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The Top 10 Reasons to Elope

You probably think you’ve seen a blog post like this before.

A fun title, stunning elopement pictures, and a few random opinions on why elopements are cool.

This is not that.

Don’t get us wrong, we’re not saying there’s anything bad about that—we’ve been professional elopement photographers and guides for a while now and we have lots of our own opinions on why elopements are amazing.

But what’s different about this post is that it’s actually based on real data from over 200 couples surveyed—data that we couldn’t find anywhere…. so we collected it ourselves.

We asked over 200 couples, “Why did you elope”… and the top 10 reasons (in order of frequency) are below.

We’re so excited to share the actual, driving forces behind couples choosing to elope—the real reasons that people are bravely choosing to have a an intentional wedding day that’s perfectly in-line with who they are.

You don’t want to skip this one. The real reasons might surprise you.

A bride and groom walk hand-in-hand down a mossy, green trail. Surrounded by magical, mossy ground cover, the two traipse through the mountains during their elopement wedding.
A bride and groom pop a bottle of champagne as they stand on the top of a mountain. Hiking up to this spot on their elopement wedding day was a way to include some of their unique eloping ideas into their small simple wedding. What is eloping? It looks just like this.

1) A “Just Us” Experience

Overwhelmingly, the very number one reason that people reported choosing to elope was because they wanted to experience a totally intimate wedding experience just for the two of them.

Couples said they wanted to strip away the pressure, anxiety, and obligation that they personally felt about having a traditional wedding—and instead, they wanted a day that was more true to who they were and what they wanted—a “just us” experience.

Elopement is a beautiful option for people who don’t feel like the traditional wedding route is the right fit for them, and it grants them the freedom to decide how to commit their lives to each other. It creates a magical, intimate way for couples to make their wildest, most romantic dreams about their wedding day come true without asking them to sacrifice a single, intimate moment between the two of them.

By eloping, these couples said they were free to melt into each other, focus on each other, and celebrate their love in an uninhibited way that made the most sense for them.

“We wanted it to be intimate and unique. We didn't want to focus on some of the worries that can happen on a wedding day and wanted to focus on us.”—Steph & Jess

“I want the day to be about my partner and I and the love we’re committed to building. Not about pleasing family members and conforming to traditions that don’t mean anything to us.”—Survey Answer

“We wanted to have the most intimate and private ceremony—to have that moment of becoming husband and wife just to ourselves.”—Survey Answer

“We don't regret any of it…we wanted our wedding date to be 100% about us, and we knew if we had a traditional wedding that wouldn't happen.” - Katie & Dylan



2) Authenticity

The second most frequently reported reason that couples said they chose to elope was because of authenticity—both for the actual ceremony and for their true authentic selves.

Some couples felt that the authenticity—the real reason behind getting married—was swallowed whole by the wedding industry in expectations that didn’t simply make sense to them.

For so many couples, a big, traditional wedding isn’t an honest, true reflection of who they are or what they want, and that’s OK.

Just like it’s OK to want to have a big, traditional wedding, too.

The point is, everyone is different, and everyone deserves to be authentically themselves on their wedding day and to have a day that feels right to them.

For some people, that does look like a traditional wedding. For others, it’s something very different.

Either way is perfect—we’ve always believed that people deserve to know that on their wedding day, they should do exactly what they want.

Because, at the end of it all, your wedding day is about the two of you— about the love you have for each other and the life you’re going to build together.

Shouldn’t that day be the truest reflection of who you both are?

 “We didn't want to dilute the meaning and celebration across a sea of people of that haven't weathered the ups and downs with us. And quite honestly, trying to plan a huge wedding is so anxiety-provoking! eek. We didn't want to lose the magic.” - Liz & Regan

“The idea of planning a traditional made me anxious. I couldn’t get behind the idea of putting so much focus into the "even’’…to me that just isn’t what marriage is about. After the “event” passes, it’s just the two of you—forever. I wanted to focus on that.”—Survey Answer

A bride, in a white dress ad a fur vest, tears up as she looks to her partner who read his vows to her. A desert landscape surrounds them. That’s one of the benefits of eloping—you can choose to have your elopement ceremony anywhere you’d like. These elopement pictures were captured by elopement wedding photographer Adventure Instead.
A bride tears up and wipes at her eyes while she reads her vows to her soon-to-be-husband from a small journal. Her husband, in a suit, looks on as she wipes her face. These elopement photos were captured by elopement photographer Adventure Instead.
A bride and groom smile and laugh as they stand in a golden desert environment. The groom, laughing hard, leans in close to his bride, also laughing, who wears a tan-white dress and a sand-colored shawl. Their small simple wedding took place in the destination they wanted, one of the benefits of eloping.

3) Intimate & Intentional

For a lot of couples, the main reason they chose to elope was because they wanted the opportunity to really focus on intimate, intentional moments during their wedding day, and they didn’t feel that a larger, more traditional wedding would afford them those moments.

Often times, with big weddings, it’s much harder to allow for intimate, intentional moments. And that’s no fault of the couple or the guests, it’s simply because of the nature of traditional weddings—there are more people, certain things you normally do, etc.

Many couples felt that, with bigger, traditional weddings, there’s less time or space for intimacy and intentionality—two things that they truly valued on the day they planned to commit their lives to each other.

Elopements can afford you the opportunity for intimacy and authenticity without the fear of becoming absorbed in the details, timelines, and sheer number of guests that are often associated with traditional weddings.

It’s simply a little easier to get lost in the planning, the details, the guests, and the scheduling with bigger, more traditional weddings—for some couples, that’s simply not what they want for their wedding day.

“We have always envisioned a small, intimate wedding. We never really felt the need or want to invite guests who were long lost relatives or distant friends. A wedding should be a celebration of two becoming one - we wanted our day to be focused on each other and celebrate with the ones closest to us.”—Courtney & Kyle

“For us, the idea of a wedding (big or small) was daunting and stressful. Putting on a production for our friends and family just seemed so out of character for us. Plus, we knew we wanted to write our own vows, and we felt that our vows wouldn’t be as special if they were shared in front of a crowd of people. I personally wanted to focus on just my husband and the love and the connection I have with him on our wedding day. It was choice made entirely out of love for each other, love of the outdoors, and the desire for intimacy and privacy on our wedding day.”—Survey Answer

“I think we got to the point where we felt so overwhelmed with the amount of people we would invite and the planning and money involved. We went from thinking we'd have a wedding with 150 guests, to maybe a small destination wedding with 40 guests, to just an intimate ceremony with immediate family.”—Kim & Mandy

“My fiancé and I are choose to elope because we see the ceremony as something so intimate that only needs to be shared between us. We want to be able to read our vows, to cry, to laugh, and to become one under God without making it feel like we have to entertain guests.”—Survey Answer

Two grooms take hands as they read their vows and pledge their lives to each other in their elopement ceremony. This Colorado destination elopement was the small simple wedding these two always wanted. When someone asks ”what is eloping” we like to show them photos like these— great reasons for eloping.
Two brides lean in close to each other and laugh as they read their vows to each other during their elopement ceremony. When someone asks “what is an elopement wedding” photos like these are our answer — two people getting married the way they want, enjoying it in a stress-free, happy way.
A bride and groom stand near a dark blue alpine lake as they read their vows to each other during their elopement wedding. All around them, granite and grass-covered mountains reach up toward the sky. This was one of the unique eloping ideas that these two had for their small simple wedding.
A bride and groom stand near a mountain lake as they embrace during their elopement ceremony. The bride, wearing a bright, floral crown, wipes away a tear from her eyes, as the groom leans in to hug her close. This is what an elopement wedding looks like — intentional, meaningful, and beautiful.

4) Less Family Drama

One of the realities of life is that sometimes, people have complicated families.

Not every person in the world has that dynamic, close-knit relationship with their family that automatically makes them feel entirely comfortable and fully free to be themselves. And you know what? That’s OK. Just like it’s OK to have a family you are super close to.

Some couples said they chose to elope because they didn’t want to deal with family complications on their wedding day.

Even couples who do get along well with their families sometimes choose to elope to avoid family drama because of the nature of traditional weddings.

sometimes no matter how wonderful the intentions, weddings don’t always bring out the best in people.

Why?

Because weddings are sometimes steeped in family tradition, obligation, and expectation. For some people, that can become stressful or overwhelming. That’s OK—there’s no right or wrong way to have a wedding.

The reality of it is this—this is your day.

This is your shot to create something uniquely beautiful with your partner that you’re going to look back on forever.

You should make sure that no matter how you choose to get married, you’re doing what you want to do and that you’re giving yourself the chance to be your most authentic self.

Your wedding day is about you and the love you have for your partner.

Be brave and make the decision that feels right for you.

“ I want to elope because family have made it difficult to actually want them there. We both would have a better, more relaxed, and enjoyable day without them. If we just go and elope, we can do that. Our wedding will actually be about us.”— Survey Answer

“We both have large families with complicated family dynamics and don't want the stress of involving them or feel obligated to try to please everyone. Both of Shelby's parents eloped or had private ceremonies when they got remarried (dad even did it twice), so the precedent to elope has been set.” - Shelby & Ross

“There’s too many obligations between divorced families. My parents don’t get along which causes more drama when trying to plan. The long list of people you “need” to invite because they’ll be upset if they weren’t there. This day is about devoting yourself to another being, so why can’t it be personal and without stress?”—Survey Answer

“If I could do it all again, I would have eloped to avoid the stress of all the logistics and family dynamics.”—Survey Answer

 

5) Valuing experiences over stuff

For the people who answered our survey, the idea of investing a significant amount of money into an adventure elopement versus one, big wedding day was a driving force behind why they chose to elope.

People who value experiences over tangible things tend to be drawn to elopements. Not because they don’t also want to invest money in their beautiful wedding day, but because they have a different set of desires.

The average price of a wedding in the United States (according to The Knot’s data from 2018) is about $33,931.

That’s $33,931 spent on things like decorations, venues, food, drinks, and more.

There’s absolutely nothing wrong with that. A lot people really love planning and investing in a more traditional wedding. But, for many—that sounds like a frivolous nightmare. Couples who elope have a different set of priorities and would prefer to use the money they want to invest in their wedding day on an adventure or an experience, and that’s OK, too.

The people who answered our survey and said that money was their reason for choosing an elopement weren’t saying that they didn’t want to invest money into their beautiful wedding day, just that they wanted to invest it differently.

“It's [a big wedding] very materialistic for a day that should be about pure, true love.”—Survey Answer

“We had been talking about getting married for a while but neither of us could to commit to planning a wedding. We realized we just wanted to be married. We didn't want a big wedding or the stress of planning one. We didn't need an expensive party to make our 10+ year relationship feel more legitimate. Eloping sounded way more fun and was more in line with our personalities.”— Laura & Patrick

“Truthfully, the expense and pageantry of a "traditional wedding" did not appeal to us. Throw family drama into the mix, and eloping was perfect for us. Plus, at least for Katie, the thought of saying vows in front of an audience was enough to make her want to puke. :)”— Katie & Logan

“The money!!! It just does not make sense! I understand that it’s important to some people to have everyone there. It’s just not something that’s important to us. Honestly, that did upset a few people, which was uncomfortable. But once we get to the day, I know we won’t regret any decisions we made.”—Survey Answer


A bride and groom are silhouetted under an African tree as the sun sets and casts a glorious, orange glow all around them. These elopement photos were captured by Adventure Instead, an elopement wedding photographer.
A bride and groom stand next to an impossibly-turquoise-colored lake in Patagonia, holding hands and reading vows to each other. This is one of the benefits of eloping — having your elopement day in the destination you’ve always wanted to travel.

6) Stress & Anxiety

Some couples said they’d choose to elope because they desire a wedding day that’s less stressful.

While it might not be the case for everyone, planning a big wedding can sometimes pile on the stress, especially for people who aren’t initially super invested in that type of wedding to begin with.

The idea of a traditional wedding in its purest form does sound really wonderful—a day where you’re surrounded by your family and friends, all celebrating your love.

Except, you’re surrounded by all of your family and friends—that’s a lot additional planning and preparation to account for. While that’s definitely doable, most people aren’t party planners—they’re not automatically prepared to plan for that kind of event. And sometimes, if that’s not your thing, it can make you dread your day.

We can’t tell you how many people we’ve heard say they can’t wait for their wedding to be over.

Here’s the thing though—you don’t have to feel that way. You should choose the type of wedding that brings you the most joy—whether that’s a traditional wedding or an elopement.

If planning a big wedding isn’t your thing, that’s OK—you don’t have to choose that. You can choose to have a fun, stress-free, and wholly enjoyable wedding any way you want to.

“We wanted to have a day just for us. Read our own vows, celebrate our love without additional pressure. It wasn’t an easy decision but it was the right one.”—Alex & Josh

“I (Lauryn) could never envision myself having a large wedding. I've seen a lot of my friends get married already, and every friend has been stressed and frustrated by the whole process by the end. It seems like they're throwing a party for everyone but themselves. I wanted to have an elopement/small wedding that was very nontraditional and "us". I've always said that I would get married on top of a mountain. Once David and I started talking about getting married, I let him onto my plans. He was all for it. We're all about a low-stress day that involves everything important to us.”—Lauryn & David

“If we had a big traditional wedding, we knew it wouldn’t be about us and rather about impressing our guests. Saying our “I Do’s” in front of 150+ people is more nerve-wracking and would not mean anything to us. We ended up having our private ceremony at a secret waterfall in Iceland and it was the most magical thing ever. No regrets!”—Survey Answer

 

 

7) Too much planning

Our survey showed that a lot of couples were choosing to elope (or would choose to elope) because they wanted either to minimize or totally eliminate the overwhelming planning that often goes hand-in-hand with having a huge wedding.

Like we said before, planning a big, traditional wedding can definitely become overwhelming simply because of the nature of it. You’ll have more people to think about, more choices to consider, more things to strategically plan out.

That’s not always a bad thing. Some people really love planning events and truly enjoy the idea of a traditional wedding. We think that’s great. But a lot people aren’t interested in that, and it’s always been important to us let people know that it doesn’t have to be that way for them.

Elopements can free you from some of that stressful planning.

They make it easy to plan the wedding day you want, melting away some of the stress, anxiety, and pressure that can come with a larger, more traditional wedding.

Don’t get us wrong—we’re not saying that elopements are these last-minute, no-effort ceremonies that are devoid of meaning. You’re just free to put as much planning (or as little planning) into your elopement as you want. It can be as laid-back and relaxed or as stringently planned as makes sense for you.

If the big party planning thing doesn’t appeal to you, that’s totally fine! Just plan for what you and your partner want.

Begin your lives together in the way that makes the most sense for you—happy, free, and entirely in love.

“The idea of walking down an isle and having a bunch of people kind of terrifies us...It feels like it wouldn't have been a day for us, but instead for other people. I've heard many people talk about how they don't even remember their wedding day or they were too exhausted to even enjoy it because they spent the whole time trying to talk to everyone who attended it. Also, eloping takes a lot less planning, which takes a lot of stress away.”—Jesi & Danny 

“To be honest we did not want the drama and the stress of planning a wedding. This day is about us not all of that, this is more our style.”—Beverly & Jacob

“I started photographing weddings professionally over ten years ago. I joked “oh, when I’m married I will be a professional bride because I’ve seen it all!” But now that I am older, I have quite literally seen it all. The headache of big weddings. The insane expense. The drama. And none of that is what I want. None of that is important.”—Survey Answer

 

A bride and groom stand at the top of a rocky mountain holding each other closely during their elopement wedding. Hiking to this location was one of the unique eloping ideas this couple had for their small simple wedding. These elopement photos were captured by elopement photographer Adventure Instead.

8) Not the center of attention

A lot of people said that they chose to elope because of social anxiety and the desire to have a day that didn’t make them the center of attention.

Think about it—if there are as many introverts in the world as there are extroverts, it makes sense that having a traditional wedding (which, typically directs a lot of attention to the bride and groom) might not appeal to everyone.

That’s the beautiful thing—everyone is different.

Everyone has their own, unique authentic version of who they are, and for some people, that doesn’t include a traditional wedding.

We recognize that there are a lot of people out there who are overjoyed by the idea of a larger, more traditional wedding, and we think that’s wonderful—but we also think it’s important to recognize that there are a lot of people who’d prefer not to be the center of attention on their wedding day.

If that makes sense for you, you don’t have to choose a traditional wedding. You can have a day where you’re free to be who you are without worrying about who’s standing there watching you.

We both don’t like being the center of attention but come alive in nature. The whole wedding industry seems so misdirected to us. People lose sight of what the day is really about, becoming husband and wife and not pleasing other people with fancy chinaware! This type of wedding fits our relationship so well. - Brecka & Nick

Due to family living abroad, and the introverted nature of our personalities. We wanted the day to be about us and our marriage, and the small family unit we are. Not a day about a wedding. We are happy to forgo the stress of planning, pleasing and putting on a show for others.  We want our day to be another day of adventure. Every day up until now has been an adventure, our wedding day will be an adventure and the rest of our lives will be filled with many more adventures. We prefer the care-free relaxed life style and would like our day to be simple & meaningful & relaxed. - Caroline & Greg 

We decided to have an intimate wedding because honestly it fits our personalities best. We value close friends over many acquaintances. If the wedding was to be in Spokane we knew everyone and their brother would want to come and that did not sound fun at all. When we are around a lot of people we don’t know very well we struggle to feel completely comfortable. Knowing this we had a brilliant idea to elope in Europe with either just the two of us or the two of us with our two closest friends. Then we thought how important it was to have our parents there and a few other key people in our relationship. That is when we chose to have a Colorado mountain top wedding. It’s a destitution but close enough to be reasonable. That is when I found you!! Best decision of the wedding so far ;) - Katlyn & Jared 

“First, the two of us don’t like being the center of attention or giant spectacles. Anytime we thought of a traditional big wedding we either had no interest or felt like it would not be fun at all. The idea eloping was almost a nonissue for us, it was a natural decision. The life we created for ourselves was something we worked hard for and we wanted our next step to honor the home and life we have built in a way that was meaningful to us - so eloping outside it was!”—Survey Answer

 

9) Start life together with an adventure

Our data showed that couples are choosing to elope because they want to start their lives together with an amazing, intimate adventure.

Why wouldn’t you want to kick off your biggest adventure ever with the chance to explore somewhere together?

A lot of couples are really invested in seeing the world together and think that their wedding day is the perfect opportunity to start.

While every wedding is different, some couples from our survey said they chose to elope because they wanted to have their own, epic adventure that didn’t follow tradition.

For some, choosing an adventure elopement was a way to open the floodgates on possibility, granting them the opportunity to do anything they wanted.

You can take a hot air balloon ride together.

You can hop in a helicopter and whale watch from above.

You can rock climb. You can paddle board. You can hike. You can road trip. You can snowshoe.

You can do anything and everything you want to do to kick off the start of your lives together. The options are absolutely infinite.

“Our relationship was born in adventure so we wanted to get married in adventure.”— Amber & Lee

“Our lives together has been an adventure so far, so why not have that special commitment be another adventure? We have always done things just the 2 of us and we didn't feel that our wedding should be any different. It should be about our happiness and not trying to modify or spend extra money to make someone else happy with our decision/commitment. August 18th should truly represent who WE are as a couple.”— Kerry & Clint

“It felt like an adventure, not a compromise. And even though some people have expressed that they think it’s wrong for whatever reason, I would never change my mind.”—Survey Answer

Two brides in white wedding dresses take each others hands and walk toward a sparkling blue lake at the base of stunning, snow-capped mountain. Why elope? Because you can have your elopement wedding in a beautiful place like this. These elopement photos were captured by elopement wedding photographer Adventure Instead.
In the distance, a groom takes his bride’s hand and leads her up a rocky trail to the top of a mountain. Behind them, giant mounds loom in the distance. These elopement pictures were captured by Adventure Instead, an adventure elopement wedding photographer.
A bride and groom take hands and run through a desert landscape together. Behind them, tan and orange rocks and mountains jut up from the ground. When people ask how do you elope, we love to show them elopement pictures like this to depict that you can choose to have your elopement wedding in any way you want.

10) photography

Some people told us in the survey that they believe that elopement photography helps to capture real, true, and intimate moments from their day.

A lot of people perceived that traditional wedding photography wouldn’t really capture them as they truly were—that they seemed a little too posed and fake, or that the emotions in them were created just for the photographs.

Whereas—according to the data—some people believe that elopements afford photographer the time & opportunity to capture real, beautifully genuine moments–or that the photos would be way better & more genuine because the couple was able to be in their true element.

Memories are vital.

They’re cherished forever, and people know how important that is. They want to make sure the photos they have from their day are genuine and real, that they reflect how they were truly feeling.

That way, when they look at them, they’ll be launched back to that day, feeling everything all over again.

“We would want to elope to fully be in the moment, exploring somewhere special with my partner. No schedule (mostly), no rules, and no other people to please. Then, once we do that and get back from cool place we went to, with some badass photos , we throw an awesome party to celebrate and show off pictures with loved ones ;).”—Survey Answer

“The idea of getting married in beautiful scenic mountains is much more memorable and relaxing then walking around a venue hall talking to everyone including people I’ve never met. The pictures will be way better because I’ll feel more comfortable and confident in my element which is outside in nature. I don’t want to look back at my photos and see a stressed-out bride.”—Survey Answer

“Elopement photos are SO beautiful and intimate…at the end of the day a wedding shouldn’t be about pleasing or impressing anybody else but yourselves! Just do you.”—Survey Answer

A bride and groom stand on the ridge of an orange sand dune during their elopement wedding. The bride holds her dress out in the wind and the groom looks off into the distance while holding her.
A bride leaps over a small creek in her wedding dress, hiking the dress up to reveal brown hiking boots underneath. Behind her, her husband, in a black suit, follows her lead. Hiking in your wedding attire is one of the best elopement ideas because it makes for stunning elopement photos.
A bride and groom hold each other close as they stand in a meadow surrounded by mountain ranges. The mountains behind them are cast in a dreamy, pink-and-orange alpenglow. These adventure elopement pictures were captured by Adventure Instead, an elopement wedding photographer.

Hello—We’re Maddie Mae, Amber, & Tori! We’re all adventure elopement photographers (and sherpas and officiants and gurus) based in Colorado and Washington. We’re here to help you plan the dreamiest elopement day you can possibly imagine. We can promise to help creatively and uniquely capture your elopement day no matter what you want to do. We can also answer all of your elopement questions, help you find the greatest vendors, and pick out epic locations for your just us day. We can’t wait to help you begin planning.

There’s so much bravery in choosing to step away from tradition and celebrate your love in the way that makes the most sense. don’t let the wedding industry take that away from you.

Get in touch with us and let us guide you.  

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HEY THERE!

We're Maddie Mae, Amber, & Tori. We are adventurous elopement photographers & guides based in Colorado that travel worldwide to help fearless couples like you create your unforgettable, wildly different wedding experience—that is completely yours.

Are You Ready to Create Your Own Adventurous Elopement?


If you would like help dreaming up your intimate wedding day, a customized elopement location idea list just for you, planning tools, vendor recommendations, and a creative, laid-back, documentary approach to your adventurous wedding photography—we would love to help you make your adventure elopement dreams come true.

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