Elopement vs Wedding: What are the Pros and Cons?

More and more couples are eloping seeing as large social gatherings will not be allowed for quite some time in South Africa. But what are the pros and cons of eloping vs having a full large scale wedding of more than 50 guests? We have a look at the key differences between these two ceremonies and chat to coordinator Cara-Lee about her opinions on both.

Elopement vs Large Scale Wedding: Which is Better for You?

1. Should I Elope?

The meaning of “eloping” has shifted over the years. Instead of a run-away wedding without consent, it now leans more to a small, intimate ceremony with only the couple or very few close family and friends. Elopements are often held in beautiful travel destinations across the globe and in South Africa, we are spoiled for choice with absolutely spectacular landscapes. Just head over to our wedding venues to check out all the breathtaking options!

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There is a growing trend amongst younger couples, to rather elope than have a full large-scale wedding. And if you are considering this option, consider why. Do you want to elope because you want a ceremony that is intimate and personal? Or is your main motivation for elopement the cost?

If the expense of a wedding is the main motivator, you might want to reconsider. Perhaps rather look into smaller wedding options, or save up for your full ceremony. Don’t have an elopement only because you can’t afford the big wedding now, you will most likely end up regretting it later. Make sure you do it for the right reasons.

10 Reasons to Elope

If you want your big day to be only about the two of you, and perhaps one or two guests, eloping is perfect. And having an elopement does not mean you can’t still have a celebration with friends and family at a later stage!

elopement photos

Pros of Eloping
  • Can be more cost effective than a full large-scale wedding (depending on where you go)
  • Destination elopements are affordable
  • Personal and intimate
  • You can combine your wedding & honeymoon
  • A lot less wedding planning stress!
  • Doesn’t need a long time to prepare
Cons of Eloping
  • Very few, if any, guests
  • Friends & family could feel excluded and upset
  • You might miss out on some of the classic wedding traditions (confetti throw, speeches)
destination elopements
7 Tips for Planning An Elopement:
  1. Pick a destination with meaning
  2. Get a GOOD photographer! (and videographer)
  3. Involve a wedding planner – they might offer great elopement packages
  4. Combine your destination elopement with your honeymoon
  5. Make sure you have all the paperwork in order
  6. Don’t feel guilty, your friends and family will understand
  7. Have a celebration with your guests at a later stage

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elopement cape town

2. Should I Have a Full Large-Scale Wedding?

If you have always dreamt of that fairytale wedding with the traditional ceremony, walking down the aisle and all your friends and family there to celebrate with you – a full large-scale wedding is probably the option for you. For many couples, especially in South Africa, family is very important! So not having a lot of guests at your wedding is almost inconceivable. However; it is undeniable that having a large-scale wedding within the next year will most likely still not be possible when looking at the current trend of the COVID pandemic and the lockdown restrictions South Africa has faced and is currently facing.

But remember, your wedding day is about you and your significant other. If you don’t like being the center of attention, and would rather have a small get-together, you can still have an intimate ceremony with between 20 to 50 guests. No need to cut back on your perfect Pinterest wedding.

Weddings don’t have to be exorbitantly expensive. You can still have a large-scale wedding on a budget – it just takes lots of planning. Using a wedding planner can actually work out to be quite cost-effective, as they know where to get all the good deals. You might have to sit down and discuss where you can cut back and what you can’t compromise on.

A full wedding ceremony often feels more real and memorable. There is something so substantial about marrying the love of your life, surrounded by all of your friends and family. While some might think spending such a large amount of money on one day is frivolous, for others it is worth it. Your wedding day happens only once and if you want to make it extravagant and lavish, that is perfectly fine. To each their own.

elopement vs wedding pink book

Pros of a Full Wedding
  • You get to share your big day with your friends and family
  • You can invite as many guests as you want
  • Perfect if you want all the classic wedding traditions
  • You can have that dream fairytale wedding
  • Can feel more “official” than an elopement
Cons of a Full Wedding
  • Won’t be allowed within the next year realistically
  • Can be very expensive
  • Needs to be planned months in advance
  • Planning a full wedding can be very stressful
  • A Full destination wedding is much more expensive
  • Honeymoon is an additional cost

church wedding with familywedding reception with guests

7 Tips for Planning a Full Wedding
  • Discuss and set a budget before-hand
  • Start planning well in advance – vendors get booked out quickly
  • Get a checklist to help you keep track of everything
  • Don’t be afraid to ask for help, you don’t need to do everything on your own
  • Be open to compromise
  • Let your guests know at least 6 months before, so they can sort travel arrangements
  • Make sure you get lots of photos – the day goes by very quickly

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south african weddings family

Cara-Lee of Mosaic Weddings Tells us More:
In Conclusion: Do What’s Best for You!

Both a full wedding or an elopement is a valid choice for tying the knot. Whichever type of ceremony you choose, it is completely up to you as a couple. Remember, your wedding should be about your love and what you want – not about pleasing the crowd. And if you and your significant other want different ceremonies, why not compromise and have an elopement followed by a small reception to celebrate your nuptials.

Featured photos by Jana&Simon, Amrit Photography, Thunder & Love, AndStory, ZaraZoo Photography

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