Though many little girls (and some little boys!) dream of their wedding days—and what the groom, dress, cake, and flowers will look like—others may not have traditional bridal aspirations. If the thought of planning for a year and spending the average $26,000 for your wedding doesn’t appeal to you, then maybe you and your future spouse should consider elopement. Here are seven questions for you and your partner to think about before heading down to the courthouse or packing your bags for Tahiti.
1. How much money are you willing to spend on your wedding?
It’s no secret that weddings are pricey. With the average total wedding cost continually on the rise, an elopement is a great money-saving alternative for brides and grooms. Choosing an elopement will typically mean saving on food, drinks, DJs, and the venue rental, which can add up to thousands of dollars. If all you want to do at the end of the day is get married without any fuss, eloping might be the best choice for you.
2. Where do you want to get married?
Weddings can not only get expensive for brides, grooms, and their families, but it can also get costly for those who want to attend your wedding, especially if it’s out of town. This may make you feel some pressure to have the wedding where the majority of the guests live, which can feel a little limiting. If you have always envisioned getting married on Miami Beach, on top of a glacier in Alaska, or underneath the Eiffel Tower, then eloping could be the way to go. All you need for an elopement is an officiant, a witness, and of course, someone to take pictures (especially if it’s on top of a glacier).
3. How many people do you want to invite?
If getting married in front of a large crowd of people makes you nervous, or if you want your ceremony to be more intimate, then eloping quickly solves both issues. Many couples choose to invite their immediate families to the ceremony, but you can also choose to go it alone with just your betrothed. Understandably, some couples shy away from elopement because they’re afraid to disappoint family and friends who want to celebrate with them, but you could always settle on a compromise of a private ceremony with a big party later on. Whatever you choose to do, remember that it’s your decision and yours alone. To reassure a disappointed family member, be sure to take lots of pictures and even video so they can feel part of your special day.
4. How will you handle input from others on your plans?
Weddings are special events full of wonderful traditions and customs, and it’s understandable why brides and grooms often receive so much input from family members when planning the big day. However, if you have a unique vision of how your wedding will go and that differs majorly from tradition or family expectations, then eloping may be a good solution. When you elope, you can wear whatever dress you want, have any kind of ceremony you want, and have any kind of music you want, which is appealing to many couples with overbearing family members.
5. Are you planning on a big honeymoon or buying a house after the wedding?
If you are planning on going on a two-week trek around Europe after the wedding and you weren’t quite sure how you could squeeze that into the budget, consider eloping to help you save the cash for that dream honeymoon. Or, are you tired of renting a small apartment and want to put down roots with a home purchase? Skipping the big wedding ceremony and reception can help you get that down payment in order. Obviously these aren’t the only two options, just examples, so be sure to talk honestly about things you both may want.
6. How much time do you want to devote on planning?
Many couples spend well over a year planning for their weddings. A wedding ceremony and reception are huge events that some people specialize in planning professionally. Deciding on the cake, the flowers, the food, the dress, the guest list, and the venue can be quite demanding and can take time out of an already busy schedule. Eloping can help you skip over a lot of those plans and allow you to go straight to the “I do’s.”
7. What kind of vows did you want to prepare?
Though traditions are changing, many places of worship still require the traditional vows and ceremony order. If this doesn’t suit your style, and you want to quote anything from Jane Austen to Weird Al in your vows, an elopement might be best for you and your off-beat future spouse.
Choose What’s Best For You
No matter how you and your future spouse choose to tie the knot, the most important thing is that you are happy and comfortable with every decision that you make. Whether you say “I do” in a church in front of all your family and friends or you say your vows in the middle of the forest with civilization miles away, the most important thing is being together and celebrating your love.