What does it mean to elope?

In the past few years, eloping has become more and more a thing. And what was already a trend before, ended up in a bigger spotlight with the COVID-19 pandemic. But what does it mean to elope after all? What are the advantages? How is it different from getting married? So many questions still arise about the “elopement” topic that I thought it was about time for me to talk about it and help you understand if it is something that fits you too :)

Let’s start taking a sneak peek into the dictionary:

elope [ ih-lohp ]: verb (used without object), e·loped, e·lop·ing.
to run off secretly to be married, usually without the consent or knowledge of one’s parents.
to run away with a lover.
to leave without permission or notification; escape.

It sounds a little bit intriguing, right? Although the term was originally connected with something hidden or forbidden, it has been transformed into something with a little bit different meaning. Having an elopement wedding means that the couple gets married alone, or accompanied by only a few people. It usually involves traveling, even though, not necessarily to far away. As you can see, the term still carries its intimacy and brings to the wedding day some adventurous and magic feelings.

Getting married and eloping: what is the difference?

Is it all about the number of people involved? Not at all. As I mentioned before, when you decide to elope, you either want to get married just the two of you or at least not invite a lot of people. But the differences between an elopement ceremony and a traditional wedding go way beyond that. We are talking about different costs, social expectations, and the whole experience. So here is a little list of the top differences to make the comparison a little bit easier:

Guests: most traditional weddings will have a list with 50, 100, or even sometimes 500 people, depending on the culture. An elopement, on the other hand, means that you will have a maximum of around 10-15 people with you.

Plan: usually planning a bigger wedding involves more time. You have to deal with the hard task of making the guest list, book the wedding venue (and other venues) at least one year in advance, think of decoration, send invitations a couple of months before, etc. To elope is way easier. Do you have an amazing location in mind? That’s it. There are no limits to where you can elope, you don’t necessarily need to book a venue, or even rack your brains trying to figure out who should you invite or not. That’s why people often don’t need more than a couple of months to plan their elopement. Sometimes even a couple of days are enough :p

Costs: we will talk more about that, but this is something that couldn’t be out of the list. Do you want to save some money? Maybe you dream to get married but see no sense in investing thousands and thousands in a big wedding. That is another difference between getting a traditional wedding or deciding to elope. You can make it as simple as you want. And this also means that elopements are usually way cheaper than weddings.

advantages of eloping

The biggest advantages of eloping

Lower the costs

Since we are talking about costs, let’s start with it: traditional weddings can be really expensive. The more you think about it, and get to know the possibilities, the more things you want. And together with your wishes, the money bar starts to rise. The average cost for a wedding in the US was in 2020 between $25-30K! And how much does an elopement cost? You have fewer people to deal with, and you don’t have to book an expensive location or invest money in a huge decoration. Usually, that means investing between $5-15K on your big day. Having more possibilities of creating something small but still unique, that fits in a smaller budget, is definitely one of the top advantages of deciding to elope.

Dreamy locations

Eloping means that you can get married in (almost) any location you can dream of! We are talking about historical landmarks, breath-taking mountain tops, beautiful lakes, or even barefoot at the beach. You can choose a place that has been part of your history together, or a location that you’ve always talked about traveling to, and merge two dreams into one. When you decide to elope your options are infinite!

Flexibility

A lot of people that planned their wedding during the COVID pandemic got really frustrated. Having to decide between postponing or canceling the celebration, more than one time, is probably every couple’s nightmare. Nevertheless, I had to deal with a lot of situations like these on 2020-21. Transforming big weddings into elopements, not only brought some peace into uncertain times but also allowed these couples to dream again. Having fewer people involved and being independent of venues rescheduling dates, couples could finally make plans again :) After all, elopements are way more flexible than traditional weddings.

elopement eibsee

6 tips about having an elopement wedding

After reading so many cool things about elopements, you are probably already excited about planning one, right? So here you can find some insightful tips to start planning your elopement ceremony!

1. Plan a little bit ahead

Even though you don’t need to plan months ahead as in comparison to a traditional wedding, that doesn’t mean that you can just decide to elope and count 1, 2, 3. As one of the biggest days of your life, eloping should also involve some planning ahead. With so many wonderful possibilities, the more you invest in deciding what really matters for your two, the most amazing you can make this experience!

2. Hire a great wedding photographer

Eloping is closely connected to dreaming about having an unforgettable experience with your future spouse. So it is obvious what I will to say: having a great photographer around you will allow you to have this amazing adventure treasured forever! Usually, the majority of an elopement budget is invested in photography, and that is not a surprise. After all, who doesn’t want to experience again one of the most important days of their lives? Great photos will do exactly that: they will allow you to feel everything. Over and over. And to share this with your beloved family and friends ♥️

And another important tip: when you are looking for a photographer, I would suggest that you try to find someone you can connect with. The photographer will spend the whole day by your side, and sometimes even do the role of a guide, a helper, or a friend… So it is super important to find someone that is a good fit for you :)

3. Consider the legal and cultural aspects

Do you dream about eloping to another country? Then this is a very important topic for you. If you would like to get a real marriage license, then you will need to do some research before. Because some countries have a complicated list of requirements, you might prefer to plan just a symbolic wedding (this applies when you plan to elope to Germany for example). Other countries or regions have all the supermarkets closed on Sundays, so it’s good to take this into consideration if you’d like to buy champagne to celebrate later. Language differences can also be on the way: so make sure to check possible limitations before the big day.

4. Meet your vendors before

A great way of getting aware of the legal and cultural aspects of eloping to a different country is to have good vendors around you. You can always ask them about local tips. And to make it even better, I’d strongly recommend that you meet them before! Video calls (gladly) allow us to connect with those that will be involved in our big day. This gives space for you to get to know each other a little bit better, which I believe makes a huge difference in the results. As a wedding photographer, I much rather register people that I know a little, instead of just showing up to two strangers. This helps me to somehow make people comfortable around the camera :) Otherwise, I would simply photograph everyone in the same way, with none of their unique details. That makes such a huge difference in the wedding photos!

5. Don’t feel guilty

Often I meet people that would love to elope, but can’t decide for feeling guilty about it. “How can I get married and not invite all my friends? Or my whole family?” Getting married is not for other people. It is for you. If you think you cannot get married without having all of them around you, because you will miss them too much, then elopement might not be the best fit for you (unless that you do a big wedding after, hihi). But if you love the adventurous thought of an elopement, and there’s nothing holding you back other than the guilt: let it go! Although some people might be sad for not being present in the moment, they will most likely understand your dreams. So try to not be upset about those that don’t.

6. Consider the weather

The last tip is usually ignored, but I thought it was worth the mention. Because eloping means getting married often in the middle of wonderful nature, we are also susceptible to its ups and downs. This means that getting married at the top of a mountain can involve some snow or really strong wind. Or you might be caught by the rain even if you get married at the beach. Some things we just cannot control. So be ready for the changes: either by getting dressed more warm, or just by embracing the adventure! I’ve had so much fun photographing couples in unplanned weather, and in the end it all turned out to amazing moments and gorgeous pictures. So don’t be scared! The unknown can hold a lot of good surprises for you!

inspiring location to elope

Some super inspiring locations to elope

To wrap up this article about elopement, I thought it would be a good idea to bring some cool location ideas to inspire you. So here are some of my favorites:

So, what do you think? Are you ready to start your plans to elope? So let’s start talking about the amazing wedding photos we can create!

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