July 20, 2022

Elopement vs Traditional Wedding: Which is For You?

Trying to decide what kind of wedding experience you want to have can be really tough… There are so many factors and feelings that get involved when making that decision. When it comes down to it, understanding the difference between an elopement vs traditional wedding is the best place to start when determining which is right for you.

A couple stands on a mountain at sunrise kissing during their Asheville elopement.


When the term eloping first gained traction, it meant something pretty different than it does today. If you are aware of the term “elope” then you probably equate it with running off to Las Vegas while a man trying their attempt at a bad Elvis impression pronounces you married. Although those types of weddings are still popular, elopements have completely transformed into being so much more.

We now live in a time where more and more people truly care most about having authentic experiences. Couples are making the decision to throw tradition to the wind in order to have a marriage celebration that is more representative of who they are. Read on to see if this could be you…


I am sure you have been a part of a plethora of traditional weddings. Whether you were a bridesmaid/groomsman for your best friend or caught the bouquet in hopes of becoming the next one to get married, you have experienced tradition in action.

You can define a traditional wedding in a number of ways depending on one’s experience with them. The biggest factor that separates these events from elopements is size. People choose a big wedding for a chance to celebrate with all their friends and family. Because of this, they also usually partake in customs or traditions that have been passed down for years. Keep reading to see if this celebration is right for you…

As a Washington and Western NC based Elopement Photographer and Videographer, I do spend all of my time capturing adventure elopements in the outdoors. However, the following tips can truly apply to anyone trying to choose what type of wedding experience you want to have.

Pull up a seat and crack open a notebook if you want to take some notes.
I think this will help you nail down your decision!


Price and Budget

Big weddings are typically a lot more expensive because they require so much more of everything! From space to food, you can expect to spend a pretty penny. Did you know that the average, traditional wedding in 2021, cost $34,000 according to The Knot and USA Today? Those prices are only expected to drastically climb by the end of 2022.

If you just aren’t crazy about spending that much, elopements are typically a less expensive option. There are a lot less things couples typically think about with elopements. My couples tend to hire only a few vendors (if any extra at all). But even if they aren’t cheaper, they at least allow you to spend your hard-earned money in different, more personalized ways. Elopements allow you to choose what is important to you and let go of all the rest that is expected at larger weddings. Because the choice to elope is more personal, the average cost fluctuates greatly. However, you are looking at somewhere between $5,000 and $15,000. This is a great deal cheaper!


Timelines are important to any and all types of weddings – even elopements. The big difference is that, with traditional weddings, that timeline is binding. Because you have so many people who are playing a part, punctuality is key. Everything surrounding these bigger weddings is based on expectation. They just don’t allow for as much flexibility as elopements do.

Because they have fewer moving parts, elopements can truly be whatever you want them to be. You are able to spend time going with the flow and relishing in the present moments. YOU get to choose what parts you want to focus on. 


Did you grow up dreaming of having a big wedding like your favorite Disney movies did? Are you the type that values old traditions? If you answered, “yes,” to either question, a traditional wedding might just need to be your game plan.

If you answered, “no,” then an elopement may be a better fit. You can create a totally unique experience that you and your partner want to have. But, just because you are having an elopement, doesn’t mean that you can’t include tradition! In fact, you can choose to have anything you want during your special wedding. If you want to have a cake cutting or first dance, DO IT!

Venue and Location

Another big difference between an elopement vs traditional wedding is the primary location.

Most traditional weddings are going to require you to book a venue. Side note, most of these venues NEED to be booked WELL in advance. We are talking multiple years ahead sometimes.

Elopements allow for more ability to travel anywhere in the world if you have around 10 guests or less. You also have the option of being outdoors if you like that better! Other than National Parks, you don’t have to book too far in advance as you do with traditional weddings.

Introvert vs Extrovert Differences

It is important to realize that your personality is going to play a huge role in your wedding. Most introverts don’t like the spotlight to be solely on them. If this is you, you probably want to lean more towards eloping. It provides an intimate and slow-paced experience that you can really settle into and enjoy. If you like to be the center of attention, there is nothing wrong with that! That means you are a lot more likely to enjoy a big wedding if you like a party and all eyes on you!

Guest Size

Like most on this list, this is a total preference. Knowing whether or not you want a lot of people to witness your special day is totally up to you. Some people with large families and big social groups are just going to naturally want a big wedding. It goes without saying that if you want that more intimate feeling, then eloping allows you to just experience the day with either a few loved ones or just the two of you!

Group and Personal Needs

When I started this profession, this wasn’t really a thing I ever thought about! However, I quickly learned what a big deal it is! Making sure your wedding is accessible to your group and personal needs are so important!

Whether it caters to activity, restroom access, travel, accessibility, or hospital availability nearby, there are factors that could greatly impact whether you choose between an elopement vs a traditional wedding. Be sure to consider what you and your guests will want and need. These factors are going to play a role in whether you pick an elopement vs wedding. You can have both an elopement and a traditional wedding while catering to these factors, but some might be more tricky than others depending on your plans.

Family Dynamics

The world is filled with lots of people who all have had different experiences in their life. Namely, with their relatives. I have met couples who do everything with their family and others who have little communication with them. It is important to know that neither is wrong.

If you feel like having a large group of family at a big traditional wedding is right for you, then great. However, if you feel more secure with having an elopement just the two of you, then go for it!

The fact of the matter remains that some people just aren’t close, safe, or happy with their families and some are. Do what is best for the two of you!


People who have an elopement vs. wedding tend to value experiences a bit more than the material things that come along with a big wedding. Maybe you value having a big group of people all gathered together to celebrate or maybe you don’t. There are also many other aspects that could play a role in your wedding choice, such as eco-friendly aspects, being in the outdoors during such a special day, or supporting a certain experience your loved ones want you to have. Really think about everything that’s important to you in life, and how it connects to your wedding or elopement experience.

Interest and Ability in Planning

You may work a lot or just don’t like the idea of planning everything big weddings require. That will likely make a big difference in your choice. Couples who elope typically have a lot less required of them to make the celebration come to life. Or, you might be excited about planning a big party! If that is the case, then a big wedding could be a great fit. You can also hire a planner for either type of celebration if that’s in the budget.

Did this article help you nail down whether you want an elopement vs. wedding? I hope so!

If you and your significant other want to take the road less traveled and have a personalized elopement in nature, I’m especially excited for you. This decision might just mean you are in the market for an elopement photographer and videographer…




I believe everyone deserves a wedding experience that feels genuine to them.
That’s why I help those who value intimate, unique, & adventurous memories
have a celebration they cherish for a lifetime.
If you’re dreaming of an elopement immersed in the natural beauty of Western NC,
get in touch and I’ll help you bring everything to life!




Let's Start The Journey