According to the dictionary, an elopement is to run away secretly in order to get married, especially without parental consent.

That is not an exciting definition.

In today’s modern terms elopements are not secret or shameful. They are an excuse to have an adventure while getting married. An elopement is another way to escape traditional wedding expectations.

I think a more concise and modern definition of elopement is this: a non-traditional, intimate, and intentional way of getting married.

There are hundreds of different ways to elope. Sometimes it can be small – just the two of you and a photographer. Elopements can also include friends and family – up to 10 or 15 people. Elopements have no rules and they are FUN!

Morning elopement hike with 2 dogs
close up of mints
groom reading vows
signing marriage certificate

There is no shame in eloping!

In fact, my favorite type of wedding to photograph is an elopement. Why? Because there is freedom. Elopements are less expensive, and the couple choosing to get married has complete control over what their day looks like.

My favorite elopements usually include adventures like being outside, hiking through forests, or up mountains. They include good food. And, I love it when my brides and grooms are able to feel 100% themselves.

The most important part

Elopements focus on marrying YOUR PERSON. It does not mean your day will be any less special than if you had a traditional wedding with a ton of guests. It means you get to focus on what is important!

Elopement vs. Intimate Wedding

Elopements and intimate weddings are very similar. Elopements are VERY INTIMATE. An elopement has no more than 10 people

An intimate wedding is slightly larger than an elopement. Usually up to 50 people.

Elopement happens literally anywhere. An intimate wedding requires more planning because more people need to be accommodated.

Both usually focus on experience instead of traditional elements. The ceremony is intimate. Instead of a traditional style reception, often there are activities that everyone can participate in.

These activities can include shared favorite hobbies like hiking or swimming. They could also be more luxurious like a boat cruise or helicopter ride.

Misconceptions about Elopements

Elopements are shameful or unapproved marriages.

Nope! That was true a long time ago, but now the term “elopement” has a completely different meaning. Elopements focus on getting married in a way that is meaningful to you and your partner. It is about celebrating love and doing what you want to do. A lot of people invite their family and friends to their elopements. Elopements are simply a different way of celebrating.

You have to keep your elopement a secret.

You can share your elopement with the world, or you can choose to keep it a secret. The choice is 100% YOURS! It can be intimidating to tell family and friends about your decision to not have a traditional wedding, but your elopement day is about you and not everyone else!

You can’t include your family or friends in your elopement day.

This is another misconception. While elopements are intentionally smaller, you can invite up to 10 people.

Elopements are always last minute and don’t need planning.

Some people decide last minute to elope, but elopements can also take a long time to plan. This is another reason I love elopements. You can do whatever you want. If you want a lot of details, a crazy adventure, or a specific season you can plan for that. You can also plan your elopement in a few months.

People only elope to save money.

Elopements are generally less expensive than a big wedding, but it doesn’t have to be. You can have a catered experience that costs thousands if you really want to. But, the sole reason people choose to elope is that they want intimacy and intentionality on their wedding day.

Elopements are selfish.

I hate that people think elopements are selfish. They are NOT. Your marriage is about you! You can spend the day however you want. Some people want a big wedding, and that is OK. But, if you want something small your friends and family should support you. Don’t feel bad for being authentic.

Elopements are quick and rushed.

Some people think an elopement has to be a quick courthouse thing. That is absolutely not true! You should make sure that every moment of your day is special. Some people turn their elopement into a multi-day event. No matter how you spend your wedding day, it deserves to be documented. There is more to your wedding day than a quick ceremony and a couple of photos. It is a day you should remember for the rest of your life!

What does an elopement day look like?

Think about the best day ever! Who is there, and what are you doing? Now, turn that into your elopement! This could look like waking up early to hike. It can also look like having a slow morning with coffee and pastries. It could look like getting ready with your family, best friends, or alone. You can have a first look, but you don’t have to. Is there a dream destination you want to visit (hiiii Iceland, Italy, Bali?) or do you want to get married in the backyard of your childhood home? As long as the day reflects YOU, that is all that matters!

first kiss

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