Why We Eloped

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In 2015, couples spent an average of $32,641 on their wedding. 

I don’t know about you, but a price tag like this gives me anxiety. This is one of several reasons we eloped.

Yes, we eloped. It was a lovely, teeny-tiny ceremony in October 2013 in Woodinville, WA.

When it comes up, I get a lot of questions. There are several reasons we made this choice, and I don’t regret it.

If your dream is to have a huge ceremony, that’s fine. However, I bring this up because I’ve had conversations with brides-to-be admitting they never wanted a huge ceremony and feel completely overwhelmed.

I’m here to tell you it doesn’t have to be this way.

So why did we elope?

First, money.

My husband Adam and I talked about wedding expenses, and decided we didn’t want to spend the money. Frankly, it was money we didn’t have. Going into debt for one day just didn’t make sense, and wasn’t going to help me sleep at night. That price tag felt like so much more than a wedding. To us, it was a down payment on a house, many fabulous vacations or an investment in our retirement.

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However, I did want an amazing ring.


We understood it was our decision to make, and ours only.

I completely understand if people have family or religious obligations, or if it’s something they just truly want. For us, it was a matter of staying true to ourselves and being firm with our decision. At the time, we were footing the bill, so family members understood that. It’s also easy to fall prey to societal expectations of how a wedding should be, so it helped that my husband and I were on the same page.

Keeping it simple

I am not a planner. My Pinterest page has one board called “Foods I Want to Eat.” That’s about the extent of my planning prowess. Because I skew towards anxiety and I’m easily overwhelmed, planning is not my forte. I did briefly attempt to plan a wedding for about three days, but I gave up. I say this because a bit of soul searching is required to figure out what you want, along with a little courage to go against the grain and do it.

Family issues

We have smaller families, but they are all over the place. We live in Seattle, Adam’s family is scattered from Canada to South Florida, and mine are in Michigan. There were certain family members I knew couldn’t easily be there, and without them, I didn’t want to have a large ceremony. I couldn’t bring myself to do that. I understand this is a unique issue we had that many people don’t have to think about, but certain personal logistics were a problem.


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I love a good wedding. I really do. I love the fanfare and the beautiful bride. I love the dancing, the cake, and of course the open bar. But somewhere between the wedding reality shows and YouTube wedding flash mobs, it became more of a show than a show of love. For us, I wanted to slow down and celebrate one thing: us. Some readers may think that’s selfish to not include others, but this was a priority for me. We wrote our own vows, spoke from the depths of our hearts, and those are personal, intimate moments I will cherish forever.


My husband and I have another unique situation: our jobs. They are in very public positions. I’m on air 5 hours a day, 25 hours a week, 1300 hours a year. We love what we do, but we certainly don’t need anymore spotlight! We wanted a little bit of privacy, so we honored that.

How did we do it?

First, we decided what we wanted, and what we didn’t want.

We knew we didn’t want a big wedding. We knew we didn’t want to spend a lot of money. We also knew this was our experience to personalize and create as we imagined it. Luckily, we reached an agreement easily about elopement. That’s not always the case with couples. Our idea was to pick what we wanted, and leave out the rest.

Here were the basics: We wanted an actual ceremony past going down the courthouse. I wanted a pretty dress, to get my hair done and eat some cake. We wanted a couple photos to remember, but we didn’t need 500. We wanted a honeymoon. After that, the rule was “keep it simple.”

Then, we talked to family.

This was the scariest part of the process. When all your family and friends are expecting a wedding, it’s easy to feel like you’ve let them down. For us, it worked best to tell close family and friends only. Despite being pretty nervous about it, everyone understood. The hardest part of this was starting the actual conversation, and getting the ball rolling.

We found cheaper alternatives.

For the three or four days I subjected myself to the horror that is wedding planning, I was stunned at how expensive everything is. Even worse, the price hike when you simply mention the word “wedding.” I set out to find cheaper alternatives to the things I wanted to include.

I found a discount, secondhand dress and veil through “Brides for a Cause.”  

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I loved my $200 dress.

It cost me about $200. If you’re unfamiliar, this organization works to raise money with Wish Upon A Wedding, a non-profit organization dedicated to granting weddings and vow renewals for couples facing serious illness or a life-altering circumstance. My dress felt extra special, because of this meaning behind it.

We got a great deals on a venue, flowers, photos and a cake.

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We found the perfect wedding venue at Willows Lodge, in Woodinville, WA. They had an elopement package for about $400. They also gave us ability to roam the property for pictures and a ceremony.

I didn’t care if I had a traditional “wedding cake” so I didn’t say anything when ordering regarding a wedding. I  ordered a $30 6-inch whisper cake for Macrina bakery and bought this little cake topper which symbolized the intimacy of our wedding day.

Adam has dropped and broken this twice, by the way.

We also saved by hiring a wonderful young photographer who was the daughter of a co-worker. We avoided the $5,000 wedding packages I was finding everywhere and paid about $500 for her time and all of our photos.

Total for everything? About $1,130.

And the day? Priceless.

In the end, I still feel like we actually splurged, yet we got EVERYTHING we wanted.

Finally, we planned a perfect honeymoon…

…and spent a week in Cabo relaxing. The honeymoon was a must.

Bottom line: Eloping is not for everyone. But big weddings aren’t either.

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If you’re considering an elopement, here are tips I would give anyone before planning any type of wedding ceremony:

  1. Do some soul searching. Really figure out what you want, and how to stay true to yourself. This is your relationship and this is your day. Recognize that and honor that.
  2. Filter out societal expectations and make it your own. Forget about the wedding shows and extravagant websites that TELL you what they think YOU need. You and your partner know what you need.
  3. Talk to your family about your wedding dreams. Be kind, have courage and stand firm. I second this if you are paying for your own ceremony.
  4. Look for venues with elopement packages if you’re not into planning. Many times, these are all-inclusive, making them easy to book and be done with it.
  5. Make a list with your partner of everything you want and don’t want in a wedding, and how to make it fit into your budget. Get creative with how to find lower cost options around town. Once you make those choices, commit to stick with it.
  6. Understand people will get over it. This is the best advice I was given when I was feeling bad for making this choice. I was afraid of alienating family or friends. A friend reminded me that this is mine and my partner’s day. I have to live with my choices because it’s my wedding, but most likely those who truly love you will forget and move on with their own lives. That’s what matters.

Most importantly, follow your heart.

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Let me know how you created your big day. I would love to hear from you in the comments.


31 thoughts on “Why We Eloped

  1. My biggest regret in life is having a traditional wedding. I hated it. The planning was stressful, everything was so expensive, there were so many different people I felt I had to please, and everything became about the party and not about my husband and me. I look back on that day with no fond memories (except for my cake and dress) and wish we had really thought about it before having such an elaborate celebration. It just wasn’t us.


  2. We eloped too!! For many of the same reasons – cost $70… LOL

    We had lived together for 7 years already as well and figured we didn’t need all that fussiness. We didn’t have a honeymoon either, which he still owes me (Alaskan cruise lol). I don’t regret a thing 😊


  3. We eloped too! We had a logistics problem as well (my mom in Northern Minnesota) and hubby’s parents were divorced and his mother said she wouldn’t come to our wedding if his dad was there with his new wife. We decided to spend our money on a dream honeymoon in France, Paris and a lovely villa south of France in Burgundy Country for 10 days. Because of the “family feud” it seemed like the best option. We have a boat moored in Anacortes, so we eloped there and got married on our little sailboat (28ft) with our witnesses – it was very intimate and exactly where we loved to be even when the weather is cold and stormy. (Cuddled up in the cabin of your sail boat, reading a book while dinner is cooking and the gentle sway of the ocean with the bell clanging – it’s heaven). We decided to meet his family separately after the elopement so we wouldn’t suffer any guilt negotiations (my mom was informed before the wedding as she’s pretty cool with anything I want to do and understood the cost and location issues.). We told hubby’s dad and he was disappointed but invited us out for a wedding dinner celebration with he and his wife which we did later. As for hubby’s mom, we chose a very public busy restaurant to break the news to her – we felt the emotional outburst might be minimized if there were a lot of people around…nope! She burst into tears sobbing there at the table in the middle of the restaurant 😦 We tried, and explained to her we couldn’t decide between her and dad so it came down to being about our wedding…she did come around and she did pet sit for us so we could go to France. (Just so you know hubby and I were past 30 years old so it was a real surprise the crying part.) I did the same as you on the wedding dress, but not the same place – I got a lovely wedding dress that was repurposed and fitted for me, a nice layer cake with a bride and groom topper, our witness was also a photographer so we got our pictures as a wedding gift, and we ended up going to a fish n chips place there and had some “craft beer for hubby” and some wine for me! All in all, it was everything we wanted (sans the tears and drama) but honestly, even though people will be disappointed they do come around – even the most stubborn. You can look back as we do now years later and all laugh about how silly it was, and how awesome everything is today. The upside of all those tears: when hubby’s brother got married she did show up and sat at the same wedding table with her ex, his wife, and all of us. Life is a learning experience and hearts grow bigger as time goes by 🙂


  4. I have always believed that when you plan a wedding, you spend what you can afford. If you can’t afford a lavish wedding costing thousands upon thousands of dollars, but as long as it’s a wedding you and Adam will remember and cherish for the rest of your lives? And do so with absolutely ZERO regret? That’s what matters!


  5. Liz, I watch you daily on the news and you are wonderful. I am 1/2 of a wedding planning podcast here in the PNW (we are in Woodinville) called From Ring to Veil (www.fromringtoveil.com) we would love to love to interview you about your thoughts on Elopements. We can email you with more information if you wish, but please check out our website and listen to some of our shows. Thanks so much!

    Shannon Palmer


  6. I love this post Liz! I wish you had this post out before my wedding day Oct 2014 lol. Although me and my husband wanted a beach wedding we live in Tallahassee, FL and the closest beaches are very isolated and not much around so everything was going to cost an arm an a leg to have catering etc sent out there. We spent about $6-7K and I thought that was cheap. You got a great deal on the revenue! everything was expensive around here. In fact, our venue alone was about what you spent on your entire wedding! We only had roughly 30 guests at ours. Great insight for sure!


  7. Liz, I wish you posted this before my wedding day which was on Oct 2014 lol. These are some great tips! We wanted a beach wedding but we live in Tallahassee, FL and the closest beaches are very isolated and it was going to cost an arm and a leg to have catering, etc sent out there. Our wedding cost ~6-7K in town… and I thought that was cheap considering how much other people spend. I can’t believe how cheap your venue was! that is awesome. For me the pictures are the most important because it’s what you get to keep and cherish for a lifetime, but yours are beautiful! 🙂


  8. Hi Liz! I love reading your stories on here and seeing a normal person who is just like everyone else. I look forward to turning on the news every morning to watch the great crew of people you all are! I had the very same feelings when I was getting married for the second time, which was 6 years ago this last March. My parents are very religious and didn’t agree with us marrying (for reasons I still don’t get), so we planned a small wedding and reception with mostly his family and a few of my closest friends. Every time I would get discouraged and want to just run to the courthouse, God would bless us with free or extremely discounted flowers/music/cake…so we went ahead and had the best day ever! It’s so much more freeing to have a wedding be about two people rather than a room full of guests (although my first wedding was like that and was a blast). In the long run I don’t think we spent much more than you guys! Anyway, thank you for sharing your stories, you looked amazing on your special day! Adam looked very handsome as well lol 😊 See you all in the morning!!


    1. Thank you so much for the kind words. I also have some friends who came from an extremely religious background, and elopements were completely out of the question. Which is totally fine. It is certainly not for everyone. It sounds like you did pretty good with flowers/music/cake. There are ways to do a wedding cheaply. I think it takes a little crafty planning, but it can be done!


  9. I agree 100%. the expense and the planning can be very stressful. and who wants that in your memories. you and Adam did what made your wedding day happy and filled with good memories. with my wife and I driving truck, we didn’t have the time nor could we afford a fancy wedding. also this is something we really didn’t want. with both my parents gone and family scattered in different states, we talked with her parents about what we were going to do. they said you don’t need a fancy wedding just to please family, to do as we wished. on our next trip through Las Vegas, we were married. it was quirky, fun and gave us memories that we still laugh about. we don’t know to many people who can say, they were married in a drive thru chapel in Vegas, in a semi !


  10. Great article, Liz. with the expense and stress of wedding planning, it sounds like you and Adam did what was best for you. with my wife and I driving truck, we didn’t have the time nor the money for a big wedding and we didn’t want to do that anyway. we went the quirky fun way of a wedding at a drive thru chapel in Las Vegas. we have great memories of that experience and still laugh about it today. to some it may be tacky, but to us, it was great and where else can you be married by Elvis, LOL !


  11. Liz (if I may call you that),

    I’ve obviously seen you on tv, and you’re wonderful, but I love your writing! I have an upcoming wedding, it will be my first (and I’m 42!), and I’m dreading it. I was dreading it. I, too, suffer from pretty bad anxiety and this blog couldn’t have come at a better time. I’d never thought of this. I really hadn’t. I figured on our budget, it was the courthouse or nothing. Even that gave me anxiety! Are strangers allowed to watch? Is there a time limit? What do we do, wait in line for our turn? Every stupid thought in my head.

    I think the way you spent YOUR day, as a COUPLE, sounds beautiful. Thank you for sharing your experience. 🙂


    1. I feel you on the anxiety. I’m so sorry. I actually battle with anxiety, too, and getting in front of a large group freaked me out a bit. When we did this, I think we got married at like, 4pm on a Friday. There was no one in our little secluded area and it was pretty empty anyway. Ill tell you this: you think you notice a lot around you, but I was so wrapped up in the moment and emotional, I don’t remember a thing but being with him. And I will emphasize again that we were in a nice secluded area, facing green space, not an area where people were wandering by. We did not have a time limit because we picked a Friday afternoon. There was no one else eloping or getting married that day. But this was a hotel, so it’s not like a courtroom where they just shuffle you through. We had the luxury of having a very quiet, intimate atmosphere. I think that’s also part of what you pay for going through a resort or hotel that offers an elopement option. Look for elopement packages at lodges or hotels in your area and visit them to see where they allow the ceremony, how private the grounds are, how busy it might get, ask about your ability to pick the area you want to do the ceremony and if there is a time limit, etc. just ask a few questions. I don’t have actual advice to deal with the anxiety because I am still working on dealing with those feelings too, but I think knowing some of these things before you show up in a white dress will help quell some of that. Does that help at all?


      1. It does help. Just getting to be together has been stressful enough (he lives in Cornwall, UK) and the date of his arrival is still up in the air. When he does get here, I think you’re right. I think I’ll be so wrapped up in him/us I won’t be as anxious. I’ll definitely be calling around for some secluded resort type place to have our day.

        I wish you the best of luck with getting a handle on your anxiety! I’m amazed you’re still able to get in front of people like you do. I can imagine you’ve got an autopilot that comes in to play after awhile.

        Thank you for all your kind and helpful words!


  12. Hi Liz,

    Great story! My wife and I did the same thing in a way. We got married 5 yrs ago this coming November. When we started to talk about it we both were in agreement that we didn’t want a big wedding, it was going to be a second marriage for both of us and we didn’t want to waste the money on something big. I had taken my wife to Arizona a couple years in a row prior to getting married. One time while we were down there I took her to this funky little outdoor bar on the outskirts of Scottsdale in the middle of the desert. The place is called Greasewood Flats and it’s the coolest place. All outdoor, lot’s of space, big property. It’s the kind of place that you’d have to see to understand it. Anyway, we get there and my wife loved the place, to the point she said we should get married here. I was like, yeah sure whatever. Lol! As time went on she continued to talk about the place and really wanted to get married there. She ended up calling the place and asked if it was possible to have a wedding there and the Greasewood was all for it for a very cheap price. I know, you are probably thinking, a bar??? Like I said, you have to see the place. Now came the fun part, or stress part for her. Who are we going to invite, who’s going to fly to Arizona? Where will everybody stay? What day is our wedding day going to be? All of that. In the early spring of ’11 my parents were in town and my Wife’s Dad and Step-Mom had come down to our house and of course wedding talk came up. When are you guys getting married…all that. I finally spoke up and said, “well, we will be in Arizona in November from this date to this date, feel free to come down.” Everybody said, “We’re in!” I was like, Wow, that was easy! So from there things got rolling and stressful at times for my wife. I found a centrally located Hotel in Scottsdale that could accommodate a lot of people if a lot chose to come, I arranged a shuttle to take people to and from the hotel to Greasewood so nobody had to drive on our wedding day. Then we put it out to our friends and family and basically said, “Hey, this is what we are doing and when, this is the hotel info, feel free to come down if you want”. I told my wife, this day was going to be about US, if people wanted to come, great, if not, so be it we’re still getting married. That took care of a lot of the stress after that fortunately. In the end, we had a lot more people show up than we expected. People flew in from Washington of course, Oregon and my wife’s sister drove over from California. My wife found a inexpensive dress that looked beautiful on her. My buddy I work with got ordained on line so he could marry us, LOL! He’s done two more weddings since. We had pics taken by one of our friends that turned out great. They had a small, old rustic barn on the property for the ceremony that held everybody. The guy that plays live music at the bar came in a hour early for $50 bucks and played music for us. They reserved a bunch of tables for us in the middle of the place. Since it all outdoors you can build fires at the end of your table, (it is a cool place), The place was open to the public so people mingled with us afterwards and congratulated us, bought us drinks, danced, etc. Everything just came together. All in all, it was a pretty inexpensive wedding. My wife looked absolutely beautiful and we, along with everybody else, had a BLAST! People still talk about our wedding and how much fun it was. Like I said, it was inexpensive, simple, and turned out to be a lot of fun! Oh, my wife picked a good date to so I won’t forget it, 11-11-11…lol! I would do it again in a heartbeat! That’s our story in a nutshell.

    Take Care!


  13. First can I just say I’m a little obsessed with lizdueke.com😎 I love reading all about your experiences and recommendations! We also chose to elope and I don’t regret it for a second. I don’t love the idea of all eyes on me and I needed our wedding to be just about us. When we wed we had already been together for eleven years and had two amazing little girls. I still wanted to have my day though so we found a great little chapel in Vegas that had an awesome package that included a photographer, flowers and limo service. We did splurge on my wedding dress, my ring and photography package. I also splurged on a pretty wedding hair stylist at the Luxor hotel which was well worth it! We went zip lining the day before and that was amazing and a great bonding experience! We got married the next day and it was everything!!! Thanks for sharing your story and letting me share mine!😁💒💍


    1. That sounds like a wonderful time. Especially the zip lining! I love how you made it your own. Isn’t that what it’s all about ? Have a great night and thank you for the kind words!


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