Should You Have a Wedding or Elope? Here’s How to Decide!

trying to decide whether to elope

Once the flush of excitement after your engagement begins to wear off, you have some decisions to make. And if you’re one of those ladies who has had your wedding planned since you were a little girl, then it’s full steam ahead! But for those of us who are a bit more uncertain about what the day itself will entail, you have some thinking to do. Planning a wedding can be stressful, and a big hoopla doesn’t suit every couple for a multitude of reasons. That’s why more and more couples are struggling to decide whether to have a wedding or elope!

What is an elopement?

Traditionally, eloping meant running away in secret, just you and your loved one having a low-key, last-minute ceremony. People eloped for lots of reasons, but usually because their families objected to the match. In days gone by, that would have been impossible to overcome without some sneaking around!

These days, the term “elopement” encompasses a broader range of circumstances, and couples choose to do it to avoid expensive receptions, or simply because it suits them better.

romantic elopement versus a big wedding

What’s the difference between an elopement and an intimate wedding?

Eloping traditionally means it’s just you and your partner. But the term has started being applied to weddings that are very small and very low-key, too. Many elopement packages these days can include the couple and up to around 20 guests. So the terms “elopement” and “intimate wedding” are relatively interchangeable. 

But throwing caution to the wind and running away with your true love comes with its own set of considerations. So if you’re on the fence, how do you decide whether to have a traditional wedding or elope?

Here are some factors you should take into account to help you decide.

elopement packages banff

The Dream Vs. The Budget

Even the most generous wedding budget has its limitations, so it’s important to decide how important the details of your wedding are to you. Perhaps an elopement or more intimate gathering means you get to spend more on the dress, bouquet, photography, and destination of your dreams!

For a lot of couples, it comes down to quality versus quantity. Eloping takes the pressure off hosting a large number of guests and refocuses your decisions on precisely what the two of you want. When deciding whether to have a wedding or elope, it can often come down to just finding a balance.

How busy are you?

Planning a wedding takes time and energy, even with a wedding planner. But it feels like we’re busier than ever in today’s fast-paced, digital world. Many brides take on a large wedding without realizing just how much time they’ll need to dedicate to the task. 

So before you get started, decide whether you have the extra time to put into planning a large wedding. You may find that an elopement or intimate celebration becomes a much more appealing option!

wedding or elope

Banff Wedding Florist Forget-Me-Not Flowers | Banff Wedding Photographer Rocky Mountain Photo Co. | Dress by Free People

What’s influencing your decision?

If you do decide to go with an elopement, make sure you’re doing it for the right reasons. If it’s just down to you and your own preferences, then more power to you! Book those flights to Banff for just you and your sweetheart. 

But if it’s external pressures getting to you, step back and think long and hard before you make the decision to have a big wedding or elope. Nothing should come between you and that dream wedding if it’s what you really want! 

On a tight budget? There are lots of great tips out there to create gorgeous wedding looks that are easy on the purse strings. Not too fond of your future in-laws? You’re not alone! The most important question to ask yourself is, when you look back in thirty years, will you regret eloping or not eloping? 

Are you prepared for the potential fallout of an elopement?

It’s a totally personal decision, but do you think it will have a big impact on friends and family members if you choose to elope? For some families, elopements can be the source of some serious drama.

This is where an intimate gathering can be the perfect balance. The Canadian Rockies have plenty of gorgeous small venues and restaurants that cater to smaller celebrations. You get the wedding celebration of your dreams, and nobody else gets hurt feelings – drama avoided!

romantic modern elopement

Modern Elopement Planning Moments by Madeleine | Jewellery by Joanna Bisley Designs | Hair and Makeup by Distilled Beauty Bar Calgary

How does your partner feel about it?

If you’re both on the same page – fantastic! If they want the big blow out and you want City Hall, maybe there’s a compromise to be found. Eloping doesn’t have to mean a short, detached ceremony at your local government building. Many couples are choosing to elope so they can do a destination ceremony and celebration on their own terms. It’s why Banff, Canmore, and the surrounding area have become such a popular elopement location. The Canadian Rockies provides the romance of a destination wedding with the exhilarating rush of an elopement. 

Will you have the support you need?

With a big wedding, you’ll likely need lots of help with all the little details. That’s where your maid of honour comes in! 

Having a reliable support system can take a lot of pressure off you during the planning phase. It’s also a big help when trying to keep things running smoothly on the day itself. If your friends and family are on the flakier side, maybe a low key intimate wedding or elopement is the way to go.

Rocky Mountain elopement

How will you feel on the day itself?

Some people live for the limelight, and others avoid it like the plague. You should be comfortable on your wedding day. Bigger celebrations involve being the center of attention in front of a large crowd. There’s walking down the aisle, vows, photos, speeches, the first dance – the list goes on. 

Your wedding is one of the most special moments of your life, so you should enjoy it as much as possible. If you’re more comfortable being alone with your loved one as you take that step together, then that’s what you should do! 

Does it have to be all or nothing?

Another popular trend is to have the elopement of your dreams and celebrate with friends and family afterward. Lots of couples travel to Banff to elope and enjoy the romantic mountain scenery without all the pressure of a big reception. Then, they organize a party or reception for another time with their family and friends back home. 

For lots of couples, it means getting the best of both worlds when deciding whether to have a wedding or elope. 

eloping in the Canadian Rockies

Banff Wedding Florist Forget-Me-Not Flowers | Banff Wedding Photographer Rocky Mountain Photo Co. | Dress by Free People

The Pros of Elopement in Banff:

For couples who do choose to elope, Banff is one of the premier destinations. From mountain peaks to glacial lakes, the breathtaking scenery makes it one of the most romantic elopement destinations you could choose.

But there are lots of other reasons to elope in Banff, too:

Things to do

If you like the outdoors, you’ll love exploring everything Banff and Canmore have to offer.

Wander the shores around Lake Louise, Moraine Lake, and more. Hike popular trails around Mount Rundle, Sulphur Mountain, and the Three Sisters before taking a helicopter tour to see it all from above! Try ice climbing, cross country skiing, or kayaking. Sample products from local breweries and distilleries and have dinner at one of many locally renowned restaurants and hotels. Your elopement weekend will be one to remember!

Adventure heli photos

Gorgeous views

Part of the romance of eloping is doing it in a beautiful place. The Canadian Rockies have some of the most stunning locations you could possibly imagine. Say your “I do’s” surrounded by majestic snow-capped mountains, and you’ll be sure to remember the moment forever! 

Beautiful venues & amazing vendors

Banff, Canmore and the surrounding area are home to venues that cater to wedding celebrations of all sizes. So if you choose to elope in the area or hold a more intimate ceremony, you’ll still be able to select from top-class venues. 

We’re also home to some of the most professional and dedicated vendors you could hope to meet, and they know how popular elopements are in the area. So you’ll find that Banff vendors know just how to scale their offerings to couples wishing to elope with all the romance and trimmings of the traditional wedding celebration. 

If you’re considering eloping in the Rocky Mountains, check out our curated list of venues and vendors so you can make the most of the experience!

All photographs Banff photographer Rocky Mountain Photo Co.

Feature Photo:
Wedding Florals by Alpine Blooms | Hair and makeup Lilies and Lace Beauty Co.



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