Should you elope? - Sable Photo Co.

Should you elope? I’m going to start out by saying that I 100% love elopements. I’m so passionate about them that I’ve been known to get on a spiel about my love for elopements at dinner with friends or family that usually ends with someone in the group saying, “Well dang. I should elope.”

And it’s true. A lot more people would be happier with their wedding day experience if they would jump onto the less traveled elopement path. But still, elopements aren’t for everyone, and sometimes it can be hard to decide if eloping is really the right choice. After all, it’s easiest to go on the well-traveled route (or at least it is at first…more on that later!). So, if you find yourself wondering, or at the very least, curious if you should elope, then keep on reading, and I’ll help you sort through it all!

Elopement at Lake Springfield in Springfield, Missouri.

What’s an elopement?

First, it’s important to know what I mean when I say elopement. I define an elopement as a marriage ceremony that only includes a very intimate group of less than 25 people. It may or may not be adventurous. It may or may not be secretive. But it will be intentional and beautiful and overall awesome. You can here more about what an elopement is here.

What’s an intimate wedding?

There’s a more middle of the road option called an Intimate Wedding. For me, an intimate wedding is a wedding which includes between 25 and 50 people. It’s a little more of a party than an elopement, but it’s definitely much more relaxed and intimate than a traditional wedding.

What’s a traditional wedding?

Third, a traditional wedding includes more than 50 guests (120 on average), usually includes a bridal party, is generally made up of a full ceremony and reception following. I’m guessing that 99% if not 100% of the weddings you’ve been to would fall under this category.

Missouri elopement at Christmas tree farm.
Hannah & Brandon at a Christmas tree farm before their December ceremony.

You should elope if you think…

  • You’re an introvert. Even if you’re not shy but tend to get worn out by small talk, an elopement is going to feel a lot more enjoyable for you than a full wedding. 
  • Spending quality time with your fiancé on your wedding day is important.
  • A ceremony is best when it’s intimate.
  • The focus of the day should be on the person you’re marrying, not your guests.
  • Drama stresses you out.
  • You value authenticity over production.
  • Excess waste bothers you.
  • “Weddings aren’t for the couple getting married” is a frustrating phrase.
  • Avoiding stress is important to you.
  • You have potential to feel anxious on your wedding day.
  • A wedding day should feel more laid-back.
  • The politics of putting together a guest list sounds stressful.
  • Experiences matter more than things.
  • Being unique is a good thing.
  • Putting on rhinestones and a large ballgown doesn’t sound pleasant.
  • Feeling fully present on your wedding day is a priority.
  • Money should be spent on the things you’ll remember.
  • An elopement just sounds really fun.
Getting ready for a small wedding at Hotel Vandivort in Springfield, Missouri.
Kat getting ready with her daughters before her intimate Missouri wedding at Hotel Vandivort in Springfield, MO.

You should have an intimate wedding if you think…

  • An elopement sounds great, but you want a few more people there.
  • A traditional wedding sounds perfect, but want something more laid-back.
Wedding at University Heights Baptist Church in Springfield, Missouri.
Kim and Wyatt immediately following their traditional wedding at University Heights Baptist Church in Springfield, MO.

You should have a traditional wedding if you think…

  • Crowds make you feel at home.
  • Hopping on a party bus is your idea of a good time.
  • Big events are the best events.
  • Someone calling your wedding a “party” is a compliment.
  • Small talk isn’t the worst.
  • Sharing your vows in front of a room full of people doesn’t sound stressful.
  • “Weddings aren’t for the couple getting married,” makes sense.
  • You might be marrying into the royal family of England. (And even then I like to think that Harry and Meghan had a secret ceremony that the press never got a hold of before their big, crazy, official one).
Missouri forest elopement.
Lacey & Andrew following their elopement in a small chapel in the forest.

Things that don’t define whether or not you should elope…

  • Wanting a full-day experience. Often couples think that eloping means they only get a 3 or 4 hour wedding experience, but that’s not true. Just because you’re choosing to go intimate does NOT mean that your day is any less significant or should include any less fun. Why not celebrate by hiring a professional chef to make dinner for the two of you at a nice hotel, or heading to your grandparents to play yard games and have a late-night bonfire with those closest to you? 
  • Wanting to spend time with your family on your wedding day. This one’s funny to me. I’m extremely close to my family, so I totally understand people’s hesitation to elope if they think it means they won’t see them. But guess what? Your family can totally come to your elopement if you want them there, and better yet, you’ll get to spend even more quality time with them since you won’t be attending to a room full of acquaintances.
  • You’re afraid of being judged. Unfortunately, people will judge you even if you go the traditional route. Did you do a foot washing ceremony? Someone will think it’s weird. Did you just do hors d’oeuvres? Someone will say it’s cheap. Did you decide to do a plated meal? Someone will think it’s pretentious. No matter what, people are probably going to judge the way you get married. It’s a bummer, but there’s no use trying to please people when their opinions don’t even matter. Just go with your gut–it’s YOUR day.

In the end, the most important way to know if you should elope is that is simply feels right for you as a couple. You deserve a day that’s yours.

If you want more elopement and intimate wedding planning tips, make sure to head to my Pinterest page where I share tips from not only myself but other elopement photographers.

Looking for a photographer to lead you through the elopement process and capture your day in a way that’s honest, intimate, and beautiful? Well, we’re a match made in heaven.