Since the events of 2020, many couples are turning to weddings with smaller guests lists. A lot of couples choose what’s known as an intimate wedding or a micro-wedding where they have a wedding with just their family and closest friends. But with the advent of this new tiny wedding trend, couples are also exploring elopements for their nuptials. Even with all the new info out there about intimate weddings and elopements, many couples continue to wonder what elopement means and if their wedding plans constitute an elopement. So, let’s explore this so that you can feel confident with the knowledge to make the best wedding decision for you.
What elopement means
The word “elope” has several definitions. Two of the definitions specifically call out running away with a lover or running away to marry. The other definitions all have to do with escape. And all that tracks. Historically people who eloped did it secretly and/or in the spur of the moment so that they couldn’t be stopped. Nowadays, some elopements are still secret so that the marriage can be a surprise for family and friends. But there is also a growing trend in planned elopements, with some of them taking up to a year or more to plan and implement.
So what does elopement mean in the post-pandemic world? People’s priorities have shifted and now they want to get married in a way that is more meaningful and significant, less showy, and more budget-conscious. Which means that they’re turning to elopements that are either just the two of them or up to 10 guests.
What does a modern elopement look like?
Modern elopements have been on the rise for over a decade, and there’s no one-size-fits-all approach to them. A lot of people choose to have a simple ceremony at the courthouse followed by a nice night on the town. Adventure elopements have become increasingly more popular, with couples choosing to have explore nature and get married in a remote spot.
Ultimately, your elopement can look however you want it to, because it’s a day that’s totally focused on you – your personalities, your interests, your mood. As an elopement photographer and planner, I help my clients figure out what their perfect day could look like, then I create a plan and strategy to help them have an amazing, stress-free wedding day experience. Sometimes it’s just a stroll around the local park, maybe they want to charter a boat, maybe they want to ride bikes. The possibilities for elopement day activities are limited only by your imagination and budget.
Reasons to elope
IMO, nobody *needs* a reason to elope, but it can be nice to see some validation of your feelings nonetheless. Here are some common reasons that couples choose to elope, either for your own affirmation or to use as ammo against that one aunt who keeps asking when your wedding is happening.
- You’re private people and want a “just the two of us” experience
- You want your wedding day to feel like a reflection of you
- You want an intentional wedding day experience, not a pre-fabricated duplicate wedding
- You want an amazing experience that is impractical to include guests
- You want to prioritize your budget on an experience over all the “stuff” a big wedding comes with
- The idea of a big wedding is seriously stressful to you
- Sustainability is important to you
- You want to be able to just relax and totally enjoy your wedding day, start to end, with your spouse
- You want a drama-free day (sorry families, but y’all are drama queens!)
- You want to save money for things beyond your wedding
How much does it cost to elope?
Every elopement budget is different and it’s totally reflective of your values for the day. If you really want something that’s as no-fuss as possible, you can expect to spend around $5000 for photography, marriage license and officiant, attire, possible location fees, and a nice evening out. If you want more of an all-day experience at a destination location with all the bells and whistles, you’re likely spending $10,000 or more on an incredible, one-of-a-kind experience.
For an in-depth look at elopement budgets and what you can expect to spend, be sure to check out my post about it here.
Ideas for elopement activities
Need ideas on what to do for your elopement? Here are my top ten elopement activities.
- Charter a boat (river cruise or a sail boat)
- Biking (mountain, road beach cruiser)
- A cozy night in (for those extra introverted people, lol)
- Hot air balloon ride
- Picnic and/or bonfire (in your backyard, on the beach, or at a campsite)
- Puzzles and games
- Bar hopping
For me, the most important part of helping my couples plan their elopements activities is to choose something that helps them feel the most like themselves. There’s no rule anywhere that says for your elopement you have to go on an epic adventure in a new place. You can choose to stay close to home, or even at home, and have a laid-back elopements experience if that’s what feels true to your hearts.
Still curious about what’s possible? Reach out to me and I can help you figure out your elopement ideas.