January 3, 2022
Ask a family member or a friend, “what is an elopement?” and a lot of people will tell you that it’s a scandalous, rushed, last minute marriage – they might tell you some variation of a couple who runs off to Vegas to get married by an Elvis impersonator in a rhinestone studded chapel.
And while this may be what eloping used to mean, the definition has changed a ton in recent years! Eloping isn’t what is used to be – and as more couples realize that their wedding day doesn’t have to fit the mold that the wedding industry has created, it’s time to redefine the word “elopement.”
What if, instead of letting other people tell you how your wedding “should be,” you could get married in a way that actually reflects who you are?
What if you could ditch expectations, pressures, and stress, and instead of throwing a party that you know your heart isn’t in, you could spend your day with the love of your life, taking in each amazing moment, and knowing that this is exactly where you’re meant to be?
That’s exactly what eloping is about! There’s no one way to elope, or one definition of what an elopement looks like, because the point is that your wedding day should be about you. It should be intentional, it should be meaningful, and it should be whatever you want it to be.
Eloping can include a mountain summit and an adrenaline-rushing adventure, or it can be an evening spent roasting s’mores – or both, neither, and everything in between! Eloping means having the wedding day that the two of you want, whatever that means for you.
Because of the changing definition of eloping, there are still a ton of myths about what it means to elope! Let’s break them down, one at a time.
A lot of people believe that elopements are for couples who don’t want to invest time into their wedding day, and that eloping is just a last minute, quick ceremony. In reality, many of my couples spend months planning and crafting their elopement day! Today, elopements aren’t about rushing to get legally married, they’re about being intentional and planning a day that’s focused on the couple.
The actual elopement day isn’t about rushing through a ceremony either – elopements can last all day, because it’s not a less meaningful version of a traditional wedding. Your elopement is still the day you get married, and that deserves to be honored – it’s not just a “quick ceremony,” it’s a day devoted to celebrating the beginning of your marriage.
A big myth about elopements is that they’re for couples who want to get married in secret – it’s thought of as a scandal or a shameful marriage. Of course, this isn’t true at all! Eloping isn’t about secrets and shame, it’s about intimacy and privacy – the couple gets to call the shots, including who they tell and who they invite. The guest list for an elopement is smaller (or nonexistent), because the focus of the day is on the experience, not on throwing a big party.
And speaking of guest lists, a lot of people believe that an elopement is always just the couple – no guests, no family, no friends. While this can definitely be the case, and some couples feel that a private experience shared between the two of them is what they want, other couples can’t imagine their day without their loved ones!
You can definitely invite guests to your elopement. My husband and I had 12 guests when we eloped, and they added so much to the experience. If the people around you love you and support you, an elopement with guests feels just as meaningful and special!
This one breaks my heart – so many people believe that eloping isn’t as meaningful, as special, or as important as a traditional big wedding. But this is still the day you get married! It’s a big deal, and choosing to be intentional in how you do it, and planning a day that reflects the two of you and showcases your unique story matters.
An elopement isn’t a lesser version of a wedding – it’s just as important, and deserves to be celebrated!
A lot of people think of elopements as quick ceremonies in a courthouse (or a Vegas chapel), where couples go to sign some papers and be done with it. But, an elopement can happen just about anywhere! This is one of my favorite things about elopements – you aren’t confined to traditional wedding venues, and you can get married in a park, on a hiking trail, in your backyard, in a foreign country… anywhere that you want as a backdrop when you tie the knot.
On the flip side, as elopements become more popular in the last few years, some people believe that eloping requires you to climb a mountain or go on a strenuous hike to get married in a jaw dropping, scenic location. A lot of the elopement photos on Instagram showcase couples on mountain peaks – but eloping doesn’t mean you have to hike, or even break a sweat if that’s not what you want for your day.
Adventure isn’t about the sweat or the effort – it’s about the spirit of the day. It’s about experiencing something together, whether that’s a hike, a picnic, an evening of stargazing, a celebration with your loved ones, or anything else you can imagine. Your day can be anything you want it to be – and it doesn’t have to include anything that you don’t want!
I’ve photographed elopements that included less than 1.5 miles of hiking total, and even ones in Airbnbs or family homes that had zero hiking whatsoever! You can totally find scenic overlooks, easy to reach spots, and even ADA accessible elopement locations all over!
The average wedding in the United States cost $28,000 in 2019. That’s a really hefty price tag!
While elopements typically cost less than the average wedding, this doesn’t mean elopements are for couples who are “cheap,” or who don’t want to invest in their wedding day. Eloping gives you more freedom in how you spend your money – and the value of an elopement doesn’t come from the dollar amount. Couples can decide what’s important to them and what they want to invest in for their day, and the elopement budget goes to experiences, as opposed to traditional weddings where there is a lot more money spent on things and material items. For some more info on how much elopements cost, check out this guide!
Now that we’ve answered the question of what an elopement is, a lot of couples also wonder about elopement photography! It differs a ton from traditional wedding photography, and when you’re searching for the right person to document the day, I recommend looking for people who specialize in elopements.
Most wedding photographers will take on elopements as well, but hiring an experienced elopement photographer has a lot of benefits! Because so many people still believe these myths about eloping, it’s important to find someone who understands the value, the importance, and the meaning of your day. As someone who eloped, I can tell you that our tiny ceremony in the forest of Oregon was absolutely perfect, and it wasn’t any less special or meaningful to us than a traditional wedding. If anything, it mattered so much more – because when we started planning a big, 100 person wedding, we realized that it wasn’t what we wanted. It just wasn’t us.
Our elopement so perfectly reflected who we are, and that experience is a big part of the reason I’m so passionate about helping couples like you elope!
I want to help you dream up a day that’s simply magical – and my job as an elopement photographer is to give you all the tools and resources you need to make the day come to life. With personalized location scouting, ideas for places to stay, vendor connections, tips, advice, and everything you need to plan your elopement, I’m here for you every step of the way. And of course, I’ll be documenting every moment on the day of.
Elopement photography is about the experience – from planning to exploring the day of. If you’re ready to plan a wedding day that connects you to nature and to each other, that honors your unique love, and that feels like it was designed just for you (because it was), contact me!