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Elopement vs wedding? Find Your Path to Happily Ever After

newlywed couple hugging on a elopement location

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All couples have their one-of-a-kind love story that should be honored and celebrated. And when that time comes, they must choose between embracing intimacy and spontaneity by eloping or welcoming their nearest and dearest to a classic wedding by enjoying conventionality and tradition.

Here are some facts that will help you decide and find your path to join in matrimony.

What is an elopement wedding?

An elopement wedding is an intimate ceremony, sometimes even secretive, where the bride and groom decide to escape tradition and the conventional wedding planning and get married privately on their terms.

These kinds of celebrations are super romantic and spontaneous as they let couples focus on what is really important on that special occasion.

Elopement weddings usually take place in some picturesque location or a special place that holds meaning for the couple, far from the conventional and already-seen wedding venues. It can even happen in an inexpensive wedding venue like a barn or in the middle of a forest.

Elopement is one of the reasons why more and more couples choose intimacy over party in the never-ending battle of elopement vs wedding.

Is eloping a legal marriage?

Don’t get thrown off by the ‘running away’ fact; eloping is a legal marriage, just like the big white bash everyone is having. That means that it will take some prep time to gather all documents needed for you to seal the deal.

After deciding on the place to ‘secretly’ tie the knot, it is essential to research local legal requirements to make your elopement a legitimate and legal marriage, as each country or state has its own requirements.

You will need to apply for a marriage license that will cost around $100, find an officiant who will marry you, and, in some states, appoint one or two witnesses for the ceremony.

Even though eloping is more than simply saying “I do” and riding off into the distance, it is still less complicated, expensive, and time-consuming than the traditional wedding. For couples who do not enjoy conventionality and want to do things their way, eloping is always the key.

Elopement vs wedding: Pros and Cons

What are the advantages of eloping?

  • Intimacy: it will be just you and the love of your life (and the officiant and witnesses) in a ‘secret’ place that only you know and call yours to join in a sacred union.
  • Individuality: There is no right or wrong when it comes to elopements. You give color to your story to give it character and make it true to your relationship.
  • Affordability: Elopement weddings cost less compared to conventional weddings; actually, it will cost you more imagination and romance than money. Everybody can afford it because love doesn’t cost a thing when it comes to elopements.
  • Timesaving: Elopement saves time on several wedding planning activities such as preparing guest list, venue hunting, and cake tasting to mention a few.
  • Stress-free: Elopements are all about romance and nothing about stress. If classic weddings are made to be perfect, elopements ought to be emotional and captivating.
  • Avoidance of family drama: Some families are complicated, and a big contributing factor why some people choose to elope to avoid family drama. For instance, when family ties are tense, you may want to elope to avoid too much drama.
  • More funds for the honeymoon: In most cases, couples pair their wedding ceremonies with an extensive honeymoon. For this reason, instead of being a single expense, it doubles the expense. But with elopements, couples save huge funds that they can later use on their honeymoon.

What are the disadvantages of eloping?

  • Missing your closest: Elopements go hand in hand with privacy which means not sharing that special moment with your family and friends.
  • You may lack gifts to open – Unlike weddings where you may receive plenty of gifts, with elopements, you may lack gifts to open.

Eloping vs small wedding

Both elopements and small weddings allow couples to celebrate their love in privacy without all the fuss, stress, and cost. But they offer different possibilities depending on the couple’s preferences and expectations.

Elopement is seen as an isolated event, far from the eyes of all family and friends. It will be just you and your partner holding hands, except for maybe two witnesses. That means no extravagant preparations, no claps, hugs, laughs, and congratulations from your closest people.

On the other hand, small weddings are perfect for couples who love the intimacy of the elopements but still want to share the most significant moment of their lives with their most important people. These types of weddings usually count around 50 guests — only your nearest and dearest can witness the beginning of your next chapter together.

Elopement vs. Micro weddings

If you like the elopement idea but a small wedding still feels like a crowd, there is a concept called a micro wedding that will feel right. These celebrations fall right between elopements and small weddings and offer you a little bit of both.

Micro weddings usually consist of 20 people tops. They maintain the fineness and formality of small weddings and offer your closest family and friends the possibility to partake in this once-in-a-lifetime moment while keeping the intimacy of elopements, thanks to the small number of guests.

Should I elope or have a small wedding?

The bottom line here is to think about what you as a couple want and expect of your nuptial rite as a whole. Answering these questions might help you resolve the dilemma of elopement vs wedding.

  • Are you ok with excluding your parents, siblings, and best friends from the ceremony? And are they going to be ok with that decision?
  • Do you want to share your ‘I dos’ only in the company of you two (and the officiant)?
  • Will you regret not having the chance to share the joy and raise your glass with your dearest in honor of your new adventure together?
  • If your budget allows you to extend the guest list to 20-50 people, will you still decide to elope?
  • Do you want a small dance party after the ceremony with your people to let loose and enjoy the happy occasion?

Consequences of eloping

While elopement is a convenient and a cheaper option of getting married, unfortunately, this sort of marriage comes with a few drawbacks worth noting. First, if you choose to elope without informing your family and friends, you risk causing rift in relationships.

If you’ve always been close with your members of your family, most of whom are expecting to be guests on your wedding day, opting to elope may come as a big shock to most of them. Besides friends, you risk disappointing members of your family the most.

Additionally, opting to elope mean that you have to overlook certain traditions that could be important to you or your bride-to-be’s family. If such things are crucial to you, you need to carefully consider whether elopement is the best choice or not.

While eloping remains a personal choice, you need to make this decision after a careful consideration of the things you value the most. You need to carefully and respectfully make plans of how you’ll go about communicating that with your family and close friends.  

Is it possible to elope and have a wedding later?

It’s possible to elope and then have a wedding reception later on with family and friends. Doing so enable the two of you to experience two worlds — an intimate and private ceremony that’s later followed by an enjoyable party with friends and family.

If you’re planning to elope, you need to remember that your marriage is legal, in addition to letting your friends and family know your plans early. But overall, choosing to elope is an excellent way to experience both worlds.


Whether you decide on the spontaneity of an elopement or the beloved traditions of a formal wedding, your love and commitment to one another will always be the center of the celebration.

Take on the adventure and intimacy of eloping or delight in the happiness of celebrating your most precious moment with beloved friends and family at a small wedding. And whatever you decide, let love guide you to the beginning of life as husband and wife.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Is eloping the same as marriage?

Yes, it is. It is the same ceremony with fewer or no guests and no reception party afterward.

Is getting eloped a real marriage?

Yes, because it does require everything a real marriage needs, like a marriage license, witnesses, and an officiant.

Can you have a bridal shower if you elope?

Yes! Its okay to have a bridal shower even if you elope. A brilliant idea is it to have a travel-themed bridal shower to give you bridal shower guest clue of your elopement plan.

I am Megan Nova, a wedding planner and Author based in New York City. My vast exposure in the wedding planning trade and my passion for storytelling has inspired me to share expert advice and creativity on this blog.

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