Weddings can be expensive, time-consuming and stressful to plan. Few couples embroiled in the process haven't thought about running away to elope. It's certainly spontaneous and can be cost-effective. But is it for you?

Roughly 100,000 couples head to Las Vegas each year to say their "I Dos."

Vegas is the self-proclaimed wedding capital of the world. With a growing number of celebrities and high-profile individuals running off to get hitched in low-key ceremonies, eloping can seem quite enticing. Consider these pros and cons before you book your airline tickets.

Advantages
There are several advantages to eloping. The foremost reason is cost. Couples who elope at City Hall or close by will pay a nominal fee for their nuptials. A marriage license may only be around $50 or more, and your other expenses will be wardrobe and transportation to and from the event.

Eloping is also a viable idea for couples with family issues. If some members of the family do not get along or if there are individuals who don't approve of the marriage, it can be easier to avoid the drama of a wedding ceremony and reception and get married in a small, simple ceremony ... alone. A bride who has lost her father or mother may choose to forego the pomp and circumstance of walking down the aisle for a simpler ceremony.

Another reason to elope is to avoid the stress and hassle of planning the wedding. Some people are born organizers and planners. Others get overwhelmed just deciding on what to eat for dinner. When eloping, the only things couples must plan are the where, when and how of the event. Fewer people involved means fewer hassles.

Disadvantages
Eloping does have its share of disadvantages, as well. Primarily it's experienced only by the bride and groom and perhaps a witness. This means others won't be around to share in this momentous event. Some people who elope later regret the not having a more traditional ceremony.

Chances are a few people will have hurt feelings if you choose to elope and not include them in the wedding. Parents of the bride and groom may feel left out. Remember, a wedding is a celebration not just for the bride and groom, but for their families as well.

If you're running off to get married because a family member doesn't approve of your future spouse, you could permanently fracture the relationship this person will have with the family.

If You Decide to Elope, Do it With Style
If you've assessed the pros and cons and have decided to elope, consider these pointers.

* Research the marriage requirements in the place where you have decided to marry. Some foreign locales require a layover period of a few days to a week before filling out the marriage papers and getting married.

* Choose a location that has meaning for you. Don't pick a place simply because of popularity.

* Elope, but still invite a few people to witness the event. One or two close friends, your parents or siblings can stand in as witnesses at the ceremony.

* If you choose to do it as a duo, hire a photographer to take pictures of the ceremony and mail out an announcement to your family and friends.

* Host a reception for close family and friends so they can celebrate the betrothal. It doesn't have to be a lavish affair. A cocktail party or barbecue is adequate.

* If you elope in secrecy, don't count on lavish wedding gifts.

* Put the money you would have spent on a wedding toward the down payment on a house. Get married in the backyard or living room of your new place and have a wedding/house-warming party.