If you’ve been planning a wedding lately you might have seen the word ‘elopement’ starting to pop up here, there and everywhere. The definition and expectation about what an elopement is has been rapidly changing over the last few years.
Ye olde-and-trustworthy Oxford Dictionary definition (ooft, who doesn’t love a dictionary ref?)
“The act of running away with somebody in order to marry them secretly”
This is how many people imagine elopements – they conjure up scenes of runaway star-crossed lovers running off to a church in the country to be married without their parents blessing. Or a last-minute flight to Vegas for a glitzy quick ceremony officiated by the ghost of Elvis. Or a quick signing at the registry office to “get the bit of paper”.
Sound familiar? These are 100% still completely legitimate elopements and lots of people choose to marry in these ways.
But the definition of modern elopements is evolving and broadening.
There is no concrete new definition but we’re all shaping it into something new. Watching how this has evolved, here is my attempt at explaining what an elopement is…
My definition of an elopement
Let’s look at some common questions about eloping….
Do I have to go abroad to elope?
Absolutely not – eloping is about reflecting on what is meaningful to you as a couple and reflecting that in your choice of location. Lots of modern elopers choose to elope somewhere abroad – whether that’s somewhere that had special meaning to them from a previous trip or from values in their relationship that leads them to a new place. (Often eloping becomes a wedding & honeymoon in one.)
But many eloping couples also choose to elope somewhere closer to home which has special relevance to them. This could be the backyard of the home they’ve made together or a location which influenced their relationship (i.e. a first date, a city, a romantic trip spot, where they engaged or a lovely woodland they walk their dog in everyday). There is no right and no wrong here. (But you do have to take the local regulations of marriage in account when choosing your spot!)
Do I have to go on some big crazy adventure up a mountain to elope?
If you’ve been following the elopement trend for a little when they it’s very likely you’ve seen lots and LOTS of hiking adventure elopement photos. The vistas are incredible and make for a wonderful ceremony backdrop but this is certainly not the only way to elope. If, like me, climbing mountains doesn’t necessarily sound like your idea of the perfect wedding day activity then don’t worry, it’s certainly not a requirement!
Okay, so what does an elopement look like on the day?
This maybe isn’t the answer you want to hear…. but it can look like just about anything! Choosing to elope gives you the chance to sit together as a couple and really think about all the things that you share together and shape your day to fit your love.
Here are some things your day could incorporate…
- Personal vows at sunset or sunrise
- Choosing to only honour traditions which align with you i.e. handfasting, not seeing each other before the ceremony, wearing a white dress, carrying a bouquet etc.
- A morning stroll or swim together
- Choosing to have a ‘first look’ somewhere special
- Having a first dance under your favourite tree
- Singing a song together
Here are some more wild ideas…
- An underwater wedding
- A night wedding under the stars after a day of pampering
- Marrying by a campfire and taking a run into the sea after
- Doing a helicopter ride after your ceremony
These are just a few ideas to help you see that an elopement gives you the chance to truly make it your day, no one else’s.
How many people can I bring to an elopement?
This is the greyest area of all – some people say a ‘true elopement’ is the couple + 2 witnesses. Others might say it’s up to 10 or 30. Or people may say it’s immediate family only.
The common part of all of these conflicting opinion is that an elopement is intentionally small. To be in the spirit of eloping, your idea of ‘small’ should mean that you only invite the smallest number of people to make sure the day is still about you as a couple. And not about creating a day for others. These should also be people you feel 100% comfortable being at your most vulnerable in front of. So this might be two witnesses or it might be 20 of your absolute closest friends and family.
Is eloping cheaper?
It’s a common misconception that people choose to elope because of budget. This is often one of the last considerations when making this decision.
Everyone’s budget is different but the money not spent of catering, alcohol and large venue hire means people often use that budget to create a wedding day of their dreams. They elope in their preferred location with their ideal outfits/accessories and favourite top-notch suppliers. For a lot of couples, it’s likely that eloping will be cheaper compared to a big wedding but eloping is not necessarily the ‘budget’ option.
Eloping suits all budgets – it’s 100% possible to elope in a beautiful and meaningful way on a small budget.