Is Eloping For You? What To Consider To Have Your Perfect Day

It finally happened: You found the one and are now ready to start a life together. But taking the leap isn't exactly easy. In fact, sometimes the perfect wedding feels more elusive than the perfect partner to share it with.

And weddings aren't just complicated — they're also costly. The average cost of a wedding in 2022 was around $30,000, according to a study by The Knot. That means that you may well end up starting off your marriage with a stress-induced ulcer in your stomach and a negative balance in your bank account.

It's little wonder, then, that more and more couples are making the decision to skip the traditional wedding entirely and go the elopement route. But how do you know if eloping is right for you? The fact is that eloping has a lot of advantages, and while it may not be for everyone, it's certainly an option worth exploring.

You can start married life on a firm financial footing

Financial stress is one of the leading causes of conflict in a marriage. According to Psychology Today, "avoidable debt" can be a significant source of marital strife. Young married couples often have enough work to do simply getting their bearings as a new family unit. Starting off your married life buried beneath a mountain of wedding debt is simply borrowing trouble.

However, the cost savings of an elopement can be a significant benefit for young couples. According to Forbes, couples who elope are often able to start their married lives off on a far firmer financial footing than those who opt for a traditional wedding with all the bells and whistles.

Because the average elopement can cost as little as a few hundred dollars, that means that you may have potentially thousands of dollars to put not on a wedding but toward clearing student loans debt or buying your first home.

Traditional weddings are super complicated

Planning a traditional wedding can make you feel something like Eisenhower planning the Normandy invasion. There are lots of moving parts, and it can be overwhelming and exhausting. "Planning a wedding and getting married is a life-changing event that brings joy, excitement, and fun, but it can also come with anxiety, stress, and fear," licensed professional counselor Michael Weinberg tells Banner Health.

From booking a venue to selecting caterers, florists, and musicians, the demands on your time and energy never seem to end. Then there are the questions of the date, the guest list, who will comprise the wedding party, and who will conduct the ceremony. And let's not even get started on the question of the wedding gown, the bridesmaids' dresses, and the tuxes for the groom and groomsmen.

It's a lot. A whole, whole lot. But when you elope, you can make the event as simple — or as elaborate — as you want. And that means that you won't have the stress of this big, massive event hanging over you. You can focus on what matters — your fiancé(e) and the life you are building together. You can come to the ceremony not as a harried, exhausted, and stressed-out bride but as someone ready and able to enjoy, appreciate, and revere this pivotal moment in both of your lives.

Eloping gives you flexibility

Elopements can provide much more flexibility than a traditional wedding, which are, by nature, unwieldy and heavy things. Even just getting everyone's schedule coordinated can feel like a game of Whac-A-Mole. And unless you're getting married at home, you'll have to settle on a venue that is convenient and accessible for all your intended guests. You can find yourself twisted in knots to make everything come together to the satisfaction of all. And that's a pretty easy way to lose sight of what you and your intended really want, or value, in your wedding.

But with an elopement, you have the flexibility to make your nuptials uniquely, wonderfully your own. You can opt for a quick civil ceremony at the local courthouse, or you can take your ceremony on the road. You can get married in a beautiful dress or your favorite pair of jeans. You can follow up with an elaborate dinner or share a slice at the pizza joint where you and your new spouse had your first date.

You might even choose to get married out of town, on the beach, or a mountaintop. Provided you get your paperwork in order, which often takes just a few days, the only real limit is your imagination. All you need is to do a bit of research on the laws in your home state and in the state where you plan to get married to ensure everything is all legal and legit.

Eloping helps you dodge family drama

Marriages bring together two families. There's no getting around that. In a lot of ways, that blending of families is a joyous thing. What can be wrong with more people in your life to love and be loved by, right? But that doesn't always mean it's going to be easy, especially when it comes to something as momentous as the wedding day.

From seating arrangements to determining who to invite to planning the menu and music, there's a lot of potential family drama involved in planning a wedding. Emotions always run high at weddings, as it's not hard for people to get their feelings hurt if they're excluded from the wedding party or don't get a prime table near the happy couple.

Eloping can help you avoid a lot of conflicts and a lot of stress. Your wedding day, after all, should be about you and your partner, not about anything or anyone else. Traditional weddings can quickly turn into an occasion for family and friends to make it all about them. But an elopement nips that bad behavior in the bud.

You get to focus on what matters

At the end of the day, all that really matters when you're getting married is that you're making a commitment and starting a life together. A wedding is about confirming and celebrating the bond the two of you share.

In other words, it's not about the dress. It's not about the cake. It's not about the flowers or the venue. Unfortunately, though, in our social media-obsessed culture, it can feel as if that's all that traditional weddings are about. Couples can feel enormous pressure to create idealized images for their social media feeds. Your wedding must be clickable, shareable, and viral-worthy, or you're letting your friends, family, and followers down.

Eloping lets you focus on your union without being distracted by unrealistic expectations, frivolous details, and petty squabbles. It can be respected for what it is — a solemn and significant moment in your lives — not a social (or social media) diversion for others.

You get to spend more on the honeymoon

One of the best things about eloping, perhaps, is that instead of spending all that cash on one big day, you can extend it into days and even weeks of wonder with your new spouse at your perfect honeymoon destination. You can tour Europe or the Far East, go on an African safari, take a world cruise, explore South American ruins, or spend a month in a secluded mountaintop cabin for the amount of money you're likely to spend on a traditional wedding.

Redirecting wedding funds toward a dream honeymoon doesn't just make for less wedding stress, but it also means starting off your marriage with a once-in-a-lifetime adventure. A spectacular honeymoon is the perfect way to bond with your new spouse, enjoying precious alone time while you discover the world's wonders together.

That's also great preparation for the start of your married life. When you do return home and settle in to your new routine as a married couple, you will not only have shared days or even weeks of something extraordinary, but you will have new insight into who you both are as individuals and as a couple. There are few better ways to connect with your partner than by experiencing something new together — and that's a connection that can serve you well as you learn to navigate married life.

You'll forge new traditions as a couple

When you're uniting two families, sometimes cherished traditions can be difficult to reconcile. One side of the family might want a religious service, for example, while another expects something more secular.

That can create a lot of turmoil. After all, traditions are traditions for a reason. And when it comes to religion in particular, those customs are pretty freighted with emotion. That means that conflict over traditional elements and sacred rituals in a wedding may lead to rifts within the family that last long after the wedding is over.

When you elope, though, you can free yourselves of those fetters of tradition. And that makes it easier to move past the outdated wedding traditions that just don't work for you or your future spouse. You might, for instance, incorporate elements from each family's faith into your ceremony in ways that may not be possible in a traditional church wedding. Or you may forgo those customs entirely and opt for new customs that better fit both of your personalities, values, and relationship.

Eloping can be super romantic

There are few things more romantic, or sexier, than a secret love affair. Why do you think it's been a favorite theme in books and dramas for hundreds of years? When you elope, you truly get to play the role of star-crossed, passion-swept lovers. You're preserving that thrilling sense of mystery that comes with a clandestine rendezvous. You're prolonging that exciting and precious time when you and your partner are in on a big secret that the rest of the world — except perhaps for a few of your closest loved ones — is blind to.

And that means that the truth of your relationship can be held as a precious secret for as long as you choose and to be revealed when, how, and to whom you choose. You may decide, for instance, to let close family and friends in on the secret. Or you might keep the big event entirely concealed, transforming what everyone thinks is just an ordinary out-of-town excursion into a magical secret wedding. It's yet another form of intimacy that you can share only with your partner — and that's pretty darn hot.

You get to tap out of the wedding competition with your besties

You might have the best ride-or-die crew on planet Earth, but that doesn't mean that the spirit of competition doesn't rear its ugly head from time to time. This is especially true when it comes to weddings. The green-eyed monster can strike even the most loyal bestie when it comes to weddings.

And suddenly, you can find yourself in a contest to see who can host the most beautiful, elegant, or luxurious wedding of them all. When you elope, you don't have to worry about what your friends have done or might do on their big day. You don't have to fear that you're going to "steal" your friend's clever idea or their design aesthetic.

You don't have to fret that your choices will be compared to another's and found wanting. You won't feel compelled to spend a king's ransom to avoid looking "cheap" in comparison to your crew. You can attend to your own priorities without having to wonder if or how they'll compare your choices to others. The day can be wholly, deliciously yours and your fiancé(e)'s. 

Start your married life with an adventure

"Adventure elopements" are a real thing, and they're increasingly the rage, according to Forbes. More and more couples are choosing an adventure elopement over the traditional wedding because adventure weddings better suit the couple's modern sensibilities, both as individuals and as partners.

You can even choose a complete adventure elopement package that comes with the honeymoon included. You might, for instance, decide to get hitched in a hot air balloon or while scuba or skydiving and then return to your honeymoon suite where a celebratory candlelit dinner awaits.

Adventure elopements, in fact, are a lot like destination weddings, which are a huge 2023 wedding trend — but without the stress of bringing a huge wedding party and massive guest list along with you! You have the benefits of the intimacy, as well as the cost savings, of an elopement, combined with the fun and excitement of a destination wedding. With an adventure elopement, you can truly start your marriage off with a thrill.

Eloping shouldn't be about anyone else's convenience

As significant as the advantages of an elopement are, that doesn't mean eloping is for everyone. If you make the decision to elope, you should be certain that it's for the right reasons because it's what you and your partner really, truly want.

On the other hand, if you're eloping just to make life easier for everyone else, that's the wrong reason. Don't elope just because you want to spare your friends and relatives the time and expense. They will attend because they want to, not because they have to. So don't feel as if you're not entitled to the wedding of your dreams.

Yes, your loved ones may incur some expenses. They may have to shuffle some things around to make time to attend. But that's their concern and should not be a factor in your decision-making. Likewise, you shouldn't elope only to avoid wedding-related conflict. Some family drama is inevitable, as we've seen, but if your heart is set on a traditional wedding, a traditional wedding it must be. After all, your wedding is the start of your new family, and it should be exactly as you and your significant other want it!

If you're a planner, a traditional wedding may be best for you

If you're someone who loves to plan and you're not intimidated by big events with lots of details to attend to, then a traditional wedding might be exactly the thing to make your heart sing. You may well thrive under the challenges of planning a perfect wedding, and consequently, planning a traditional wedding could increase your joy in the event, not take away from it. In fact, if you're a planner at heart, a quick and simple elopement could be disappointing and anticlimactic. It may even be more anxiety-producing to simply wing it.

At the same time, of course, it's good to bear in mind that not all elopements are created equal. While many are modest affairs that require little planning, some can be quite elaborate, especially if you're getting married out of state or bringing a few close friends and family along. So, if you're the type of person who relishes the fine details, you might want to think twice before opting for a quickie wedding. A traditional wedding or a more elaborate elopement may better satisfy.

Prepare for your loved ones' reactions

Chances are, your loved ones aren't going to be anything but thrilled by your marriage. But there is a chance that there could be some fallout with friends and family when they realize they've been excluded from your big day. 

Take time to reflect realistically on how your loved ones are likely to react. Then ask yourself if you're ready to deal with their responses, whatever they may be. Be honest with yourself as to whether you are prepared to deal with the worst-case scenario, as unlikely as that may be.

If you're unsure, but your heart still inclines toward elopement, then be proactive. Consider talking with your loved one ahead of time, perhaps even letting them know of your plans and explaining your reasons. The simple fact that you confided in them may be enough to defuse any hurt feelings. Remember, though, that at the end of the day, all that matters is what you and your love want for your wedding! You owe no apologies for choosing the path that's right for you and your new spouse.

Ask yourself if you'll miss the memories

Your wedding day is one of the most momentous days in your life. It's a rite of passage. Many of us dream of and plan for that day from the time we're children. Ask yourself if you'll look back on your elopement someday and wish you'd opted for the big, elaborate celebration after all. If you're thinking of eloping less because that's what you really want and more because the thought of a traditional wedding overwhelms you, then you should do a little more brainstorming.

If you want a traditional wedding or think you might regret not having one, look for workarounds to the obstacles standing in your way. If you're worried about the logistics, enlist your fiancé(e) and maid of honor to help with the planning and attend to some of the grunt work, such as mailing out invitations or scheduling meetings with the caterers and florists. If expense is a deterrent, get online and look for discounts on goods and services.

You can even negotiate some pretty sweet deals with service providers, especially if you agree to promote their businesses at your wedding, reception, or social media pages. Simply put, whether your heart yearns for a traditional wedding or an elopement, there's always a way to make it happen — and you and your intended deserve nothing less than your hearts' desire for the first day of the rest of your lives together!