This is probably one of the most frequently asked questions that I get as an elopement photographer. Merriam Webster dictionary defines elope as;

“to run away secretly with the intention of getting married, usually without parental consent”

Now let’s break down that age old definition, because lets be real- that is far from what an elopement actually is in today’s society.

My Definition

In my own words I believe that an elopement is an intimate and intentional way of marriage that is all about the couple and their desires for their day. That’s it! Nothing about running off. An elopement may be planned a year in advance, or maybe even a month in advance. It’s far different than the Vegas elopements that used to happen. An elopement can look vastly different from couple to couple. For one couple, it may look like planning their day around going to the courthouse and spending time in their favorite city with just the two of them. Another couple may invite ten of their closest friends and family to their favorite national park for a weekend, and say their vows on the edge of a cliff. It can be as simple or as extravagant as the couple pleases. Couples may decide to keep their elopement a secret or may even sent out elopement announcement cards just like sending a wedding invite! 

Size

One of the biggest ways to differentiate an elopement and a traditional wedding is the amount of people in attendance. In my experience, I consider anything with less than 30 people in attendance an elopement. That is definitely up for debate in the elopement world, but that’s just how I view things. This looks different for every couples! Sometimes the elopement may just be the couple and myself- yeah I feel so special!! Other times the couple may bring their absolute closest friends and family- yes, that means you can bring your mom or grandparent!

Location

Another big factor for me is the lack of a wedding venue. Typically, an elopement happens in the middle of nature. Sometimes couples decide to have an arch set up, or maybe even some chairs. It all depends on what the couple wants, and what the site may allow. When you take away the stress and limitations that wedding venues add it’s amazing how much more creative and free couples feel in regards to planning their wedding day. 

The Heart Behind It

One of my favorite things about an elopement is what eloping is truly about- the couple. When you take away all the excess and distraction that come with a traditional wedding, you get to truly make it about the couple and their love and commitment for each other. It’s a day that gets to reflect the couple in their true nature. They get to choose who comes (and who doesn’t!), exactly what they want the experience to look like, where they want to say their vows, and what traditions they want to keep or forgo. Deciding to have an elopement is kind of like starting with a blank slate for your wedding. 

An elopement may be the perfect thing for you if you haven’t always dreamed of a big wedding, or the thought of having a big wedding is absolutely terrifying to you. Maybe you have some family drama that want to stay far away from your wedding day. Or maybe you want to save a few thousand dollars! No matter the reason, I still believe it’s an amazing way to get back to the basics and truly enjoy the beginning of your marriage and your entire wedding day!

I hope that this helped open your mind to what a modern day elopement looks like. At the end of the day, it’s just an intimate day all about the couple. 

Does an elopement sound like your kind of wedding day? Feel free to reach out HERE to start planning yours! 

Want to learn more? Here is a blog post all about planning an out-of-state elopement!

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