Should you have a wedding or elopement? For some, it’s a no-brainer. For others, it’s a tough choice.
Between the overall experience, the difference in cost, and family and societal expectations, there are several things to consider when deciding if you want to have an elopement or a wedding.
An elopement can be super intimate, where it’s just you, your lover, and your vendors in a beautiful place. An elopement can also be you, your lover, your vendors, and a few special guests. You can also plan an adventurous elopement, hiking out to a mountain lake for an intimate wedding is an incredibly memorable experience.
A wedding has guests. It can be a small wedding with 30 guests or a big wedding with 300 guests. While there are several differences between an elopement and a wedding, the main difference is guests.
Let’s dive into that more below.
This is one of the biggest differences between a traditional wedding and an elopement ceremony.
Most traditional weddings have a guest list with 50 to 200+ guests, while an elopement is 20 guests or less. A micro wedding is 20-50 guests.
When you have a wedding with more than 20 guests, you will need to have some structural things in place. It requires having more of a schedule for your day and having things in place like a venue that can hold that many people, transportation, and entertainment for your guests.
An elopement has 20 or fewer guests or no guests at all. This essentially means you can do whatever you want. If you only have 4 guests, you could get married in a beautiful mountain meadow with your guests standing around you. You won’t need chairs or any special venues. It’s much more free-flowing.
While both have their advantages, ultimately, choosing how many guests you’d like to celebrate with you on your big day will help shape whether you’re looking at an elopement, an intimate ceremony, or a more traditional wedding.
Traditional weddings generally involve more planning time than an elopement, and having a higher guest count is a big factor. Creating seating charts and schedules, organizing dinner for a crowd of people, and selecting the right entertainment are all things that couples typically oversee in a traditional wedding, but may appear on a much smaller scale for an elopement — or not even appear at all.
An elopement can be planned in a matter of days — sometimes in a matter of hours. Depending on your date, venue choice, and guest count, you could spend less than 24 hours planning your elopement. You could also go all out and spend a whole year planning a destination elopement. It’s all up to you.
The other big difference between a traditional wedding and an elopement is the price. Weddings can be crazy expensive — the average wedding in the U.S. is over $33k!
Generally, you can expect to pay $150 to $200 per person. That includes the venue, decor, food, drinks, and entertainment. If you have always dreamed of having a big party with all your favorite people, to celebrate you and your partner’s love, a wedding is probably the right choice for you. That is what you are paying for after all — to celebrate with your loved ones.
Elopement ceremonies, on the other hand, are typically less expensive.
You simply have fewer people and structure to deal with. That does not mean that you are getting less from your celebration. Elopements can be deeply personal and breathtakingly beautiful — not to mention you can totally party afterward!
The biggest and most important parallel between weddings and elopements is the love you share with your partner. Whether you want to be surrounded by every person you love in your life in an elaborate ceremony, or just be there with you and your partner, your wedding is about how you want to commemorate your day. And whatever way you want to express your love on that day is going to be perfect for you.
No matter if you decide to elope, have a more traditional wedding, or something in between, remember that there is no “right” option. The choice between eloping vs wedding is a decision that you and your partner get to make, and if you keep your love at the top of your priority list, there’s no way you can go wrong.