How to Decide Between an Elopement or Wedding

Are you wondering how to decide between an elopement with your partner or having a more traditional wedding? I feel you. It's a tough one. And from my own experience, it's a conversation you should have multiple times before settling on one or the other. It's also a very personal decision based on your preferences and priorities. There are pro's and con's to each, but if you keep reading, there's also a secret option in celebrating your marriage.

Things to Consider When Deciding Between an Elopement or Wedding

The Elopement Experience

Elopements are the absolute best way to celebrate your love with one another. You get a wedding day where you can connect with nature - saying your vows on top of a mountain, in a beautiful flower field, or by a peaceful body of water. You get to spend quality time with your partner on a day that allows you to slow things down and be fully in the moment.

Elopements are specifically crafted for you and your partner to celebrate your love with intention (and a little bit of adventure). Maybe this means waking up to watch the sun peek out over the horizon together with a hot cup of coffee. Or it could mean hiking to your favorite mountain peak. Perhaps you want to try something you've both never done before. Elopements are meant to be spent doing things that you’re both passionate about - hiking, biking, skiing, exploring new places, picnics on the beach, good food.

I believe that we grow closer to one another when we go through experiences together. So on your wedding day, when you should be feeling as close to your partner as humanly possible, ditch the drama of a big traditional wedding that tends to stress SO many couples out and choose to share in an experience that you'll remember forever.

The Intimate Wedding Experience

The line between elopement and intimate wedding can often seem a bit blurry. Many "elopements" include friends and family, which may therefore be labeled as "intimate wedding." But for the purpose of this blog, we're going to say intimate weddings carry on the true traditional wedding form, typically at a venue, but on a smaller scale.

Intimate weddings are some of my favorites. Not only is the planning easier when you cut down your guest list, the whole vibe of the day is different. When you limit your numbers, there is a much higher chance that everyone attending already knows (or knows of) eachother, easing a bit of tension across the board for both you and your guests.

The other great thing about intimate weddings is that you can put more focus on the details. When you're trying to think of table numbers or escort cards for 200 people, and then flowers to adorn it all, it can be extremely overwhelming. But when that number drops below 50, every piece of the planning process suddenly seems so much more manageable.

An intimate wedding gives you all the perks of a 'traditional wedding' while still keeping you feeling stress-free and fully in the moment. Plus, it's much easier to step away for a few minutes alone together and soak it all in!

Traditional Weddings

We've all been to a traditional wedding. The day is pretty much the same from one to the next - you get ready, there's the ceremony, family photos, a grand entrance the leads to the first dance, dinner and speeches and finally a big dance party. They're fun, they're familiar, everyone knows what to expect and comes ready to party.

But they can also be stressful to plan, even the day itself can be stressful. Time flies by so fast and the bride and groom rarely have time to be together in the moment. Sure, you've got your honeymoon, but it's becoming more normal to plan a delayed honeymoon, so many couples don't have a chance for quiet time together ON their wedding day.

What is Your Wedding Budget?

Weddings are expensive! The average wedding here in Vermont is around $40,000. The bulk of this covers the cost for your venue, catering, florals, and entertainment. Elopements, on the other hand, are generally more cost-effective. The average cost is around $8-10,000. They often involve fewer guests and simpler arrangements. Determine your budget and evaluate what you feel comfortable with.

Read More: How Much Does it Cost to Elope? | Your Wedding Budget Guide

Environmental Impacts

Did you know that a wedding of 100 people will produce about 400-600 lbs of waste? Not to mention that you would need to plant over 2,000 trees to offset the carbon footprint. When you stop and think about the food waste, travel emissions, plastics, and single-use decor, it's pretty crazy how the waste adds up. Try taking an eco-friendly approaching when planning your wedding, or take the simple way around this and elope!

If You Can't Decide Between an Elopement or Wedding... Do Both!

Maybe you want the full elopement experience but you can't imagine it without friends and family around to celebrate with you. Well, guess what? You CAN have both! And honestly, I think it's the way to go! You get the intimate, special moments alone with your partner on an elopement day. You get to do something that isn't on the timeline of every other wedding you attend. Additionally, you get to create a truly 'unique to you' adventure filled with timeless memories. But then... you also get the love and hugs and support, the speeches, and my favorite... the dance party!

Vermont Elopement at the Pitcher Inn. Dress, suit hanging on wooden beam.

Deciding Between an Elopement and Intimate Wedding

Read More: How to Include Friends and Family in Your Elopement

Do Both!

That's right. You can have both experiences - an elopement AND a wedding.

Go ahead. Have your cake and eat it too! Why struggle with the decision when you can quite simply do both! I usually suggest planning both an elopement and wedding day in one of the following ways:

Have a Wedding Celebration After your Elopement

Have that quiet, intimate elopement experience with your partner. Do something fun and exciting! Explore a new part of the world! Allow yourself a day to be fully in the moment with each other. Get rid of distractions and stress. You'll have a day filled with heaps and heaps of love! And then when you're ready, gather your friends and family for a big celebration!

Plan an Elopement Adventure After your Wedding

Maybe your focus is more heavily placed on having a traditional wedding, but you love the idea of going somewhere in your wedding attire for an amazing experience (and getting epic photos)! For some couples, sharing your vows with friends and family present is super important. Maybe you've always envisioned seeing your partner for the first time on your wedding day he/she is walking down the aisle. Simple solution: have your wedding first and then plan on an adventure session in your wedding wear at a later date - later that week, next month, or on your anniversary.


Angela and Charlie decided to travel from Texas to Vermont for their elopement at the Pitcher Inn. They exchanged their vows on a quiet wooded trail, accompanied by their dog, explored a nearby river and local dirt roads with beautiful mountain views.

A month later, they gathered their closest friends and family at the beautiful Hood Park Manor in Telluride, CO - a place that has become somewhat of a second home for the two of them for a second celebration. View some of their gallery below.

Share this story

me, Kate Seymour

meet kate

Adventure Elopements + Intimate Weddings

vermont, new england and the wild west