Are you thinking about eloping but worried that you might regret it? You’re not alone!
Couples around the world are asking themselves and other couples on the internet this question every day. If you look at message boards or forums on wedding planning sites, one of the top questions you’ll see related to elopements is “Do you regret eloping?” However, for as many people who say they regret eloping, you’ll find someone who says they regret having a big wedding and not eloping!
So what’s the right choice?
The answer is “well, it depends…”
I have analyzed blog posts, message boards, chat forums, and come up with the top 3 reasons couples regret eloping.
The Top 3 Reasons Couples Regret Eloping
1. They Really Wanted to Have A Big Wedding
If you dream about having a big wedding with all of your family and friends and a string quartet, you are probably never going to be happy with your decision to elope.
You might see eloping as your only option, even if it’s not really what you want, because of constraints on your budget, time, etc.
Weddings can be expensive! In fact, the average cost of a wedding in 2019 was $33,900! And the idea of spending six months to a year planning for one day can be daunting.
However, you shouldn’t elope just because it seems like “the cheap and easy option.”
You deserve to have the wedding you want, and there are lots of creative ways to have the traditional wedding experience on a budget.
You should only elope if that’s what you truly want to do.
2. Their Families Were Hurt By Their Decision
This one is tough, for sure. At the end of the day, your wedding is about you and your partner and not about your families’ feelings and expectations.
Go ahead and read that last sentence one more time for good measure.
That said, I know that it’s hard to totally ignore your loved one’s feelings. The best way to address this is to be forthcoming and open and talk to your family before the fact.
Here are some tips for talking to your family about your decision to elope.
And here are some ways to make sure they still feel included in your wedding if that is a priority for you.
Can I include my family in my elopement?
Eloping doesn’t have to mean that it’s only you and your partner the whole time — it can mean anything you want.
There are literally no rules. If you want your family or close friends to be involved, involve them! Eloping with family is becoming more and more popular each year!
How to include your family and still be able to celebrate with just your partner
You can say your vows in the morning with your loved ones and then go your separate ways and meet up with them that evening for dinner.
You can have your private elopement one day and then have a party with your loved ones the next day!
Some folks opt to elope and then have their marriage blessed by a religious figure at a small celebration with their family later.
You don’t have to keep your elopement a secret or exclude your family if you don’t want to. And if you do want to, just be willing to have an open and honest discussion with them about it.
3. It Didn’t Live Up To Their Expectations
One of the top reasons why some couples regret their decision to elope is that their experience of the day and the photos they received didn’t meet their expectations.
In the age of social media, it’s hard to *not* have high expectations when it comes to eloping.
The internet is filled with attractive couples in expensive, stylish duds eloping on Iceland’s black sand beaches or among the red rocks in the deserts of the American southwest.
It’s so easy to have super high expectations for what your elopement day will be like.
Do your research
Definitely do your research before deciding on your photographer and/or wedding planner. Ask questions about how the day might go, and what the options are if things don’t go according to plan.
When deciding on your photographer, look at enough of their photos that you get a feel for their editing style and the way they work.
Do they shoot a lot of close-ups or more epic wide shots? How do the colors in their photos look?
Are their photos bright, or more moody?
There’s no “right” answer to look for, but you should be confident that you have an understanding of what your photographer’s work looks like and that you enjoy it.
Planning Prevents Poor Performance
Also put some thought into the less glamorous logistics like where you’re staying, what time sunrise and sunset are, the typical weather for the place you’re eloping at that time of year.
Your photographer or planner will be able to help with those details when you’re putting together the plan for your elopement day.
The best way to make sure that you won’t regret eloping is to be very careful and intentional about your planning and decision making.
Check in with yourself
Do you actually want to elope, or are you only considering it as a plan B?
Are you including who and what you want, or are you adhering to arbitrary “rules” about what an elopement should look like?
Are you willing to spend the time making careful, educated decisions about your elopement day?
There are pros and cons of eloping, and you’re more likely to make the right decision if you think about what is really important to you.
The Biggest Elopement-Related Regret On The Internet: “I Wish We Had Eloped.”
One fascinating result of my deep dive into elopement regret is that for every person who shows up on one of these forums talking about regretting their elopement, there is someone else who says that they regret having a big wedding and wish they had eloped instead.
Couples are getting swept up in what they think they need to do instead of prioritizing their own values and desires.
It can indeed be hard to put yourself first, I totally get it, but it’s your wedding, your marriage, your life — not your mom’s, not your pastor’s, not your best friend’s. Yours. What kind of wedding do you want?
Did you regret eloping? Do you regret NOT eloping? Let me know in the comments!
Meet The Author
Leah is an elopement photographer based in Virginia, USA. Before she started her photography business, Leah worked as a social scientist conducting qualitative health research for a local university.