Wedding Planning

Elopement vs Wedding: How to know which is best for you!

Are you recently engaged and trying to decide whether a big wedding or an intimate elopement would be the right choice for your big day? While some couples instantly know they want a huge celebration with all their favorite people, others find it hard to decide. Both options offer different benefits. A wedding allows you to celebrate your nuptials with family and friends. However, an elopement enables the focus to be on just the two of you. There are some key differences between the two choices, so the decision can be difficult. To help you decide, I’ve put together some tips & advice! Read on to discover which is the best route for you!

A mix of photos showing 2 couples, one that has eloped and one that has had a big wedding.


Eloping is a traditional term that refers to running away secretly to get married to the love of your life. The very notion sparks a tale infused with romantic movie vibes and mysterious love stories of forbidden love! But nowadays, an elopement is more of a planned event, often involving a small wedding ceremony, a couple of witnesses, or immediate family members and close friends. And, rather than keeping it a secret, many couples announce their elopement day plans like a wedding. Due to this transparency, modern-day eloping has become a growing trend and is much more common than before.

A bride and groom raise their hands in the air and cheer as they celebrate saying 'I Do'

So, what are the pros & cons of eloping?

Advantages of Eloping


It’s generally easier to plan a private and intimate wedding ceremony, and it allows the couple to focus on their love for each other without the distractions and pressures of a large wedding. There’s no need to worry about making lists of group photos, writing speeches, and the stress of speaking in front of every person in the room before it’s time to cut the cake. Instead, you can replace those moments with a relaxed photo shoot with your elopement photographer, an intimate first dance, and reflecting on your love story together as the day slowly unfolds.

A portrait of a bride and groom posing together, hugging each other closely with their eyes closed.

Less Stress

Planning a wedding can be a stressful experience. There’s much to consider, including finding the perfect venue to suit your guest list, endless catering details, and hours of designing seating plans around many people. But when you elope, you only have yourselves to keep happy. So, eloping can give you a low-stress or stress-free wedding planning experience.

Bride and groom walking along the tree lined walkway at the Tuilleries gardens in front of the Louvre.


A big wedding can be expensive, so eloping can be a more budget-friendly option for couples who want to get married without breaking the bank. You can still have all the beautiful details you dreamed of, including luxury florals, a gorgeous wedding cake, and a dreamy wedding dress, but without the hefty food and drink bill for 100+ people!

Bride and groom sat at the dinner table and toasting their marriage

More Flexibility

Eloping offers more flexibility in terms of timing and location. You can plan an elopement without needing as much time, as there are fewer details to consider.
You can even opt for a destination elopement by choosing to get married anywhere in the world without worrying about accommodating guests. You also have much more time with your wedding photographer before and after the ceremony, so you can capture much more variation with your wedding portraits.

Bride and groom walking hand in hand up stone steps in Paris in front of the Eiffel Tower

Disadvantages of Eloping

Lack of Celebration

Eloping takes away the opportunity to celebrate your vows with friends and family. This can be incredibly disappointing for your closest family members who might have dreamed of being a part of your big day for a long time.

Bride looking back at her bridesmaids as they see her in her wedding dress for the first time


For some couples, eloping may not feel like a traditional way to get married, which is a valid concern for those who value tradition, religion, and culture highly.

Bride and groom coming out of church after just getting married


You’ve probably been to a few weddings and maybe even been a part of the bridal party – so you will know that a traditional wedding involves getting ready, a ceremony, cocktail hour, and a photo session followed by the reception. It’s a busy day full of events, rituals, and traditional moments, and it goes by in a blissful blur. It’s also a day filled with emotion, fashion, music, food and drink, and celebration. There’s no denying that weddings are truly wonderful events that are meaningful and memorable to all.

Father of the bride walking his daughter down the steps at Ashridge House in the UK to give her hand away in marriage to her future husband.

Here are some of the pros and cons of having a wedding.

Advantages of Having a Wedding


Having a wedding brings together friends and family. While you might see them all often, having everyone together in the same venue is often a rare occasion. There is a deep layer of sentimentality and love in having all your loved ones united in honor of your love story.

Large group photo of the bride and groom and all wedding guests in the winter garden room at Hawkstone Hall. All guests have their hands in the air cheering and smiling.

Wedding Traditions

Having a wedding is a long-established way of declaring your love and union. It provides a sense of continuity and connection with generations of couples who have previously tied the knot. And can have a lasting impact on older generations of the family.

Bride and her grandmother hugging and looking at each other smiling on the day of the wedding.


A wedding is a special day that the couple will remember for the rest of their lives. It offers a time to create memories with friends and family that will last a lifetime.

Bride looks at her bridesmaids laughing as they pose for a group photo.

Opportunity for Creativity

A wedding provides an opportunity for the couple to express their creativity and make their special day unique. The possibilities are endless, from the venue and wedding decor to the entertainment and food. Many couples, especially the bride, enjoy the planning process of designing, styling, and selecting wedding details, as it adds to the overall wedding experience.

Wedding dinner table set up at Villa Sola Cabiati on Lake Como.

Disadvantages of Having a Wedding


Weddings can be expensive, and the costs can quickly add up. There are many expenses to consider, which can be overwhelming, from the wedding venue and catering to the dress, hair, and makeup.

Calculator for adding up wedding costs


Planning a wedding can be a stressful experience, with the pressure to create the perfect day and accommodate the needs of all guests. Keeping everyone happy isn’t easy, and it takes effort, thought, and sensitivity to include and show love and appreciation to everyone invited.

Less Intimacy

Weddings can be busy, making it difficult for the couple to focus on each other and their love for one another.

Close up of the bride and groom hand in hand showing off the ring.

Number of Guests

When it comes to the guest list, narrowing this down can be difficult, and of course, a higher guest count means higher costs.

A bouquet of flowers on a marble plinth

Family Drama

Weddings are emotional, and bringing everyone together can sometimes stir up a mixture of feelings.

Making a decision as a couple

As a couple, you may have different ideas about what your wedding should look like, so spend time exploring each other’s views on what you want. Discuss what you both imagine for your wedding day, your must-haves, deal breakers, and budget. If you are worried about the lack of tradition when it comes to eloping, remember that you can still incorporate elements that are important to you and your partner, whether that’s wearing a special piece of jewelry or having a small ceremony with loved ones present. At the end of the day, the most important thing is that you’re making a commitment to each other in a way that feels right for you. You can still honor traditions while creating a unique and intimate experience.

Close up of a bride and groom nuzzling their faces together with their eyes closed and smiling.

Questions to ask yourselves

If the idea of eloping is new to you both, but you feel like it could be a way forward, research online by looking at wedding blogs and Pinterest to see how other couples have eloped.
Ask yourselves the following questions: Can we really elope? What are the possibilities? How can we make it happen? What does it mean for our family? And as you talk about the options and realize what is most important to you, the answer will become clear. Remember, this is your wedding, and it should reflect your love story. You don’t have to follow expectations or traditions if something pulls you both in another direction.

Bride and groom posing in hold in front of Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament in London.

Blending an Elopement with a Wedding

If you are still struggling to decide, the perfect choice may be a blend of the two. Combining certain aspects of eloping with a wedding lets you hand-pick which aspects of both appeal to you as a couple. For example, you may choose to have a micro-destination wedding by inviting just your closest friends and family. Limiting the guest list to fewer people is a great way of maintaining the intimacy of an elopement while still enjoying the feeling of a proper wedding. You could always plan to have a big party or wedding reception with your wider group of family and friends at a later date once you are home.

Bride and groom posing together on the balcony at Villa Sola Cabiati in front of Lake Como in Italy.

In Summary

When it comes to planning your big day, it can be challenging to decide whether to opt for an intimate Elopement or a full-on Wedding. Eloping is a romantic and intimate way to get married without the pressures and expectations of a traditional wedding. Many couples choose to elope to have a more private and personal experience without the stress of planning a big event. On the other hand, having a traditional wedding can be a beautiful and meaningful celebration of love, surrounded by family and friends. It allows couples to showcase their unique style and personality and create memories to enjoy for the rest of their life.
Ultimately, the decision to elope, have a smaller wedding, or have a traditional wedding is personal and should be based on what feels right for you as a couple. Consider your priorities, budget, and desires for your wedding day when making your decision. Whatever you choose, make sure it reflects your love and commitment to each other.

Bride and groom posing together and kissing in front of a fresh floral archway in the winter garden at Hawkstone Hall in England.

Are you looking for a wedding or elopement photographer for your big day?

Hi, I’m Victoria Amrose, and I cover destination weddings and elopements all over Europe and across the globe. I can put together a photography/videography collection to suit your needs. I’d love to hear about your plans, so please do not hesitate to get in touch HERE!

Headshot of destination wedding photographer Victoria Amrose

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