Are you wondering about an elopement vs wedding? If so, you’re in the right place! Below, I’ll share everything you need to know about having an elopement or a wedding, the differences between the two, and how to decide which one is right for you.

elopement vs wedding; breckenridge elopement
Breckenridge, Among the Pines Photography

Most people, especially those who have found the one, have an idea about how elopements differ from weddings. Some even know exactly which route they want to take.

Both options entail important pieces for executing your dream day, and both lead to one thing – getting married and spending the rest of your life with your soul mate.

So, look at their similar and different details, their pros and cons, and which one might be best for you and your love!

Ready to get straight to it and plan your dream day? I’m an elopement and intimate wedding photographer and an officiant who can also help you with the entire planning process.

Differences Between an Elopement and a Wedding

The most significant differences between elopement vs wedding are the planning process, guest list, and location.

Garden of the Gods elopement
Garden of the Gods, Among the Pines Photography


When planning an elopement, the process is usually much easier and quicker than when planning a wedding. You can often plan an elopement in just a few months or even weeks. That’s because, with an elopement, you’re planning the day around yourself, your significant other, and maybe a few guests.

Tip: If planning a destination elopement, give yourself a few months to sort out all the details.

On the other hand, there are more details to plan with a wedding, mainly due to guests. Much more time is involved with arranging schedules, seating charts, entertainment, and food. This is why many couples spend months, even years, planning a wedding. You can skip a lot of these details when planning an elopement.


Elopements usually only involve the couple, an officiant, and maybe a few loved ones. Many couples appreciate a small guest count because it allows them to focus more on themselves during their special day – which is perfectly okay!

People who go the wedding route typically want to invite all the important people in their lives, which is also completely understandable. This means the guest list is longer, and you must consider seating, transportation, accommodations, and more.

Boulder elopement
Boulder, Among the Pines Photography


Another big difference between elopements and traditional weddings is location. When you elope, you can have your ceremony just about anywhere. The beach, the mountains, a national park, or a cabin in the woods are just a few places you can elope.

If you’re planning a traditional wedding, you need a venue that accommodates guests and has a space for your ceremony and reception. Some couples also opt for separate ceremony and reception locations. As you probably already know, booking a venue (especially if you have a particular one in mind) may require you to be more flexible with your wedding date.

Here are a few of my favorite elopement and destination wedding locations I’ve photographed:

  • Montana (Bozeman, Glacier National Park, and Lolo National Forest)
  • Colorado (a quaint mountain town, a big city, and Great Sand Dunes National Park)
  • Moab (a nature enthusiast’s paradise)
  • Alaska (Denali National Park, an iconic mountain pass, and a charming rainforest location)
  • Ireland (sea cliffs, sandy beaches, Irish castles, and Killarney National Park)
Bozeman elopement
Bozeman, Among the Pines Photography

You might also be interested in reading: The Ultimate Elopement Checklist: Everything You Need to Know

Elopement vs Wedding: Pros and Cons

Both elopements and weddings have their share of advantages and disadvantages. It depends on individual couples and their vision for their dream day.

To help you decide which is right for you, let’s take a look at the pros and cons of each.

Looking for a quick rundown? Here you go!

Elopement Pros

  • The day is really all about you.
  • You can say “I do” almost anywhere.
  • It’s not as stressful.
  • It can be as affordable or costly as you’d like.
  • You can enjoy a private photo session.

Elopement Cons

  • You may miss having your loved ones there.
  • Your loved ones may feel excluded.
  • You might miss out on wedding gifts.

Wedding Pros

  • You can participate in traditions.
  • All your loved ones can attend.
  • You can choose bigger venues.

Wedding Cons

  • Planning can be lengthy and stressful.
  • You’ll spend more money.
  • Your special day won’t only focus on you but your guests too.
Rocky Mountain National Park elopement
Rocky Mountain National Park, Among the Pines Photography

Pros of Eloping

The day is really all about you.

You don’t have to worry about ensuring all your guests are happy when you elope. It’s okay to be selfish on the day you and your love commit to forever! And if you want to have a few loved ones attend your elopement, planning food and fun for just a couple of people doesn’t have to take away from making the day exactly what you want it to be.

You can say “I do” almost anywhere.

Since an elopement only involves a few people, you don’t have to worry about choosing a location that fits a crowd. You can have your ceremony in just about any place you choose!

It’s not as stressful.

With less planning, especially if you have an elopement photographer and planner like myself helping you, you’ll likely experience little to no stress. Elopements are usually relaxed, fun experiences so couples can leave the stress behind!

It can be as affordable or costly as you’d like.

Naturally, the average cost is less when you’re not paying for a larger venue, food and drinks for multiple guests, or a ton of decor. Who can complain about that?!

If you want to spend a little more and go all out on travel, attire, and activities – you can do that too. Either way, it’s totally up to you.

You can get amazing photos.

Couples who elope, especially those who have an adventure elopement, can do more exploring for unique photo possibilities. While pictures with wedding parties and guests are usually fun, there can be more opportunities when it’s just you and your love.

Rocky Mountain National Park elopement
Rocky Mountain National Park, Among the Pines Photography

Cons of Eloping

You may miss having your loved ones there.

If you have a close-knit family and/or friend group you love, it’s natural to want them to join you on your big day. So, you might miss having them celebrate with you on your big day. 

However, there are unique ways to include your loved ones when eloping. You can send photos of your ceremony, have a get-together before or after your elopement, and let them witness you signing your marriage license. 

Your loved ones may feel excluded.

If you choose to elope, you may find that your loved ones feel excluded from your big day. You can include them using the ideas above and by having them help you with travel plans and picking out your attire.

You might miss out on wedding gifts.

A drawback of elopement vs wedding is that you will have fewer guests, so you might miss out on wedding gifts. Guests often enjoy gifting newlyweds with keepsakes and items for a new home. You can offer this opportunity by sending out an announcement with a gift registry link or having a bridal shower before your elopement day.

Pros of a Wedding

You can participate in traditions.

Many couples find wedding traditions to be very sentimental. These may include the father walking the bride down the aisle or having a wedding party.

Keep in mind that it’s easy to carry some traditions into your elopement day. For example, you can always incorporate something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue.

All your loved ones can attend.

When you have a traditional wedding ceremony, you can opt for larger venues to accommodate your loved ones.

You can choose bigger venues.

Some venues require a minimum headcount. If you’re having a wedding with guests, you can go with these larger venues.

Great Sand Dunes elopement
Great Sand Dunes, Among the Pines Photography

Cons of a Wedding

Planning can be lengthy and stressful.

Because weddings typically mean more people and details, planning can take a while and be more stressful than planning a simpler elopement. Wedding planners can help ease some of this pressure but come at a cost. You can also opt for a smaller wedding for less stress.

You’ll spend more money.

Again, more details and people lead to spending more money. Many couples would rather save their cash for a fun honeymoon, and I can’t say that I disagree!

Your special day won’t only focus on you but also on your guests.

While it’s common to want your guests to enjoy your wedding, there’s nothing wrong with your big day being all about you. Having a wedding almost always means more focus goes toward your guests.

Elopement vs Wedding FAQ

Is it better to elope or have a wedding?

Elopements are better for couples who want to plan an authentic day with less pressure. Weddings are best for those who prefer to have a traditional ceremony.

That said, you can make either experience whatever you want. For example, you can invite a few loved ones and include traditions in your elopement. If you have a traditional wedding, you can incorporate unique touches to personalize it for you and your love.

Try this to help you decide what’s better for you and your partner:

Close your eyes and imagine your special day. Is it intimate, or are all your loved ones there? Is it at a beautiful venue with many vendors or on a mountaintop at sunset? Do you want to plan a detailed, extravagant day or do something simple next month? At the end of the day, it’s all about you and your significant other!

How much does eloping cost compared to wedding?

Elopements usually cost anywhere from $1,000 – $1,500. Meanwhile, the national average cost for a wedding is about $30,000.

Do people elope then have a wedding?

It’s definitely possible to elope, then have a wedding. This allows you to enjoy an authentic day without the stress of wedding planning, then celebrate with loved ones later.

Choosing Between an Elopement vs Wedding: Which is Better?

Elopements and weddings can both be memorable experiences and ultimately lead to you and your loved one saying, “I do.” Deciding which one is right for you depends on what your dream day looks like. 

For me, I chose to have an elopement because I wanted my wedding day to be 100% authentic. I wanted it to be all about what my husband, Hunter, and I love. By avoiding traditional things we didn’t care about and the opinions of others, we were able to have a stress-free, relaxing, and adventurous elopement day. It was inspired by the nature that surrounded us and left us intentionally focused on our love for one another – a perfect way to start a marriage!

North Cascade elopement ceremony
Brooke and Hunter, More Van Anything

As an adventure elopement and intimate wedding photographer, I’ve helped many couples execute their dream day and share the memories with their loved ones. I also help with small weddings if that’s what you’re looking for.

Client Praise


Brooke is professional, prepared, and provides all the peace of mind that a bride needs on her wedding day. Because of our conversations leading up to the day, I had no doubt that she would capture every important moment and more. Throughout the day, she was present and helpful, but never overbearing or controlling. She beautifully captured the moments that happened naturally & her experience allowed for insight and ideas that I wouldn't have thought to ask for but that I'll now cherish forever! She is flexible, understanding, and patient, and looking back, we can't imagine our day without her. If you are looking for someone to capture your wedding day, or just any day, Brooke is your girl. She goes above and beyond to serve her clients, and she is absolutely gifted at what she does.

"SHE GOES ABOVE AND BEYOND TO SERVE HER CLIENTS, and she is absolutely gifted at what she does."

Linden + Brent

In the end, her creativity and our happiness totally shine through in every single photo. Brooke made both of us feel so at ease, from our individual sessions before we had our first look, to strolling through downtown Ouray, to our ceremony and in the scenic spots we visited afterwards. Her talent is beyond compare and we are absolutely thrilled with our gallery of photos we will treasure forever. We give Brooke our highest recommendation and can’t wait to work with her again!

"Throughout the entire planning process, Brooke was honest and flexible, and made it clear that her goal was for us to be 100% happy."

Emily + Nick

Brooke is hands down the most talented photographer I have ever met in my entire life. I gave her my inspiration and she took it and made it into something entirely unique and beautiful. Brooke was able to work with my budget and offer me options. Along with all of this, she was always there to communicate with me from ideas to concerns. The day of never goes as planned, she was thrown curveball after curveball and dodged them all with ease. The photos we received memorialized the best day of our lives and we are forever grateful for the beautiful artwork she created.

"we are forever grateful for the beautiful artwork she created."


Brooke was booked to do our wedding June 6th. However, the virus hit and we were afraid we wouldn’t be able to have our wedding in June so we decided to go ahead and get married with just our parents there. I called Brooke and told her our plans and literally we were getting married in a week and she was so quick to say yes and capture our day for us. She helped make our day very special. She was super fun and made Zach and I feel very comfortable. I got my pictures back and I felt so overjoyed to see the happiness and love I felt on that day. Even though we didn’t have our wedding like we planned, it was still very special and Brooke was a big hand in that. She truly captured some very special memories that I will have for the rest of my life. 


Our wedding was in Kentucky in September. Brooke not only traveled for us but made a custom package for us because we had a unique situation. She took pictures the day before, and just seemed to be in the right place at the right time. She met with me before the wedding and we communicated a few times up to the wedding about my specific requests, and she hit the nail on the head. I am so very thankful for Brooke's story-telling, organic nature. She captured our wedding for exactly what it was and what I will remember it to be...full of joy, laughter, love and hope for the future!

"I AM SO VERY THANKFUL FOR BROOKE'S storytelling, organic nature."



She’s professional, creative, organized, kind, and just a blast to be around. She made my husband comfortable instantly in front of a camera so she’s a miracle worker too. We can’t stop staring at our photos! So many people keep telling us how amazing they are!


Jessica & Robby

Brooke has a true talent. She is able to tap into and capture moments you didn’t even realize were happening.  Absolutely 100% recommend Brooke and her beautiful pictures. We booked her services for our engagement pictures and then immediately realized we needed to have her for our wedding also. I’m already preemptively dreaming of the anniversary shoot I want!

"Brooke will make you feel comfortable and like a friend - she will take your ideas and inspiration and produce something better than you thought."

Rori + Eli

Brooke truly listened to what we wanted as a couple, our hopes, and took time to understand our "vibe," which came through in her work she delivered.

I can't thank Brooke enough for her amazing work - seriously the BEST decision we made and brings me to tears each time I look at these beautiful, photographic memories we'll have forever.


Not only is Brooke an amazing photographer, but she is so fun and easy to work with! She made the whole process feel natural and comfortable for someone who typically feels awkward and weird while getting pictures taken! I love all of the pictures and I highly recommend Brooke as a photographer!

"SHE MADE THE WHOLE PROCESS FEEL natural & Comfortable."


That's exactly what Brooke does, she captures a story. No words needed. You can see it and feel it. You can remember the exact moment and how you feel for that person and see how they feel about you. Her intuitive eye has only gotten sharper. I can’t wait to see what other adventures await for her to capture.

"SHE CAPTURES A STORY, NO WORDS NEEDED. you can see it and feel it."

Christy + Austin

Brooke is the absolute best. She truly went above and beyond for my fiancé and I to be able to get our engagement photos taken with the fall colors. Our engagement session with Brooke was such a special experience and a memory we will cherish forever.

Brooke is so sweet, fun, personable and incredibly talented. We could not be more in love with our engagement photos!

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