On the fence about your reasons to elope…or not? Here’s a list of why to elope—so see if it’s really for you!
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Is eloping for everyone? Of course not—and I love photographing huge, 500-person Hindu weddings just as much as I love capturing intimate weddings and elopements. Scroll below the list to see a few reasons why eloping may not be for you, too. But for now, here’s my list of 25 darn good reasons to elope!
Reasons to Elope
1. You don’t want an audience, and prefer being surrounded by nature vs. staring eyes
2. You want an adventure, and know that your sister-in-law’s kids won’t want to hike 8 miles to that epic spot
3. You want your day to be about each other, and not about making sure everyone else has a good time
4. You hate timelines and schedules. Elopements are all about the freedom to do what you want, where you want, when you want, and how you want to!
5. You want to combine your wedding and your honeymoon, and if your dad is staying in the room next door, well…
6. Eloping is the “green” choice, since the average wedding creates 400 pounds of waste and 65 tons of CO2. Considering there are 2.5 million weddings each year, that’s about 1 billion pounds of trash per year (2016 study).
7. Eloping is much more affordable. You can get married at City Hall, online, at a local park, at a national park like Yosemite, or even on a tropical island—all for under $1000 or even $500!
8. An elopement is less stressful to plan, and can be done in a matter of weeks instead of months/years
9. Even if you have a few guests at your elopement, you’ll get more time the people who absolutely matter most to you—your significant other
10. In some states, you can self-solemnize—that is, you don’t even need to have an officiant in order to be legally married! Now THAT is privacy
11. By eloping, you can get married in spots that would never allow a full-on wedding. Think saying your vows underwater, on a private island, in a helicopter, on a mountaintop, on a boat, or just about anything else!
12. There’s no need to “act” any certain way for anyone. It’s just you and your small team
13. You don’t have to worry about people getting drunk, setting up and cleaning up, buying favors, arranging transportation, fights, or planning out a huge celebration—it’s less of a production
14. There’s less to get lost because there are fewer accessories. I have many stories of lost possessions right before the wedding that you probably don’t want to hear…
15. You’ll be spending on an experience instead of on things, venues, bad food, or treats you won’t have time to enjoy
16. It’s a time saver when you can skip the table seating, the invites, the centerpieces, and everything else that takes hours and hours of time
17. You can be as nontraditional or traditional as you like—and no one will be there to criticize
18. Instead of worrying about who you can and can’t invite, you can skip this step entirely!
19. You can have that destination wedding you’ve always dreamed of—there are no limitations!
19. You can always elope now and have a potluck, party, or full-blown reception later. Eloping now doesn’t mean you can’t do something more traditional later.
20. Forget making frienemies with bridesmaids, bridesmen, groomsladies, groomsmen, maids of honor, co-maids of honor, yadda yadda yadda. No one will be in your wedding, so you can skip the stress
21. It’s your secret, and you just don’t want anyone to know you’re getting married. It’s the true 20th century definition of eloping. You’ve always thought it’s kind of romantic to marry in secret
22. You can get away with vows that you miiiight not say in front of a huge crowd
23. If you want a yellow dress, great. If you both want to wear jeans, awesome. Wear whatever you want and forego what’s expected—or wear the dresses of your dreams!
24. Splurge on what you want, whether that’s a private plane ride, flying your photographer out to an amazing location, spending extra on an amazing floral display, or whatever you can dream of
25. Spend all day with the person or people you love most (instead of spending most of your day forgetting to eat, kissing great aunts you don’t remember, and trying to find your earrings)
Is Eloping the Right Fit for Everyone?
There are so many reasons to elope, though it’s certainly not for everyone. As a wedding photographer who just doesn’t love an audience, I’m a huge fan. And you know what? One of these reasons to elope—or just the mere fact that it feels right to YOU—is reason enough.
In the past few years, tons of wedding photographers have changed to shooting elopements and adventure elopements. For me, I actually started my wedding photography career as an elopement photographer—in the Caribbean, of all places! So planning, scouting, and photographing destination elopements are not new to me (I’ve literally been photographing them for 8 years!). Another fun fact: My own parents pretty much eloped, having just 2 friends as their legal witnesses.
So what if none of these reasons to elope resonates with you? Well, don’t elope just because others are.
Reasons NOT to elope
You may not want to elope if:
-You’ve always dreamed of a huge ceremony uniting both sides of the family
-You want all your friends gathered around you as you get ready and say your vows
-Those dance photos are the bomb diggity, and you want to PARTY
-You want to save money. Surprisingly, elopements are not always cheaper (though obviously they can be). Quality photography and planning takes just as much work and time, so it’s not always a way to save. At the end of the day, you’ll have your marriage and your photos—and perhaps a video or preserved dress & bouquet. You don’t want to skimp on your memories!
-Everyone else is doing it, but you’ve just never really wanted to elope on a mountain. You want to say your vows in your favorite church with your grandparents beside you
Yes, there are many pros and cons of eloping. And just because John and Matthew eloped doesn’t mean Brett and Kent should, too! You have to do what is right to you, so you may want to make your own list of reasons to elope for you. You and your partner can each do this, and then compare notes.
Where to elope? Check out this article for my top recommendations of places to elope in the USA.
Interested in having me photograph your own elopement somewhere in the world? Contact me right here.
Elopement definitions used to be running away with your SO and not telling anyone. In the ‘20s, it now can mean that, but more typically means just the couple, or just the couple and a few friends/family members (typically under 10), with everyone or just a few knowing.
So, what are YOUR reasons to elope? Do you wish you could do it all over again and elope—or not? Let me know in the comments below what your thoughts are!
Kathryn Cooper Weddings | Hiking elopement photographer | Yosemite elopement photographer | Destination elopement photography