Here we go, the big showdown, eloping vs wedding, which one is going to come out a winner? Well, that really depends on you, and what you want from your big day. But if you find yourself sitting there asking yourself ‘should I have a wedding or elope?’ then this article is for you! I wish I had the time and space to explain all the benefits of eloping, but I want to try keep this short. So here’s what I’m going to do, I am going to run through my top 10 benefits of eloping, when compared to having a traditional wedding. Before we jump in to the main fight, let’s just get a few basics out of the way first so we’re all on the same page.
What is an elopement?
Table of Contents
We have to start with the basics. An elopement is any type of wedding where the focus is solely on the couple. There are no compromises. The event is all about the intimacy and the relationship. As a result, elopements tend to have fewer guests, if any at all, usually a max of 15. They don’t tend to follow a formal structure or timeline, and tend to be held outdoors, in nature as opposed to a traditional wedding venue. Don’t be confused, an elopement is just a ‘style’ of wedding, at it’s core it’s no different to a wedding. But the way the day unfolds, the focus of the day, and how you approach it are polar opposites. If you want to know more about what an elopement actually is, check out my busting elopement myths article!
Elopements are really fun. Let’s just start with that. There are an array of other reasons why they are so epic. Some of these benefits will be obvious to you, others maybe not so much.
One of the main reasons people choose eloping when compared to a wedding is the intimacy it provides. For me, this is one of the best benefits of eloping. You won’t spend your time shaking hands and taking group photos. Instead you’ll spend your time holding each other. Having picnics on a cliffs edge or sitting around a firepit with a bottle of red. So let’s do it, let’s get into the reason your here, eloping vs wedding, which one will come out on top?
11 Benefits of Elopements vs Weddings
This is probably the first thing people think about when they get engaged, and start planning their wedding. How expensive they actually are! In Australia, in the year 2024, the average wedding will cost you approximately $60,000, that’s a lot of thousands of dollars right there. To put that in perspective, the average elopement costs approximately $9,000-$17,000. Take a second and work that out, that is a big saving. That is your honeymoon right there. Given the average couple spends around $7,000-$8,000 on their honeymoon, that gives you one pretty epic honeymoon right there!
So with all that in mind, eloping obviously costs you a lot less money than having a traditional wedding. It really comes down to working out what you prioritize when it comes to the wedding. If you are really excited about your photos and your dress, but don’t really care about flowers or makeup, use those priorities to dictate where you send your money. In fact, if you want to know how much an elopement costs, you can click that link to use my calculator to help you build an accurate budget.
Elopements can be absolutely epic, and don’t need to force you into another mortgage, but that is not where the benefits of eloping vs weddings stop.
Another one of the benefits of eloping that shouldn’t come as much of a surprise, elopements are significantly more intimate. One of the biggest concerns I get from my brides and grooms is that they get anxious about being the centre of attention, or, that they don’t want to feel like they are ‘putting on a show’ for everyone. Like I said, this is the polar opposite of eloping. Choosing to elope is all about putting yourselves first. If you want to have this private moment together, or just with a few friends and family, eloping is the way.
The great thing about eloping is the flexibility it offers too. So if you’re wondering should i have a wedding or elope, maybe you want your family to celebrate with you, but you want a private ceremony, you can do that. Just have a private vow reading ceremony on top of a mountain, then come down, join your family for champagne and a feed. If you want you could even do a second vow reading for them to hear. Either way, one of the major benefits of eloping is the intimacy allowed.
3. Less Drama
Weddings are well known for their drama. I don’t know what it is about them, but often brings the worst out in people. I don’t want to dwell on this point, because I tend to try focus on positives rather than negatives, but it is definitely worth mentioning as so many couples who chose to elope mention this to me. So I’ll be brief.
When it comes to eloping, people (if they invite any guests) tend to only invite guests super close to them. They know them on an intimate level, and they know how they’ll behave on the day. You won’t have your cousins new girlfriend there who gets too blind drunk and acts like an idiot. So if you want to forgo the potential dramas associated with weddings, eloping might be the way.
4. Less Stress
I interviewed over 250 of my previous brides and grooms to work out what the biggest regrets were from their wedding day, and it was fairly unanimous…they stressed too hard over everything. Big things? Yes! Little things? Of course. What about things that didn’t even matter? You better believe it!
What they were stressing about isn’t exactly important, but let me just say this. They often included invitations, guest-lists, seating charts, alcohol budgeting as well as budgeting for the entire wedding. Effectively, almost 100% of my brides and grooms said they stressed over their wedding. They believed it was pointless to do so, and they regret it.
So why not elope? Less stress is one of the major benefits of eloping. How do we achieve this? Well I can’t speak for others, but for my couples, I do all the planning and coordination. So all the time-consuming, overwhelming research, is done by me. Your timeline, your vendors, your location…I take all that stress from you.
So let’s bring it back to the main question, eloping vs wedding, which is best? Well if you want to avoid stressing, both financially and logistically, let’s chat about planning you out an elopement.
5. Less Planning
This piggy backs quite nicely on the last point. Eloping almost always come with less planning, and less organising than a traditional wedding would. Given the fact that instead of having to organise around 15-20 vendors for a wedding, an elopement usually has only a small handful (photographer, celebrant, florals, hair and makeup). This means, less planning, less organising, less coordinating between vendors, and of course, less financial planning in order to make the payments.
This is a huge load off. But there’s more…because most couples who elope tend to elope midweek (why stick to the traditional Saturday weddings when you don’t have to worry about guests), they don’t need to organise their wedding 12-18 months in advance. More often, elopements can be planned on as little as a couple months, but usually 6-9 months. This, in itself comes as a huge relief to so many people. Planning 18 months ahead is crazy.
Again, a lot of photographers will help you plan your elopement, so not only will there be less planning, there could be almost none. You’ll get your dream day with almost no time-consuming legwork. So there you have it, eloping vs weddings, less planning…less stress.
Surprise surprise, a photographer thinks one of the biggest benefits of eloping is the epic photos you get. But seriously, I’m not lying. Can you get amazing photos at a traditional wedding? Of course you can! But you don’t have the flexibility and freedom that you get with an elopement. Pick anywhere in the world. Do a full day of portraits, hiking around a mountain or jump in a helicopter. Want to elope in a cave in Iceland? Sure. It’s completely up to you.
Now, let me caveat this by saying, elopements don’t always have to be epic, adventurous, 3 day treks. Some people elope by going to the courthouse and signing the paperwork. This is the traditional way of eloping. So don’t get hung up by all the stuff you see online, your elopement doesn’t have to be a trek through the Himalayan Alps, it can be whatever you want it to be.
In saying that, the locations are endless. It could be the top of Mount Everest, in your backyard or anywhere in between. If you want to see my top elopement locations in Australia & New Zealand, click the link! So sit down with your partner, talk about it, work out what your vibe is, what kind of location is ‘you guys’ and where you want to have your memories captured. Eloping vs weddings…the options are limitless.
Hear me out, obviously this one really benefits me, because it allows me to capture such epic locations on a weekly basis, but it’s more than that.
One of the biggest benefits of eloping is going to be the quality of photos you get. Not just the fact that elopement photos tend to be in more adventurous and epic locations than traditional weddings, but also that they tell your story better. Without having to focus on 100 other guests, and a strict timeline, your photographer will be able to focus on your story. Focus on your connection, the little things. Yes you will end up with some unreal portraits, but the rest of your day is going to be just as amazing. Photographers have full control of their couple and their light on the day. We can move and position you (without you knowing that’s what we are doing) into the perfect positions so all of your photos look amazing. This just might be the biggest benefit of eloping.
8. Life is meant to be an adventure
We so often get bogged down in these mundane lives that we live (not all of us, but a lot of us), working, sleeping, working, sleeping, and so on that we forget to have fun. It’s a really well held concept that the modern person is working themselves to an early grave, so focused on ‘doing the right thing’ that we forget to have fun. Hell, I know I’ve been there myself.
Eloping can be an easy way to push the fun aspect of marriage. Don’t get me wrong, weddings can be loads of fun (mine was), but if we look at what we discussed above, it is easy to see that weddings can often be more stressful than fun, and too strict to facilitate fun. Elopements on the other hand are just fun. Fun, fun fun! If you’re still not sure why, please, go back to the top of this page and read again, you should get it.
So get out, pick a cool location on a mountain somewhere, and trek there with your partner and do it! Make a weekend of it, get in the 4WD, travel to a remote area, camp the weekend away and elope while you do it. How amazing would that be, particularly if that is the kind of thing that sums up your relationship. Elopements should be fun, so enjoy them!
9. Valuing experiences over things
This one kind of goes along with the above point. The reason a lot of people choose to do engagement shoots, or elopements, is because they value experiences. What exactly does this mean though? Generational shifts are occurring, which is showing itself as Millennials valuing ‘doing things’ over ‘owning things’. Back in our parents and grandparents days, owning things was a sign of wealth and well regarded. Now, it’s more about what you’ve done, where you’ve travelled and so on.
So this feeds in well to weddings. In the past, it used to be about the venue you booked, how many guests you had, and how expensive your dress was. Some people still really get down with this belief, and that is fine for them. However, most people (most likely you if you are still reading this) couldn’t care less about that stuff. There is no right or wrong, but the experience, the journey, is one of the major benefits of eloping.
So eloping vs weddings, experiences vs stuff…if you know yourself well, it should be an obvious decision.
10. Being Genuine & Authentic
We’ve all heard it and seen it, people putting on a big, ‘perfect’ wedding, which everyone knew was just a show to impress other people. I’ve seen it so many times, couples miserable during their wedding because they had 500 guests and only really knew about 30 of them. This isn’t genuine. It’s not being true to yourself or you as a couple.
Eloping is a stark contrast to that type of traditional wedding. By not being authentic at the time of tying the knot, you set the tone for the rest of the marriage. Elopements allow authenticity in that you are only doing what you actually want and what means something to you.
On top of this, people are starting to focus on the authenticity of the actual day. The ‘show’ a wedding puts on kind of clouds what it is supposed to all be about. Weddings are supposed to be about celebrating love, however that makes sense to you, with the person you love. Eloping helps get past this. On a mountain side, or a beach, or in a forest, there is no show. There are no material aspects to care about. There is just 2 people, in love, saying things from their heart and marrying their best friend.
11. Exponential vendor possibilities
The final point I want to mention here is that elopements can be scaled up. An elopement can be the two of you at a courthouse, or you and 15 vendors on top of a cliff in the middle of nowhere. On average, elopements include photographers, celebrants, florists, hair and makeup as well as clothing. However, if you want to make a full thing about it, you could get in touch with a catering company, or even someone to set up a really cool teepee with a grazing table for you to chill out with while you get ready for the elopement.
You could hire a videographer (highly recommended), a stylist, the list goes on. Because you don’t have the regulations and timing constraints of a venue, you can pretty much get any vendor you want on board. There won’t be pack down and load in times, so things are more flexible for you and them.
Weddings are a bit more rigid on what can be done, or at least how difficult it can be to make things happen. Elopements are the complete opposite. If you want it, you can have it, just start contacting the correct people and get things booked in. It’s that easy.
TLDR | 11 Benefits of eloping [the video]
That is a totally 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. At the end of the day, you need to do what feels the most right for you.
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.
Yes, of course you can! Many people do an elopement and later have a big party (or called a wedding to make others happy) where they say vows again but are already technically married. Some people do the elopement without a celebrant, say vows to one another, and later do a wedding where they actually tie the knot. It’s totally up to you but both options exist.
Yes, a lot. An average Australian wedding in 2020 costs about $36,000, whereas an average elopement costs around $10,000, saving you on average $26,000!
No, definitely not. It is your big day, so you have the right to do it how you want, when you want, and with who you want. This is your day, you owe it to yourself.
Well that depends. If you grew up forever dreaming of a traditional wedding, then maybe. If you never wanted a wedding and the above information resonates with you, most likely you won’t regret it. You need to weigh up what you and your partner want, what you are willing to sacrifice, and how you think you will feel about it. There is no one size fits all.
Yes, extremely. What is more romantic than showing your love for your partner, in front of only them, being your genuine authentic self and not caring about other people for that moment in time?
Anywhere you want! Just think of a place that you think fits your relationship. Let’s say you both love camping and always go out to the Blue mountains for weekends away…well there is your elopement right there!
In Australia yes, you need 2 witnesses to elope. Vendors can be witnesses and I often am a witness for my couples. Other countries have differing laws and should be checked.