couple walking in the beach after their elopement wedding

Is It Better to Have a Wedding or Elope?

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So, you finally got engaged to the love of your life, and now you two have to answer one lingering question, “Should we have a wedding or elope?” In all honesty, deciding on which option to go for might be a bit complicated.

Is it better to have a wedding or elope?

The best choice truly depends ultimately on the couples’ preferences. Weddings and elopements have their benefits and downsides, so it is up to the two people involved to weigh the pros and cons of each alternative against their desires.

After assessing the advantages of both possibilities, the option that aligns best with the couples’ wishes is the better option.

Without a doubt, you are still unsure of whether to elope or have a wedding. Not to worry, we discuss what it means to elope and how weddings and elopements differ. We also go over the benefits and downsides of both options. So, when you are done reading, you should have a clearer idea of what choice is best for you.

couple elopement wedding in the mountains

What Does It Mean to Elope?

In the simplest term, to elope means to run away. But with regards to marriage, to elope means to go away secretly and get married.

While elopements were historically done in secret, things are pretty different these days. Nowadays, couples may choose to pre-inform some people before eloping.

Additionally, in the past, elopements typically involved no blessings from the parents. Back then, elopements were like defiance against the parents’ refusal to bless the union.

But these days, couples choose to elope even after getting blessings from their parents. In other words, elopements are not really an act of defiance anymore.

As expected, elopements in the past were typically hastily organized since they were meant to be done in secret. But things happen differently these days; people plan their elopement in advance, so it is well organized.

Elopements are fun and intimate. They feature few guests or no guests at all – just the couple and the officiant. In states like Alaska, California, and Arizona, couples must have witnesses to get married. So, you may have to invite some people to be your witnesses. Alternatively, you can find strangers to be your witnesses.

When couples elope, they typically get married in a registry office, on islands, beaches, and other remote locations. And since there are no guests, the ceremony is straightforward and short.

just married couple

Differences Between Elopements and Weddings

Intimacy

Elopements are more intimate than weddings. For one, you have only the couple or the couple plus a few guests at an elopement. The groom and the bride get the chance to share their beautiful moment between themselves or with their favorite people. So, overall, the moment remains within their closest bonds.

Weddings are not as intimate as elopements. In many cases, the guests at weddings include relatives you have never met or those you barely know. The guests may also include total strangers, such as the plus-ones of your guests.

The intimacy of elopements helps couples be themselves as much as they want to. Since they are alone or before the people closest to them, the atmosphere is familiar.

Number of Guests

As you may have already inferred, elopements feature very few guests or no guests at all. In fact, ideally, you should have no guests when eloping. But if you intend to have guests, you should have 10 or fewer.

Weddings have guests. The number of guests may vary depending on the type of wedding the couple wants. But guests are an integral part of the ceremony.

Typically, when couples want a small wedding, they invite 50 guests or fewer. Medium weddings involve around 50 to 150 guests, while large weddings have over 150 guests.

Stress

While elopements are not absolutely free of stress, they are just not as stressful as weddings. In fact, depending on what you and your fiancé want, your elopement can come with minimal stress.

On the other hand, when having a wedding, you are not considering just yourselves. Weddings involve many guests, and you must consider them when planning.

For sure, there is a significant difference between planning for just 2-10 people and planning for 50-100 people or more. Imagine trying to figure out thank-you gifts, transportation, and accommodation for that many people.

Then imagine trying to figure out transportation and accommodation for just the two of you – yes, the difference is clear.

Besides the stress of planning, elopements allow you to avoid scenarios you would rather not be in. For instance, if you are trying to escape family-related stress, you can elope. If you would rather not face financial stress, eloping might also help.

Choices

There are no rules to elopements; you and your fiancé make all the choices. You can tailor your elopement anyway you want. You get to choose the location of the union to the honeymoon, the number of guests, attire, and much more.

With a traditional wedding, your choices may be confined within certain limits.

For example, if you intend to have a religious wedding, your religion may require that some things be in place for the union to take place. Choices like your attire, number of guests, and location may be limited.

Also, with traditional weddings, you may have to consider your guests when making some choices. But with elopements, everything is just for you two.

Authenticity

Remember we said the intimacy offered by elopement helps couples be themselves? Well, that is what we mean by authenticity.

With elopements, some couples can be authentic – no need to keep up any impression because you are with the people who know you best.

Of course, this does not mean that people are not authentic at traditional weddings. Some couples genuinely want the atmosphere that comes with conventional weddings. But some others would rather not be amidst so many strange faces.

Values

The core essence of weddings and elopements differ. But this does not mean one is better than the other.

Traditional weddings value community and elaborate celebrations. This is why couples who opt for them are willing to spend on big parties.

Couples who choose larger weddings are also okay with being in the spotlight.

Elopements value intimate moments. The couple may choose to spend the big bucks instead on a new house, solitude, new experiences, or something valuable they can share with each other.

bride walking down the aisle

Pros and Cons of Having a Wedding

Pros

  • Weddings can help strengthen the bonds between the families of the bride and the groom. The wedding is an ideal place for the members of both families to meet and share a mutually beautiful moment. From there on, everyone can relate with each other better.
  • The experience of planning a wedding can help couples learn how to work together better, even when stressed. The rigors of negotiating, reviewing, and compromising when planning the details of the wedding can help them understand each other better. In the end, the bond between them will become stronger.
  • Weddings are a way for couples to share their joyful moment with many people. They extend the love and joy to everyone present, making the union even more of a celebration.
  • For couples who prefer being in the spotlight, having a wedding will feel like a true milestone. There is a sense that since everyone witnessed it, it truly happened.
  • If you hold a traditional wedding, you will get gifts from the guests. Gifting is an integral part of most conventional weddings.

Cons

  • By default, traditional weddings are more expensive than elopements.
  • The stress that can come with a wedding is pretty intense. Planning stress, family-related stress, last-minute changes, and much more can leave couples with a lot to worry about.
  • Some of your choices may be limited. For instance, your wedding location may be limited when going for a traditional wedding.

Pros and Cons of Eloping

Pros

  • The primary benefit of eloping is intimacy. The couple gets to spend all the time together without having to relate with guests. All the moments are theirs, and they are romantic.
  • Eloping is almost drama-free; the couples are not trying to satisfy the guests, just themselves. So, everything is pretty authentic.
  • Elopements do not require thorough planning, so it is relatively less stressful. The couple only has to cater to their own needs, and that should be pretty easy. In fact, they can plan on the go.
  • Besides the flexibility in planning, couples have no location limits when eloping. They can go anywhere they want, and they can even change locations at the last minute.
  • Unless you want to spend the big bucks on yourselves, you can save a lot of money when you elope. You are no longer catering for multiple people; you are catering for just you two.

Cons

  • The guests you can invite for an elopement are limited. Once your guest count goes beyond 5-10, it becomes a small wedding.
  • When eloping, you may not have a wedding party since the guests are absent or limited.
  • When you elope, you may not get any wedding gifts.
couple walking in the beach after their elopement wedding

Should You Elope?

You should elope if you want utmost intimacy at your union. Also, if you would rather spend less, avoid planning, and go wherever you want, eloping might be the better option for you.

Should You Have a Wedding?

You should have a wedding if you would rather have your community at your union. If you enjoy the spotlight and are happy to spend, plan, and take part in the traditions, having a wedding might be the better option for you.

Final Take

Between weddings and elopements, neither is better than the other. Both of them offer benefits that please some types of couples more than others.

So, ultimately, the better option between having a wedding and eloping is up to the lovebirds. What is the right choice for you?

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