Two years ago, I met my husband at a Foreigner concert. So far, being married has been amazing … except I have to remind myself to call him my “fiancé.”
Officially, our wedding isn’t until Halloween. See, my husband is an independent contractor and has a physical job, so he needs full coverage due to his high risk of injury. My job provides excellent insurance. Even though the Affordable Care Act dramatically cut his out of pocket costs, we could save another five grand with him on my insurance. It was a no brainer decision – we were getting married, anyway, so we might as well save some money and make it legal sooner.
So, I will experience both eloping and having a big wedding. Now that I’m in the thick of planning the big wedding part, I can see why people intentionally elope. We are too far along in wedding mode to turn back now, but I would definitely say from my experience I would have reconsidered five months ago.
From my experience, here’s what I have discovered about the best of both options:
Here’s What’s Better About An Elopement:
Less Opinions To Consider: When you’re planning a wedding, everyone needs to put in their two cents. A few suggestions here and there are welcomed, since there is so much to cover. But it is amazing how frequently and aggressively people will tell you what you should do. Worst of all, they tend to be the people most involved in the wedding so you can’t escape them! I find myself avoiding my mother-in-Law because she’s been kind of mean about our choices – and that’s not how a marriage should begin. She is a well-intentioned, lovely lady, but she keeps poo-pooing our choices and turning our wedding into her family’s reunion. It sucks. Planning a wedding can bring out the worst in people and strain relationships with family and close friends.
Elopements Save Money: We are spending 30 percent over what we originally budgeted for our wedding. Once you start adding every little detail together, you realize you are hemorrhaging money. And just a warning: even when you think you don’t need everything fancy and can keep it to a minimum, you will hate the basic chair covers or feel the extra flower arrangements will really “bring everything together.” [Jessica's Note: This is so true. My husband and I got in an argument at Party City before our wedding because I wanted to buy more expensive napkins. They just looked a lot nicer!] It’s the little stuff that adds up. When we eloped, our fancy dinner and champagne came to $216 and it was pretty darn satisfying when compared to the too-ashamed-to-share-how-expensive-it-actually-is bill we’ll eventually be paying for this wedding.
We Have A Romantic Secret: One thing I do love about eloping is that once a year my husband and I have a secret day that is super special to us. No one else knows when it is (except maybe the great state of Connecticut). When you get married, you are building a teammate for life and part of maintaining a team is making something binding you together and intangible to others. For me, I really enjoy that my husband and I will always have something no one else can have or touch or really know. Our wedding is for everyone, but our elopement was just for our team of two.
Here’s What’s Better About A Traditional Wedding:
All The Family Comes: When my husband and I made it legal at the courthouse, I felt sad that no one else was there. And even though I specifically picked a Justice of the Peace named Jane Austen, our ceremony didn’t feel quite as romantic as I had envisioned. We had just enjoyed this momentous occasion between us, but I wanted my parents and siblings there. If you come from a big, festive family, you’re going to want them there.
The Celebration Is More Enthusiastic: After we eloped, both of us were itching to go out and celebrate. We went to a fancy dinner with champagne, but celebrating is significantly more fun with more people. The celebratory feeling that overtakes you is overwhelming! We wanted to spread our happiness to everyone around us and the randoms at the bar we went to didn’t seem to catch on to our enthusiasm.
It Feels Like More Of A Milestone: As I’ve gotten older, I’ve realized that life is really just a series of moments with some dull stuff in between. Our day to day is relatively boring and we keep motivated by all the plans we can look towards. A wedding is another one of those fun milestones that people love to celebrate and keep us all looking forward – even when it’s not your own. It’s the biggest plans you’ll have for a good chunk of time until it is over. Eloping just says you’re married, but a wedding gives you a plan to be excited for (until you find a new one!).
[Image of a wedding chapel via Shutterstock]