I'm Donna Marie
An inclusive adventurous destination wedding and elopement photographer livin' in upstate New York. I'm here to empower all couples to create an intentional wedding day that focuses on the experience and the feels.
If you’re on the fence about eloping versus having a more traditional wedding, you’ve likely done some Google research on the pros and cons. There are a lot of things to consider should you and your partner decide to elope. (And if you’re not quite sure of the differences between an elopement, small wedding, and large wedding, I gotchu. Read more on that here.) There are hundreds, if not thousands, of blog posts sharing reasons why you should elope. Even I have a few. And before you know it, deciding on eloping or a traditional wedding can feel really overwhelming.
This post is designed to help you consider what your personal boundaries are surrounding your own wedding. Because sometimes we need more than a “pro vs cons” list, and a little more conversation on the subject of eloping.
It means going against the expected. Therefore, it also means eloping comes with its own set of challenges to overcome. It also means that you’ll need be ready to put your foot down when it comes to how you’re envisioning your day. Friends, family, and maybe even other wedding vendors, will often give you advice on how your day should look/happen/unfold. Well meaning or otherwise, the day isn’t about them. So be ready to establish (and reinforce) boundaries when eloping. And stand your ground.
When you decide to elope, family and friends may feel a certain type of way about being excluded from this important moment in your lives when you tell them. (If you tell them.) You and your partner are going to want to sit down and have an in-depth conversation with one another on how you’re going to handle any kind of reactions that you may receive. If you’re not sure how to tell family you’re eloping, this may help you some. Working together as a team is vital when planning any kind of wedding, but it’s highlighted a little more when deciding to elope. This is because you want to stand together in your decision and not provide any opportunity for your wedding day wants to be diminished by others.
Stop to really think about this. The moments in which you commit the rest of your lives together is so deeply intimate. Only you and your partner really know what the two of you have weathered, built, and how you have grown together. You may find yourself more emotional than usual during certain parts of the day. The moments may happen unexpectedly. Will you feel comfortable being emotionally vulnerable with those that you would invite?
Eloping is not selfish. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. No one outside of your relationship has any “right” to be present for your union. It is a honor to be present, and if you and your partner would rather have the safety of only each other, do exactly that. Just because you’re eloping, it doesn’t mean that there aren’t other ways to included loved ones. Remember, eloping is focused on prioritizing the kind of experience that you and your partner want to share.
If you’d like to have a few loved ones involved in your elopement, but aren’t sure how, here area a few ideas:
Your elopement should ultimately be about what you and your partner want. What you want your experience to look like, feel like, and how others are involved (if at all). But that doesn’t mean you can’t opt to have one or more traditional touches to your wedding experience.
Minus a guest list of 100+ people. You can still elope at a traditional wedding venue. You can also elope at an Airbnb, or in the desert, on a mountaintop, or in the middle of the ocean. Where you marry is really only one (albeit significant) portion of your elopement day. An elopement opens up so many options on what you can do throughout your wedding day. From hiking (most common), to creating pottery or music together, to sitting in your PJs watching the latest rom-com together. You can write your own vows to one another, or opt for poetry, or vows of a more traditional nature. Your options are truly endless.
What’s of utmost importance is that you and your partner feel completely safe, secure, heard, valid, and seen on your wedding day. Do not, do not, do not feel like you have to invite friends or family who will make you feel unsafe or uncomfortable. It can be difficult saying no, or not inviting that one family member who has less than desirable company.
An elopement can, and often does require less planning versus a traditional wedding. But that doesn’t mean that an elopement doesn’t require any level of planning. Even if you opt to elope down at City Hall, you’ll still want to plan for any requirements (e.g., documents for marriage license, appointment(s), etc.). But the freeing thing here is that elopements don’t have a stead-fast list of things you should plan. Things like a reception, seating chart, and DJ aren’t common occurrences for an elopement. Instead, you’ll be planning for lodging, travel, activities, and anything else you’d like to include.
If you’re looking for a planning-free wedding experience, definitely invest in an elopement planner. OR, hear me out, an elopement photographer who offers planning assistance to their couples. (PSSST, like yours truly.) This way you’re not trying to balance planning while also working, taking care of family, or anything else that renders your plate full.
You could potentially opt for an all inclusive elopement package (I see these most commonly in places like Vegas), but personally, I have mixed feelings on this. If you’re eloping to do your own thing… Why would you choose an all inclusive elopement package that fits you and your partner in to a box?
If you want the large reception, and all the witnesses, have a traditional wedding. There is absolutely nothing wrong with that. If in your heart, you and your partner really want a large wedding, and you scale it back, you’re going to potentially feel remorseful down the line. And if in your heart, you and your partner know that a large wedding is not who you are as a couple or individuals, eloping may be your answer. Just remember that your elopement doesn’t have to be a “just-us” experience either.