Whether you’re getting married in the time of a global pandemic (send help!) or you’re reading this in the year 2042 and things are just peachy (teleport me there now, please!), all wedding planning begins with one decision: what kind of wedding do you want to have? And for many, that boils down to choosing between a wedding or an elopement.
As a wedding and elopement photographer who dabbles in both, I’ve had the opportunity to view many of each up close and personal. From large, lavish wedding days to intimate elopements, ya girl has seen it all!
And to be real, I love them all equally! But what I don’t love is watching a bride-to-be trying to plan a wedding day when she would rather have eloped and visa versa. So, let’s start your wedding planning off on the right foot by exploring some of the qualities that make weddings and elopements different. This way, you can truly choose the one that best suits your life and your love story!
- WHERE DO YOU WANT TO PLACE THE FOCUS?
An important question to ask yourselves is where you hope to place the focus on your wedding day. And remember, you are about to spend the next six months to a year or more planning this…so it would be best if you choose to place the focus on things that bring you joy!
During an elopement, the focus is on the couple themselves, the romance between them, and sometimes the location. It’s a chance to strip down all the extra stuff, leaving only the essentials. For many, this means losing those elaborate floral arrangements, expensive caterers, and significantly trimming down the guest list. And then that saved money can go toward an epic honeymoon, a house, or just your savings account!
On the other hand, weddings are great for couples who love big celebrations, complete with all the treats and decorations. So, if your wedding day wouldn’t feel complete without beautiful bouquets and a big, celebratory dinner, a wedding is definitely the way to go! A traditional wedding also invites friends and family members to step into the spotlight with you, and for some, that’s an absolute must for a meaningful celebration.
- HOW MUCH DO YOU LOVE (OR HATE) BEING IN THE SPOTLIGHT?
Speaking of the spotlight, how much do you enjoy being in it?
Because elopements are far more low-key, couples have told me they feel less pressure during the planning and even the celebration itself. So, if the idea of walking down the aisle with hundreds of eyes watching makes your stomach do backflips, maybe an elopement would be the way to go.
However, if you enjoy being celebrated and loved on by those you love most, what better time to bask in that glow than on your wedding day?
- WHO DO YOU WANT TO CELEBRATE WITH?
When you close your eyes and imagine your ideal wedding day, whose faces do you see?
If the only face that matters is the love of your life and maaaaaybe a few loved ones, then an elopement could be the perfect way for you to say, “I do.” They aren’t kidding when they say you probably won’t be spending too much time with your new spouse during a traditional wedding. With so many guests, family, friends, and a bridal party tugging on your attention, your new husband or wife will only get a fraction of your time. If that horrifies you, think about eloping instead.
However, if the idea of filling your wedding day with all the people you love most floods your heart with joy, then a traditional wedding is probably your jam! If a laughter-filled morning spent getting ready, a chorus of cheers when you kiss your spouse for the first time, and a packed reception dance floor are important to you, don’t deny yourself that joy!
- WHAT DO YOU WANT TO SEE IN YOUR PHOTOS?
And finally, as your wedding or elopement photographer, we’ve gotta talk photos! So, when you receive your final wedding gallery, what are you hoping to see? What images do you want to see displayed in your home and passed around on holidays in your album?
During an elopement, most of the photos are centered on the couple and their uniquely special connection. I am able to capture things I may not have the time to document during a wedding day, like the way your hands brush or the little, non-verbal ways you say, “I love you.”
At a wedding celebration, however, I focus on capturing as many of the guests as possible. I want to showcase the way you interact with all the friends and family who love you so well, so if your grandma’s smile and your college roommates epic dance moves absolutely MUST be in your wedding album, consider opting for a wedding over an elopement.
There are many other differences to consider, like how you handle stress, your budget, and your family dynamics, but these are a few of the essentials.
Above all, the most important thing is that you have the most amazing wedding day possible. So, before you start calling florists or shopping for your gown, sit down as a couple to have an honest conversation about what you truly want from your wedding day. Just like in a great marriage, a little open communication goes a long way!
And no matter which way you decide to go, I specialize in both! Whether you plan a bold, high-energy wedding day with 300 of your favorite people or you opt to say I do alone in Santorini, I can’t wait to turn those beautiful memories into works of art.