Reasons to Elope from 200+ Real Couples
This isn’t like other elopement blogs you’ve read.
A fun title, stunning elopement pictures, and a few random opinions on why elopements are cool.
This is different.
Don’t get us wrong, we’re not saying there’s anything bad about those blogs – we’ve been professional elopement photographers and guides for years now, and we have plenty of our own opinions about how awesome eloping is!
What’s different about this post is it’s based on real data from 200+ couples. No opinions from photographers here – you’re about to read real thoughts from real couples who chose to elope!
We tried to find this data but couldn’t, so we collected it ourselves – We asked more than 200 couples why they chose to 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.
Reason to Elope #1) A “Just Us” Experience
Overwhelmingly, the very number one reason that people reported choosing to elope was that they wanted to experience a totally intimate wedding celebration – a day focused on just the two of them.
Couples said they wanted to strip away the pressure, anxiety and obligation they felt about having a traditional wedding. Instead they wanted a day authentic to them, which aligned with their values and vision! They wanted a “just us” experience.
Elopements are beautiful options for people who don’t feel like the traditional wedding route is the right fit for them. An elopement 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.
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 – all because they chose to elope! No regrets, no stress, no pressure, no distractions – just two people committing their lives to each other.
Reason to Elope #2) Authenticity
Authenticity was the second most frequently reported reason couples said they chose to elope. They were searching for an authentic ceremony experience that emphasized their true 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. So many people would never dream of being a part of the traditional aspects of a big wedding—the giant, pompous, fluffed-up, dress-up party in front of hundreds of people. The wedding industry is FULL of cookie-cutter traditions that don’t always speak to who you are as an individual or as a couple. When you sign up for a big wedding that doesn’t feel authentically you, you sign up for so much more that you just can’t connect with or don’t want (but that’s the thing about big weddings, it’s all kind of a package deal).
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.
Everyone is different, and everyone deserves to be authentically themselves on their wedding day. For people who don’t connect with big weddings, a traditional celebration can make you feel like you’ve been put into a box. Elopements are all about throwing that box out the window.
When you elope, you throw out the whole rulebook and start from scratch. Eloping means your wedding can represent who you actually are as a couple—you can go on a hike with your dog, take a mini-road trip, stop and soak in the views, or end the day by turning on your favorite song and dancing by firelight.
At the end of it all, your wedding day is about you two – the love you have for each other and the life you’re going to build together. Choose a wedding that reflects your goals for the future!
Reason to Elope #3) Intimacy & Intention
Many couples we spoke to said the main reason they chose to elope was the opportunity to really focus on intimate, intentional moments during their wedding day. They didn’t believe a larger, more traditional wedding would afford them those moments. Honestly, they’re on to something! There’s a blunt truth about big weddings no one tells you: when you have a big, traditional wedding, you’re playing host to the biggest party of your life and it’s not about you at all.
Big weddings rarely allow time for intimate, intentional moments. Don’t blame the guests – it’s simply the nature of traditional weddings! More people, traditional actions that take up a lot of time, and expectations combine to eat up most (if not the entirety) of your wedding day.
All too often, we hear that couples choose big weddings because they “want all the people I love together in one place.” That’s an absolutely great thing to want, but it’s just impossible to have any meaningful interaction with that many people in one day (or even in a single weekend).
Let’s do the math really quick: you have 150 people at your wedding and 3 minutes to speak to each of those people.
150 (guests) x 3 (minutes) = 450 (minutes of conversation)
450 / 60 (minutes) = 7.5 (hours of conversation)
Do the math for your planned wedding:
(Number of guests) x (Number of minutes you want to talk to each person) = (Number of minutes spent focused 100% on your guests!)
That’s 7.5 hours of just 3-minute conversations. That doesn’t even include the ceremony, the toasts, the meal or dancing. Plus, how much can you really say in 3 minutes? Trying to talk to 150 guests in any meaningful way will take way more than 7.5 hours! Oh, and you didn’t get to speak to your spouse at all during this hypothetical wedding, which sounds awful!
It really is a nice idea to want all of your people there, but the reality is you can’t interact with that many people in any kind of meaningful way in that amount of time. You also deserve to spend time with the person you’re marrying. Sounds obvious, right? Unfortunately, most people having big, traditional weddings don’t get any alone time with their partners. Like, zero. There’s no time to soak in the day together, no time to honor this huge life transition, no time to just be together until the party is over. If you asked us, we’d say you deserve a celebration you’re not wishing was over before dessert’s been served. You should enjoy each moment together! Elopements can afford you the opportunity for intimacy and authenticity without the fear of becoming absorbed in the details, timelines, and the sheer number of guests.
When you elope, you’re in the moment together. You can really feel and comprehend the fact that you’re getting married. Your so much more free to express your emotions because you’re not lost in the blur. You get the chance to pause, look into your partner’s eye, embrace it all, and say “this is real—I just married you.”
Reason to Elope #4) Less Family Drama
Let’s be real here—there are a lot of people out there who aren’t close to their families.
Not everyone has a dynamic, close-knit relationship with their family where they feel entirely comfortable and fully free to be themselves. Actually, I’d argue most people have reservations around the family they were raised in! There’s a lot of baggage there, and it’s often uncomfortable to deal with that at the same time you’re beginning a new life with your spouse.
And you know what? That’s OK. Just like it’s OK to have a family you are super close to.
Even couples who do get along well with their families will choose to elope to avoid the family drama that seems to always come up at traditional weddings! Couples we spoke to often pointed to a desire to avoid this seemingly-impossible-to-avoid drama on their wedding day. Eloping was an opportunity for them to prevent rifts or stresses they worried could be caused by the traditional wedding process.
For those who don’t have a supportive family, traditional weddings can be extremely traumatic. You deserve a wedding day surrounded by people who support you, your relationship, your goals and your love 100%! No judgement, shame, fear or stress should be present on your wedding day, and the sad truth is that family is sometimes the source of these negative feelings. So many wedding traditions involve playing out roles with members of your family, and those roles might not fit your dynamic at all! Getting walked down the aisle by your father, listening to toasts by your siblings, or even sitting down at the same table with your parents can feel foreign and unnatural to some couples – why put yourself through that?
Take a page from Brené Brown and remember that your biological family, or family of your youth, is simply your “first family.” Your friends, your partners and your people are your chosen family. Your first family doesn’t have to be held up on the pedestal where traditional weddings often place those relationships – do what makes the most sense for your life and be sure to prioritize your relationship with your spouse on your wedding day!
FACT: Your wedding is your day.
This is your opportunity to create something uniquely beautiful with your partner – an event you’ll look back on forever! Ensure that no matter how you choose to get married, you’re doing what you want to do. Give yourself the chance to be your most authentic self. You deserve to feel free to speak your mind to your partner while sharing your vows, without worrying who is listening.
Even if you didn’t grow up in a traumatic situation, even if you really have a healthy relationship with your family, but you don’t want to focus on your spouse, that’s OK, too. You don’t need any excuse to elope. If you want to elope – that’s enough reason to do it!
Families are complicated. They’re especially tricky to navigate when you get married. Do whatever feels right for you.
Be brave and make the decision that feels right for you.
Reason to Elope #5) Valuing Experiences Over Stuff
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—and stuff just isn’t on that list.
Have you ever thought about how much trash comes out of a big wedding? Most of which is single-use plastic?
Let’s break this down really quickly.
The average price of a wedding in the United States (according to The Knot’s data from 2018) is about $33,931.
That’s for what ends up being about a six-to-seven hour event (which, hello, breaks down to about $5500 an hour) And during that time, an average of 600 (600!) pounds of waste is produced.
That’s $33,931 spent on things like decorations, venues, food, drinks, and more. We’re talking cheap, flimsy party favors, all the material gifts from Amazon on a registry, every centerpiece, flowers, decor, the flatware, napkins, plates, and single-use attire that won’t ever be worn again.
It’s hard to ignore the blunt truth of it all—big weddings are simply full of STUFF.
The people who answered our survey and said that budget 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.
So if stuff isn’t what you’re about, eloping can give you the freedom to get married in a much less wasteful way, where you focus on the experience, rather than the stuff.
Forget the ballroom and the chandeliers. Go on a hike at sunrise and have an incredible vista all to yourselves. Instead of paying $10K for your $65 a head meal for over 150 guests, why not go on an amazing trip together to somewhere you’ve always wanted to go?
If you value experiences over things or a full passport over a fancy car, it’s likely you’d enjoy eloping more than a big wedding.
For the eco-conscious, intentional couples that don’t want to produce waste or deal with all that trash, for the couples that live their lives valuing experiences over things, for the couples that enjoy adventuring togeth
er rather than shopping together—elope!
Reason to Elope #6) Less Stress & Anxiety
Many couples said they chose to elope because they desire a less stressful wedding day. We don’t blame them! Before becoming an elopement photographer, Maddie and Amber both photographed big weddings and know exactly how heartbreaking it is to watch a couple getting married witness their expectations get crushed.
In fact, countless people have said to us they couldn’t wait for their big wedding to be over! Please don’t let that be you!!
We never want you to feel that way about the day you’re married – you shouldn’t have to leave the party at the end of the night to finally experience a breath of fresh air. You should instead be wishing the day never ended! But for so many couples, planning a big wedding can pile on the stress, especially for people who aren’t invested in big parties normally. It’s all just too much.
For most couples, a wedding for over 150 people is probably the biggest event they’ve ever put on in their lives—with that many people, dozens of vendors, spending tens of thousands of dollars, and dealing with everyone’s opinions and stress, this situation is going to cause anxiety (even if you have a wedding planner).
So, instead of this big, beautiful, magical day where everything is perfect, you end up the most stressed out you’ve ever been over the logistical nightmare you’ve accidentally created—and you end up dreading your wedding.
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. With our eloping couples, we hear time and again that they felt relaxed, not rushed, and completely free of stress and worry on their wedding days. They feel centered. Present. Fully in love and truly there with their partners.
So, 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. You can choose to marry the love of your life without even a hint of stress or anxiety.
Reason to Elope #7) Too Much Planning
Truthfully, planning a big wedding can actually start out fun. (You can finally put that Pinterest board to use, right?)
And then you get into the thick of it. And suddenly, these are your day-to-day thoughts:
“Who do we invite?” “Which of our friends actually gets to be in the bridal party?” “What about their plus 1s?” “Does my aunt’s new boyfriend get invited?” “What hotels nearby will fit our 150+ guests?” “How many shuttles do we need?” “I need how many dress fittings?!” “What’s the difference between a wedding shower and a bridal shower and a wedding gift?” “You want how much as the minimum for alcohol?” “What gifts and favors do we give to our guests? “ “Geeze, this is adding up, should we get wedding insurance? “ “The receipts—have you been saving the receipts?!”
And it continues to pile up.
Suddenly, it’s the night before you’re supposed to get married and you haven’t even written your vows! You’ve been trying to accommodate everyone and everything so much and still people are unsatisfied. At the end of the day, you’re wondering what all of this is even for.
But that’s not how getting married has to be.
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.
Yes, there’s some simple planning involved. 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.
But really, just find some clothes you want to war, write your vows, maybe have a ring or some flower, and find a photographer who can find an amazing location and create an incredible experience for you.
Want to bring family or friends? Cool. Do That. Rent a neat Airbnb and order up some local catering.
Big weddings can snowball so easily into planning nightmares. But with elopements, it’s 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.
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 a way that makes the most sense for you—happy, free, and entirely in love.
Reason to Elope #8) Not the Center of Attention
Introverts make up about 40 percent of the population, so it makes sense that having a traditional wedding (which, typically directs a lot of attention to the bride and groom) might cause someone a ton of anxiety.
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.
Everyone has their own, unique authentic version of who they are, and for some people, that doesn’t include a traditional wedding.
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. If you identify as an introvert, if you’d rather curl up together with a book than go out to a big party, if you’d rather put on a record and listen to music than dance in a ballroom in front of 100+ guests, if you’d rather enjoy an incredible meal on a picnic blanket soaking in the quiet atmosphere than host a huge, sit-down dinner with eyes on you to make a toast or give a speech, then eloping might be the perfect way for you to get married.
Eloping gives you the freedom to be who you are, the freedom to be completely vulnerable. You don’t need to edit or water-down your truest, heartfelt thoughts when you commit your life to your partner. You don’t have to consider an audience when you write your vows (or say them). You don’t have to spend the day worrying about other people’s opinions or judgment.
You just get to be you.
Reason to Elope #9) Life Is Meant to be An Adventure
One common trait we’ve seen among all couples who elope is they are unsatisfied with the status quo and are willing to accept the risk of stepping outside of it. They aren’t content to simply go through life with their head down, stuck in a routine, mindlessly walking through the motions that other people seem to do.
They see the world as a place full of opportunity—they believe that they exist here in the world to grow, to learn, to discover, to be creative, and to experience connection and fulfillment in unique ways. No matter what they’re doing, what their job is, where they live—they always choose to see life as the grandest adventure.
They go through the journey with their eyes and hearts wide open—with the bravery to be curious and the courage to accept the unpredictability of life.
And that’s the thing about them—they’re adventurers in their own way.
Adventure isn’t about hiking or skydiving or cliff jumping—it’s a belief that failure is the path to growth, that vulnerability is the path to love, and the most worthwhile experiences in life probably aren’t on the well-worn path. Being an adventurer is a lifestyle of risk-taking, innovating, pushing ourselves to go further and climb higher, to press on through the fear of “not being enough,” and holding onto the conviction that our struggles are a vital part of the view from the top.
For the couples who see life as a grand adventure, it only makes sense that the way they begin their lives together should be with an adventure, too
Reason to Elope #10) Amazing Photos
There’s this common thought that couples who elope don’t care about their day—that they’d never want to invest in amazing photos because they’re just spontaneously getting married and “skipping over” the wedding stuff.
That is so incredibly wrong.
Couples who elope care so much about their wedding experiences that they’re willing to take the risk of going against the status quo of having a big wedding and find the courage to create a unique wedding experience that’s actually true to who they are.
They also care so much about remembering their wedding experience—both by being present on their day and by having incredible photographs to look back at.
We’ve had a lot of couples come to us who are worried that wedding photos won’t capture them as they truly are—that most wedding photos they see are too posed, too fake, or that the emotions in them were created just for the photographs.
But when you elope, that doesn’t exist. You’re forced out of the 30 minutes of rushed “look at me and smile…now kiss each other and laugh” routine that’s rinsed and repeated against six different backdrops (yikes).
In our survey, couples told us that they believe that elopement photography helps to capture real, true, and intimate moments from their day. Why?
Because elopements afford you the time and opportunity to be in your true element—and they allow us as photographers the time and opportunity to capture real, beautifully genuine moments. When we photograph elopements, we don’t do any fake or forced posing cues—we just don’t need to.
We document the two of you having the time of your lives and being your truest selves.
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.
If you believe an elopement is the wedding experience to suit your needs and affirm your vision – we’d love to help!
You already know how important photography is for documenting your elopement adventure, now it’s time to talk planning!
We have helped hundreds of couples plan true-to-them authentic elopement experiences all over the world. We can help you plan your elopement in Colorado, anywhere in the United States, or even in another country.
Where would you want to elope?