While the most traditional definition of eloping may evoke a negative connotation of a hurried, spur of the moment rush to the altar, today elopements are more varied. They can encompass anything from couples planning a small destination wedding with just a few witnesses to those who tie the knot quietly before hosting a simple reception to celebrate afterward.

Whatever your definition, here are some important pros and cons to consider.

Pro: You’ll more than likely save money

If you’re planning a purely private affair, then you’ll likely only be paying for the absolute essentials like the cost of a marriage license and officiant and saving tens of thousands (according to The Knot, the average U.S. wedding in 2018 cost around $34,000).

If you have a private ceremony but then host a budget-busting soiree with hundreds of guests and all the bells and whistles, your “elopement” could end up not saving you much at all.

Pro: You can plan freely without much outside opinion

Tired of all your relatives giving you their two cents about your wedding? Let go of that drama and stress by keeping plans to just you and your future spouse.

Juli Bonell, owner of Bonell Photography, offers both traditional wedding packages as well as more budget-friendly options for elopements, recalls how when she and her husband were married, family members would offer their opinions on just about everything – even down to wedding colors.

“If I knew then what I know now,” Bonell says, “we would have done things incredibly different. Ultimately, the one and only thing you truly need to consider when planning your wedding is that this day is yours.”

Con: Those excluded from your nuptials may be offended

Even if eloping means getting friends and family members off your back about how to do things, eloping can also come with one big downside – and that’s offending or alienating those same friends and family. To balance out this negative, many couples opt to include those close to them by hosting a simple reception to celebrate.

Con: Eloping doesn’t mean you get away with no planning at all

Sure, eloping may be light-years simpler than juggling all that comes with hosting a ceremony and reception, but that doesn’t mean you can forego checklists. While she admits a bit of a bias being a photographer, Bonell has found that one of the most regretted choices is not having a professional photographer to document the day.

If you decide eloping is right for you, be sure to still do your research on things like procuring marriage licenses (especially if you’re doing a destination elopement) and whether you want to send marriage announcements or host an after-ceremony celebration.

©CTW Features