Let’s talk something a lot of couples ask me + I know lots of you are wondering: what is an elopement, and what’s a destination wedding? Are they the same thing? Or how are they different?
Allllll good questions, and all valid, too – because sometimes it can get confusing. Maybe you follow some photographers on Instagram because you’re engaged. You keep seeing them post about “destination weddings” and “elopements” and you’re confused because you thought they were the same thing. Or maybe you just have never known what either of them really is. That’s what I’m here for boo, don’t you worry 😉
So let’s get into it: what is an elopement and what is a destination wedding?
Let’s define them for ya first!
A destination wedding is when you get married somewhere away from your hometown or home area. You hold your wedding in some sort of vacay spot or cool spot you’ve always wanted to visit, and you bring your guests with you. Destination weddings often carry some of the traditional aspects of a wedding still, just in a maybe less “traditional” location.
An elopement can actually be, well, a lot of different things (I know I know, that’s annoying not to have an exact definition for you). And that’s the beauty of it in my opinion. An elopement could be just you and your partner running off spontaneously before your traditional wedding (like “elope” used to generally mean). It could mean you simply tie the knot with no guests around, just you and your partner, but it’s still well-planned-out. Or, it could mean you bringing some of your closest loved ones to celebrate with you. Whether it’s at a courthouse, on a mountain, or by the ocean, an elopement is simply anything but a “traditional” wedding – it’s whatever YOU, the couple, wants.
Sooo what are some of the benefits of both an elopement and a destination wedding, you may ask? I could go on and on forever with the benefits of an elopement since that’s what I specialize in, but I’ll keep it brief and digestible for ya 🙂
Benefits of a Destination Wedding
Many resorts/hotels in popular tourist destinations will have packages to offer you!
If you’re wanting to hold your wedding at a resort, they may have some sort of destination wedding package that you can purchase. They may provide help with transportation for your guests, meals, coordinating vendors, & more. If you’re looking for ideas on where to have your destination wedding, here’s an article from the Knot of the 50 Best Destination Wedding Locations!
Your guest list can end up on the smaller end if you want it to.
Destination weddings = a great way to ensure that those family members you don’t really want at your wedding, don’t end up at it. If you’re holding your wedding somewhere far away from where a lot of your family/loved ones live, it’s less likely that a lot of them will be able to travel for it. So if you’re not too fond of some of those third cousins your parents want you to invite, 1) you don’t have to in the first place! And 2) you have an excuse not to invite them since you’ll be so far away. Easy.
You can honeymoon easier!
Since you’ll already be in a place that you love and clearly wanted to visit enough to get married there, you can honeymoon there, too! Right after your wedding, instead of spending the night at a hotel near your venue in your hometown or even at your house, you can start your vacay right away at your destination. And some hotels/resorts may even include discounted honeymoon packages/offerings in their destination wedding packages! Just make sure you tell your family members to get outta there son after the wedding, or give you two your space once the wedding is over 😉
You get to tie the knot somewhere you’ve been dying to visit.
This is an obvious one and is the whole reason people opt for destination weddings in the first place! You can visit somewhere completely new and get to experience a new lifestyle in the days surrounding your wedding. It’s important to choose somewhere meaningful to you and your partner + somewhere you will absolutely LOVE. If you love hiking, you can go somewhere near the mountains! Or if you’re beach folk, go to the Carribean for a tropical stay. The options are endlessss.
Benefits of an Elopement
There’s zero pressure of having any wedding “traditions.”
The purpose of an elopement is to break awayyyy from classic wedding traditions. So if you choose to have any kind of elopement, it’s likely cause you want to focus on you + your partner, not what your mom wants you to do or what you see other couples doing.
You can tie the knot anywhere.
This one is just like a destination wedding – since you’re not trying to follow any traditions, you can LITERALLY go anywhere you want to for your elopement. Find a place that you and your partner would absolutely love and cherish for years to come. A place you can visit later on for memories, a place that will feel meaningful when you’re marrying each other. Or, just pick a random spot on the map and make it happen!! Visit a different city, a different state, country, continent – wherever you feel like your heart is taking you to celebrate.
The day can look however you want it to.
No traditions = no expectations. You can literally just create your dream day for your elopement. Think back to being in elementary school and picture your teacher asking you what your “perfect” day would be – now make that happen! If you and your partner are fans of luxury and being taken care of, find an amazing resort that you can have a spa weekend at before or after your wedding. More outdoorsy? Find a hike to an amazing spot where you can tie the knot. Want to hang out with your best buds and drink beers all weekend? Rent an Airbnb someplace and make a weekend out of it with them. Include your favorite foods. Your pets. Bring your fave drinks. Your favorite activities to do together. DO IT ALLLL.
The guest list can be as flexible as you want it to be.
The beauty of elopements nowadays is that they really can be anything you want. The wedding industry is making it much more commonplace to encourage couples to create their own day, and make it their own. That means making sure the people you invite are important to you and not just people who you feel like you have to invite. Bring nobody if it’ll feel more special to just be you + your partner alone. Bring your 3 best friends. Or bring both your immediate families. Invite the people who are going to make your day as special as possible and who won’t add any stress to your big day!
If you’re wanting to elope buuut are nervous to tell your families, I’ve got a whole article for you to go read now: How to Elope & Keep Your Families Happy!
I hope this helped clear up the difference between a destination weddings & elopements for you! Check out some of my recent elopements + destination weddings for inspiration below:
- Romantic, Private Wedding on the Oregon Coast
- Big Sur Elopement Inspiration
- Destination Wedding in the Redwoods of California