Destination Wedding/Elopement vs. Traditional Weddings


Are you thinking about eloping or having a destination wedding? If you are reading this, you are wondering what is BEST for you. And if you are even thinking of having a destination wedding or an elopement, you are in the right place.

After photographing over 150 weddings in almost every state and in over 10 different countries I want to give you some things to consider as you plan your wedding.

1. Cost


I get it, having gotten married 7 years ago with a $20,000 budget to plan, we did everything we could to save money, and we made some big mistakes. With the cost of having to feed 150+ people and a venue to fit them all, we had to cut corners on things like photography and video, and that was a HUGE mistake. With the average price of a guest being $300 when you consider food, linens, chairs, venue space, etc.. we wish we would have invited a lot fewer people and spent more on photography and things we cared about.

Contrast that to one of our clients who spent less than $20,000 (we were over $7,000 of her budget), invited less than 20 people to a GORGEOUS mansion on Lake Como, Italy, and paid for everyone to stay there. They are getting married in one of the most gorgeous places on earth and then staying for their honeymoon after.

Can you imagine spending $33,931 on STUFF that just goes away once the day is over? Why not invest that into the experience with you two, your closest family and friends in an amazing place!

Now, don’t get me wrong, there are a lot of people that have been dreaming of planning a big wedding all of their lives and that is amazing if that is you, we know some AMAZING venues you will love!

Black and white photograph of a couple with a sweet embrace with the Eiffel Tower in the background of their Paris, France Destination Wedding


Twirling her under the arch with the Taj Mahal in the Background after their Destination Wedding

holding each other at corcomroe abbey after their Destination Wedding elopement2. A Family Affair

This can either be the best part of your planning process or your worst nightmare. Seriously.. I can’t tell you how many times the wedding becomes more about a bride’s mom or family and reputation and perceptions rather than about you two and the marriage.

A let’s be honest, sometimes families are messy. Maybe you have a weird relationship with your mom or dad, or they divorced, and that could cause some stress and friction on a big wedding. Or maybe you just don’t want to deal with any of those family complications, and that is OK!

I once had a couple book a venue near home, plan a big wedding, and thew family situations got so frustrating and complicated they decided to cancel everything, fly to Antigua and elope. We signed their wedding licenses and documented 2 whole days of their journey, it was amazing!

Now, if you have an amazing relationship with your families and don’t perceive this being an issue, that is amazing, and by all means, enjoy the planning process with them because it is amazing!

At the end of the day, you have to remember; this is about YOU TWO! No one else. It isn’t about the wedding, it’s about the marriage, and that is super important. If you feel like having a lot of guests, there enhances that experience, then, by all means, enjoy an amazing wedding with a bunch of people. Just make sure you are making the decision for you!

Standing together with family during their ceremony at Horseshohe bend for their Destination Wedding hanging out with family at a pub in dublin after their elopement The rings during their elopement at Magnolia Plantation

3. Just You two vs Just you Two… Hundred.

A lot of people get overwhelmed about having to stand up in front of hundreds of people and sharing your vows, intimate promises written to your significant other. Heck, a lot of people want to actually enjoy their wedding rather than sending the whole reception thanking 200 people they barely even know.

Did you also know that above death, public speaking is people’s #1 Fear? People hate being the center of attention and big weddings make you that. If you are a person that LOVES being the center of attention, then a big wedding is for you. With an intimate elopement and destination wedding, it’s a collection of the most important people in your life celebrating together. All of the attention is focused on celebrating your marriage, not on you being the center-point of the wedding.

Standing together during their destination wedding elopement in Central Park Pouring champagne after their Destination Wedding Elopement Walking through the trees together hand in hand for their Destination Wedding

4. No Regarts (Yes, I spelled it like that on purpose)

As you can probably tell, out of the 150+ weddings I have photographed, I HIGHLY recommend destination weddings and elopements. I can honestly say that I have NEVER heard anyone say that they regret eloping or having an intimate destination wedding. In contrast, the bigger the wedding is, the more complaints and regrets I hear people have. There’s something about spending a lot of money on something that seems to be more about the other people there then you about you two.

Honestly, wedding standards are insane now and days and planning a wedding based on today’s standards can quickly seem really shallow and inauthentic. It isn’t honest and a true reflection of you two and who you are as people.

Now, for some people that is exactly what they want. A huge wedding with a bunch of people you get to celebrate with is exactly what you want, then a larger,, traditional wedding is PERFECT for you.

Hanging out in a tent under the stars during their session at Papago park Walking on the rocks together hang in hand for their destination wedding Standing on the rocks holding each other in Hawaii for their destination wedding

5. Stress and planning

There are two parts to this. Not only is planning the wedding stressful, but the actual wedding day can be as well. In fact, MOST of the larger weddings we have photographed has had multiple stressful elements to it. This is to be expected when it comes to bringing together a bunch of moving parts and coordinating it all to make for an amazing day.

This is why I always suggest, if you aren’t a planner, HIRE A PLANNER! If not, be prepared for a lot coming your way, and it can be really overwhelming. I can’t tell you how many times I heard someone say, “I can’t wait for this to just be over.”

That being said, elopements aren’t something that you can just put together and expect to be perfect, it takes planning. But the amount of planning, stress, and anxiety is minimal compared to that of a larger traditional wedding. It’s a lot more laid-back and relaxed, and a lot of times, the bride and groom will get ready together in the same house, eliminating stresses of transportation and coordinating unnecessary things.

Celebrating at the cliffs of Moher for their destination wedding Standing on the lake in Leavenworth Washington holding each other The bride putting on her boots. Groom getting ready outside of his tent during hihs Black Balsam Knob wedding

6. Photography

One of the biggest differences between traditional wedding photos and elopement/destination wedding photography is the opportunity to tell your amazing story honestly. I have heard people say that elopements and destination weddings really get to capture the true YOU and that traditional weddings can seem too posed and fake and really not true to who they are. Some people were also really concerned that their parents would have too much of a say on how their memories would be captured and ended up not liking the photos.

When you have a larger, traditional wedding, the budget has to be taken into consideration a lot more than if you had a smaller destination wedding where you can devote that budget to exactly where you want it.

One of the biggest misconceptions is that you don’t need as many hours of coverage because its an elopement, but we believe the opposite. We think this is just as important and more-so even more of an authentic wedding that deserves to have the whole captured from start to finish. All of our elopements are still 8+ hours because those moments still happen as they do during a traditional wedding; they are just more authentic and relaxed now.

You have the opportunity to really be who you are and have incredible, stress-free photos captured in a gorgeous location rather than pictures of you walking around a venue hall chatting with people you don’t really know.

Standing together in front of the Lourve during their destination elopement in Paris running through a flower exit during their elopement in Mauii Kissing her shoulder in Hawaii on the rocks IN the vines hugging togetherFeeling like this could be you? Let’s chat and set up a time to chat about it! We have a lot of knowledge in this area and have a lot of ideas in helping you make this dream come true!


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