Should we elope? 4 pros and cons to consider
Wedding planning got your head spinning? Sometimes, in the midst of it all, you and your beau may think of just running down to the courthouse and tying the knot right then and there.
While the most traditional definition of eloping may evoke a negative connotation of a hurried, spur of the moment rush to the altar, today elopements are more varied. They can encompass anything from couples planning a small destination wedding with just a few witnesses to those who tie the knot quietly before hosting a simple reception to celebrate afterward.
Whatever your definition, here are some important pros and cons to consider.
Pro: You’ll more than likely save money
That “more than likely” clause is in there for a reason – because cost could fluctuate greatly on your exact vision and decision of eloping. If you’re planning a purely private affair, then you’ll likely only be paying for the absolute essentials like the cost of a marriage license and officiant and saving tens of thousands (according to The Knot, the average U.S. wedding in 2016 cost around $35,000).
If you have a private ceremony but then host a budget-busting soiree with hundreds of guests and all the bells and whistles, your “elopement” could end up not saving you much at all.
Chicago bride Olga Wrobel had never wanted a big wedding, and saw planning a traditional wedding as “not worth it financially.” Her now-husband Jason Allen was on the same page, and suggested getting tying the knot in a small ceremony during an upcoming trip to Europe. With the red tape of having to establish residency in Europe before being able to marry legally, Olga and Jason ended up tying the knot in Chicago as a formality before having a small ceremony in Brussels, which fit in perfectly with the couple’s love of beer and budgeting.
Pro: You can plan freely without much outside opinion
Tired of all your relatives giving you their two cents about your wedding? Let go of that drama and stress by keeping plans to just you and your future spouse.
“By eloping you are playing by your own rules and don’t have other people's opinions clouding your decision making,” Olga, who works as a divorce lawyer, says. “I think many brides can get burned out and that planning weddings can cause a lot of friction between couples.”
Juli Bonell, owner of Bonell Photography in Hoquiam, WA, offers both traditional wedding packages as well as more budget-friendly options for elopements, recalls how when she and her husband were married, family members would offer their opinions on just about everything – even down to wedding colors.
“If I knew then what I know now,” Juli says, “we would have done things incredibly different. Ultimately, the one and only thing you truly need to consider when planning your wedding is that this day is yours.”
Con: Those excluded from your nuptials may be offended
Even if eloping means getting friends and family members off your back about how to do things, eloping can also come with one big downside – and that’s offending or alienating those same friends and family. To balance out this negative, many couples opt to include those close to them by hosting a simple reception to celebrate.
If you do decide to elope, the wedding planners at Chancey Charm Wedding Planning & Design suggest that couples at the very least stay cognizant of loved ones.
“To avoid any hurt feelings that might come from not being invited to your intimate ceremony, be upfront about your plans,” reads the Chancey Charm blog on elopement planning tips.
And keep in mind that one couple’s decision to elope can be very different from another’s. Monika Labbé, owner of Chicago-based Creative M Photography, says that every situation is different, like couples with sick family members where a small wedding allows them to be more present with others.
Con: Eloping doesn’t mean you get away with no planning at all
Sure, eloping may be light-years simpler than juggling all that comes with hosting a ceremony and reception, but that doesn’t mean you can forego checklists. While she admits a bit of a bias being a photographer, Juli has found that one of the most regretted choices is not having a professional photographer to document the day.
If you decide eloping is right for you, be sure to still do your research on things like procuring marriage licenses (especially if you’re doing a destination elopement) and whether you want to send marriage announcements or host an after-ceremony celebration.