Should We Plan to Elope Prior? The Pros and Cons

Throughout the pandemic, couples were eloping left and right. With venues closing down and guest lists becoming nonexistent, most found it easier to say “I do” in a safer, more casual setting. However, with COVID-19 becoming less of a concern, some couples are left wondering whether or not they should elope before their big day.

Whether for reasons such as immigration, insurance, nerves, or excitement, there are many things to consider if you’re interested in eloping. Luckily, we sat down with a handful of industry experts to gather their pros and cons on elopement. Here’s what they had to say.

Stories by Victoria

Pro: Less stress

If you’re worried about the stress of a larger wedding day, eloping might be for you. A smaller event lets you relax and soak in the day with your partner.

As Jen Sulak of Weirdo Weddings notes, “Fewer stressors and planning are involved when you elope. This is a wonderful way to scale down to quality time with your partner, an intimate meal, and reciting the vows alone or with a handful of friends/family.”

“Couples who want a more intimate moment often choose to elope to have that experience,” agrees Katie Mast of Rock Paper Coin. “They then feel more open to having a fun and stress-free celebration with their family and friends.”

Needless to say, eloping is the perfect choice for those who favor intimacy over a massive celebration!

Con: Unhappy family members

Though your wedding day should be all about you, avoiding different opinions can get tricky. Elopements are scaled-down occasions, so it’s likely that some friends and family won’t get an invitation. This can offend some, so you’ll need to consider how much their reactions matter.

“Some family and friends may not understand your decision to elope,” reminds Michael Vernon of Conch Concierge Wedding. “Remember, it’s your choice. Remind them that this is the best of both worlds — a meaningful, personal moment followed by a celebration.”

It’s your day, and you should be able to make the right choices for yourself and your partner. Just know you might have to let your loved ones know what will happen beforehand! 

Mandee Johnson Photography

Pro: Soaking it all in 

Many couples feel their wedding day goes by in the blink of an eye. And having to juggle 100+ people can make it challenging to get that 1:1 time with your partner. An elopement allows you to focus on this time without dealing with any additional chaos.

“Celebrating their union with family and friends is incredibly important to most couples,” states Delice Knights of Dhalia Events. “However, the day can go by quickly, leaving some feeling that they did not properly get the chance to honor their special moment. An elopement can help solve that. Couples will be able to truly honor the importance of their wedding and savor the intimacy gained through eloping beforehand.” 

If you plan to elope before hosting a larger reception, you can focus on having fun with your guests without feeling as though you didn’t celebrate adequately with your partner.

Con: Multiple anniversaries

Officially getting married on one day but celebrating your union on another can make things a bit confusing. Consider whether you’re okay having two separate days to remember for years to come.

“Another con to eloping is determining which day you celebrate your anniversary: is it the day you were officially married or the day you celebrated with your family and friends?” says Tonya Hoopes of Hoopes Events

Those who love to celebrate may be perfectly fine with two special days, but if you want one wedding day and one wedding day only, you might want to hold off on tying the knot.

Pro: Calming your nerves

Let’s be honest — weddings can feel nerve-wracking! Eloping may be best if you get the cold sweats from the idea of saying your vows in front of others or sharing an intimate moment on a larger stage.

“Eloping helps couples with their wedding jitters,” assures Monika Kreinberg of Furever Us. “If they are already married by the time they walk down the aisle, they will be much less nervous and enjoy the day more.”

Jamie Chang of Mango Muse Events seconds this, adding that “a benefit of eloping before your wedding is that you’ll get your nerves out of the way. You’ve already gotten married and had the ceremony, so there’s no need to be anxious or worried. The wedding is really more about the celebration, and that’s something most couples are excited about.”

So if you want to head into your wedding day with nothing but confidence, eloping may be just the choice for you!

Con: Less time with loved ones

Unhappy loved ones are certainly a con of eloping, but missing out on this time by opting for a smaller celebration also tops the list. If you elope, you probably won’t be celebrating with all of your friends and family, so you need to decide if it’s worth the sacrifice. 

“Of course, when couples plan to elope, they are inherently choosing to not have loved ones present during their special day,” reminds Julianne Smith of The Garter Girl. “Even if this is a firm and confident decision at the time it is made, there is always the possibility of regretting it later.” 

Sit down with your partner to discuss whether or not you’ll regret missing out on having a more extensive guest list present when you tie the knot.

Pro: Moving up your timeline

Buying a house, having kids, traveling — there are plenty of reasons couples would want to say “I do” soon after getting engaged. And if you’re counting down the days to any significant life events, eloping can be the best way to get a head start on married life.

As Alicia Igess Jones of Urban Tangles shares, “I believe couples plan to elope before the wedding day because they desire to start planning their happily ever after sooner than later.”

Think about where you and your partner want to be in the coming years. If something is more important to you than planning a big wedding, consider eloping to get a jumpstart on things!

Mandee Johnson Photography

Con: Budget changes

Elopements are generally cost-effective, but when you add in hair, makeup, and attire, you’re still looking at a significant chunk of change. And if you intent to host a larger reception later, you’ll need to apply these costs again — meaning you now have two special days to budget.

“Elopements, though typically small in nature, can still impact a couple’s overall spending due to duplicate expenses,” says Knights. “For example, many couples will hire a photographer, hair, and makeup artist, private chef, and some entertainment for celebrating post-wedding. These costs are then duplicated for their wedding day, which may make a couple become weary about the total spend towards celebrating their union.”

So if you’re hoping to save money, an elopement can be smart — so long as you aren’t following it up with another costly celebration!

Pro: Less to worry about

A lot goes into planning a large wedding celebration. But when you elope, you can enjoy the freedom of a much shorter to-do list — and a less stressful engagement.

“The best part of eloping before a wedding is the release of the details to remember for the actual marriage,” assures Diane Kolanović-Šolaja of Dee Kay Events. “You don’t have to worry if the paperwork was signed properly. You don’t have to worry if your mother-in-law has spilled wine on the marriage license at the reception. You don’t have to wake up in a sweat if you sent the marriage license to the country clerk on time. All of that is released from your awesome wedding!”

Choosing to elope before your big wedding day is an important decision you and your partner must decide on together. So take note of these pros and cons, envision your wedding day, and lean into the right decision for both of you. Regardless of what you decide, your celebration is sure to be unforgettable!

Meghan Ely is the owner of wedding PR and wedding marketing firm OFD Consulting. Ely is a sought-after speaker, adjunct professor in the field of public relations, and a self-professed royal wedding enthusiast.