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Elopement or Wedding: Which should you do?

It’s the very first question you have to answer when planning your big day: elopement or traditional wedding? Elopements have been on the rise over the last several years, as more couples prioritize what’s truly important to them. However traditional weddings still have a special kind of magic to them that you can’t get anywhere else. If you’re having a hard time deciding which is right for you, l have the answer here.


Let’s start by talking about elopements! They are far from new, but haven’t always been as socially accepted, and celebrated as they are today. No longer are they just for couple’s escaping to Vegas for the weekend.

Use less resources

The merits of an elopement are nearly endless. They can be planned in way less time, with the same amount of glitz and glamor of a big wedding. Less people and logistics means it doesn’t take as long to nail down all the details. This also means that they can be a lot less expensive. This can mean money left over aftward for an epic honeymoon, down payment on a house, or some other exciting opportunity.

Spend time on what you want

A huge benefit of eloping is the intimacy that you get with them. Whether you strip it way back to just you and your partner, or have your closest friends and family there, you get to spend every moment with the people you care about most. There’s no extra time spent wandering around a venue greeting guests. This means you will also have more time for portraits if they are important to you. We can make your whole day one gigantic photo shoot if that’s what you want!

Make it a destination

It is so much easier to go somewhere grand when you elope. From a mountaintop in Idaho to a Mexican beach, a destination elopement takes less planning, time and money to arrange than a traditional destination wedding. Nature loving couples should really consider this aspect of an elopement if they dream of saying their vows among unadulterated wilderness. It’s difficult to get 100 people down a hiking trail. Five to ten is much more doable.

Traditional Weddings

Just because I love photographing elopements doesn’t mean I have any problem with big traditional weddings. They both have their place! If an elopement isn’t sounding right for you, maybe a big wedding is where it’s at. Here’s what I love about big weddings.

Have a fairytale moment

Have you been dreaming of your wedding since second grade? Picking out your perfect ball gown and imagining the moment that every eye will turn toward you as you walk down the aisle? Traditional weddings have an element of fairytale magic that is difficult to replicate on a super small scale. For couples who really want to feel like the prince and princess on their big day, I’d encourage a big wedding, with all the bells and whistles. Get doted on from morning till night, have your grand first dance in front of all your loved ones, and ride away in a horse drawn carriage.

Make it one big party

Where an elopement is stripped back, with a traditional wedding, everyone can get an invite. If it’s important to have all of your extended family, friends from college, and the sweet neighbor lady from down the street, go with a big wedding. Having everyone you love there will also make it possible to get professional photos with more people that you love. From formal photos, to crazy dancing photos at the reception, you’ll have photographic evidence of your special day with all the people you care about.

Keep tradition alive

If traditions such as not seeing each other before the ceremony, being walked down the aisle by your father, and the garter and bouquet toss are important to you, then a traditional wedding is likely the way to go. While many of these traditions can be done on a smaller scale at an elopement, they likely won’t have the exciting impact that you are looking for.

Which is for you?

It can be hard to decide if an elopement or a traditional wedding is right for you. What it comes down to is what your priorities are. I recommend making a list of the top 5 to 10 things that are important to you when thinking about your wedding. If the top of that list is things like ‘intimate moments with my spouse, spending time in nature, and having flexibility’, you’re probably looking at an elopement. If it looks like, ‘having the party of the century, getting photos with all my grandparents, and feeling like royalty’ you should probably be planning a traditional wedding.

Still have questions about which is right for you? I’d love to help you figure it out. Click here to get in touch, and here to learn more about my wedding and elopement photography services.

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