Groom holding the bouquet and holding hands with the bride as they walk along the shore of Lake Buchanan in Texas. Photograph by Austin, Texas wedding photographer Nikk Nguyen.

Should You Elope?

We recently talked about what to do when wedding planning starts to feel frustrating and overwhelming. And even though it may feel like you’re the only one getting fed up with the process (everyone looks so happy on Instagram), a large number of couples, at some point during their engagement, feel like kicking their plans to the curb and eloping instead.

Related: What to Do When You’re Fed Up With Wedding Planning

There are a number of reasons why brides and grooms feel this way:

  • Anxiety about what everything will cost
  • Social anxiety/don’t like being the center of attention
  • Feeling guilted into having a wedding because of family

But thinking about eloping can also bring up questions and doubts like:

  • I’ve always wanted a wedding with all the things, so what if I regret eloping?
  • What if we decide to elope and then regret not having a big wedding a few years from now?
  • The family wants to be included and see the wedding, so they might hold a grudge if we elope.

The thing is, no one can predict the future and you won’t know for sure how nixing your wedding plans for an elopement will make you feel a year from now. But there are some things you can keep in mind and some questions you can ask yourself and your partner to help you make a decision you’re comfortable with.

First, let’s start with wedding planning and continuing your journey towards the big day.

Groom holding bride's bouquet in the air as if celebrating as he walks away holding the brides hand in the grass of the Brodie Homestead in Sunset Valley, Texas. Photograph by Austin, Texas wedding photographer Nikk Nguyen.

If you’re worried about finances and fear going into debt, you can:

Think hard about each potential purchase. Ask yourself whether you really need X or Y. Do you actually care about it or do you feel like you need it because that’s what you’re supposed to have/family thinks you should include it? Can you put that money towards something else that will make you happier?

Have a smaller wedding. Small weddings don’t come with as much anxiety, cost, and people pleasing and allow you to save your cash for things that mean the most to you (dress, photos, honeymoon). Most people don’t wish later on that they had splurged on a chocolate fountain, but do wish they had gotten professional photos.

If you have social anxiety and hate the idea of having all eyes on you, you can:

Downsize your guest list. Only invite people you feel comfortable around, close family and friends.

Practice. If you’re worried about messing up your vows, stumbling in your shoes, posing for photos, etc., the best thing you can do is practice and get comfortable with whatever it is that scares you. Recite your vows in front of the mirror, walk around in your heels, set up an engagement photo shoot to practice posing and feeling confident in front of the camera. You might not be able to control what happens on your wedding day, but you can control how you feel/react and build confidence in yourself.

Related: 5 Reasons Why You Should Get Engagement Photos

Bride holding her bouquet and holding hands and dancing with the groom in the crosswalk of the street of downtown Austin, Texas. Photograph by Austin, Texas wedding photographer Nikk Nguyen.

If you’re feeling obligated to have a certain kind of wedding, you can:

Take control of the expenses. Sometimes family members who help with wedding expenses feel entitled to the decision making process. Although you might feel grateful for their help, you might also feel like you’re being pushed into a decision that doesn’t feel right for you. If this is the case, consider saying no thanks to financial help and fund your own wedding. It might mean you have to make adjustments, but it will also bring you peace of mind.

Stand up for yourself. It’s not easy, but sometimes you have to put your foot down and set boundaries. Your wedding is YOUR day and you should celebrate it in the way you see fit. If you feel guilty and make a decision due to pressure, you might have regrets and resentment. It’s better to stand firm and make known your wants and needs.

If you still feel a pull towards elopement, but also have a case of FOMO, keep these points in mind.

  • If you’re worried about the budget, realize that the financial strain won’t just go away after the wedding. It isn’t an out of sight, out of mind kind of thing. A wedding is an investment and will take time to pay off.
  • Get real about your precious time and health. If you overextend yourself wedding planning, you might collapse on your big day. What is your schedule like? What other irons do you have in the fire? Is all the stress worth it? Or can you postpone your wedding until a later date?

Fear of missing out doesn’t hold as much power when you consider:

  • Eloping now and then experiencing some of the smaller wedding traditions on your first year anniversary (cake and champagne, renew your vows, get dressed up and have photos taken, etc.)
  • Eloping now and then holding a small cocktail party. Invite family and friends and a photographer to capture the celebration.
  • Eloping now and having a wedding at a later date.

One of the best things about eloping is that it allows you to focus on you and your partner without all the distractions of a big day. Having a traditional wedding is fun and exciting, but it’s also filled with activities and people vying for your attention. An elopement, or even a small, intimate wedding, gives you the time and space to celebrate and cherish the moment and each other.

Still not sure if you should elope? I’d love to share with you what I know from previous couples who asked the same question!

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