I'm sure everyone's thought of it at least once in their wedding planning history. Why can't we just elope?! It would make things a whole lot easier. And the truth is that it really is a lot easier.
While having friends and family join you for your union is tons of fun, there's something to be said for an intimate session between you and your significant other. When you add family, the drama can get overwhelming. I've had screaming matches that needed to be broken up and that's just not what a wedding is about. Family adds a whole new dynamic including opinions that are not your own, traditions that you might not agree with, and a whole mess of other difficulties. If your family is super chill then forget I said anything! But most of us have at least that one dysfunctional relative that we really don't want to invite anyway. Save yourself the guilt and problems by just eloping.
The costs are significantly reduced when you just have a few people attending your marriage. Or you can use that money to afford to have the wedding of your dreams in Italy! I know people have budgets that necessitate certain boundaries on their wedding day, and one of the best ways to penny pinch is to reduce the guest count. Our wedding had a total of 25-ish people. It afforded us the ability to hire the photographer we wanted and pay for THE officiant (who was a close friend and role model). We were also able to make it a trip to central California instead of trying to get married at venues that we didn't necessarily have any connections to.
There's also something to be said for my shy couples out there. We (and I include myself in here because as a professed introvert, I can sometimes have a hard time showing my affections in front of others) tend to find it easier to say our vows personally in front of very few people. This, to me, is what a marriage is about: professing our love together in a close intimate setting and vowing to be with each other. I don't need to share it with my twice cousins once removed. They can check my Facebook for the photos. There's no real need for them to be present for that.
Overall, I'm a huge fan of elopements. I get to know my couples more that way, and I personally understand the reasons for having one. The couples are more relaxed and the atmosphere is focused on their love. That's the meaning of marriage.