Weddings Weddings Weddings

Think carefully before you elope

Some couples have dreamed about having a large and lavish wedding since they were children. Others aspire to something more intimate. Still others would prefer to elope, which has its pros and cons. Couples who might want to elope should weigh the advantages and disadvantages before they take the plunge.

Although there is no definitive way to calculate how many couples elope each year, research indicates that roughly 100,000 couples elope in Las Vegas every year, for a variety of reasons, including:

* Intimacy

* Ease of planning

* Religious or cultural differences

* Finances

* Desire for a small wedding

Taking a closer look at the pros and cons of eloping can help couples better determine if running off to elope is the right move for them.

Pros

Cost is a major advantage to eloping. Various bridal Web sites, vendors and magazines have calculated that the average wedding runs anywhere from $21,000 to $35,000. Choosing to elope reduces that figure considerably, as couples who elope tend to avoid lavish affairs. The "reception" may be a casual dinner out or even a get-together at home.

Eloping is more intimate in nature than a big wedding. Couples can share special vows amongst themselves without the need for a show at a larger wedding. If there are rifts between the families and coming together for a wedding may cause tension, an elopement is sometimes a smart choice. Couples can start out their new lives together in a special way, unencumbered by having to mingle with family members they may not have seen in years.

Couples who have different religious beliefs or cultural traditions may find it difficult to blend these customs in a traditional wedding. Elopement may offer them the freedom to personalize their weddings in ways that cater to their desires.

Some people simply do not like being in the spotlight, and traditional weddings put couples up on a pedestal. Eloping helps avoid that nervousness and anxiety.

Cons

One of the cons that deter people from eloping is that failure to have a traditional wedding may disappoint close friends and family members. A wedding is not just about the couple, but about families blending and becoming one. Parents of the bride or groom may want to boast about how proud they are of their children getting married, and friends may enjoy having an excuse to get together and celebrate.

There is a lot of pressure that goes into wedding planning, but a wedding is hopefully a once-in-a-lifetime event. There may be regrets about not having the big party or wearing the fancy clothes later on down the line.

Eloping means couples may not be eligible for the same number of perks as with a traditional wedding. Some couples start their nest eggs with monetary gifts from wedding guests. Eloping will likely reduce the number of gifts a couple receives from well-wishers. Also, there may not be a bridal shower, which is where couples receive most of the housewares and essentials they'll use in their new home.

Eloping has its advantages and disadvantages, and couples who might want to elope should weigh both the pros and cons before they forgo a traditional, larger wedding.