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Pros and Cons of Eloping in Europe

Eloping in Europe is far from an unattainable fantasy. If you and your fiance are dreaming of a gorgeous, low-key event in a charming European city or an unforgettable outdoor spot, making it happen is easier than you may think. In some ways, it can be easier than planning a traditional wedding — though, in others, it may not be exactly what you had in mind.

Just like a 100-person wedding, a private elopement has unique benefits and drawbacks. We’ll explore the pros and cons of eloping in Europe in this article.

Pro: Stunning Low-Budget Event

Want to get married against a stunning European backdrop? You can elope in romantic Venice, say your vows with the Swiss Alps in view, or rent an entire castle for well under $500 per night.

Beyond the cost of your wedding rings and dress or tux, your dream European elopement can realistically cost little more than the price of your flight tickets, lodging, and photography. You won’t have to host a reception for 100 people. Instead, you and your partner can simply treat yourselves and a few loved ones to food or catering.

On the flip side, the average wedding costs $30,000 — even if your venue is a short drive from your home. You can expect the open bar alone to cost $3,500.

Instead of dropping an enormous amount of cash on a one-time occasion, you can save your money for smarter investments like a home or a self-directed 401(k) retirement fund. Your wedding may be more beautiful than you ever would have imagined.

Con: Disappointed Loved Ones

Eloping to Europe means your wedding is truly your day. An officiant and a couple of witnesses are the only people that you and your spouse need at your elopement. Beyond that, you may invite just a few of your closest friends or family members. But one major con is this exclusive guest list can disappoint the loved ones who don’t get to attend the wedding themselves.

Luckily, there are alternative ways for you to make loved ones feel included (and elope guilt-free). For example, you can harness the power of social media live streams to let your friends and family watch the elopement as it occurs. Or, you can host a reception when you get home. Since your wedding day will have passed, this celebration can be more budget-friendly than your average reception.

Pro: Less Wedding Planning

Bridezilla won’t make an appearance ahead of a European elopement. Whereas weddings can involve a year’s worth of planning and decisions — from choosing a venue and tasting cakes to selecting your wedding party members, DJ, photographer, and guests — your elopement can be fairly low-key. You can look forward to your marriage instead of stressing about a grand event.

Plus, you won’t have dozens of people influencing your decisions. A wedding planner is optional, and you don’t have to invite family members out of obligation. People-pleasing won’t be a worry, since your wedding will be all yours to enjoy.

Still, keep in mind that you will need to contact your state’s office of the Attorney General, as well as the embassy of your selected European country, to get the right documentation for an elopement. This is a simple step that will help you ensure your marriage will be valid when you return to the United States.

Con: More Travel Considerations

Though wedding planning will be toned down, travel considerations may increase. Before you leave, you may need to make accommodations for pets and dependents or ask a trusted friend to watch over your house. You’ll also want to research medical care solutions and budget with currency conversions in mind. Looking up government travel recommendations is also key for staying healthy and safe in Europe.

You and your spouse-to-be should also research Visa requirements for your destination, especially if you’re planning to stay beyond your wedding date.

The good news: Getting this planning out of the way will allow you to set off on a grand honeymoon without worries immediately after your wedding. Instead of doing double the planning, your wedding can be an easy part of your dream honeymoon, whether you want to backpack across Europe or have a romantic stay in France.

Choose the Path That Feels Right

Your wedding is a special day for you and your spouse. There’s no reason you can’t make your dream of eloping in Europe come true. An elopement abroad can be more financially realistic and less stressful than a big white wedding in your hometown. While some loved ones may be disappointed, you can always appease them with a live stream or a reception when you return.

However, if you want all your friends and family to celebrate with you on your wedding day, you may consider a more traditional wedding. It’s all about making the decision that feels right for your marriage.