Bride and groom dance in the forest. Redwoods surround them in the background and bride smiles at groom. Knowing how much it costs to elope can help you plan our wedding day to its fullest

What Is An Elopement? A Modern Definition of Eloping

What does “elope” mean today?

Finding the true meaning of an elopement is different for every couple. Elopements are deeply personal experiences and aren’t easily summarized by a few words. Each elopement is crafted to your personal love story.

Rooted in tradition and old versions of what a wedding “should be”, the connotation around elopements is still incorrect. Today, elopements celebrate all kinds of love with couples from every background. In fact, even Merriam-Webster & Wikipedia have updated their definitions to reflect how the modern couple is eloping.

To elope is to celebrate your intimacy without hesitation. Relish in everything that your love symbolizes without question. To enjoy even the smallest of moments with immense detail and care.

Eloping is NOT to wed with shame, secrecy, or sinister motives. An elopement wedding should be celebrated with just as much excitement as a traditional wedding.

Table of Contents:

  1. Modern Definition of an Elopement
  2. Elopement vs Traditional Weddings
  3. Elopement vs Intimate Weddings
  4. Understanding Elopement Pricing
  5. Elopement Locations
  6. Bringing Guests to Your Elopement

ELOPEMENT: A non-traditional, intimate wedding experience that focuses on the couple rather than the guests and where every decision is intentional and celebrated.

The days of defining an elopement as only a “quickie” or courthouse date or even the stereotypical Vegas Blowout are long over, my friend. To elope is to still enjoy a full wedding day. You can be as classy, as adventurous, as laid back, or as creative as you want. That’s the beauty of an elopement.

You get to be whatever you want to be. Because you’re doing it together! There aren’t any hard and fast rules when it comes to your elopement. Choosing to elope opens up worlds of new information that you can include on your wedding day. From beach elopements to mountain top ceremonies, elopements allow you to think creatively from the very beginning.

One of the reasons many couples feel pulled to eloping is because they really care about the environment and they disagree with how much trash a single wedding creates. Having a sustainable and eco-friendly elopement is easier than you may think!

Elopements vs Traditional Weddings: how different are they?

Big weddings have been romanticized for so long that as soon as you get engaged you feel like that is your only option. In the end, it’s just a big production put on for everyone except you. I can’t tell you how many people have told me they don’t even feel like they got to experience their wedding day. Can you imagine that? You’ve spent thousands of dollars to have it all pass as a blur! You know all those Pinterest articles you’ve seen about “10 Things You Don’t Need For Your Wedding Day”? Well, they exist for a reason.

You’re still celebrating the same union, same love, and same idea whether you do a traditional wedding or an elopement. BOTH unions are valid. BOTH can be fun. However, I typically see with an elopement that you get to celebrate all of that actually together instead of only sharing a few quick moments. I’ve found that the easiest explanation of the difference between the two is that with an elopement, you’re prioritizing your experience and with a traditional wedding you’re prioritizing your guest’s experience.

If you already started down the path of planning your traditional wedding and now you want to switch to elopement, don’t worry. This is more common than you may think! You’ve still got a couple options you can do like canceling the whole thing and eloping somewhere amazing or keeping your day for a reception and getting married somewhere else beforehand.

Elopement or Intimate Wedding: what is the difference?

Because there aren’t any hard and fast rules with elopements the difference between eloping or having an intimate wedding can seem like semantics. And, in a way, it is. The “definitions” of each term are mostly interchangeable. The differences come down to the way you guide your day and how many people tag along.

If “running away” by just yourselves or with a few close friends sounds a little too secluded then you might prefer an intimate wedding. These ceremonies tend to have around 30 guests, still drastically less than your traditional ceremony but more than an elopement. I tend to see elopements are just the couple and their photographer and they often take place in adventurous locations that would be difficult for more than just a few people to attend.

Many destination weddings tend to be intimate wedding ceremonies!

Having a relaxed, small wedding is a great middle-ground that can give you the best of both worlds if you’re stuck choosing and don’t know what type of wedding is the best for you. 

Just like nailing down what an elopement means, elopement pricing can be wildly variable. I highly recommend finding elopement-specific vendors rather than traditional wedding vendors who offer “elopement services”. The different experience you’ll have between the two is staggering!

For an in-depth explanation and breakdown of elopement costs, head to this blog. I go over the most common costs for elopements, compare elopement and traditional wedding pricing, and even have a calculator you can use to estimate your own elopement costs.

Elopement Locations

An elopement can happen anywhere. 

If you want to be surrounded by trees, go to the forest.

Or if hiking scares you, choose a rooftop bar. 

If you love sunsets and water, choose the beach or a waterfall.

Your options are literally endless when you choose yourselves over the production. It’s really hard to fit 200 people into an intimate and remote airbnb, but you can absolutely fit you and few close friends. Or no friends, I’m not judging.

Celebrate your entire day together, from sunrise to sundown. Each moment can be crafted to exactly what makes the two of you sing with joy. The beauty of an elopement boils down to you being able to be freely and authentically you. You no longer have to write your vows with 100’s of people in mind or make sure to pick the right dessert selection so everyone can be happy. 

Bringing Guests to Your Elopement

The good news is that if the only thing holding you back from wanting to elope is that you still want a few of your closest friends or family there, you can! Just because you’re eloping doesn’t mean you have to leave your loved ones behind. Bringing those few along can give you an amazing experience that you truly get to enjoy together instead of just a 3-minute conversation as you rush through your wedding day.

It’s always important to keep your guests well informed about the type of ceremony you’ll be having. They may have never heard about eloping before!

Are you catching my drift yet? It really doesn’t matter what you choose because you’re still choosing for you, and because of that, your day (or multiple days) will be the most amazing love fest you’ve ever had. You might even rival Woodstock.

It’s elopement bliss.

Just picture yourselves waking up together, feeling absolutely no pressure or stress or anxiety. Maybe you laugh because you feel like you’re cheating on the “normal” idea of a wedding and struck gold by eloping instead.

That’s what I want you to feel. I want you to feel like gold and diamonds and stardust because every ounce of you is excited for this day together. When it’s all over, and you look into the mirror that night, wiping away your makeup and putting your dress on its hanger, you’ll know. 

You’ll know you’ve officially entered your new stage in life. And you did it together.

If you’re still trying to gather information about elopements, go check out the frequently asked questions about elopements and download your elopement planning checklist.

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