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Eloping vs. Wedding: How to say “I do” right

Eloping vs. Wedding: How to say “I do” right

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

5 Best Free Wedding Planning Sites that Every Couple Needs

5 Best Free Wedding Planning Sites that Every Couple Needs

Engaged and don’t know what to do? Here’s the best free wedding planning sites for you.

You’re engaged! Now what? Planning a wedding (or elopement) can be crazy stressful. I get it; I’ve been there. There’s so much to do and you don’t know where to start. You might not even have a mood board yet. And that’s okay! As a former bride and a wedding photographer, I’ve used a lot of wedding planning sites and I’ve curated my top 5 best free wedding planning sites.

Just so you know, I haven’t been sponsored by any of these sites. This is just me showing you what I truly think are great sites that every couple should use.


Zola – Best Free Wedding Planning Site All-around

idaho wedding photographer from Zola the best free wedding planning site

Zola guides you from being engaged to newlywed. Everything you need to do to plan a wedding or an elopement can be done on Zola. I could go on and on about why Zola is absolutely amazing but I’m going to narrow it down to three reasons: vendors, registry, and website.

Vendors on Zola

Before looking for vendors on Zola, you first take a small quiz. This quiz helps give you a personalized curated list of vendors you’d like. Not only that, it shows a list of why they matched with you, whether it be their prices, style, availability, or location. This makes finding vendors you genuinely like a breeze. Not only that, you can also see what vendors you’ve talked to and which ones you’ve booked. This keeps finding vendors organized.

Speaking of vendors, I’m also a vendor on Zola. Booking through Zola is incredibly easy and intuitive. Clients that have booked me through Zola have never had a complaint!

Registry on Zola

The wedding registry is amazing. To start off, Zola’s wedding registry has over 1,000 top brands to choose items from including KitchenAid, Delta Airlines, and Kate Spade. Wedding guests can purchase gifts, experiences, and fund your honeymoon all in one place. There’s free shipping, price matching, and registry gift exchange! But I haven’t even told you the best part. You get a 20% off discount your entire registry for six months after your wedding.

Website on Zola

Your registry can also be linked to your personal wedding website. Zola’s website builder has nearly 300 designs and layouts to choose from so they have an option for whatever style you’re going for! The website builder is easy to use and you can make a website in just a few minutes. It’s also very easy for guests to use so even great-grandma Rosie would be able to use it! Zola also offers wedding invitations that matches your website so you can have a running theme.


Wedding Chicks – Best for Wedding Inspiration

Best Free Wedding Planning Sites wedding chicks bride kissing groom

If you’re getting married and don’t know what you want to do, Wedding Chicks is one of the best free wedding planning sites you could go to. Wedding Chicks offers many of the same features Zola does, website builder, search for vendors, printing invitations, but their main focus is on wedding inspiration and a blog to help you plan your wedding.

They have a wide collection of posts all about planning a wedding. From Wedding Day Must-Haves For Every Emergency Kit to Shades of French Blue Wedding Ideas they have something for everyone.


Joy – Best Guest List

best free wedding planning sites joy bride moving dress

Joy is one of the best free wedding planning sites for big weddings. It has a registry and a website builder but the highlight of Joy is it’s guest list. Sorting and categorizing guests is a breeze! You can group guests into parties, send mass emails, track RSVPs, and -my favorite part- add tags. You can add tags to a guest or party to categorize them. For example, you can tag them as family, friend, maid of honor, from your side of the family or your sweetheart’s, and so much more. Once the guests RSVP, Joy’s guest list automatically updates with the new information. It’s great if you have a large family or just a bunch of friends you want to keep track of!


Carats & Cake – Best Style and Theme Options

bride and groom holding each other

You’ve got a very specific theme you want for your wedding; it could be edgy, industrial, or romantic. Whatever you’re going for, Carats & Cake has the vendors and the inspiration. Carats & Cake allows you to see photo galleries from dream weddings and also lists every vendor that participated in making that wedding happen. This makes finding your dream vendor a reality.

However, it’s important to note that Carats & Cake does not have website builder or a registry, it’s mainly used for finding vendors and inspiration.


Online Wedding Planning Assistant – Best Variety

bride and groom about to kiss in the woods with a colorful bouquet

Online Wedding Planning Assistant has all of the bells and whistles. You can find vendors, create a budget, make a website, form a wedding timeline, create a seating chart, and so much more. For being free, its an amazing resource that can be incredibly helpful. I love Online Wedding Planning Assistant but there are a few reasons why its not higher on the list. Creating a website on Online Wedding Planning Assistant is not intuitive and has very few customizations. It doesn’t have a registry and, this may seem arbitrary to some, I’m not a fan of their aesthetic. However, if you’re tech-savvy and want a site that offers great customizable seating chart planning and forming wedding timelines, this is a great option.


Those are my top five best free wedding planning sites! I hope this has helped you plan your wedding. If you’re using these websites or have used them in the past, let me know! I’d love to hear your experiences with them.

As a little side note, if you’re looking for photographers for your wedding, check me out and let’s talk about what I can do for you!

xo, Kaylee from LaShay and Light Photography

The Best Wedding Mood Board Inspiration

The Best Wedding Mood Board Inspiration

If you’re planning out your wedding mood board, here’s some of my favorite pictures for inspiration.

While I was shooting at my last photoshoot, I took some beautiful detail shots. As I was editing them, I started thinking how wonderful these would be for wedding mood board inspiration! So here are a few of my favorite photos from my last photoshoot. They’re warm and magical photos, perfect for wedding inspiration.

But before I go any further, I highly recommend reading this article on how to make an effective wedding mood board. Read that so you can use the photos I’m about to show you to their full extent.

best wedding mood board colorful bouquet

I love these flowers so much! The deep burgundy and yellow are such a beautiful color combination. I highly recommend Brides to get bouquets like this! Or have your color scheme for your wedding be burgundy and yellow. Either way, this photo is definitely wedding mood board inspiration worthy.

closeup of colorful wedding flowers with wedding ring inside

Now this may just look like a closeup of the previous photo but don’t be fooled! A beautiful diamond wedding ring  is in the flowers. You can’t have wedding mood board inspiration without showing a beautiful wedding ring and your color palette! So, I decided to put the two together?

But that’s not all I did. I was imagining a film-like, nostalgic wedding. So I added grain and matted the image to make it look like it was from an old movie. I love this look and I hope you do too.

wedding mood board bride holding bouquet

This is the last bouquet photo, I promise. But I just needed a shot with the wedding ring, bouquet, and the wedding dress. It was a necessity! I love the brick pattern in the background, the texture in the flowers, and the lacey details in the wedding dress. How could I not share this one?

ballerina wedding performer

Maybe you’re a ballerina or maybe you just love ballet, but can you imagine a ballet themed wedding?! Just imagine ballerinas performing at your wedding. Yep, put that on your mood board. Ballet is just so elegant and romantic, everything you want your wedding to be like.

wedding musician strumming his acoustic guitar

Now I’m going to take a wild guess and say that you like music and you’re going to play some music at your wedding. Was I right? Well, can you imagine having actual musicians at your wedding singing the sweetest serenades for you and the love of your life? I thought so.

I hope these photos helped you determine what you want in your wedding! If this has helped you decide that you want someone like me as your photographer, well, you can always contact me here on my website!

Bridals at The Venue in Rigby, Idaho

Bridals at The Venue in Rigby, Idaho

If you’re in Rigby looking for a place for Bridals, check out The Venue!

Rigby, Idaho has some beautiful locations for Bridals. If your looking for an indoor venue with a chic, urban, and rustic flair, The Venue is what you’re looking for. I shot some bridals in Rigby, Idaho at the Venue and it was so beautiful! I really loved the brick texture and large windows at the Venue so I took most of my photos there. This bride and groom were so darn cute! I barely had to pose them for these bridals.

Bridals in Rigby bride and groom kissing


As you may have noticed, I’ve really been focusing on my editing style. I’ve been trying new things and this is what I’ve gotten. My style may continue to evolve but I’m happy with what I have right now!

bridals in rigby bride hugging groom


The bride had some beautiful flowers in her bouquet. I new I just had to get some photos of it! This is one of my favorite poses to do for bridals and this one really shined. It’s so simple and romantic. I love it!

bridals in rigby bride pulling grooms tie

For some people, bridals -or photos in general- can make them nervous or camera shy. But this bride and groom thrived being shot! I barely had to pose them! They were so cute and in love.
the venue bridals in rigby idaho couple kissing with sunflare

As much as I loved the bricks at the venue in Rigby, Idaho, there was a beautiful setting sun outside and I just needed those sun flares! So, I pulled my bride and groom outside and snapped a few shots. So worth it.

I had so much fun shooting these bridals in Rigby, Idaho. The Venue was beautiful, the bride and groom were beautiful, everything was beautiful! If you’re interested in getting some amazing bridals, I recommend The Venue. If you’re looking for a photographer in Rigby, well, I’m your girl.

Wyoming Bridals

Wyoming Bridals

Beautiful bridals in beautiful Wyoming!

A few weeks ago, I had the amazing opportunity to go to String Lake, Wyoming for bridals. It was my first time going to String Lake and I instantly fell in love. Getting to photograph this beautiful bride was an absolute dream. The location was beautiful, the bride was beautiful, you can’t get anything better than that. If you’re looking for a place for an elopement or bridals, definitely go to String Lake, Wyoming! For these two bridal photos I had the bride interact with her surroundings and her outfit.

bride holding hat while looking into string lake

bride lifting her dress in front of a lakeFor these two bridal photos I had the bride interact with her surroundings and her outfit. In the first one, I had her holding her hat and looking towards the lake. With the next one, I had her lift up her dress.


bridals bride holding bouquet at glacier national park

It’s super important to get some close ups too! In this photo, I had her look away and hold her bouquet.



I loved String lake, Wyoming! It was incredibly beautiful and I can’t wait to go again!

3 Things NOT to ask your Wedding Photographer

3 Things NOT to ask your Wedding Photographer

You’ve seen dozen of those “50 things to ask your photographer” articles. Which is awesome! If you’re looking for another one to read, check the one I made. Although there are some really amazing articles, I disagree with some of them. They tell a lot of brides to ask for things or expect things that are really not in their best interest. So, straight from a photographer, here are a few things I advise brides and grooms NOT to ask. Or, at least, know exactly what you’re asking for.

shot of just the bride and grooms body with a sun flare encircling the bouquet



This is the big one. You don’t know how many photographers feel dread when they’re asked about raws. A lot of sites tell you to ask your photographer for raw images. They tell you that these are just unedited images the photographer is keeping away from you. This isn’t correct and there are multiple reasons why photographers don’t give out raw images. First, they’re huge files. They are going to take up all of your storage. If that’s not bad enough, most programs won’t even open raw files so you won’t even be able to look at your photos.

The next main reason photographers don’t typically give out raw files are because they look gross. Raw isn’t like jpeg. Jpeg are like the photos you take on your phone. Those colors are pretty close to life. Not raw. Raw is typically very gray and bland and the colors are not even close to life. Not only that, these are unedited. Which, if they’re anything like mine, the photos will be very dark. You might not even see the subject in the photos. If your photographer sent you these, you’d probably be very disappointed. They don’t represent the photographer’s work or their art. Most of the magic happens in editing!

If you’re just wanting more images, discuss with your photographer how many photos you’re hoping for. Most photographers will be happy to give more edited photos, either for free or for an additional charge. But please, for your best interest, don’t ask for raws!

groom dipping the bride with a large sun flare behind them



Most of the photos you don’t receive are ones where you’re blinking, making a silly face, duplicates of the same image, or they’re blurry.  So don’t worry! You’re not missing out on anything.

But before we go to the next topic, I do need to mention one thing. Some photographers give you a certain amount of photos. Let’s say the photographer allows you to keep 30 images. Typically, they let you pick and choose your favorite images to keep. If there are any more photos you’d like, they often allow you to purchase them for an additional price. Photographers typically do this so they don’t waste any time editing photos you don’t want. This way they can focus on giving their all editing the photos you really want. This helps give you a higher overall quality in images, instead of just a bunch of “meh” photos.

Like always, quantity is not quality.

If you’re dead-set on getting all of the images that turned out, talk to your photographer. Just remember it may cost extra and may take longer to edit.

bride and groom with their noses touching




To be honest, this one kind of breaks my heart. I always hope that people hire me because they like my style, and who I am as an artist. Let me put it this way. Would you hire Leonardo da Vinci to paint a Picasso? Of course not. You would just hire Picasso. This is the same thing with photographers. Photographers are artists. If you want someone with a certain style, just hire that person.

It takes years to develop style. So if you ask a photographer to mimic another person’s style, it won’t look right. It will most likely just look like a knockoff.

Now I understand if you have a budget and can’t afford your dream photographer. I get it! But there’s a reason why they’re expensive. It’s because they’re amazing at what they do. Photographer that shoot for less, reflect their skills. I say this with love, but don’t expect phenomenal luxury photos from someone off of Craigslist doing it for free. You can’t simply choose a cheap photographer and hope their photos look like a professional’s.

cake with sun flare on amber stand


Annnnd that’s it! If you’re looking for more questions to avoid, I recommend reading Jaimie Mackey’s article. I hope this helps you find the right photographer. And if that right photographer is me, well, my contact form is down below. 😉

3 Things to Ask your Wedding Photographer

3 Things to Ask your Wedding Photographer

If you’re reading this, I’m guessing you’re getting married soon. CONGRATS!!! Being married is seriously so amazing. And what’s a better start to a marriage than a dreamy, romantic celebration of your union? I can’t  think of anything. The key to a great wedding really isn’t the food, the dress, or the flowers. The key is the photographer. The right photographer can capture those priceless memories and can make your wedding a breeze. The wrong photographer is. . . well. . . not equipped for the job. Picking the wrong one can really ruin the experience for you, your guests, and you won’t have any good images to look back on.

I hope that didn’t scare you! But don’t worry. I’m here to help. Here are three things to check before booking your wedding photographer.

bride and groom standing together with a sun flare encircling the wedding bouquet


Okay, okay, I know. This isn’t something you ask your photographer but I think this is such an important part about finding the right person to shoot your wedding. Soooo many brides simply bargain shop their photographer, which I can understand. I was a bride with a budget once too. But that doesn’t mean you should go with the cheapest photographer you can find.

So I want you to do something for me right now. Imagine three years from now. You and your spouse are happily married and your wedding day was absolutely beautiful. You’re lounging on the couch, just on your phone, and you see your spouse grab your wedding book and start flipping through it. He or she smiles as they flip through the pages, sometimes giving a light chuckle to a few of them. You decide to scoot closer to them and look at the images to. When you see them, you smile and you’re filled with the wonderful feelings you felt when you got married.

What did those photos look like? Find a photographer that can shoot what you were just imagining.

Hopefully, that brought some clarity on what wedding photography is really worth. This is something you, your children, and your grandchildren will look back on. I tell my clients that you should spend at least 15% of your wedding budget on your photographer. Think about how important those photos will be to you. A cheap photographer isn’t going to capture those.

Groom dipping Bride with a sun flare above their heads


Every photographer is different and every photographer has different priorities. Nothing is wrong with that, just make sure that both you and your photographer’s priorities align.

When you ask your photographer what their priorities are, you’re going to get a better idea of what type of photos you’re going to get. If they say they focus on capturing vogue-like photos, you’re going to get a lot of posed images. Other photographers may say they love capturing the little things, you can expect lots of detail shots and candid photos.

This may not be the most important question to ask but it’s one of my favorites. You can really understand your photographer’s style and you can start imaging what your photos look like.

bride and groom with their noses touching



Some photographers only give a certain amount of photos which is OKAY. Hearing that a photographer will only give out 30, 100, or whatever, often makes brides and grooms back out. Trust me, quantity isn’t quality. Typically, photographers will let you choose which ones you want to keep. If you see any others you want, you can purchase them individually. This is my preferred way to shoot. Normally – although they’re all great images – my clients find that there’s a select number of photos they really love and really want. And those are the ones they get.

Photographers who give out all of their photos is OKAY too. But just be warned, sometimes those photos aren’t the best. To make it look like you got a lot of photos, they add in some that are a little blurry or you’re making a weird face in. Not all photographers do this but it’s something to think about.

Just remember, quantity isn’t quality.

wedding cake on top of an amber cake stand


Annnnd that’s it! If you’re looking for more questions to ask, I recommend reading Lin and Jirsa’s article. I hope this helps you find the right photographer. And if that right photographer is me, well, my contact form is down below. 😉

Let’s get in touch!


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