Should you Elope or Have a Traditional Wedding

Deciding between having a traditional wedding or eloping is a lot to think about. Getting married is kind of a big deal and how you choose to celebrate it should be completely your decision! Over the last few years, elopements have grown to be a popular way to get married rather than having a traditional wedding. There are some pretty big differences between the two. So, should you elope or have a traditional wedding?!

In order to help guide you in making that decision, I wanted to provide some clarity on both options. Keep in mind that this is YOUR wedding! You should be able to celebrate this moment however YOU choose.


One of the biggest differences between having a wedding and eloping is the people. Typically when you elope it’s just you and your fiancé and two witnesses, which could be your photographer and videographer. Occasionally there will be a few other people in attendance as well like a few friends and/or immediate family members. 

A wedding, based on my experience, has between 100-300 people in attendance. This number depends on your guest list, budget, venue, etc. Pretty much everything you do on your wedding day from the ceremony down to the last dance at your reception, is going to be enjoyed by a whole lot of people. 

Privacy vs Public

When having a wedding, all aspects of your day will typically be public and seen by all of your guests. Your sacred vows, your first dance, parent dances, and your very first bite of cake as a married couple will be witnesses and celebrated by everyone in attendance! If you don’t love being the center of attention, all of these formalities might be a bit overwhelming for you. However, if you want to be surrounded by an immense amount of love on your wedding day, having a larger celebration could be the way to go. Although, you may not be spending your whole day together as greeting and chatting with guests can take time away from one another.

Some couples may want to opt for something a little more private. Vows shared between two people can be extremely special when shared with each other in a private setting. This gives you the opportunity to make promises and have uncensored vows to the love of your life without worrying about anyone else. Your first kiss as a married couple will probably only be seen by your photographer or any witnesses you have invited. It’s a time when the love between you and your partner is the sole focus of your day. Eloping offers couples to spend the whole day together!

First kiss during a wedding ceremony at the Inn at Taughannock in Ithaca, NY


Elopements offer so much flexibility! Because there are little to no guests, it allows for much more time for adventure and spontaneity. The only real timeline you’ll have to stick to is going to depend on your photographer and the sun!

Weddings will have much more of a structure and strict timeline. Your venue probably won’t be as relaxed when it comes to timing and the opportunity for a little adventure on your wedding day won’t really exist.


The cost of a wedding or elopement alone can be a deciding factor in how you celebrate the beginning of your marriage. In general, elopements are going to cost a significant amount less than a wedding. Because of the amount of guests you’ll need to feed and the cost of the venue itself, weddings tend to be on the more expensive side. 

Think about what matters to you when it comes to your finances. Would you rather have a bigger celebration with a higher budget to enjoy your wedding day with family and friends? Or, would you rather go on an adventure with your partner and maybe save the money you would have spent on a wedding to put a downpayment on a house or achieve one of your other goals as a couple? LOTS to think about here. Make sure you and your fiance are on the same page when it comes to budget and what you are allotting for each vendor and expense. 


If you decide to elope you will probably upset people. BUT, let me say this loud and clear, again, … This is YOUR day and YOU should choose how you want to celebrate your wedding. Yes, your parents might get upset that they won’t get to see their baby marry their best friend. But you know what, they’ll get over it! You must be comfortable with your parents not being in attendance when eloping. If you really want them there, you can still invite them to your elopement or you can have a more traditional wedding where more people can be present. 

Pros & Cons of Eloping

Personal and intimate experience with your partner
-Can be adventurous and spontaneous
-Less stress
-Shorter planning period

-May miss out on formalities like parent dances, speeches, etc.
-Family might get upset
-Not a lot of guests, if any at all

Pros & Cons of a Larger Wedding

-Lots of family and friends in attendance to make memories with
-Traditional wedding formalities will take place
-Might feel more official than en elopement

-Can be expensive
-Lots of planning time needed
-Planning can be stressful
-Lots of decisions to make and details to consider

In conclusion

At the end of the day, knowing whether you should elope or have a traditional wedding is up to you. Just make sure you are being true to yourselves. There’s no right or wrong way to get married as long as you and your partner are happy, that’s all that matters. If you do decide to elope, having a conversation with your loved ones about your decision may not be a bad idea. This can alleviate any unpleasant feelings anyone might be feeling about the situation. If your family loves you, they’ll want you to do whatever makes you happy! 

If you and your fiance want different things, figure out a way to compromise! There is nothing wrong with eloping to make your marriage official and then having a reception at a later date to celebrate with more people. There are tons of options to make both parties happy!

Should you Elope or Have a Traditional Wedding? That is an excellent question. This bride twirling her wedding dress while holding hands with her groom at Glimmerglass State Park in Cooperstown, NY in the Fall on their elopement day.

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