Many engaged couples are asking themselves, “Is it better to elope than to have a wedding?” but the answer to this question is not cut-and-dry because there are pros and cons for both decisions.
Whether you’re brand new to this whole idea of a non-traditional, adventurous elopement or you’ve been planning and pining for your dream elopement day for years, odds are, you’re already aware that elopements and weddings are pretty different.
Elopements, by our definition, are intentionally small, intimate, meaningful, and authentic wedding experiences that are a true reflection of your relationship where the focus of the day is really about you two.
Weddings typically tend to shift the focus of the day from being solely about the couple to include other factors, such as:
- the event itself
- entertaining and accommodating guests
- incorporating traditional elements
The actual result of both elopements and weddings — committing your life to your partner thing — is ultimately the same.
It’s the journey, the experience, and the adventure that makes elopements and weddings — wildly different.
But, what exactly does that mean — what are the actual logistical differences between a wedding and an elopement?
Is an elopement different from a wedding simply because it’s more focused on the couple instead of the ceremony?
Is an elopement different from a wedding because it’s some secret, clandestine affair where family isn’t invited?
The reality is, an elopement is different from a wedding because the intention is different.
Ultimately, an elopement day is designed to focus on the couple and what they want. That being said, there are a ton of other differences, too, which we’re here to dive into with you!
Before we do, we want to make something super clear: the day you decide to get married, the day you and your partner take hands and pledge yourselves to each other, and the day you’re committing to each other is entirely about you.
That means your wedding day, elopement day, ceremony day, whatever you want to call it, should be a true reflection of who you are as a couple, what you both want, and how you want to celebrate this epic, fantastic day.
We’re pro-elopement, but we’re not anti-wedding.
Overall, we fly on the belief that love should be celebrated the way that makes the most sense to the specific couple.
The biggest reason we’re here explaining all of this is that we want couples to know that they don’t automatically have to default to a traditional wedding if that’s not what speaks to them.
Your wedding day should be everything you want it to be, no matter what that looks like.
We want couples to know that. If that means choosing a big, traditional wedding because it makes you happy, that’s perfect.
Do that and love the heck out of your day; you deserve it!
But, if that means choosing to throw tradition out the window and run wildly toward a non-traditional, fringe elopement that rebels against the wedding industry, that’s OK, too. Looking for a wedding photographer in Melbourne? Look no further. Brighton Savoy has compiled an ultimate list of Melbourne wedding photographers to help you choose.
We’re here to help guide you on your wildly different wedding experience.
What Does it Mean to Elope?
The word elopes means to run away and not come back. But in the context of marriage, eloping means something slightly different.
Historically, eloping meant running away to get married in secret, often without the couple’s parents’ blessing (or knowledge).
Elopements were hastily organised and often conducted on a whim. But that’s not really what’s meant in the modern sense of the word.
Nowadays, an elopement merely refers to a small, private wedding without many (or any) guests.
Many elopements happen in a registry office, or else on a beach or somewhere remote.
There’s no venue hire, wedding breakfast, toasts, or reception – just a short and sweet ceremony.
Does Eloping Have to Be a Secret?
Most people who elope choose to go away, either to a different part of the country or to a foreign country.
Many couples treat themselves to a tropical holiday, get married while abroad, and then have their honeymoon straight away.
However, that doesn’t mean that the elopement has to be kept secret. It’s entirely up to you how many people you tell and when.
Many couples choose to tell their friends and family that they’ll be eloping in advance.
This way, they can gauge people’s reactions and prepare their loved ones emotionally so that they won’t be a part of the day.
But if you’d prefer, you can reveal it as a surprise afterwards.
Main Differences of Eloping and Wedding
Check out some of these poignant differences that we think exist when it comes down to eloping vs having a traditional wedding (in no particular order!):
This is a significant difference, but not in the way you might think because we’re not talking specifically about the difference in the number of guests.
Though, by nature, an elopement will likely have fewer people involved, so that is partly the point.
When we say people, we mean an elopement that gives couples the freedom to have the exact number of people that makes them the happiest at their wedding.
Because elopements are about the couple and how they want to create their own wedding experience meaningfully, there’s a lot more freedom to set limits and boundaries on the number of people who attend.
For some couples, that means having a just our wedding day where no one else is there.
For others, that means inviting only parents, siblings, or best friends. In some cases, that means having a small group of 15-20 people present on their special day.
Why does the number matter? Intention.
With an elopement, you’re free to choose precisely who you want to be part of your intentional, intimate day.
Meaning, if you want to include people, you’re only inviting those you wish to have meaningful time with on your wedding day.
At traditional weddings, you’re often obligated to invite cousins, colleagues, old friends, and parent’s bosses. So it goes on and on until you’re drowning in an invitation list 300 people deep.
With elopements, you’re dwindling the obligations, the pressures, and the invite list.
That means you’re only inviting precisely who you want to spend intentional time with on your epic day — even if that means just bringing your dog along.
We recently posted about collecting data from over 200 couples to figure out why people were choosing to elope.
The first reason we found was that couples wanted a just us experience on their wedding day. The second biggest reason? Authenticity.
Many people feel that choosing to elope gives them the chance to have a day that’s closer to who they authentically are as people.
Think about it: there are people out there who are authentically jazzed about the idea of having a traditional wedding with a fun party, dancing, presents, glamour, and more.
But for every couple out there who loves that idea, there’s another couple out there who can’t stand that thought.
It’s more than extrovert versus introvert; it’s about who people are at their very core. It’s about what couples genuinely want for themselves on their special days.
Weddings — in some sense — leave every couple with a lot of cookie-cutter outcomes that might not be true to who they are.
Elopements, on the other hand, give couples the power to say, “you know what, this is us — this is what we truly want.”
While we aren’t saying that every single traditional wedding is the same (they’re not —there’s an entire wedding industry out there that makes sure of that), the idea of a conventional wedding does tend to follow a similar formula.
With elopements, all of the rules, expectations, and obligations fly out the window — couples can make so many more choices about their day.
Especially when it comes down to location.
Don’t get us wrong — there are endless location choices within the realms of a traditional wedding, but elopement choices are different.
For one, you’re not stuck picking among regular venues — your venues are mountaintops, rushing rivers, waterfalls, desert dunes, cliffs, canyons. Your venue is anywhere in the world you want.
Because you don’t have to try to accommodate a certain number of people, caterers, traditions, etc.
Elopements are entirely about choosing an intimate, authentic wedding experience — so if getting married in the middle of the desert, or while kayaking in an alpine lake, or at the top of a cliff screaming into the wind speaks to you, eloping might be the perfect choice for you.
Before we dive into this, we want to make a point — we’re not saying elopements are inherently free of stress or that weddings are total stress zones.
That ultimately depends on the kind of people you are, what you have in mind for your day, and how you plan to handle it.
That being said, traditional weddings tend to have certain stressful-red-flag-zones that elopements don’t usually have.
For starters, when you choose to elope (even if you’re bringing people along with you), you’re not trying to coordinate a giant party that meets the needs of 200-300 people.
The group, if it’s not just the two of you, is automatically going to be a fraction of the average number of attendees at a traditional wedding, which means you don’t have to try to figure out accommodations, transportation, thank-you gifts and everything else that weddings include for a large group.
Elopements can also be a massive relief from family-related stress.
Big, traditional weddings likely involve family, and for many people, that’s not an inherently stress-free thing.
Maybe you don’t get along with your family. Perhaps you do, but you want to have a day that’s entirely about the two of you.
Eloping grants you the opportunity to say, “Hey, we want a day that’s truly about us and reflects who we are — that means having a day that only includes us.”
It’s not about leaving anyone out; it’s about having the day you want. Unfortunately, it’s a lot harder to host a giant party and not invite your family when it comes to weddings.
Elopement is purely focused on intent, meaning, and authenticity — which means if that’s the day you want, that’s the day you get.
Your wedding experience — whether it’s an elopement or a wedding day — should be wholly enjoyable.
Have the day that will cause you the least stress, allow you to take in every moment, and let you have the most fun.
The reality is, traditional weddings and elopement experiences have different values at their core.
We’re not saying one is better or worse than the other, just that each experience uniquely highlights what matters most to people.
Typically, couples who authentically desire a big, traditional wedding truly value having their communities with them on their day, being in the spotlight, and planning a memorable, exciting party to celebrate their marriage.
On the other hand, couples who choose to elope typically value experiences over tangible things, big parties, and being the centre of attention on their day.
For some couples, that means spending $30k on a big party for their friends and family, sparklers, table garlands, venues, food, drink, and more.
And you know what? That’s awesome. If that speaks to you, you should do that!
But for other couples, that means investing their money into other things they value — like experiences, solitude, kick-ass photos, and a fantastic adventure to kick off their biggest adventure ever.
Choosing an elopement versus a wedding day doesn’t mean you don’t want to invest in your wedding experience; it simply means that you, as a couple, value something different than what a big, traditional wedding can offer you.
Why Should You Elope?
So, why do people elope, and why should you consider it? There are five main benefits to eloping rather than having a traditional wedding.
Avoid Wedding Planning Stress
If you elope, you don’t have to worry about organising a guest list, sending out wedding invitations, sorting and chasing up RSVPs, or making a seating plan.
There are no bridesmaid’s dresses or groomsmen’s suits to shop for.
You don’t have to worry about finding a caterer, DJ, or band, hiring tablecloths or centrepieces, keeping kids entertained, or dealing with drunken family members. Looking for the Best Photobooth Hires in Melbourne? We have compiled an exclusive list of some of Melbourne’s best photobooth hire suppliers to capture your special day.
Almost all of the stress of wedding planning is completely erased. It’s just you, your other half, and a quiet but beautiful wedding ceremony. Bliss!
The two most significant expenses of a traditional wedding are the venue hire fee and the catering budget.
If you elope, you don’t need to feed anyone. You don’t need to rent a venue – you can get married on a beach, in a registry office, a chapel, or a park.
Though there may be a small fee, it’s nothing like hiring a traditional venue. You don’t even need decorations or flowers if you don’t want them!
The money you save can be used for other things, such as your honeymoon, the wedding dress of your dreams, or a professional photographer.
Get Married Anywhere You Like
Speaking of wedding venues, when you elope, you can get married anywhere you’d like.
There’s no need to worry about venue capacity restrictions or whether your guests will be able to get there – as there aren’t any guests at all!
You can get married anywhere that has a marriage license. The sky is your limit. Disneyland? The Eiffel tower? Under a waterfall? A glacier in Norway? The choice is yours.
Spend Quality Time With Your Partner
Speak to anyone who’s had a ‘traditional’ wedding, and they’ll tell you: for a day that’s supposed to be all about you and your partner, you don’t get to spend much time with one another.
From rushing around getting ready in the morning to socialising with all of your guests, listening to speeches and dancing with all of your loved ones, there’s not much quality time to be had.
But if you elope, you have the entire day to spend with each other, one-on-one. Nothing could be more romantic!
Have a Drama-Free Wedding Day
The beauty of not having guests to please, food to serve, or vendors to organise is that there’s far less chance of anything going wrong when you elope.
There are no selfish family members that cause drama or want to make the day about them.
There are no work colleagues to get drunk and start fights. Nobody can run late and disrupt the day’s schedule, and no kids are there to begin screaming while you’re saying your vows.
If you’re looking for a stress- and drama-free wedding, an elopement is up to your street.
And what’s more, you can still have a party with your friends and family when you get back, if you wish to!
Disadvantages of Eloping
Unfortunately, there are downsides to everything, including eloping. So before you make your decision, take some time to consider the disadvantages of having a ‘proper wedding.
Then, you can decide whether the pros outweigh the cons for you – after all, it’s a personal choice.
You May Cause Upset or Offence
How important would attending your wedding be to your loved ones?
You might find that if you elope and essentially deny your family and friends from sharing in your celebration, you’ll break some hearts.
Some fathers, for example, dream of walking their little girl down the aisle – and they may be distraught if denied that opportunity.
Of course, you can have guests at an elopement – but you can’t have many. If you invite some family members but not others, you may offend or hurt feelings.
You do not ‘owe’ anyone a wedding, but that won’t stop people from getting upset or annoyed.
You Will Face Judgement
Being judged by others is, sadly, a part of life. Whether this is (or isn’t) a big deal for you will depend on how sensitive you are and how much you care about others’ opinions.
But one thing’s for sure: when you tell people you’ve eloped (or are planning to elope), you will get some funny looks, criticism, and unsolicited opinions. For no reason, really, other than the fact that it’s unusual.
Of course, if eloping is something you want to do, you shouldn’t deny yourself the opportunity based on what others think. But you should brace yourself for the comments!
Less Opportunity for Extravagance
If you’ve always dreamed of a big, fairy-tale wedding, it’s not possible when eloping.
Though you can have the poofy ball gown and the romantic photographs, there is so much extravagance that you will miss out on if you don’t have many guests.
The toasts and speeches, the wedding party, dancing the night away with your friends and family – none of that happens if you elope.
Of course, you may not care about any of that. But if you do, carefully consider whether eloping is what you truly want. Otherwise, you may regret it.
Missing Friends and Family
You only get married once (or at least, that’s what most people hope for). Your wedding will, therefore, be one of the most important days of your entire life. Do you want to celebrate it without your friends and family beside you?
Weddings are an excellent opportunity to have a family reunion, connect with old friends you haven’t seen in a while, and create lifelong memories with all of your most influential people. Unfortunately, this is something you’ll miss out on if you elope.
No Wedding Gifts
Finally – and this is quite a materialistic downside, but worth mentioning all the same – there are no wedding gifts when you elope.
You don’t get to make a gift registry, and you miss out on all the excitement of opening your presents when you get home.
Of course, the upside is that you won’t be spending any money on feeding or hosting guests – so you can always buy yourselves some gifts instead!
Is it Better to Elope or Have a Wedding?
That is a subjective thing.
Many people who grew up dreaming of a traditional wedding might say it’s better to have a wedding, but others might say it’s better to have an adventurous elopement.
You need to do what feels the most right for you.
Why Is it Better to Elope?
Well, it is, and it isn’t. If you want to elope, there are many reasons you might say it is better to elope.
Benefits of eloping include the price, less drama, less stress, less planning and coordinating, more location and vendor options, better photographs, a more authentic and genuine display, an experience to remember forever and many more.
But remember, what is ‘better for you might not be for someone else.
No matter what kind of wedding experience you decide you want, always remember the most important thing — it should be wholly reflective of who you both are and how you want to celebrate this beautiful, exciting adventure you’re choosing to take together.
In the end, the ultimate goal is to have a day or two that you can look back on and remember loving every second of. Here at Brighton Savoy, we have compiled an exclusive list of Wedding Photo Locations in Melbourne to help you decide on your special day.
It’s your wedding experience; make sure it looks exactly like you want it to.