedding. You can actually get lots of great practical gifts from your wedding. We received a knife set that we love so much and use every single day. We also received a generous amount of money from our guests that helped us out so much on our honeymoon - we literally only spent gift money the entire time!

  2. Community Celebration - They say it takes a village to raise a child, and now two children will be coming together to begin the next chapter of their lives. Think of all the people that you would invite to your wedding and why it would special to have them there with you. Celebrating with people that you love and that love you is a happy memory that you will never regret.

  3. The Fairytale - If you grew up wanting to be a bride (or was that just me?), then you’ve dreamt about walking down the aisle and having your first dance. A traditional wedding puts the spotlight on you and gives you two the chance to live out your own fairytale.

Weddings Cons

  1. Get Out Your Checkbook - Honestly, this is the biggest con of a traditional wedding. Traditional weddings can be expensive. Venue, catering, DJ, flowers, photographer, decorations, videographer, dress, suit - it seriously adds up! Many venues start at $4,000 and just go up from there; give a thousand or so to every vendor and you've racked up a nice wedding receipt.

  2. Stress - Planning such a big day and spending so much money can be stressful for anyone. When you're spending so much you want it to be just right! All the details of a large event add up and can cloud the real purpose of the day: your marriage.

  3. Originality - So many weddings look and sound alike - do you want your day to be unique to you? Are you a little unorthodox? Perhaps an elopement is more your style.

What ever wedding style you choose, make sure it’s true to you. Don't let anyone, including me, tell you how to do your special day. Your wedding and wedding planning should honor you, your spouse-to-be and your marriage.

I would be honored to help you celebrate your love and tell your story. Contact me and let's talk!

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