Elopement vs. Wedding

Recently, as more and more couples realize that maybe a wedding – the traditional, big party, lots of guests kind – isn’t exactly their jam, elopements have become more and more popular! But if you’re wondering what eloping actually means, and if it’s right for you, this guide is all about comparing elopement vs. wedding.

We’ll talk about what it means to elope and how the definition has changed over the years, and some differences between elopements and traditional weddings.

What is an elopement?

Before we compare elopement vs. wedding – what does it actually mean to elope?

The definition has changed a ton, especially in the last few years. Click HERE to see the outdated Webster definition. It used to mean running off to the courthouse or a drunken ceremony in Vegas. Many people still associate elopements with shameful, rushed, secret ceremonies. But that’s not the case anymore!

Today, eloping is about valuing yourselves, and your wedding day, enough to get married in a way that actually makes you happy. It’s about letting go of the pressure, traditions, and expectations of other people (whether it’s family, friends, or the wedding industry), and doing what feels right to you!

Elopements can look a million different ways. It can be a long hike to the top of a mountain where you say your vows surrounded by snow capped peaks, it can be a day spent at a cute cabin with a few of your closest friends, it can be a morning spent paddle boarding or an evening spent stargazing… Anything you can imagine, you can do on your elopement day. It’s all about making decisions that reflect the two of you! It’s about getting married in a way that just feels right. Tt’s about celebrating your love, and your unique story.

Elopement Vs. Wedding- The Differences

As an elopement photographer, (Click here to see my work) I am (as you can imagine) all about elopements! I love when couples make the brave decision to do their wedding their way, letting go of pressure, expectations, and “shoulds” about their wedding day. But, while I love elopements, the most important thing is that you celebrate your love that way you want to. Whether that’s a huge, traditional wedding or a tiny elopement. So let’s compare elopement vs. wedding, and the differences between the two – so you can decide which one is right for you!

Elopement Vs. Wedding- Guest Count

One of the biggest differences between elopements vs. weddings is the guest count! While there’s no exact number of guests that takes your day from an elopement to a full blown wedding, elopements usually have a maximum of 10 – 15 guests.

A common misconception about elopements is that they’re secretive. They’re for couples who want to run off together without telling anyone. But, this is definitely not the case! While you totally can elope with no guests if you want a day that’s private and shared between you and your partner, many couples feel that their day just wouldn’t be complete without a few of their favorite people around. Whether it’s family or close friends, if the people you invite love and support you, an elopement with guests can feel just as special as an elopement with none!

Elopement Vs. Wedding- Focus of the Day

The main thing to consider when you’re deciding if eloping is right for you is what you want the focus of your day to be. With traditional weddings, it often becomes about everyone but the couple. The emphasis is on throwing the best party. One that your guests will enjoy, and on making the people around you happy. There are expectations and traditions around the way that weddings are “supposed to” be, and they’re so ingrained in all of us that many couples don’t stop to wonder if it’s what they truly want!

When you elope, the focus of your wedding day shifts. Instead of people pleasing and throwing a party for everyone else, you have the freedom to do whatever would make you happy, and whatever makes you excited to begin your marriage!

Elopement Vs. Wedding- Venue

Traditional weddings are pretty limited to traditional venues. With a big guest list, you need to find a space to accommodate everyone, and one that can host the party you have planned.

One huge difference when comparing elopement vs. wedding is the venue! With an elopement, you have so much more freedom to decide where you want to tie the knot. The “venue” can be a national park, a local trail, a favorite place, a country you’ve never been to… your elopement venue can be just about anywhere! Getting to choose the location is one of the most exciting things about eloping.

You may have seen photos of couples exchanging vows on jaw dropping mountain tops and epic scenery behind them. While you totally can climb mountains and chase waterfalls on your elopement day, it doesn’t have to be “epic” to be an incredible elopement experience. The value of your day comes from spending time together doing what you love. It can be as simple as having a picnic by the lake or getting married in your own backyard.

Elopement Vs. Wedding- Budget

It’s no secret that traditional weddings are expensive. According to The Knot, the average wedding in the US costs nearly $30,000! That’s a hefty price tag! When we compare elopement vs. wedding, the budget is a huge factor.

There’s another myth that I want to bust about elopements! They’re often thought of as something “cheap,” for couples who don’t want to invest in their wedding day. While elopements are definitely less expensive than big weddings, this is because instead of spending money on decorations and catering for 150, and dropping half of your wedding budget on the venue, you get to decide what actually matters to you! You can invest money in the things that would make your elopement day truly incredible – whether it’s a plane ticket, a cute cabin, your dream dress, or an awesome tour. You get to spend money on experiences, rather than things.

Elopement Vs. Wedding- Planning

For a lot of couples, the reason they start thinking about eloping is because wedding planning is incredibly stressful! Between seating charts, invitations, and the thousands of other things on the wedding planning checklist, it gets overwhelming – fast.

While elopements definitely require planning, the process is a lot simpler when you don’t have to think about people pleasing and accommodating dozens, or hundreds, of guests. Elopement planning involves things like picking the perfect outdoor spot to say your vows, planning the amazing adventures you’ll have, and thinking about what would truly make your day the best day ever – so it’s a lot more fun, stress free, and laid back than wedding planning!

Is Eloping Right for you?

After reading through the comparison – are you convinced that eloping is the right move? Ready to ditch traditions and expectations and plan a wedding day that’s custom tailored to you?

As an elopement photographer ( Click here to see my work) , I want to be your hype girl, planning assistant, and adventure buddy! So if you’re ready to elope, I’m ready to be by your side the entire way. Contact me (Click Here to CONTACT) and let’s start dreaming up your one of a kind day!

Ashlynn Shelby

December 30, 2021

Hi! I'm Ashlynn. When you choose me as your photographer, I promise to extend everything I have into your experience and your photos. You deserve the best experience possible and that's what I plan on providing.
My blog is where I share love stories I've been a part of, and resources for couples planning their engagement , wedding or elopement. I hope you can find some helpful information here to help you plan your big day. 


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *