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Reasons Not to Elope: Busting The Biggest Myths & Misconceptions About Elopements

A couple hikes in the mountains by a lake at sunset during their elopement in the North Cascades

Should We Elope?

There are so many negative misconceptions & myths surrounding eloping as the meaning of what an elopement is has vastly changed over the years. As an elopement photographer who loves helping couples create their dream elopement day, I'm here to break down some of these false statements and instead offer a different perspective on elopements.

First off- while I personally believe that eloping is the best way to get married, I also believe that eloping isn't right for everyone. Just like having a big, traditional wedding isn't right for every couple.

The most important thing is that you do what's right for you and will make you the happiest. Don't worry about what you "should" or "shouldn't" do. Don't worry about what anyone else thinks. It's not about that.

If you're stuck wondering "should we elope", take some time to be alone, device-free (both independently and together) to really reflect on what you want and what elements of your day is most important to you.

There is honestly no wrong answer. Seriously!

While this post will be talking more about common misconceptions people have about elopements, you may also be wondering what eloping feels like. If you're looking for the emotional aspect and perspectives from multiple couples who've already eloped- check out Should We Elope? What It's Really Like to Elope- Stories & Advice from Couples who Eloped for an inside look from couples who've been where you are.

So...what does it even mean to elope?

If you were to research that question on the internet, the dictionary definition would be to "run away secretly in order to get married, especially without parental consent". That doesn't really give you much helpful information now does it?

The definition of an elopement has shifted over the years, so that doesn't really fit anymore. I like to define an elopement as:

An intentionally intimate, deeply meaningful celebration of your relationship and love that is completely focused on the two of you. A day that focuses on what matters the most-two people exchanging their vows and committing the rest of their lives to one another!

Eloping allows you to set aside stress, expectations, and throw out any traditions you don't feel connected to. You can elope just the two of you, or you can elope surrounded by your very closest family and friends.

The term “elopement” can’t be put in a box, it’s truly whatever you choose it to be. Whether you want to hike in the mountains, adventure and go off-roading in the desert, take a helicopter tour and say your vows on a glacier, or ride horses through the redwoods then explore a remote beach- anything is possible! You can design your elopement to be an experience that is going to be the most fun and fulfilling for you and your partner. A day that will make you the happiest (no matter what that looks like).

However, there are still a ton of misconceptions on what eloping actually means and it can cause a lot of confusion. So, I wanted to tackle the biggest myths surrounding elopements, talk about why they are completely FALSE, and shed some light on what eloping really means today.

Common Myths About Elopements

Myth #1: Elopements are a ill-planned and shameful way to get married

When you say the word "elopement", many people conjure up images of Vegas, Elvis impersonators, and shotgun weddings. Some people believe that eloping is a shameful, rushed way to get married and picture two people running away defiantly to get married against other people's wishes.

Well, I'm here to tell you that while this may have been the case in the past, it is definitely NOT the case today.

People choose to elope for a variety of reasons (Check out my blog post talking about 6 reasons why people elope!), and most of the time it is not a last-minute, spontaneous decision.

Instead, people who elope make that decision intentionally and with purpose. They are choosing to elope because it is the most accurate reflection of their relationship and their desires for their wedding day. They're not afraid to go against the status quo to pursue what they truly want. People who elope choose to strip a wedding down to what really matters most-celebrating two people exchanging vows and committing the rest of their lives to one another. Every elopement I've had the honor of being a part of has been overwhelmingly emotional, filled with so many personal details, so much space for the couple to be themselves, spend quality time together, and do the things they actually enjoy. When you have the space and feel completely free to be yourself and say whatever you want in your vows (whether it's just you two or your most trusted loved ones), it gets really emotional.

As for ill-planned, elopements can be planned in advance! And that doesn't make them any less of an elopement. I've helped couples plan their day anywhere from 2 weeks to 1.5 years in advance and all had a lot of thought put into their day.

A bride laughs as she dances in her wedding dress at sunset during their North Cascades elopement

Myth #2: Elopements are short and rushed

Another big misconception held regarding elopements is that they only last around 1-2 hours and that they're really short, rushed affairs with not a lot of thought or effort put into them.

The truth is that elopements can last however long the couple wants them to. My two most commonly booked packages are my 8 & 12 hour packages! While that may sound completely wild at first- I promise it really isn't.

As cliché as it sounds, time goes by so incredibly quickly on your wedding day.

Your elopement is so much more than just your vows and some quick photos. This is your wedding day- the day you're committing the rest of your lives to one another and will be your anniversary forever. This day is SO incredibly important- it's only going to happen once. So why not make it a memorable day full of intentional details and activities that are meaningful to you and your relationship (and are a whole lot of fun)?

P.S. On that note, your wedding day deserves documentation, whether it's just the two of you or with 150 guests. Your entire story deserves to be told- so you can relive the emotions and memories of the day again and again.

The great thing about eloping is that you can do anything you want and there's no pre-set expectations or standard you have to follow. Make it the best experience possible for you two. Don't let anyone else tell you how it should or shouldn't look and really feel free to have the type of day that makes you the happiest.

If you need an extra dose of inspiration, here's 80+ ideas of activities for your elopement!

Myth #3: People who elope don't care about their wedding day

This is another extremely common (and totally false!) misconception of why people actually elope. It's not that people who elope don't care about their wedding day, other things are just more important to them. In fact, I'd even argue that people who elope actually care MORE about their wedding day.

They're choosing to have a day just for them. Instead of throwing a huge party, they spend the day exactly how they want. Whether that's hiking, having a picnic, travelling to a new place, having a once in a lifetime experience (like taking a helicopter tour & landing on a glacier or kayaking among icebergs) or exploring the outdoors- anything is possible and no adventure is too crazy.

The day you say your vows to your partner and commit the rest of your life to them is so incredibly important. No one should be forced into having a type of wedding day that they don't want.

A groom kisses a bride on her forehead at sunset during their Sedona elopement after flying in an airplane

Myth #4: Eloping is for people who don't have a lot of friends or family

Some people have the belief that if a couple is choosing to elope instead of having a giant party with hundreds of people, then they must be lonely or don't have a lot of friends, family or a strong support system. I'm here to tell you that is definitely not true.

A lot of couples eloping have very strong, solid relationships with their families and friends, ones who support them no matter what they do, and they still decide to ditch the big wedding and elope instead. These couples choose to have a sincere, intimate day all about celebrating the moment they commit their life to their partner and exchange their vows. Couples who elope want to focus solely on their love for their partner and have an adventure- instead of hosting a huge party where they are the center of attention.

The point of eloping isn't to exclude anyone, and it isn't a subliminal message to your loved ones that you don't care about them or want them their on your day. The point of eloping is to have the type of wedding day that you want- one where you enjoy every minute of it.

Plus- if you do want to include friends and family on your elopement day, you totally can! Many couples who elope choose to invite guests still for a portion, or all of their elopement.

Additionally some couples have toxic or complicated family relationships and don't want any unnecessary stress or drama on what is supposed to be a happy day for them and their partner.

Myth #5: Elopements can only be the two of you

While elopements can be just the two of you- that doesn't necessarily have to be the case. You can include your friends and family and still have an intentional wedding day.

Bring your closest friends, your kids, your parents, and anyone else you are incredibly close to. You can even bring your dog! (Please, please bring your dog- four legged friends make the best guests!)

If you can't imagine your wedding day without some of your closest loved ones- bring them along! As long as they are completely on board with your plans and support you, your day can have the same sincerity and intimacy as it would with just the two of you.

And like I said before, there are no rules when you're eloping. If you want to spend the whole day with your loved ones? Great!

If you only want your family & friends there for the ceremony and you want to go on an adventure before or afterwards with just you and your partner (and photographer)? Awesome!

If you want to exchange your vows privately and then celebrate after with your loved ones? Let's do it!

If you want to have an epic adventure with just you and your partner and then have a reception back home months later? Sounds perfect!

The point is, it's completely up to you. You get to decide exactly what your wedding day looks like and who is involved.

A couple celebrates their new marriage with their friends and family after eloping in Moab at Dead Horse Point State Park

Myth #6: Your family and friends have a right to be at your wedding

This one is one of the most prevalent comments out there, that "eloping is selfish" or you have that one family member telling you they have "the right to be there".

But honestly? No one has the right to an invitation to your wedding day or "deserves to be there". You get to decide who gets to be there. You deserve to say your vows and start your marriage surrounded by people who make you feel safe, happy, and truly loved- whether that's your partner, a few closed friends & family, or even your pet!

And hey- maybe eloping is a little selfish. But your wedding day is about you and your partner committing yourselves to one another and saying your vows. It's about having a fun day that makes you the happiest, feel fulfilled & in-love, and brings you joy. It's not about pleasing other people.

Myth #7: People only elope to save money

As prices of big, traditional weddings soar (the average cost for a wedding in 2019 was $33,900), wedding days are more focused on "stuff" instead of real moments, and planning a wedding becomes increasingly more stressful- more and more people are looking for alternative ways to get married.

There is a huge misconception that elopements are a cheaper (or even "less than") way to get married- which couldn't be further from the truth. Often times couples who elope value experiences over material things and all of the "stuff" that's included in a big wedding just isn't a priority for couples eloping or where they want to spend there money on. It's not that they don't care or aren't willing to invest into their wedding day. It's that instead they're intentionally choosing to invest in what matters to them and in the things or experiences they truly love and are passionate about.

Instead of wedding favors, invitations, linens, decorations, dinnerware, food and everything else required for an event for 150-300 guests, couples can... to somewhere they've always wanted to visit to say their vows

…invest in a once in a lifetime experience or activities they really enjoy to make their day fun, unique to them, and even more special

…plan a really fun weekend to spend a lot of quality time with their most cherished loved ones instead of feeling pulled in a million different directions trying to talk to/entertain 150+ guests

…save money for the future and their marriage/life together

A couple looks at the sunset over Mount Baker while holding lanterns during their North Cascades elopement

Myth #8: People who elope regret "missing out" on a traditional wedding day

As long as you are eloping because that is truly what you and your partner want to do- I promise this will not be the case. If you elope for all the right reasons, it will be the best day ever.

Instead, you'll be wishing you can relive your elopement experience over and over again.

When I surveyed couples for a different blog, I asked them "Do you regret eloping?" and the answer was an emphatic no. I've also never had any couple I've worked regret eloping! Many of them state it was the absolute best day ever and they want to relive it again and again.

However, if you Google "Do couples regret having a traditional wedding" or "wedding regrets" there are quite a lot of results! A common theme among them is that couples who had a traditional wedding wish they eloped.

Plus- if you want to have a reception back home after the two of you elope, go for it! Show off your incredible elopement photos that tell a story of your day and describe your experience to all your friends and family while you celebrate your new marriage.

However, there is one big reason of why you shouldn't elope. If a large, traditional wedding has always been your dream, then eloping is probably not the right path for you. As I said in the beginning, be true to yourself.

The most important thing you can do (here and in life in general) is to be honest with what you truly want from your experience and plan a fun day that is authentic to your relationship. If you do that, I can (almost) guarantee you won't regret a thing.

A couple dances by a lake during their elopement in Mount Rainier National Park in Washington

A groom kisses his bride on the shoulder during their Mount Rainier Elopement

A couple hiking in the desert during their elopement in Moab


Meet Your Adventure Elopement Photographer

Hi! My name is Kathleen and I'm an adventure wedding and elopement photographer (and your new friend!). I'm also an avid hiker & backpacker who loves adventure of any kind (most of the time with my dog Ranger!). I'm here to help guide you to having the ultimate wedding day experience, and to document every single moment of it.

I would love to help you plan your elopement and answer any questions you may have! I photograph elopement packages in Washington, Alaska, Arizona, and Utah and would love to document your special day.

Get in touch with me and let's start planning your dream adventure.


An adventure elopement photographer who photographs elopements in Washington, Utah, Alaska and Arizona

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