Are More Couples Eloping Instead of Planning Big Weddings? The Experts Weigh In
There's no denying that elopements have become increasingly more popular in the last several years.
While the concept of eloping used to get a bad rap—it generally meant getting married without the knowledge or approval of family members or friends—it's changed drastically in recent decades. In fact, the concept is now relatively revered, and more and more couples are deciding to elope for personal or practical reasons.
Candice Dowling Coppola, owner and creative director at Jubilee Event, notes that her company has seen a slight trend towards eloping in recent years, but notes that she's also seen an increase in smaller, more intimate wedding, too. "Many couples with limited wedding budgets are considering eloping not only as a way to save money, but to put money they would otherwise spend on their wedding toward a long-term investment, like their first home," she explains. "Couples that do elope tend to have a party after their elopement, which can be more casual and less expensive."
Daniela VillaRamos, wedding officiant and owner of Once Upon a Vow, has also seen this increase, but feels that much of it is due to the fact that more and more couples are feeling less compelled to follow tradition and more inclined to focus on what matters most to them. "Nowadays, couples are choosing a low-key elopement celebration with either a small group of loved ones or just the two of them, prioritizing having fun and spending their dollars intentionally," she says.
This trend towards elopement is wonderful for the couple, as it gives them the freedom and empowerment to get married their way instead of within the confines of society, religion, and familial tradition. "As we all know, planning a traditional wedding comes with it's well-known stressors that couples are choosing to opt out of—gone are the days where newly-engaged couples feel pressured to have someone else's idea of what their wedding should be or what etiquette dictates, especially since the average cost of weddings grows every single year," says VillaRamos. "Couples still want something celebratory and meaningful, but are choosing to create their own adventure with a heartfelt focus on what they love to do with the person or people they love most."
Another obvious benefit is that it allows couples to save money—something that few couples are able to do when planning a traditional wedding. "Everyone's situation is different, and for the couple who would otherwise have obligations to invite a large group of guests to their wedding, eloping may be a great alternative to save money," says Coppola. "On average, our clients spend $700+ per guest to start on their wedding, but when you elope and only have a few witnesses, you're able to really save money!"
While planning a large wedding can be fun and exciting, in many ways, putting on such a large event can also be incredibly stressful. "Coordinating all of the details including venue, food, cake, flowers, photographer, videographer, band or DJ, invitations, thank-you cards, and so much more can start to feel more like a list of chores than an exciting celebration," warns Maryanne Parker, founder of Manor of Manners.
In addition to the fact that having an elopement usually means having to deal with fewer "to dos," elopements also tend to involve fewer family dynamics and, therefore, complications. "Eloping may be a good alternative if you've got a lot of stressful family dynamics at play—and, while some people may be disappointed they couldn't be there, you and your fiancé may feel more at ease knowing your wedding was drama- and stress-free," says Coppola.
While there are many pluses to eloping, we would be remiss to ignore that choosing to elope does come with a few downsides, some of which you might mind and others you might not give a second thought towards. Firstly, as VillaRamos explains, many couples aren't sure how to have a conversation about eloping with their family or friends since there are lots of negative feelings connected to the word, elopement, as it once meant to secretly run off and get married. "Because of this, some couples choose to tell their families afterwards," she says. "Every family dynamic is different so it's important to consider how to communicate with these connections."
Another major downside to eloping, that you might care more about as the years go on, is not having all the people you truly love there—especially if that list is long. "You may end up disappointing some people and sometimes, that can be really difficult to navigate through," says Coppola. Because your wedding is not just a milestone in your own life, but a moment in your families personal history, she always recommends discussing your idea to elope with loved ones and get their feedback. "They may express disappointment, but also support, knowing that if this is what you truly want for your wedding day, they'll honor your decision," she adds.