Pros and Cons of Eloping
Six factors to consider before you plan private "I do"s!
If you're reading this, you're likely considering skipping the traditional big celebration in favor of an intimate ceremony. Maybe the stress of wedding planning is getting to you, or you're trying to avoid it before it starts; maybe you don't like to be the center of attention; maybe the amount of people you feel obligated to invite is just overwhelming; maybe you just don't feel like you can afford a wedding. Whatever your reasons for contemplating running away together are, Kadlee wants to give you as much information as you need to help you decide!
While this day is not ULTIMATELY about you (it's about something much bigger - your marriage), what you and your fiancé care about matters. So we want to stress that the biggest factor in your decision shouldn't be price or other people's opinions, or any of the pros and cons listed below (though we hope they'll be helpful in bringing you clarity).
The biggest factor in your decision should be what you want your wedding to look like, and what you feel will best honor & celebrate the commitment that you two are going to make!
#1 – Have It Your Way (Only Your Opinions Count)
Trying to cater to everyone's ideas of what your wedding should be can be exhausting, especially if you have any well-meaning but overbearing family members or clueless but opinionated friends. Eloping guarantees that when, how, and where the ceremony takes place (as well as what the time before and after consists of) will be entirely up to you and your new husband, without any of the social pressure of planning a wedding your guests will enjoy.
You can wear what you want, eat what you want, say what you want, go where you want...The freedom this allows can make an elopement much more meaningful to some. And there's no concrete definition of eloping you have to stick to, either (this is critical). You can keep it just the two of you, sure, but you can also invite immediate family only, or you can pick a couple of your closest friends to tag along, if you'd like!
#2 – Save Money & Time
The average cost of a modern wedding is between $25-35,000. Yikes. When you have to book a venue, feed all of your guests, order a cake, hire a DJ, purchase centerpieces, buy a dress, get gifts for your wedding party, send invitations, and etc., the cost makes sense, but when you elope you skip most of those costs. You can save thousands of dollars, and use it towards buying a house or car or simply save that money for the future.
While you probably will still have to incur some costs (travel, marriage license, photographer), eloping allows you to get married without going into serious debt that can dampen the happiness of your new union. You could choose to honeymoon in the same place you elope, which can save more time and more money on travel. And instead of wedding planning for months, you can spend all those weekends having quality time with your fiancé.
#3 – Romantically Private
If being the center attention is either a nightmare or not that important to you, or if you don't want a big crowd but are finding it difficult to think of a reason you can keep all of your third cousins from coming, eloping might be for you. No one has to be there to witness your vows but you (unless you want to invite immediate family and close friends, that's your choice)!
It can be cozy, it can be intimate, and it can be incredibly scenic, depending on where you hold the ceremony (imagine eloping on the top of a mountain or private beach somewhere!!). It'll be a special memory that only the people that you care about most share, rather than having random plus-ones you don't even know post a picture of you walking down the aisle on Instagram without your knowledge.
That all being said, though, there are downsides to an elopement. We personally would not suggest eloping, unless it's really what you and your fiancé want most (and every couple is different), because we believe that many couples just settle for eloping rather than actually desiring it. The pressure or the fear of expenses gets to be too overwhelming, and we understand, but we believe a meaningful, affordable wedding is possible (see our tips for making that happen)! If you elope, the drawbacks may be as follows:
#1 – Hurt Feelings
You've announced your engagement, and everyone is so excited for your wedding...oh wait, you're not having one/you already got married? What? Why? That's just the type of confusion and judgment you'll experience from acquaintances. Your friends will be bummed, if not outright offended, and your family will almost certainly consider it a personal slight, especially parents and grandparents, who may be devastated by this news. If your families don't get along, or if one or both of you is estranged from family, then this become less of a consideration, but we have definitely heard of couples that eloped and by doing so severely strained or ruined their relationship with their fiancé's family.
Now, there are ways to mitigate this risk; you can let family and friends know beforehand, send out announcements with a note explaining why you chose to elope and how much the recipient means to you, and/or hold a small yet fun reception when you get back home...but it's highly likely that you'll still have people that are upset they didn't get to go. Be prepared for people to be more upset than you expect, and you may want to avoid the awkwardness of dealing with that in years to come.
#2 – No Gifts
While weddings are expensive, they're kind of like graduation parties in the sense that there is some sort of expected return on investment; it's customary for guests to give a gift like a necessary household item that you have registered for, or simply give cash or gift cards, in exchange for the privilege of being at your wedding and being entertained/fed afterwards.
With an elopement, you don't register for gifts because you are not providing anything in return. You can send announcements if you wish and hope some people send gifts, but there is no social obligation to, and you'll have to purchase the iron boards and crock-pot and that matching towels set you were eyeing in BBB the other day on your own. For some couples this might not be a big deal, but if you don't have many household items of your own, this may be a huge blow you haven't thought of.
#3 – No Party
Maybe you're not really a party person. And maybe you haven't been dreaming about your wedding since you were 5. But even so, getting married without your community of support around you has the potential to be less fun, less exciting, and less of a big deal (and your nupitals are a big deal, however you choose to celebrate them). We've heard many couples, including a few of our team members' own parents, express regret that no one else was there to witness their vows and share their happiness in that moment. It can be lonely and anti-climatic - no one will be there to clap for the kiss or hug you afterwards. You have to get ready by yourself instead of having your closest girlfriends pamper you all morning (though either way, you can have an inexpensive silky robe to get ready in), and you'll never have photos of you and your friends/ you and your grandma with your wedding attire on, which are precious memory keepsakes.
While wedding planning can be stressful, it can also be really fun, and engagement is a sweet season if you do it right. And yes, you can throw a party when you return home or plan to have a big anniversary soiree, and we think that is a great option for some couples (although then you do end up spending more money than if you just eloped). We know every bride is unique, and we champion your individuality! But we also know that weddings are a special occasion for more than just you, so be sure that if you go the elopement route, you're excited about it and prepared to deal with any interpersonal issues that may arise. You can also find a guide to elopement logistics here.
Did you find this helpful? Are there any pros and cons we haven't thought of? Tell us your thoughts in the comments, and shop products for both weddings and elopements at kadlee.com!