What is an elopement? Shedding light on a beautiful wedding trend and its meaning

December 3, 2019

What is an elopement?

The wedding trend we never knew we needed so badly

Have you ever dreamt up the most romantic wedding day in the most special place in the world only to realize: “that’s just a dream” or “this is how they do it in the movies, but it’s not realistic for us”? Have you ever dreamed of a 100% stress-free wedding day where you can do whatever the heck you want? Breaking traditions and still feel it’s the real deal? A wedding day where it’s OK to hang out in the hot springs before you get married? Where you hike up a mountain or sit at a fire pit, roasting s’mores and watch the stars at night? Where your unique dreams come true without pesky rules or family drama?

Then welcome to the wonderful world of elopements!

If you’ve ever watched the movie “Braveheart”, you kinda get the idea of what an elopement is: “Just us”
But it’s not the sneak away part without family or society’s approval that makes an elopement an elopement.

Elopements have been around for a while, but never have we lived in a day and age were eloping has become so kick-ass, easy to plan and fun.

Contemporary elopement meaning:

An elopement is a day full of things you love to do or have always wanted to do. A safe space created and dedicated to your relationship, where at the highlight of the day – you marry your best friend&love of your life.
Now gimme something real –  what the heck is eloping all about?

Sometimes it’s easier to explain what an elopement is NOT:

An elopement is not a big wedding, it’s not hundred plus guests, it’s not family drama, it’s not a never ending decision making over dinner table seating charts, it’s not planning a wedding for your guests and it’s not including traditions that you never wanted on your wedding day, it’s not inviting people to your wedding that you barely know or spending an exuberant amount of your hard earned dollars on something that’s NOT you.

An elopement is: getting married how the heck you want, having zero guests or only a handful of the most important loved ones in your life, being bold and do things differently and feel good about it, being 100% you, not catering to other people’s beliefs, values or needs, only incorporating traditions that mean something to you, planning a day that focuses entirely on you two and your love, spending the day in the most intentional, kick-ass way you can imagine.

Sounds pretty rad if you ask me.

Now on to one of the most burning questions…

…SHOULD we elope?

I have yet to meet a couple who did regret they eloped – and how could they? They have planned their elopement to be 100% about them and what they wanted and never looked back. Some of them are couples that were married before, it’s usually them who realize they don’t want to do this big ‘ol wedding thing again. Having said that, eloping isn’t for everyone, just as big weddings aren’t everyone’s cup of covfefe.

No matter what you go for – big wedding or elopement – do it for the right reasons and you’re golden!

Adventure Wedding

Here are the most common reasons why my couples decided to elope:

  • We love our families and friends, but we wanted this to be about us and our love

  • We wanted to avoid the stress of planning a big wedding

  • The way we met was crazy/serendipitous – we can’t do traditional 😉
  • We wanted to keep it a private and personal experience

  • We didn’t really expect support from our families for our marriage
  • We met on a hiking trail and wanted to go back to that exact same spot to say our vows

  • We wanted to do something out-of-the-box exciting for our relationship
  • We wanted to spend the money on us and not on guests we barely know/like

  • We hate being the center of attention

  • We couldn’t find a venue/registry office we liked but wanted to pick our own spot

  • We are not a fan of big weddings, but we still wanted to do something to celebrate our relationship

  • We are shy people and couldn’t imagine having a big crowd around us watching while we exchange something as intimate and private as our vows

  • We wanted to avoid family drama and control freaks making decisions for us

  • We wanted our relationship to be the focus of this day

  • It’s our second marriage and we don’t want a big fuss (again)

  • We wanted to travel for our wedding and combine it with our honeymoon

  • We are quirky personalities and wanted something unique for us that others wouldn’t understand

  • We have been through so much the past years and helped others, we feel like we deserve to do something that’s just for us

    We wanted the day to be entirely about us and not about the expectations of guests

  • We have been to lots of weddings and we don’t like them

  • We are awkward being around big crowds when the attention is on us (even if it’s our family and friends)

  • We love traveling, something small and private abroad felt right to us

  • We are introverts and hate people (true story!)

mountain elopement

What will our friends and families say?

Most of the couples that inquire with me tell me: we love our family, but we want this to be about us.
And guess what? That’s the only reason you’ll ever need. Yes, it’s hard for parents not to be invited to your wedding. But your wedding is not about them, it’s about you. Embrace being selfish and don’t try to make everyone happy at the cost of your own happiness.

There are absolutely wonderful ways to include your family in your elopement. Whether you truly plan to elope and include a handful of people you love on the day, or throwing a reception after you’ve eloped and get back home for everyone who couldn’t be there is up to you. Bonus: You get to wear your wedding outfits twice! (Yaaaasssssss!!)

Sometimes I get to hear from wedding guests that it’s really the reception and the party they enjoy the most – why? Because that’s when then fun part starts – plus, everyone loves food and drinks (and maybe a party)! The ceremony is often short and it’s not until cocktail hour or reception that guests get to talk to the bride and groom the very first time, share drinks or dance. Eloping and throwing a party for your family and friends while wearing your wedding outfits again is going to make them feel part of your wedding no matter what!

Are elopements legal or just symbolic?

This is a questions that absolutely depends on where you are planning to get married. If you plan to elope in your home town/state/country, eloping is fairly straight forward, just the same as a regular wedding and legally binding after your ceremony.

Now, if you consider eloping in a foreign country it is up to the country’s marriage regulations whether you are able to get married legally there or not. Some countries like France require you to be a resident in order to legally get married. Other countries however make it fairly easy and with the proper documentation it is possible to legally get married. Some countries require you to have documentation ready weeks or months before your elopement date and also a translator in addition to an officiant present at the ceremony.

In any case, every country has different regulations, so it’s worth doing some research before picking a country to elope.

Some couples want to spare themselves the headache and do the paperwork at home. It is usually easier, cheaper and stress-free. That way you are a hundred percent free to plan your day and your ceremony the way you envision it without restrictions or regulations.

Emotional wedding vows

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Excellent info and explanations for people trying to make these decisions!

I’m so glad I found the elopement community ❤ I truly believe it’s the best way for most people to get married.

such a great blog post. great information for the lovely couples that need some direction when it comes to elopements.

What a great post. Loved the way you broke it all down! Also that image is killer 🙂

Elopements are the best! Great info for those having the wedding / elopement debate.

So good to get this information about elopements out there! thanks for sharing!

Yesssss I love this, and love that you break it all down so perfectly! It’s so true, elopements are changing the game and I am so pumped to see that!

I am so glad elopements are becoming more of a thing! People just being themselves and enjoying the fact they are going to get married! Great post!

I love the list of reasons you included that explains why people choose to elope! There are so many, and you nailed it. I love that the definition and stigma of eloping is changing, and it has become all about quality time. Great post!

So much helpful information about eloping! For us in the wedding industry, we know how drastically the definition of an elopement has changed, but so many couples out there still relate it to the old stigma. Education like this is invaluable!