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Why Elope? From James & White Photography

11 Benefits of Elopements vs Weddings

1. Price

This is probably the first thing people think about when they get engaged, and start planning their wedding. How expensive they actually are! In Australia, in the year 2020, the average wedding will cost you approximately $36,000, that’s a lot of thousands of dollars right there. To put that in perspective, the average elopement costs approximately $9,000-$11,000. Take a second and work that out, that is a big saving. That is your honeymoon right there. Given the average couple spends around $7,000-$8,000 on their honeymoon, that gives you one pretty epic honeymoon right there!

So with all that in mind, eloping obviously costs you a lot less money than having a traditional wedding. It really comes down to working out what you prioritize when it comes to the wedding. When Aime and Matt eloped in Newcastle the other month, they told me that to them, photography and floral arrangements were most important to them. So by eloping, they cut out the need to pay for all the frills they didn’t give a shit about. No invitations, no ‘per head’ costs, didn’t have to spend thousands of dollars on bridesmaids or groomsmen. This meant they had ample amounts of money to spend on what was important to them.

Elopements can be absolutely epic, and don’t need to force you into another mortgage, but that is not where the benefits of eloping vs weddings stop.

2. Intimacy

Another one that shouldn’t come as much of a surprise. Elopements are significantly more intimate. One of the biggest concerns I get from my brides and grooms is that they get anxious about being the centre of attention, or, that they don’t want to feel like they are ‘putting on a show’ for everyone, when all they really care about is their partner.

You don’t need to explain yourself to me, I get you! So typically with a wedding, you will be centre of attention all day. You will typically be in front of 130 or so people, which if that’s not your cup of tea, is going to really suck. With an elopement, on average you will have you, your partner, a celebrant and photographer. You will need one additional witness (the photographer can serve as one witness) if you want to legally be married during the elopement, otherwise, you can do the legalities before or afterwards anyways.

One thing to consider is what is an elopement? Many people get it a bit confused, and wonder how they can get their family involved in their elopement. Typically speaking, once you go over 10 people (including vendors), you are no longer eloping, rather you are having what we call a micro-wedding. These are also fun, but a story for another day.

The long and short is that elopements are far more intimate, they are more about just you and your partner sharing your love without any bells and whistles, which leads me perfectly into the next benefit of eloping vs wedding.

3. Less Drama

Let’s be serious, we’ve all been to a wedding where there was some kind of BS family drama. Actually, let’s call it what it is, most weddings have some kind of drama. No word of a lie, I have photographed weddings (and been a guest at some), where guests punched, kicked, tackled, verbally abused other guests…before getting drunk!

Who wants that at their wedding? No one! But most people accept some kind of drama on their wedding day. But not you, that’s why you’re reading this. Elopements tend to almost always come drama free. How can they be drama free? Well, unless you or your partner wants to start some shit on your big day…drama free.

Usually my couples are so happy, over the moon, that drama, or arguing is the furthest thing from their reality. They don’t need to worry about parents, or uncles and aunties getting along, or their partners friend who dated this other friend and never called her again and now it’s awkward.

Let me say though, you may get some up front drama. When announcing to your friends (who will care, but totally get it probably), and your family, be prepared for their reactions. Particularly your parents, they have probably been so excited for their child’s wedding day for so long now, they may initially take it poorly, but trust me, they will come around. Have tough skin, because this small amount of discomfort up front, will save you so much drama on the actual day, but not only limited to the day…

4. Less Stress

I interviewed over 250 of my previous brides and grooms to work out what the biggest regrets were from their wedding day (because I couldn’t find the info online), and it was fairly unanimous…they stressed too hard over everything. Big things? Yes! Little things? Of course. What about things that didn’t even matter? You better believe it!

What they were stressing about isn’t exactly important, but let me just say this. They often included invitations, guest-lists, seating charts, alcohol budgeting as well as budgeting for the entire wedding. Effectively, almost 100% of my brides and grooms said they stressed over their wedding, they believed it was pointless to do so, and they regret it. But eloping is a totally different ball game, and people are turning to elopements in order to avoid stress. In a society where approximately 17% of people at any given time are suffering from a stress related mental health disorder, avoiding stress sounds like a good idea.

So without going into too much detail, I think we can work out why eloping vs wedding seriously reduces stress. It costs less, and as such creates less financial stress, which was the most common thing people stressed about. It comes with less drama, less worrying about family and friends, and less worrying about their opinions. You are doing what you want, how you want it, with only the person (or extremely few people) you want. It’s a recipe for lowering, or removing stress.

So many couples say (and you’ve probably heard it before), that they can’t wait for the wedding to be over…don’t be that couple.

5. Less Planning

This piggy backs quite nicely on the last point. Eloping almost always come with less planning, and less organising than a traditional wedding would. Given the fact that instead of having to organise around 15-20 vendors for a wedding, an elopement usually has only a small handful (photographer, celebrant, florals, hair and makeup). This means, less planning, less organising, less coordinating between vendors, and of course, less financial planning in order to make the payments.

This is a huge load off. But there’s more…because most couples who elope tend to elope midweek (why stick to the traditional Saturday weddings when you don’t have to worry about guests), they don’t need to organise their wedding 12-18 months in advance like we recommend most wedding guests. More often, elopements can be planned on as little as 90 days, but usually it’s 3-6 months. This, in itself comes as a huge relief to so many people. Planning 18 months ahead is crazy.

Think about it, as I write this, we are mid COVID-19 lock-down. Do you think that 18 months ago, in 2018 people planning their weddings thought this might happen (if you are planning a wedding now, read this)? Not a chance! The levels of stress I have seen people going through during this is insane. But my elopement clients? Not so much, because they can really easily postpone their elopement with minimal disruption, without losing vendors and just reschedule it in a few months time when it is safe to do so. Eloping vs weddings, less planning…less stress.

6. Locations

Just take a look at the images in this blog so far. Tell me something, do you see any boring, stock standard, typical wedding places in there? Probably not, right? My couples tend to get married at some pretty insane places when they elope.

Now, let me caveat this by saying, elopements don’t always have to be epic, adventurous, 3 day treks to the location styled shoots. Some people elope by going to the courthouse and signing the paperwork. This is the old school, traditional way of eloping. So don’t get hung up by all the stuff you see online, your elopement doesn’t have to be a trek through the Himalayan Alps, it can be whatever you want it to be.

In saying that, the locations are endless. It could be the top of Mount Everest, or it could be in your backyard. So take your pick! You could have a mountain elopement, lakeside elopement, beach elopement, clifftop elopement, urban elopement…I could keep going, but I wont’. So sit down with your partner, talk about it, work out what your vibe is, what kind of location is ‘you guys’ and where you want to have your memories captured. Eloping vs weddings…the options are limitless.

7. Photography

Hear me out, obviously this one really benefits me, because it allows me to capture such epic locations on a weekly basis, but it’s more than that.

Yes, I do get to travel to other countries, to really remote and cool locations (like these 24 locations) that make most people jealous, and you get to come with me. Now this automatically is going to make the photography easier. But let me touch on 2 additional things.

First of all, most people who elope tend to be a lot more laid back and less intense. That suits me personally really well, and means we should get along perfectly (which is really important, check this out). Because of this, there tends to be less anxiety and nerves on your behalf, which means the photos are far more natural and the couple have more fun with it. This makes the entire experience so much easier, and always leads to better photos (regardless of the location).

Secondly, we have more time. Because you aren’t being pressed by a strict wedding day timeline (which is the second highest cause of wedding stress), we can take our time. We can explore a bit, find the perfect spot, and really not rush it. Iv’e taken hours on an elopement portrait session before. Cracked a few beers, took our time, and really had fun with it. We only stopped when we lost all of our light (and had to trek back in the dark).

8. Life is meant to be an adventure

We so often get bogged down in these mundane lives that we live (not all of us, but a lot of us), working, sleeping, working, sleeping, and so on that we forget to have fun. It’s a really well held concept that the modern person is working themselves to an early grave, so focused on ‘doing the right thing’ that we forget to have fun. Hell, I know I’ve been there myself.

Eloping can be an easy way to push the fun aspect of marriage. Don’t get me wrong, weddings can be loads of fun (mine was), but if we look at what we discussed above, it is easy to see that weddings can often be more stressful than fun, and too strict to facilitate fun. Elopements on the other hand are just fun. Fun, fun fun! If you’re still not sure why, please, go back to the top of this page and read again, you should get it.

So get out, pick a cool location on a mountain somewhere, and trek there with your partner and do it! Make a weekend of it, get in the 4WD, travel to a remote area, camp the weekend away and elope while you do it. How amazing would that be, particularly if that is the kind of thing that sums up your relationship. Elopements should be fun, so enjoy them!

9. Valuing experiences over things

This one kind of goes along with the above point. The reason a lot of people choose to do engagement shoots, or elopements, is because they value experiences. What exactly does this mean though? Generational shifts are occurring, which is showing itself as Millennials valuing ‘doing things’ over ‘owning things’. Back in our parents and grandparents days, owning things was a sign of wealth and well regarded. Now, it’s more about what you’ve done, where you’ve traveled and so on.

So this feeds in well to weddings. In the past, it used to be about the venue you booked, how many guests you had, and how expensive your dress was. Some people still really get down with this belief, and that is fine for them. However, most people (most likely you if you are still reading this) couldn’t give a shit about that stuff. You would rather have an epic story to tell people about your elopement than a huge traditional wedding.

So eloping vs weddings, experiences vs stuff…if you know yourself well, it should be an obvious decision.

10. Being Genuine & Authentic

We’ve all heard it and seen it, people putting on a big, ‘perfect’ wedding, which everyone knew was just a show to impress other people. I’ve seen it so many times, couples miserable during their wedding because they had 500 guests and only really knew about 30 of them. This isn’t genuine. It’s not being true to yourself or you as a couple.

Eloping vs wedding sees a stark contrast here. By not being authentic at the time of tying the knot, you set the tone for the rest of the marriage. Elopements allow authenticity in that you are only doing what you actually want and what means something to you.

On top of this, people are starting to focus on the authenticity of the actual day. The ‘show’ a wedding puts on kind of clouds what it is supposed to all be about. Weddings are supposed to be about celebrating love, however that makes sense to you, with the person you love. Eloping helps get past this. On a mountain side, or a beach, or in a forest, there is no show. There are no material aspects to care about. There is just 2 people, in love, saying things from their heart and marrying their best friend.

11. Exponential vendor possibilities

The final point I want to mention here is that elopements can be scaled up. An elopement can be the two of you at a courthouse, or you and 15 vendors on top of a cliff in the middle of nowhere. On average, elopements include photographers, celebrants, florists, hair and makeup as well as clothing. However, if you want to make a full thing about it, you could get in touch with a catering company (like The Wilderness Chef who is local to Newcastle), or even someone to set up a really cool teepee with a grazing table for you to chill out with while you get ready for the elopement.

You could hire a videographer (highly recommended), a stylist, the list goes on. Because you don’t have the regulations and timing constraints of a venue, you can pretty much get any vendor you want on board. There won’t be pack down and load in times, so things are more flexible for you and them.

Weddings are a bit more rigid on what can be done, or at least how difficult it can be to make things happen. Elopements are the complete opposite. If you want it, you can have it, just start contacting the correct people (here is a list of my favourite local vendors who would love to be involved in your elopement) and get things booked in. It’s that easy.

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