Should I elope or have a wedding? Here’s what an expert has to say

Weddings are a thrilling way to celebrate your lifelong commitment to the person you love most. As much fun as they are, though, they can be pretty expensive—and very stressful. The average wedding today costs over $31,000, not to mention all the time and energy that goes into planning the whole shebang. It’s no wonder that eloping has become much more popular recently.

The first thing you think of when you consider an elopement is a shotgun wedding in Vegas, complete with a tacky Elvis lookalike for an officiant and a dingy chapel with unflattering lighting. But eloping doesn’t have to be anywhere close to that (unless that’s what you want, of course).

These days, eloping has become a more affordable, less stressful, and even more creative option for many brides.

HelloGiggles spoke with Melodie Reynolds, founder of Elate Clean Cosmetics and makeup expert who has worked in the wedding circuit for years. Not only has she been a part of many women’s wedding days, but she herself eloped with her husband, so she has tons of experience we can all learn from.

“I think if you and your partner want to have a very intimate experience, save money, and don’t have any grandmas that are going to have a heart attack – eloping is for you,” Reynolds says.

“If your goals include wearing a fancy dress, cutting cake and throwing a bouquet surrounded by friends and family, you may want a more traditional event.”

You have to be honest with yourself and with your SO—or else your marriage will get off on the wrong foot.

"An elopement is about the two of you, your desire to share your lives and mark that occasion with an intimate experience for the two of you," Reynolds tells HG.

On the other hand, Reynolds describes a traditional wedding as a ceremony that is witnessed by your friends and relatives. Although that may sound great initially to many people, she recommends you think long and hard about what that means.

“The feeling of the day being about you can fade with 200+ people to greet and buy dinner for,” she says. Not to mention all those distant relatives and friends you have to say hello to and pose in pictures with.

Another thing to seriously consider when you’re thinking about getting married is the amount of stress and anxiety you feel equipped to handle.

"Having been a part of a number of weddings over the years, I could not help but notice the stress some of my friends felt when dealing with huge guests lists and expense," admits Reynolds.

It’s a huge financial commitment to put on a wedding that accommodates upwards of 100 people, and it also takes many months of planning to get everything right. From venue to catering to flower arrangements to seating to music, you’ll have a lot on your plate.

Furthermore, Reynolds points out that more couples are becoming aware of the fact that “the traditional wedding is rooted in old (somewhat defunct) traditions.” People are realizing that their commitment and love has nothing to do with the size of your ring or how long your guest list is.

And for people who want to be environmentally conscious, eloping is a great option.

“A huge traditional wedding can also be quite wasteful,” Reynolds says. “An elopement is naturally more waste free, from the flowers to the dress.”

If you’re worried about leaving out certain family members, remember that you can still do an elopement that includes family members only. This gives your parents the chance to be there for the special moment.

Above all else, you have to inquire what you’re looking for at the start of your marriage. Sit down with your SO and talk about your budget, your goals, your family, how green you want to be, etc. Make sure your wedding reflects what kind of life you want to live together.

"The last thing I want to feel on or about my wedding day," Reynolds says, "is guilt."

So follow your bliss—in a smart, well thought out way.

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