If you’ve read a wedding blog that tried to tell you that eloping is for you if you’re not much of a planner, you want to avoid your crazy relatives, you want to save money + you don’t want to be stressed out, do NOT be convinced.
Both big weddings + elopements come with pros and inevitable cons. Regardless of how you choose to celebrate, it is a labor of love—a season that you only get to live into once. So just embrace it + choose the way you + your boo truly want to celebrate. Hopefully by the end of this post, you’ll know if eloping is for you. If so, pour yourself a big glass of wine + call your parents to let them know. You’ll be glad you went with your gut!
1. So you Think your Parents won’t be Cool with It
Elopements aren’t what they used to be. They’re not the on a whim, let’s head to Vegas + do this thing, sort of celebration that the name implies—
In fact, in recent years, elopements have almost been transformed into quite the opposite. What you’ve seen circulating the internet, has been given the name ‘luxury elopement’. That’s right, it’s smaller than a wedding, but with the same amount of photo-worthy details.
But from the wildly different ends of the elopement spectrum, lies the beauty of everything in between. meaning that the boundaries have already been pushed in a way that has normalized this sort of celebration. While your parents may not be the adventurous type; chances are they might get on board for this type of intimate celebration. After explaining how you want your day to look + feel, assuring them that an Elvis impersonator will not be involved; we’d bet that with the new definition of elopement, their reaction might surprise you.
Now more than ever, you can get creative with how you want your day to look/feel + we’d encourage you to do just that; make it YOU.
2. The Only Way to have an Intimate Celebration is to Elope
Just like with a larger scale wedding, an elopement involves many decisions based on the things that you value. There is beauty in celebrating with everybody, celebrating with a select few or celebrating with just the two of ya. If you value those intimate interactions, definitely make decisions that reflect that + know that you can do so no matter the size of your celebration. Below are some ideas on how to create intentionality with your boo + your loved ones in all circumstances:
- Get up a few hours before any of your vendors arrive.
You can totally have time for just the two of you throughout the day, but it can totally feel forced knowing that you have a group of people waiting for you. So get up, sneak away + spend the morning sharing a cup of coffee, getting excited for the big day ahead.
- Exchange love letters with each other.
Privately sharing personal vows with each other can be a sweet way to set the tone for the day ahead. Go for a walk or a drive + share what you wrote with each other.
- Get an Airbnb for the weekend of your wedding where your closest people can come for dinner.
It’s true that it can be hard to get that one-on-one time with your loved ones on your big day, so find ways to be intentional in the days leading up. Get a few friends to volunteer to collaborate on cooking meals the two nights before so guests from near and far can stop in + share in some good food + laughter.
- Delegate tasks to guests based on their giftings.
Obviously, we got into this industry for a reason, but we know that we aren’t the only ones that feel loved when asked to help. Because of this we love helping our clients think through a list of people that would love to have a role + the things that they are good at. Maybe your cousins would make perfect ushers? Or maybe your hilarious friend would make the perfect emcee? Ask!
- Highlight the talents of those closest to you.
So your fiancé’s best friend from childhood plays guitar? Ask him to be a part of the ceremony in this way. And you have a super talent friend that just started home brewing? Support his new interest + have him brew the kegs for the party. And your bestie just graduated with a degree in graphic design? Hire her to design your wedding invitations. It’s so special to be able to look around at the details + see elements of the people celebrating with you.
3. If I Elope, My Family Can’t Be Included
One of the most beautiful elements of a wedding day, hands down, is the way your most beloved people rally around you both in the preparation + on the day. The biggest misconception with elopements is that you can’t have this or that you’ll miss out on these sweet moments, but we are here to tell you that you CAN have this type of intentionality either way.
Option 1: Invite them to your Elopement
Again, elopements no longer mean running away in secret + telling your fam later. (Totally cool if you want that too.) That being said, you can have your immediate family at your ceremony, you can say private vows + have a small reception with immediate family, you can have your dad officiate, and/or have a mother-son dance. The thing is, you are already thinking outside of the box, so take the reigns + sort through all of the traditions, deciding which ones you actually want to incorporate + which ones you wouldn’t be sad to see go.
Option 2: Involve them in the Planning Process
If you are wanting to just run away as a couple, you can still have a lot of intentional time with family + friends. Here are a few things we have seen couples do to incorporate their family along the way :
- Go dress shopping with your besties
- Have a shower and/or bachelorette/bachelor party
- Have a reception when you get back or if you elope locally, have a honeymoon send off party
- Take a trip after your honeymoon to visit family members
- Think about the ways your closest people feel loved + let them love you in that way (ex: Your dad loves planning trips; so let him print out all of the things to do when on your honeymoon in New York. Or maybe, your sister loves to host; so let her host your reception party.)
- Send out ‘we eloped’ announcements. For one, your mom will thank you + your extended family will feel included. And two, smaller guest count means fewer gifts. SO it’s a win-win— people will feel included and you can slip your registry on there and cross your fingers. You’re welcome.
4. Elopements are Cheaper
Traditions are starting to go out the window, which we are celebrating! The one wedding custom that all engaged couples wish was still around, is that the bride’s family pays for the wedding. But the harsh reality is that most of our clients pay for their celebrations on their own. This is definitely something to take into consideration, but if you’re just eloping just to save money, DON’T. Elopement or wedding, you’re going to have a budget + you’re going to find yourself at the top of it really quickly if you don’t do your research and set realistic expectations. It is because of this instinctive ability to live outside of our means that no matter your budget, you are going to feel like it isn’t enough.
You need to hear that a $10,000 budget for a big wedding will not get you the wall-to-wall floral installation you pinned or the videographer you’ve been messaging. The florals alone are looking at $5000. + a videographer is at least the cost of a photographer, but sometimes more. You’re already over budget.
But you also need to hear that there is beauty when you live within your means. You become so dang proud of the day that you worked hard for + created. Be proud of what you are able to do, set goals to save, create a budget that won’t put you in debt + don’t let society’s standards make you feel bad about what you were able to do. Honestly, neither one of us paid for videography + we laugh that it was probably for the best because it’s probably better as the memory in our heads.
Last thing to note about the cost of a wedding. While $40,000 is the average cost of a wedding, it certainly doesn’t mean that you can’t do it for less. To be honest, none of our college friends have spent this much on their big days + their weddings live on as some of the most beautiful, fun celebrations! That said, if you’re working with a smaller budget, you’ll definitely have to do some things yourself or recruit your friends! Maybe you don’t want to compromise on flowers, but don’t really care about the music? That’s fine! This will just mean that you’ll allocate a higher percentage of your budget to hiring your dream florist + maybe you ask a friend to queue your Spotify playlist!
We’ve seen all the tricks in the book and we know from experience, your day will still come together beautifully. Don’t focus on the things you can’t have, focus on the fact that at the end of the planning, you will have planned your favorite party, where your people rallied around you to make it happen + danced the night away with you. We promise you’ll be so proud of what you pulled off!
Elopement Budgeting Pro-Tips:
- Hire a Planner
Planners know all the tips + tricks— from the permits to get, when to apply for your marriage license, making travel arrangements + ways to make your budget go further. Hiring a planner will make your life easier + you’ll make the money back in all of the money saving tips they’ve learned from experience.
- Opt for a weekday
Weekends are coveted days for wedding professionals. Because you aren’t asking for guests to take time off work, opt for the weekday! You’ll find that vendors are willing to create custom packages at discounted rates because they are looking to fill their schedule. What else do they have going on, on a Tuesday, you know?
- Look for photographer/planner travel schedules
You’ll save a heck of a lot of money if you choose a location where your favorite adventure photographer will already be. This could save you on airfare, rental car + 2 nights of accommodation.
- Find vendors local to the area
Even Eloping in Mount Rainier, means that your vendors will most likely be coming from Portland or Seattle. That $.52/mile, roundtrip can really add up. The closer the better.
- Look for Vendors with Elopement Packages
Because the time commitment of an elopement is typically less involved, a lot of vendors have specific packages for elopements. Keep an eye out for these!
- Think creatively
Professional officiants can run $600, elopement hair and make-up can run $500, you get the picture. Spendy. Think creatively to cut costs— bring along that ultra-talented bestie that dabbles in flowers + make-up. She’ll double as a witness, love that she got to be a part and save you a pretty penny.
5. Less Planning Goes Into An Elopement
Let’s start by saying that if this were true, there wouldn’t be people like us who plan elopements for a living. Elopements used to mean less planning, but now that the wedding industry has ‘luxury elopements’ circulating on the internet, you should know that there is almost more planning involved.
I mean think about it, you’re basically planning a small wedding, but in another country or city, where you need to make additional travel arrangements, pack or ship all decor. + how the heck are you going to get flowers there? + do I get a marriage certificate in Italy? You get the picture. Unless you’re hitting the courthouse, don’t just assume that there will be less planning involved. Again, near or far, all celebrations are a labor of love.
6. There’ll Be Less Family Drama
Less people in attendance means less family drama, right? Call us the bearers of bad news, but as soon as that ring is on your finger, all kinds come out of the woodwork to let you know what they think you should do. Yes, even the gal behind you in the grocery store will find a way to tell you about her wedding + why what she did was the best.
We’ve had enough time in the industry to tell ya, that when people have opinions, it often has more to do with the insecurities they are projecting on you rather than trying to understand how you want the day to look/feel. This is why individual details get heated— food truck, the dress you choose + big wedding or small. The opinions on these things, more often from parental figures, typically have to do with their concern of how they will look to their friends and family.
All this to say, this has more opportunities to come up when you choose to go the elopement route. After all, they’ve been dreaming about seeing you walk down the staircase you did before school dances + landscaping the backyard so that your day was perfect. Knowing this will be helpful to extend grace when a moment of tension arises + when deciding to elope.
In the end, you’re crazy relatives will still be crazy + give you grief. While Aunt Bonnie won’t be at the photographer’s hip continuously asking for a picture with you all evening, she will be bitter that she wasn’t invited (+ she WILL bring that up at every Thanksgiving for the rest of time). Go with your gut, you can’t please everybody no matter how hard you try.
7. I’ll Be Less Stressed
Because of all 6 reasons above, we think that you’ve gathered that stress is inevitable. Along with work + school + life + potentially moving, anything additional in this season will feel a bit stressful. I mean, it should. You’re only two people, planning something that you’ve never planned before and will never plan again. That’s a lot.
Regardless of your situation, and whether or not you celebrate with everyone or just as a couple, just live into the moment. Embrace the chaos + late nights, hold each other extra close + remember that this season of anticipation is a short one and you have the rest of your life to reminisce about your favorite party.
And we’ll say it again— hire a planner, they’ll help you sleep at night.
8. We are Adventurous, So We Should Elope
Your celebration should be such a representation of your love + all that you’ve built together. So if you both are adventurous, heck yeah your day should reflect just that! Eloping doesn’t automatically mean that you’ll have a day full of adventure + ample time for these characteristic moments. Without intentional planning, we’ve seen couples go from one photo-op to the next hoping for the trendiest photos. Don’t get us wrong, this can result in some pretty rad shots BUT just like a big wedding, it can go by in a blink of an eye. So regardless of a big wedding or an elopement, you have to fight for the time to make memories you’ll remember years from now.
Here are a few ways that you can incorporate those adventurous moments that brought you together, in both an elopement, as well as in a wedding:
If you choose to elope, make time for the things that you like to do as a couple.
- Make breakfast together
- Play guitar around a fire
- Go on an early morning kayak
- Make coffee on a mountain top
- Do whatever has consistently brought created unity between you in your relationship
If you choose the big wedding, work an experienced coordinator that will build a timeline that allows time for you + your soon-to-be spouse to incorporate significant details of your relationship in your celebration.
- Have a rehearsal dinner picnic at the top of your favorite hike or before with the bridal party before the rehearsal dinner
- Get married at a campground so everyone can stay in the same place. Heck, flip pancakes on the morning of your wedding, for your guests that spend the night.
- Have an early morning kayak for the bridal party or guests that want to join
You are kicking off the best adventure yet, so do so in the best way you know how. You won’t regret personalizing every detail— this should be your favorite party ever!
9. I Don’t Want Limitations Based on Tradition
As planners, before we even start the planning process, we make it a priority to get to know our clients— what they like, monumental memories in their relationship, how they decorate their house, etc. We also like to hear about their wedding experiences; what they’ve seen, what they’ve liked, disliked, etc. The better we know you, the better we can advocate for you.
There are a lot of traditions + customs that take place at weddings. Honestly, most of them have weird, dark origins, but we’ll leave that up to you to look into. Small or big wedding, it is important that as a couple you decide which traditions are for you! Don’t think that because you have chosen to go a more untraditional route in eloping that the expectations of these customs won’t follow you. Your mom will still probably ask to throw you a shower + assume that you want to wear her wedding dress.
We live for the non traditional weddings that so genuinely encapsulate our couples, so feel empowered to choose the aspects you want to keep + the ones that you want to exclude.
Bye, bye garter toss, amiright?!
10. If We Want Epic Photos, We Should Elope
Whatever you do, don’t plan your day around the photos. The moments that you share will be captured + those will be the sweetest thing to be able to look back on. Now about those epic photos you’ve seen on Pinterest. We hate to break it to you, but 9/10 of those are from styled shoots. If you’re unfamiliar, these are photoshoots that are staged by wedding professionals as a way to get creative + market ourselves. They are beautiful for a few reasons, but mostly for the vendors involved because they facilitate a space to connect with other vendors and dream BIG.
We are aware of the flip-side of this beautiful coin— they have also set a certain unattainable standard for all things wedding. Photography, design + styling, stationary, etc. We’ve created these perfect dreamy set-ups + those “epic photos” for our creative enjoyment, but these are not intended to mimic the happenings of a wedding day. Even if you elope, you simply don’t have 5 hours straight to shuffle from one beautiful set-up to the next + that is okay!
All of this to say, get married in whatever way + you’ll have epic photos because you flippin’ GOT MARRIED. Definitely communicate with your photographer that you hope to capture some of those “epic” types of shots so you take advantage of the photo time you do have. Talking this through will allow your photographer to come prepared with ideas of how to make this happen. After all, a lot goes into location scouting + lighting + creating a timeline where the guests won’t notice that you’re gone.
If you want those epic photos, we totally get it! This might take some creative thinking! Maybe this means that you sneak away for photos at sun down + find other ways to get those crazy cool photos.
We’ve seen a few fun ways to make this happen:
- A Morning After Session
Wake-up the morning after your wedding + recreate your wedding looks in a much more of a relaxed sort of way. Head out to the mountains + get those shots! This way, you won’t be concerned about getting your dress dirty before your ceremony. Win-Win.
- A One Year Anniversary Session
Toss on those wedding looks for your anniversary—who says you only can wear your dress once? This is such a fun way to celebrate the growth + change + memories + hardships you’ve experienced in your first year of marriage and welcome in year 2!
- Message a Planner to See if They Need Models for any Upcoming Styled Shoots
We are always in need of couples that are comfortable in front of the camera! So why not have your dream wedding or elopement without the stress of capturing “epic” photos + play around with these sort of shots during an over-the-top styled shoot.
All this to Say
If you just started the wedding process, you might find yourself reconsidering your original plan. I mean, there is a reason that you chose to read this.
Sit with this potential change. Talk it out. Weigh all of your options + make a decision from a place of excitement for what it will be like. Do NOT make a decision with the desire to avoid hypothetical stress.
If you are way into the process, do NOT make any rash decisions. Breathe in a paper bag + remind yourself that you were only googling reasons to elope because you are overwhelmed. You chose the big wedding + it is normal to have times of feeling like the planning is all too much. Reach out to your friends + family, ask for help + run full speed ahead toward the plan you’ve been developing for months.
+ in either case, give us a call.
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