The battle of the century: Eloping vs. Wedding. How do you know which one’s for you?

To elope or not to elope, for that is the question. Most likely, you have a bunch of people telling to do different things for your wedding. Perhaps your friends are telling you to elope because they’ve eloped and loved it. And maybe your family is pushing for a traditional wedding so all of your relatives can be there. There’s a lot to consider. So I’m giving you what I wish I had when I was engaged: a pros and cons list about eloping and traditional weddings. But before we go all eloping vs. wedding, let’s discuss what the differences are.

What does a traditional wedding look like?

A traditional wedding is basically a giant party with around a 100 guests or more. With there being so many guests, weddings tend to be very structured with a timeline and schedule.

What does an elopement look like?

Unlike a wedding, elopements have 20 guests or less. This leads to a more unstructured celebration with a lot of leeway.

Now that we’ve gotten the definitions of weddings and elopements, let’s get into the nitty gritty.

Wedding vs. Elopement: Elopement Pros

eloping vs wedding bride hugging groom elopement

Pro #1: Cost

Because of the smaller guest count, elopements are a lot more cost effective than weddings. Instead of paying for hundreds of people, you’re only paying for 20. That’s an incredible price difference!

And because you’re only paying for 20 or so people, you can allocate you budget to higher quality vendors and experiences. Let me explain. Let’s say you have a budget of 20k. You could definitely have a traditional wedding with that budget. However, a lot of that budget is going to go into ensuring that there’s enough of everything for each guests. You’ll have to cut corners. But with an elopement, you wouldn’t be paying for hundreds of guests. You could spend that 20k budget on higher quality services. For example, let’s say you couldn’t afford a good photographer for your large wedding because you’ve spent the budget on the guests. With an elopement, you would be able to get an amazing photographer (cough, cough me).

So basically, you could have a lower quality wedding with a bunch of people or you could have a higher quality elopement with a small guest count.

elopement couple reaching out to hold hands

Pro #2: Location

As sad as it is, you can’t have a giant wedding in a National Park. But you can have an elopement there. So if you’re an adventurous couple, this is an enormous reason to elope. Even if you’re not adventurous but you want beautiful photos, this is something to consider. Just imagine what your photos would look like! Maybe it’s just the elopement photographer inside of me but I’m drooling at the thought.

bride holding hat near lake in grand teton national park

Pro #3: Intimacy

This Pro might be a con for you. If you’re extroverted and want a ton of people to celebrate your wedding with you, a small guest count sounds terrible. In that case, an elopement may not be the best option for you. But if you really value just a handful of people coming, an elopement will be amazing for you. So put this as a point for or against elopements in our little eloping vs. wedding battle.

Wedding vs. Elopement: Elopement Cons

wedding vs eloping couple having a boho elopement

Con #1: Peer Disapproval

This one sucks. I really wish I didn’t have to make this a con but I think this is something to consider. If you’re planning to elope, some friends, family, or acquaintances may be upset that they’re not invited. It may stir up some drama. Even though it would be amazing if everyone accepted your decisions, that doesn’t always happen. Before planning your elopement, sit down as a couple and discuss who you want to invite and who may cause issues if they’re not invited. This will help you prepare and decide if an elopement is for you.

wedding ring with ferns and daisies around it

Con #2: Less Wedding Gifts

If your really looking forward to getting wedding gifts, an elopement may not be for you. Sure, you can definitely send people your registry but people are a lot more likely to bring if they’re invited. With a small guest count, lots of gifts may not be in your future.

bride and groom about to kiss in the woods with a colorful bouquet eloping vs. wedding

Con #3: Dirty Wedding Attire

This con is specifically with destination elopements. If you’re going to be hiking in your wedding dress, be prepared for a muddy train. Climbing up rocky hills and hiking through the woods can cause rips and tears in your beautiful outfit. Even if you decide to wear hiking attire and change near the ceremony location, your hair and makeup may be messed up. So if you mind getting dirty, consider hiring a hair and makeup artist to come along and change into your wedding attire after hiking.

Wedding Pros

marble wedding flat lay wedding pros

Pro #1: All your loved ones

You don’t have to pick and choose for a wedding; you can invite as many people as you’d like. Traditional weddings are great if you have large families or if you’re just a social butterfly! If your extroverted and love having lots of people celebrate with, a wedding is the clear cut winner in this eloping vs. wedding battle.

bride laughing with wedding guest in traditional eloping vs. wedding

Pro #2: Traditions

If you’re a lover of traditions like throwing the bouquet, first dance, and cutting the cake, you’ll get to enjoy all of those moments at a wedding. There may even be some family wedding traditions you can only do at a traditional wedding. For example, its a tradition in my family to have a picture slide show of the couple starting from baby pictures to wedding pictures. I couldn’t have had kept that tradition if I decided to elope in a forest or a desert with little to no cell reception.

couple about to kiss at wedding with brick wall behind them eloping vs. wedding

Pro #3: Themes and Color Palettes

Maybe this was just me but I’ve always been obsessed with wedding themes and color palettes. For eloping vs. wedding, I think weddings really takes the cake when it comes to themes. With a traditional wedding, you can really dive into a theme. You can add it to your invitations to your table centerpieces. With an elopement, a theme may not be as clear or even possible.

teardrop wedding ring in gold and turquoise box

Wedding Cons

Con #1: Price

My goodness, weddings are expensive! The cost of the average wedding is about $30,000. If you have that kind of money to spare, by all means, spend it! But for many, this may be a hard pill to swallow.

colorful wedding bouquet with wedding ring in it

Con #2: Stress

If you’re not already stressing about the price of your wedding, don’t worry, there’s a lot else to stress about. Whether that’s people not RSVP’ing, finding vendors, or things just not going to plan, get prepared for a few stressful moments. But there is a plus to this con. Nothing like planning a wedding helps show you another side to your fiancé. You get to see how they handle stress and how you can help them.

idaho wedding photographer from Zola the best free wedding planning site

Con #3: Time Flies

One of the most common regrets I hear from couples is that they didn’t have time to enjoy their own wedding. Couples often find themselves too preoccupied with making sure their guests are enjoying themselves and everything is going to plan, that they forget that this wedding is for them. Talking to all of your wedding guests is great but don’t forget to spend some time with your spouse!

bride and groom kissing at a backyard wedding eloping vs. wedding


Eloping vs. Wedding! Who wins?! It’s up to you. Seriously consider both. Ultimately, it depends on what you want to remember when you look back at your big day years from now. I hope this pros and cons list has helped you make a decision. If you want to do more research, which I highly advise, check out this amazing article on weddings and elopements.

And remember, no matter if you decide on a wedding or an elopement, I’ll always be there to photograph it.

xoxo chat soon,

Kaylee from LaShay and Light Photography