“Why I Wish I Eloped” | Married Couples Share Their Experiences

February 9, 2020

Orlando, Florida elopement photographer at the beach

As wedding & elopement photographers, we’ve seen a huge variety of weddings & elopements. Have you ever wondered how photographers get married & what they like, love, or regret about the way they got married? I asked a group of wedding & elopement photographers if they liked the way they got married, how they got married, & if anyone had thoughts of “why I wish I eloped”. What kind of wedding is the best fit for you? Some of the answers might surprise you!

Couples Who Were Happy With Their Decision to Elope

“Austin & I self solemnized on the side of the road after carrying around our license for a week or so! It was totally private, no photographer or anything. A few months later we had a casual wedding with a ceremony & everything. The only thing I would change that just can’t really be helped is that we have made some really amazing friends in the last two years that I would love to have had there with us.” -Jess at The Drawhorns

“We kind of eloped, we lived in a big wedding destination. We did a very small wedding, just us & our parents and three friends. We loved it & I’m still glad that we did it that way. We did have a reception on a separate day to celebrate with more friends & family.” -Samantha

“We did just parents & siblings. Best decision I ever made. A few weekends later we did a big bbq style “reception” with everyone & it was perfect! Now I do wish I thought about getting a better photographer but I was young and clueless!” -Cailee at Cailee Nicole Photography

“I eloped too….met my hubby in Maine & never regretted the elopement decision!” -Justyna at Justyna Butler Photography

“I eloped in Oregon & then we had a backyard bbq with friends & fam a few months later. No regrets at alllll!” -Alyssa at Alyssa Reinhold

“Eloped & wouldn’t change it at all!” -Dayla

“We eloped by hiring an officiant & going to a pretty park downtown. We had our immediate families with us & were able to use the money saved on a down payment for our house & a two week honeymoon. 10/10 would elope again rather than throw so much money into what is essentially a party.” -Hayley at Chasing Light Photography

“We eloped & I wouldn’t change a thing! It was perfection! We were able to do the things that were important to us.” -Teri at Ciao Bella Studios

Couples Who Would Have Changed Something About Their Elopement

“My husband & I eloped & it was the best decision we ever made. We are not people who do well in the spotlight & the whole idea of sharing something so intimate in front of a bunch of people made us really uncomfortable. The only thing I would have done differently would have been to hire a better photographer. The elopement package we got came with a photographer who was fine but they aren’t photos I’m super amazed to show off, which is a bit of a drag.” -Heather at Craft & Cluster

“We eloped on Maui & it was wonderful. Looking back, I would have done a few more “traditional” things. First dance, ordered a cake just for the fun of it, & had our photographer there for more of the day. We did have a day after adventure session on the recommendation of our photographer, which was amazing & something every couple should do!” -Deborah at Bamboo Dreams Photography

“We just wanted to get married with our immediate family & best friends somewhere in the mountains. But no one “knew” how to do that so we hired a coordinator and did what everyone else was doing. We had great vendors & still had fun together, because that’s what’s important. But we would have done it differently & once we learned we weren’t alone we jumped into elopements!” -Mark at Story Bright Films

“We had an intimate wedding in the snow back in 2016 with our closest family & friends (about 22 people) & I honestly could have narrowed down who came even more since there were a few “close family members” that we invited out of respect & “not stirring the pot” rather than because we truly wanted them to be there. Now that I know what I know I would have been even more intentional with who was there & not worried about hurting anyone’s feelings.” -Tori at Adventure Instead

“I eloped 8 years ago before when elopement options were courthouse or Vegas. We did courthouse. I would elope again, definitely no interest in a wedding, but this time probably in another country on an adventure somewhere.” -Gabby at Gabby Jockers Photography

“We had a small wedding of about 50 people near a cabin in the Colorado mountains. If I had to do it over, we’d narrow down the number of people & do a hike to an alpine lake or get married on a beach. And then have a party for family at a different time.” -Stacy at at Outshined Photography

“We eloped! It was amazing but what I wish I did different was get the dress of my dreams. I found THE dress but we were heading off to elope 2 weeks later & BHLDN didn’t have it in my size in stock. I had to wear a $80 dress from an online boutique & I looked good but I wish I had been able to have the dress I initially wanted.” -Rachel at Rachel Ingram Photography

“I had a small destination wedding in Hawaii – about 20 guests, mostly family & 3 close friends. Even with 20, it was a lot of planning but it was also nice. It wasn’t very traditional (got married on the beach by a kahuna) but if I were to get married again, I’d just do the 2 of us & no one else and then have a small dinner with family after a couple of months of travel.” -Paige at Paige Eden Photography  

“We eloped with just our two best friends. I wish i would have included my mom. Also we eloped in 2016 before adventure elopements were really even a thing.” -Kelly at In Love & Adventure

“It took us a full year to explain to family why we wanted to elope. We had basically planned out an entire chunk of our traditional wedding when we said “screw it”. Wouldn’t change a thing, except I maybe would have loved to do a sunrise adventure just the two of us & then had our sunset ceremony (we had our parents and siblings there for ours).” -Sheena at Sheena Shahangian Photography

Couples Who Decided on an Intimate Wedding

“We had an intimate wedding—18 guests most of which were immediate family. It was awesome and I would absolutely recommend it. My two best friends who were there both had similar weddings because of mine. The only thing I wish we had done better was find a better photographer.” -Libby at Libby Neder Photography

“I had a wedding with 80 guests & I loved it. We kept things simple a& just had a dessert reception. We met at a Beatles tribute band concert, & we were able to have that band play at our reception so it was so fun and meaningful.” -Kelsi at IndieGlow Films

“We had a tiny tiny wedding at my families cabin in the mountains. It was perfect. Small & intimate but still had a few guests. Very casual and lots of tequila.” -Kyla at KJean Photography

“We basically did an intimate wedding. It almost felt like an elopement experience could’ve been like because it had a lot of similarities. We got a house in Telluride with our wedding party and their significant others, we were married outside in a remote area Colorado underneath Mount Sneffels, with about 50 people in total attendance! Our best friends, our closest families, & only a handful of other especially meaningful people. There weren’t many random people & it just felt like family because many of us all knew each other! Weddings or elopements, whatever you call them, I think its most important to plan an experience that is ideal for you and your partner!” -Steven at Foster Creative

Couples Who Had Thoughts of “Why I Wish I Eloped”

“We wished we would’ve stood our ground & eloped with just immediate family. Our wedding got out of hand & really wasn’t anything like what we wanted.” -Shanna at Basecamp Visual

“We got engaged in Pairs & had our engagement session done there as well. I honestly wanted to elope right then & there because of my family and their drama. I was 35 when we got engaged I just wanted our wedding to be more about us & I was so tired of pleasing everyone else. My husband wanted to have a wedding because his mom missed out on his brothers big day because they eloped. I did love our wedding, but in retrospect I would’ve still eloped and saved that money for a house or a month long vacation.” -Andrea at Andrea Rodway Photography

“So much bull caca the day of. Would have rather spent the money on an amazing trip to Europe.” -Ashley

“Had a more traditional wedding day. Definitely wish we would have eloped! Mainly, if we were going to deal with bull crap from family, better for them all not to be there, haha!” -Christina at Function & Flourish

“I wish we would have eloped. I didn’t know anyone at my wedding & we didn’t even have time to write vows to each other because we were soooo busy getting things ready for other people. Plus my family is not civil around each other so I was super stressed about them all being in one place. We are very outdoorsy & adventurous people so an adventurous elopement would have been way better for us and would have meant so much more!” -Bailee at Wander Often Photography

“We had a traditional wedding 9 years ago – before eloping was seen as something other than the broad definition it has today. I wouldn’t say regret is the right word – we had a lovely wedding. But if I were to get married NOW (at this age with how I currently feel) – I would elope somewhere awesome just the two of us (the hubbs isn’t quite as adventurous as I am, so I imagine somewhere epic, but not a ton of hiking), then have a huge reception back here in Colorado.” -Savannah at Savannah Chandler Photography

“We were planning wedding 5 years go when eloping was not cool yet. We wanted to elope but found it little hard to plan, we decided to get married with 18 guests. I will forever regret it. It was nice, but I did not feel it was the best day. I wish we would spend the same money on eloping & a honeymoon instead. My mom ruined the day & she was main reason I planned the wedding, because she would never forgive me. And then she ruined it.” -Lucie at Oscar & Lucie Hanzely Photography

“I do wish we would have done an adventure elopement instead. We were in Colorado for the bachelor party doing a week of camping & after driving back to Omaha for the wedding my wife & I took back off to Colorado & stayed in a Pueblo house in Crestone & some Airbnbs in Manitou. Just wish we would have eloped & stayed out there the whole month & then come back a rented out Jams or some nice bar & grill for our friends and family.” -Kyle at The Ranneys

“Regret it & wish we would have eloped. There was so much family drama, I mean to the point that I don’t speak to 1/4 of my family now because of it. Don’t get me wrong it was a beautiful day but the drama surrounding it was INSANE. Also the amount of money we spent we could have gone on a 2 month vacation to multiple countries.” -Jessica at Smile Darling

“I wish we had eloped & then had a party. We had 150 people & planning the whole thing nearly killed me. I got overruled on a lot of things because our parents paid, & the ceremony (the most important part!!) is not what I or my husband wanted. I had an incredible, fun, beautiful, wedding day, but the memories of planning the whole thing really makes it hard to separate the day from the horrible experience of planning it. I would not do the same thing over again.” -Kiley at Kiley Harmon Photography

“100% wish we would have eloped. I dont even speak to 98% of the people who attended.” -Nicole at Nicole Velasko Photography

“We had a traditional wedding 5 years ago. While I loved my wedding, if I had to do it over again I would have eloped with our families & a few close friends. When I got married adventuring eloping wasn’t even a thing. I love that it is become more popular & available to couples that want to elope.” -Autumn at Autumn Lynne Photography

“Honestly I wish we had just eloped & only invited parents & maybe grandparents & then had an intimate reception. Don’t get me wrong, our wedding day was beautiful, but it was so much stress and so much money for everyone involved.” -Ashley at Ashley Marshall Photography

“I had a traditional wedding. I think I would have eloped first & then do like a reception thing a different day to not care about any pressure & the elopement day is more about our love. I didn’t like how much money was involved, I’d rather just pay for video and photo haha!” -Cathy at Cathy Tramy Doan

“We had a pretty typical wedding and we’ve always regretted it. For one, the drama & pressure about cracked my marriage before it began thanks to some family. It gave them fuel to use against us for years. I also wasn’t comfortable saying any personal vows so we just repeated after the minister without any mics because I’m not cool with public speaking on a mic. I had about zero emotion the entire day because I’m very private about my emotions & don’t like to show them in a group setting. It was a fun day but it felt super empty and it cost us like $40k which could’ve really helped us either get started in life or perhaps have a crazy adventure in places we had always wanted to see. We ended up privately renewing our vows in Yosemite this past December & it was everything.” -Randi at Randi Kreckman Photography

“Soooo expensive & I realized I don’t like crowds once I got to the front of the audience. I didn’t want to stand up there in front of everyone anymore.” -Jamie at Pearls & Pine Photography

“I wanted to elope so so bad & family pressured us to not. I wish I still had done what I wanted! I wanted to still have family there…just not a traditional walk down the aisle bridesmaid type thing.” -Brooke

“I definitely would have eloped.” -Aubrey at Aubrey Beth Photography

“I wished we eloped!!!!! So badly! No family drama. No crazy price tag. Just an awesome vacation.” -Kerry

“I regret my wedding day. Overall, I felt SO disconnected from the day because it just wasn’t who I was as a person. The day wasn’t about who we were as people; what we were all about. I went home after our reception, and I cried.” -Sam at Sam Starns

Couples Who Were Happy With Their Decision of a More Traditional Wedding

“At that moment I’ve never heard of eloping besides the going in to get married through a drive-thru. Even then I would still go with the same choice. I wouldn’t have shared that moment & have had that memory of a family member that’s no longer here. I’m very happy with the decision I made at that time.” -Ivette at Ivette West Photography

“I had a big wedding in 2018 & I don’t regret it at all. We plan on doing an adventure vow renewal for the 5 year anniversary, but I loved our big wedding. I had a ball gown & my husband wore a tux & we danced with 200 friends & it was freaking great. I wouldn’t change it. He joined the military & it was likely the last time we’d see all our friends who also graduated from college before we all went off in different directions. There were definitely some stressors, but every person there meant the world to us, and we planned so many intimate details. I loved it.” -Tessa at Tess N. Brediger Photography

“We had a decent sized wedding (150 guests) & I don’t think I would have changed that just since every person meant a lot of us. But I did have a couple do a family only ceremony in the mountains & then a big reception the next day & I maybe would have considered that! But then again we love our friends too much so who knows.” -Molly at For the West & Wild

“We had a traditional wedding with about 150 guests. We don’t regret anything. Got married outside under an epic 150-year-old tree. Breakfast for dinner! We had a relaxing honeymoon right afterwards in Saint Lucia.” -Emily at Emily Hary Photography

“I really wanted to elope, but my husband did not because of very close family member with health issues. We had a blast during our wedding, so we were happy. Now we have an excuse to renew our vows somewhere epic with fancy outfits.” -Shanna at Shanna M. Photography

“I wouldn’t call our wedding traditional but it wasn’t an elopement but it was seriously perfect for us! We got married in the Texas hill country (we are from Austin) & all our guests stayed in yurts & cabins on the property. We had a ceremony with 100+ guests & we danced all night under the stars. It felt so intimate & us while still having so many people we love there! I’d do it the exact same way if i had to do it again!” -Emily at Emily Francis Photography

Couples with Mixed Feelings About Their Wedding

“Huuuuge wedding! Like 300 guests, bridal party of 12….there was so much drama. So much so that I didn’t enjoy the day. All in all, I’m glad we didn’t elope. My husband is Italian & has a huge family, & we were married on his family’s ranch. We built our head tables out of old wood from the corrals his great grandfather had built, & that together we had rebuilt. We did 90% of the work ourselves & it was beautiful. I have amazing pictures & video from the day…that even though I didn’t enjoy because of all the drama…I still look back fondly on it because it was beautiful. It was something that we did together. I just wish the day had been more about us. My husband really loved it though. Everything he’d ever imagined.” -Amanda at Amanda Podesta Photography

“We considered a micro wedding for a hot second, but the thought of the people we would have to leave out that we wanted to celebrate with got us back on track for the big 120 guest wedding. I loved my wedding day though, I wish I could relive it in slo-mo.” -Leah at A Lost Epic

“The biggest reason we chose not to elope was that our grandparents wouldn’t have been able to come, especially my great-grandparents. They were 91 and 93 at the time, & their last dance together was actually at our wedding. He passed away 6 months later. So that’s my main reason for not regretting our decision to have a traditional wedding! However, the amount of money that wasn’t spent in ways that it probably should’ve been (or saved instead lol) is probably more than I’d like to know. And honestly, I don’t feel like we had crazy amounts of fun that day because it was filled with so many people that it was challenging for us to focus on time with each other. I do regret that aspect.” -Alison at Alison Faith Photography

“I tried to convince my husband to elope but he has a large, very close-knit family who wouldn’t have forgiven him. Compromise I guess.” -Lindsay

“My husband & I wanted to elope to Iceland. BUT we were the first to get married on either side so grandparents really wanted to be apart of it. We had a log cabin wedding in the woods & for being traditional it was nice. My heart is still in Iceland & we plan on doing a vow renewal there whenever the time is right.” -Aleah at Fragment Media

Does an elopement sound like it is the right thing for you? Or maybe an intimate wedding would be a better fit? Really take time to think things over & learn from others. You need to make the right choice for YOU, not for others. Your wedding day can look like whatever you want it to be. Check out the blog for more helpful elopement tips.

Do you have a wedding or elopement story to share? Drop it in the comments below! ↓

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