Before we get into it, I want to make one thing very clear: the choice between a traditional wedding and an elopement is entirely yours. This blog post is intended to educate anyone who reads it about the WHY behind elopements for most couples. If these reasons don’t align with you and your wishes for your day, that’s ok.
So – why elope?
Think of it this way: A traditional wedding is kind of like planning a family vacation, whereas an elopement is more like planning a trip for just you and your significant other. (Where maybe family and friends will join you for parts of it.)
When you plan a family vacation, you usually take everyone’s preferences into account in order to create an experience that each attendee enjoys. When you plan a trip for only you and your partner, you get to do all the things you love, without sacrificing any time (or money) doing things just to make others happy.
When you elope, you eliminate a ton of decisions that ultimately weren’t even about you and your relationship in the first place – anything from what your guests will want to eat, what music they will want to hear during the reception, to what activities you should plan to keep them entertained during cocktail hour. Eloping means that the two of you get to focus on making every decision about your day based on what makes you happiest.
Planning a traditional wedding can feel like planning a really expensive party, and lots of engaged couples end up feeling overwhelmed while trying to make their day the most memorable, the most beautiful, the most unique… know what I mean? It starts to get tricky when you’re cruising through Pinterest or Instagram or wedding planning groups and seeing all the ways newlyweds decorated their venue, fed their guests, entertained everyone, etc. Now you’re starting to wonder how you can ever measure up to that without breaking the bank. Even if you have a traditional wedding, try to remember that all of these things are not what makes your wedding special or unique. Your story is one of a kind, and your guests come to celebrate that.
The food will be eaten, the flowers will die, but your partner (and your photos 😉) are what you get to keep forever. So shouldn’t your top priority be creating a day that the two of you will absolutely love and remember fondly? Eloping takes away the pressure of impressing a ton of guests, because if you do decide to invite some guests, those people will be the ones who really get you and aren’t worried about whether they’re eating pizza or filet mignon, as long as they get to support you on your day.
A lot of us have that small, core group of family members who we can’t imagine our wedding day without. Then maybe there’s another layer of family who we would really love to celebrate with. And thennn there are some outliers; family members who we aren’t all that close to, who insert themselves into everything and make us feel… well… not so great.
“But they’re family!”
“But they love you!”
I have heard from countless couples about this struggle with the guest list. The bottom line, and what I always tell everyone to ask themselves, is this:
“Would I miss them if they weren’t there?”
If the answer is no, or even if it’s a “yes, but…” (Their still presence makes me anxious, I’m worried they would cause conflict if they were there, etc) don’t feel obligated to send the invite. The day you get married is for you and your partner; anyone who doesn’t make you feel 110% loved and supported doesn’t need to be there. And when you elope, all you have to say is:
“We are eloping. We will only have __ guests.”
You don’t need to justify yourself beyond that.
Do you drool over wedding photos of couples saying their vows among tall trees in the forest or on top of a mountain, or somewhere else where you can’t imagine having a large amount of guests? When you have a longer guest list, you are limited to where you can say your “I do’s”. The venue search begins, and you’re considering all the traditional wedding concerns, from venue capacity, to seating charts, the list goes on… Throw it out the window! Elope! Just kidding – if you want a traditional wedding, you should absolutely have one. But if you’ve read this far, you’re probably on the fence, so you should know that eloping really opens up your options for locations.
It goes without saying that eloping can be significantly more affordable than traditional weddings. Here are some numbers to paint a picture:
Average cost of a wedding venue in Maine as of 2022: $13,000
Average cost of an Airbnb to get ready for your outdoor elopement: $500
Average cost of a wedding cake for 100+ people: $500
Average cost of 10 cupcakes for you and your elopement guests: $60
Average amount couples spent on catering for 2021 Maine weddings: $7,000
Average cost of dinner for you and your few guests: Whatever you plan for, but definitely less than $7k
This is subjective, of course, because these figures are averages and we all know that a traditional wedding can be done on a budget. An elopement can also be just as expensive as a traditional wedding depending on your priorities; but when you elope, you can reallocate funds that would have been spent on a venue or furniture rentals (or a million other traditional wedding expenses) to something the two of you can enjoy, like your dream honeymoon or part of the downpayment for a new home!
At the end of the day though, it is all up to you and your partner.
You should have a day that is right for the two of you, whether that means 100+ guests at a big venue, or a handful (or no) guests at a more private and meaningful location.