Elopement vs. Wedding: Which Should You Choose?

July 22, 2022


Planning marriage ceremonies in 2022 looks different than it did fifty years ago, let alone five years ago! Eloping is no longer considered “running away” to get married and not every “traditional wedding” includes 300 people. In this article we will review a quick breakdown on the following differences for an elopement vs a wedding: 

  1. Number of guests 
  2. Cost
  3. Things to consider when planning 

What is the biggest difference of an elopement vs a wedding?

The biggest difference of an elopement vs a wedding is the number of guests that attend. Elopements typically have under 15 guests while a wedding is considered 30 or more guests. Elopements in 2022 are carefully crafted by the couple to reflect their love, favorite things and places, or whatever they want! There aren’t any rules aside from getting permits for outdoor locations. My elopement couples usually have an affinity for the outdoors and create an epic adventure in the mountains, at the beach, in the desert, or whatever landscape calls to them the most. 

My traditional wedding couples usually love the outdoors just as much! There are plenty of venues that accentuate the beauty of the outdoors. Here are a few of my favorite outdoor wedding venues of all time:

Elopement vs wedding: which is cheaper?

Couples typically spend $5,000 – $15,000 on an elopement compared to a national average of $30,000 on a traditional wedding. When planning an elopement, couples typically spend 50% of their budget on a photographer who specializes in elopements. If you are interested in planning an elopement and are ready to take the next steps, reach out to me here! Check out my most recent elopements blogs for ideas and inspiration:

Most of the money spent on larger, traditional weddings is allocated to the venue, catering, and vendors. The more guests you have at your wedding, the higher the overall cost is. I absolutely LOVE photographing intimate weddings. There is something to be said for sharing large milestone moments with those you love. Here are a few galleries from recent intimate weddings:

I love to shoot both elopements and weddings because my goal as a photographer is to capture love in its most authentic form. My couples are unique and have different goals/motivations. Being an elopement and wedding photographer allows me to accommodate every love story, no matter what that looks like!

Elopement vs wedding: which is better?

The short answer, neither! Eloping is simply different than a wedding. Here is a list of pros and cons when choosing to elope:

Pros of an elopement:

  • Spending less on your wedding means more money to spend on your honeymoon
  • Keeps the ceremony focused on the couple, avoids potential family conflicts
  • Less planning stress due to fewer variables involved
  • Get married anywhere
  • Your budget can be more flexible

Cons of an elopement:

  • You might face tough questions from family 
  • Possibility of limited vendor choices
  • Family members may feel excluded

Believe it or not, modern weddings CAN have just as much flexibility and customization as elopements do! Especially after the height of the pandemic, couples are refocusing their ceremony on the things they love most! For some couples that might mean having a taco truck cater the reception or having their ceremony in a treehouse in the forest! Below is a pros and cons list for having an intimate wedding. 

Pros of an intimate wedding:

  • Surrounded by your loved ones
  • You get to be in the spotlight!
  • More wedding gifts
  • More time to plan the event
  • The energy of a big celebration is unforgettable and super fun

Cons of an intimate wedding:

  • You will spend more money than you would on an elopement 
  • Can feel more rushed and hectic 
  • Complicated planning 
  • Potential family drama about small details 
  • Not being able to please everyone
  • Harder to decide who is and who is not coming

Moral of the story, choosing an elopement or traditional wedding is completely up to you. I hope this article sheds light on what to consider when planning your wedding ceremony. No matter what direction you decide to go, I always remind my couples that the focus should always be on YOU and your love. Don’t give into the pressures of pleasing family and friends! Create a ceremony that looks and feels authentic to you. Please feel free to reach out with any questions about booking your intimate wedding or elopement with me!

Pin it for later!