What makes a wedding an elopement? Over the next couple of weeks, I will be covering several different topics related to eloping from what it is to reasons why to elope and finally how to break the news to your family. The main thing to focus on is what do you want your day to look like and to authentically represent your relationship instead of just following traditions because that’s how things have always been done or because of what Aunt Edna wants. Don’t get me wrong, Aunt Edna is a great lady, but today is about you two!


The size of the wedding

The most obvious element of an elopement is the smaller size. The original elopement size was the couple, officiant and witnesses but this was mostly because the elopement was an effort to hide the marriage. Since elopements are now an accepted wedding style, there is no reason to hide. After all we want to share all those gorgeous wedding pictures and videos, right? Today elopements can vary in size from being just the couple (some states do not require officiants or witnesses!) to including family and friends. In order to be considered an elopement, the standard is that it includes 25 or less people. That’s great news for having your nana or a best friend or two at your ceremony if you so choose!


The uniqueness

No relationship is the same. Because of this, I believe that the ceremony should reflect the uniqueness of the couple and their story. An elopement is easier to handcraft, to have bespoke elements that are lovingly incorporated. Just like weddings, most elopements involve using a select group of vendors to create the experience you want for your wedding. While some of those may overlap with what you would have for a traditional wedding (musicians, florists, bakery and catering, hair and make-up artists, etc), they are at a smaller scale which tends to keeps costs down. On the other hand, you have the option to involve unusual additional vendors, such as adventure Jeep guides or someone who plays Tibetan singing bowls. You get to choose the experience you want to have to mark your day!
Elopement wedding with groom carrying bride in mountains

The timing

Since the elopement was the Romeo and Juliet wedding, A.K.A. let’s get married for love, there has always been a feel of romantic spontaneity about eloping. Some elopements can be planned years in advance. However, since there aren’t as many scheduling constraints for things like venues or caterers, an elopement is a shorter runway to marriage. Even on the day of ceremony itself, you do not have worry about the timing of when to cut cake or when the caterer needs to close the bar. You have more flexibility for spontaneity in your schedule since you don’t have as many people or components to arrange. Want to spend more time smooching or popping champagne? Great, it’s up to you and your small group of vendors.

The destination

Most elopements involve some travel. It doesn’t mean going to a far flung place. Sometimes, travel can involve only a few hours of driving to a non-traditional venue. Most couple choose somewhere that is either part of their love story, like the mountains or some place they have always wanted to go. But as with most decisions around your ceremony, I recommend choosing something that feels authentic to you. While social media is peppered with photos in what seem like exotic or extreme locations, setting your elopement in your family’s backyard or even in the city can be a great choice. Creative locations make for meaningful memories and beautiful photos.

Hopefully, this helps you feel a little more at ease with the idea of an elopement. The best thing is that you get to decide what an elopement is for your ceremony. As you can see there are still quite a few decisions to make when planning an elopement. If you are feeling a little overwhelmed, I am here to help you plan from finding vendors to how to select a dress for your unique ceremony. As part of my elopement packages, I include planning services customized for the experience you want to have!

Eloping in 2020 or 2021? Read Celebrate Again’s article on Eloping during the Pandemic if you’re considering eloping during Covid-19. She gives great tips and helpful guidance! It’s a must read!

Elopement in mountains with dogs