Elopement Ideas: Elope AND have a big wedding

Elopement versus a large wedding - why not do both?

If you’re torn between eloping and having a big wedding, you’ve come to the right place. We want to share the story of one of our amazing clients, Kristi + Matt.

Kristi + Matt contacted us after they got engaged in the fall of 2019. We instantly connected and knew that we would be an incredible fit. Fast forward three years, and we’ve captured their engagement, elopement and big wedding! 

We asked Kristi how she discovered us, and she said “I don’t know if the internet had been listening to our conversations or what, but a bunch of wedding and elopement photographers started popping up on my Instagram. I came across Laura and Dan’s page and I was like, oh my God, I love their pictures. I liked how moody they were.

Shortly after they got engaged, Kristi reached out to us to ask about capturing their wedding photos! We met up with them in a cozy coffee shop nestled in Keene Valley, NY and talked about their wedding plans.

Want to elope? Contact us to start planning!

We are an elopement / wedding photography team that helps couples have an adventurous, stress-free day that feels truly authentic.

Silhouette of bride and groom on top of mountain during elopement

Kristi told us that the big wedding was more for their guests than for her and Matt. They’re more adventurous & nontraditional, and what they really wanted was a mountaintop elopement.

“We knew we didn’t want a big wedding. Secretly, I had always wanted to elope anyway–just go on a mountain top and just get married. And then COVID hit. And I was like, oh my God, we can do this.” 

Kristi + Matt aren’t the first couple who have felt some sense of relief by the pandemic giving them an “excuse” to elope. As elopement photographers, we heard it over and over again.

Many couples dread the stress of a wedding even before getting engaged, but they also know that their friends + family will be upset if they elope. It’s a common struggle.

(For more on this topic, check out our blog post, “Is It Selfish To Elope?”)

That said, they still wanted to celebrate their marriage with their family and friends. They decided to elope but also plan a larger wedding for the following year.

Fast forward to Kristi + Matt’s elopement day

Kristi and Matt’s elopement was a perfect blend of adventure, privacy, and stunning views.

We met at the trailhead of Mount Jo and started hiking before sunrise. After just over a mile and 700 feet of elevation gain, we made it to the summit just as the sun began to peak over the mountains.

There was a steady breeze, the fall foliage was at its peak, and the surrounding Adirondack Mountains made for an epic backdrop.

They began reading their vows to each other, and we captured all of the emotion of the moment.

Kristi said that the day “was relaxed and everything that we had hoped it would be. The Pinckards made us feel very comfortable.”  

After taking photos of their vow reading, we continued taking pictures on the mountain, during the hike back down, and at a lake near the bottom of the trail.

A year later, they had their traditional wedding

Almost exactly one year later, Kristi + Matt had their larger wedding at The Mountain House in the Adirondacks. It was a beautiful celebration of the journey that they traversed to get to that day.

Their day included everything a traditional wedding typically entails:

  • A bridal party
  • Getting ready photos
  • A first look
  • First dances
  • Toasts
  • Cake Cutting

Kristi and Matt told us that doing both a private mountaintop elopement AND a traditional wedding was perfect for them. They got the best of both worlds, and we truly felt honored to capture three huge milestones in their lives.

should you have an elopement and a wedding?

Eloping is a great option for couples who feel nontraditional, or for people who can’t imagine the idea of being the center of attention all day. If you’re here reading this, I’m going to assume that’s you.

You probably are overwhelmed even thinking about a large wedding. …or maybe you think it sounds like an absolute waste of money.

Nobody can tell you what you should do for your wedding, but here are some questions that you can ask yourself to decide if having both an elopement AND a wedding is right for you.

What is your budget?

Unless you are eloping at a courthouse without spending any extra money, doing both an elopement and a wedding will cost more. Between the dress/suit, photographer, officiant, HMUA, etc. you will likely spend an additional $10,000 or more on an elopement.

If you are working with a very limited budget to start, doing both might not be the best option for you.

However, if you space out your wedding and elopement like Kristi and Matt did (or if you have family member’s helping with the costs of the wedding), doing both could be a great option.

Is a full-sized wedding actually necessary?

If you’re dreading the idea of a big wedding, it might still be stressful even if you elope first.

For some couples eloping first is a way to have the wedding day that THEY want, and then compromising on their traditional wedding isn’t as big of a deal.

But for other couples, the planning itself is the part that overwhelms them. You will still have to create a guest list and seating chart, find a caterer, pick out favors, etc.

So the question is – can you get away with having an elopement / intimate wedding both on the same day (or weekend)? If you could invite 15 or 30 guests to a small wedding, but plan most of the day around doing what you and your partner want, would that be better than having a big wedding later on? Want to chat with us about what that could look like? Contact us here.

Are you and your partner on the same page?

If you and your partner don’t see eye-to-eye about the “elopement versus wedding” struggle, doing both could be a great way to keep you both happy. Marriage is all about compromise, and weddings often bring that out in the very beginning. If there’s a way to do what you both want, why not go that route?

Would having both an elopement and a wedding solve your problems?

There are a plethora of reasons that couples might consider eloping. Things like:

  • Family members who are unpleasant to be around
  • Not wanting to be the center of attention
  • Feeling like a wedding is a waste of money
  • Wanting to have an experience instead of hosting a party
  • Knowing that you’ll barely see each other on your wedding day

You might relate to those, or there might be other reasons that you’re reading this. Regardless, you should ask yourself, “would eloping and having a wedding solve those problems for us, or would it just push the problems down the road?

things to consider if you’re eloping and having a wedding

When should the elopement happen?

We have had clients who eloped the day before their wedding, a couple weeks before, and even a year (or more) before like Kristi and Matt did.

The question for you is, what would make the elopement the most enjoyable? Things like budgeting, the stress of planning, job schedules, travel plans, and family considerations are all factors that might impact when your elopement happens. There’s no right or wrong way to do it!

Should you tell people that you’re eloping?

Some couples elope secretly and never speak a word about it to anyone, while others openly tell their friends and family. It’s truly up to you. Here are a few of the approaches we’ve seen a lot:

  • Eloping and using your elopement pictures to send out invitations to your “elopement reception”
  • Eloping secretly and keeping the photos & videos private so nobody is offended
  • Announcing your elopement in advance, but let people know that you’ll be having a more formal wedding later on

Showing your elopement photos / video at your wedding

Do you want to show your elopement photos and video at your wedding? A lot of our clients have told us that this was a super fun way to make their friends and family feel like they were a part of the elopement.

If you do, just be sure to chat with your photographer/videographer about what that will look like. Do you need your images delivered by a certain date? Should they avoid posting any of your photos on social media so they don’t accidentally spoil the surprise?

Where do you want to elope?

Choosing to have an elopement – in addition to a bigger wedding – opens up a world of possibilities. You can make your elopement a once-in-a-lifetime experience, where you and your partner can check off bucket list items and visit incredible locations.

The world’s the limit.

Is there a place that you love going to? Somewhere you’ve always dreamt of visiting? A sentimental spot that’s meaningful to the two of you?

Now that you’ve chosen to go this route, you can begin the most exciting part – planning a perfect day to celebrate your love for each other.

We’ll capture your elopement & Wedding

We are elopement photographers / videographers, but we also work with couples who are doing both. It’s always nice to have the same team capture both, because it makes the whole experience more enjoyable.

If you and your partner are interested in eloping, having an intimate wedding, or something in between…schedule a time to chat with us!

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