Let’s dig into the truth behind elopements. As someone in the industry, I often find myself in a photography “wedding bubble.” It seems everyone is talking about weddings, planning weddings, and posting photos online of – you guessed it – weddings! So, to me, elopements are a common thing! The term “elopement” is familiar, and I’ve seen the rising popularity as an exciting niche in this industry. However, I know not everyone else is constantly inundated with the newest wedding trends, reading up on wedding photography magazines, or as closely tuned in to the difference between a wedding and an elopement. Today, let’s break it down!
What is an Elopement, Really?
Imagine a wedding day focused around you and your love! That’s exactly what elopements are all about. I love that elopements allow you to express who you are as a couple by getting married in a way that is authentic to you. I truly do believe small intimate elopements are the most connective, meaningful, and emotive way to unify your love. So let’s get to the truth behind elopements. Here are six facts about elopements, and their mythical counterparts.
1. Fact: Elopements are Centered on the Marrying Couple
This is totally true! But, what’s wrong with that? Choosing to elope is choosing to pause the traditional wedding plans and sift through your options to pick only what is most authentic to you as a couple. There are no rules for getting married (aside from like, getting married), so you can plan the wedding day of your dreams! Don’t do anything out of obligation – do what YOU want!
Myth: Elopements are Selfish
Wrong! Elopements aren’t selfish because a marriage is between two people – and choosing what is best for you will ultimately be best for those who care about you. Your family and friends want you to be happy. Even if they have some initial concern over your choice to elope, they’ll come around. The lack of rules for elopements means you can still party with the people you want to, but do it on your terms!
2. Fact: Elopements are just as meaningful as weddings
True! Elopements are deeply intentional, authentic marriage celebrations that can last any number of hours! In fact, I’ve been to a handful of traditional weddings that were actually SHORTER than some elopements! Eloping is about enjoying each moment and cherishing the opportunity to be present, together. Traditional weddings often feel rushed, as the couple runs around trying to spend time with dozens or hundreds of guests. Don’t rush, don’t forget to eat, and take some deep breaths – this is YOUR wedding day!
Myth: Elopements are fast, reckless decisions
False! The term “elopement” has changed. It’s no longer the old running-to-the-courthouse-because-we-haven’t-thought-this-through experience! Eloping isn’t a shotgun wedding, it’s not a wedding to a person family doesn’t approve of, and it doesn’t have to happen at a courthouse! I mean, I guess it could still be all those things, but not inherently! Elopements are fun, alternative wedding experiences that result in fond memories and a lot of laughter.
3. Fact: Elopements Include People You Love
True! Elopements tend to have fewer guests than traditional weddings. Instead of inviting anyone out of obligation, create an exclusive guest list! Only invite your closest friends, or family, and spend the day celebrating with people you feel like yourself around. Or, invite no one! Some states even allow self-solemnizing, which means you don’t even need an officiant to get legally married! You also have the choice to celebrate later with everyone at a reception. Grandma going to be angry she didn’t witness your vows? Throw a party when you get your wedding photos back!
Myth: Elopements Reject Family Members
False! Eloping isn’t a rejection of family and friends. You’re not dissing anyone by shortening the guest list. Instead, you’re choosing to spend quality time with those you DO invite! If you would be heartbroken to not have your mom at your wedding, invite her. Choosing to elope does not mean you’re starting a rift in the family. People don’t like to feel left out, but there are plenty of ways to gently explain why only a certain number of people will be in attendance. If this is a major concern for you, let’s talk! I have plenty of suggestions for smoothing the idea of elopement over with family.
4. Fact: Elopements Are About the Experience
Yes! Shout it louder for the people in the back! Elopements are ALL about the experience of getting married – which, in my opinion, is what a wedding SHOULD be about! How you share that experience with your partner is all up to you. It could be a backyard ceremony, a hike up your favorite mountain, or a ceremony on a secluded rocky beach. However, you say “I do,” do it YOUR way! Marriage is an adventure – start yours with an experience you’ll be stoked to look back on!
Myth: Elopements are Just For Photos
Not at all! Epic photos are simply the RESULT of a well-planned elopement, not the PURPOSE of the experience! In the modern world of social media, it might seem like everyone with a fancy camera is able to get some great images. But, photos of your epic elopement day adventure aren’t going to be cherished because the lighting was perfect – you’ll cherish your elopement photos because you’ll want to remember every detail!
5. Fact: Elopements Are Easier to Plan
Yes! Elopements are easier to plan because you’re not juggling the needs of dozens or hundreds of guests. You don’t have to order catering at $30/head and you don’t have to check on anyone’s availability. Yes, elopements can be elaborate experiences with an incredible amount of planning. BUT, when you’ve refocused the wedding to be about what really matters – the couple getting married – the answers are easier to find. Plans can therefore be as simple or as complex as you want them to be. No matter how grand your dream elopement is, I guarantee it’ll be easier than planning a traditional wedding.
Myth: Elopements are “The Easy Way Out”
Nope! Elopements can be as easy or complex as you want them to be – whether you’re having a backyard ceremony or a mountain top vow exchange that requires helicopter travel. You’re not skimping on a wedding experience by reducing the stress of a traditional wedding, you’re creating a more intentional and authentic experience. You’re not choosing the “lesser” option by eloping, you’re gaining so much more.
6. Fact: Elopements are Memorable
Of course! Elopements are paced to your liking, filled with the experiences and traditions that mean so much to you! You’ll absolutely remember your elopement as the time you chose experience over things and authenticity over tradition.
Myth: Elopements Aren’t As Memorable as Traditional Weddings
Wrong again! Google “wedding day memory loss” and you’ll see plenty of statistics proving that traditional weddings might not be the most memorable wedding option. Some studies actually cite that 54% of people have serious trouble recalling significant details from their wedding day, and most of their memories come from photographs. Elopements reduce the stressors and distractions at the root of this “mysterious memory loss phenomena.” Choosing to elope is just as much about respecting the importance of your wedding day as it is an opportunity to do something fun. Your wedding matters, a lot, and you deserve to remember it!
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