What is an elopement (and how do we do it)?

What is eloping and how can we do it?

In the past several years, the idea of eloping instead of having a wedding at a traditional venue has absolutely blown up and I’m so excited about it. But you can’t really go to Barnes and Noble and find out everything you need to know about having an elopement – so I hope this post can help you have a better understanding of this alternate (and totally epic) kind of wedding day!

What does it mean to elope?

Gone are the days of eloping meaning that your options are running off to Vegas or going to a courthouse and making it official there. Although eloping is still most commonly defined with a google search as running away secretly to get married – even Merriam Webster is (slowly) starting to pick up on this new idea!

Although, the “running away” part of that definition isn’t too far off if you think of it. As an elopement photographer and planner who has helped countless couples elope in dream locations, to elope means that you want to step away (or run away) from the established ideas and expectations of a traditional wedding day to do something wildly intentional instead. It’s the active choice of saying no to the kind of wedding day that doesn’t align with who you two are and your relationship and taking the leap into a new kind of day filled with connection, adventure, and making memories.

Why do people elope?

Before going into this, I want to reassure you that you do not owe anyone an explanation for choosing to elope instead of having a typical wedding day. I know that it’s not always that simple when you have the opinions of family or friends involved – but at the end of the day how you choose to have your wedding day is a wildly personal decision that should be respected.

That being said, here are some of the most common reasons couples tell me that they decided to look into eloping:

    • They want to be a little selfish (and yes, selfish on your wedding day is a good thing to be). As a big people-pleaser myself (read a bit of my story here), I want to encourage couples to follow their heart on their wedding day and choose to have the elopement experience that feels aligned and perfect for them. When did we let the wedding industry convince us that the best / only way to get married was to put tens of thousands of dollars into an event with hundreds of people to witness it? No thank you!
    • Vowing their love to one another and having a different kind of day by eloping will allow them to connect even more and have a day that’s beyond true-to-them. I’m all about working with every couple I work with to provide encouragement throughout the process of stepping away from what they’ve been told all of their lives that their day has to look like and to help them discover and craft an elopement experience that is far more aligned with them!
    • The pressure of planning a wedding left them feeling stressed and anxious. So many couples have come to me to help them photograph and plan their elopement and expressed that they wanted an experience that was stress-free and chill. Oftentimes the first questions couples hear when they announce their engagement are overwhelming from “when’s the wedding?!” to “are we invited?!” and it can become apparent for couples pretty quickly that the stress and pressure from others isn’t something they want to deal with for months (sometimes even over a year) of planning and preparation.
    • They’d rather spend the money on a once-in-a-lifetime experience together rather than putting on a show for everyone else. This statement isn’t to put down having a traditional wedding by any means, but for many the feeling of spending an average of $19,000-$28,000 on food, DJ, decorations, a venue, etc. on a one-day event doesn’t sit right. Choosing to elope doesn’t mean that you don’t value your wedding day… on the contrary, it actually reflects just how intentional you want to be about the day you vow to be with one another.
    • They don’t like to be the center of attention. If saying your vows in the presence of 100+ people and having all eyes on you for a 12+ hour wedding day sounds like the worst… eloping absolutely is for you two. When having an elopement you can be really intentional about who is there (if anyone) so that there is no pressure or discomfort from the guests you have present. This is so important, even just for having a ceremony where you two feel comfortable saying personal vows and being able to express any and all emotions throughout your day.
    • Spending time in nature and adventuring is a key part of their relationship. If some of your favorite memories as a couple have been made in the great outdoors – why not have an elopement day surrounded by mother nature and adventuring with one another. Many couples will choose to elope somewhere completely new, but some will even opt to return somewhere they’ve been together before due to the sentimental connection. How amazing is it too that 5, 10, 20 years from your elopement day you could return to the same spot in nature that you said your vows?!
  • They don’t have the healthiest relationships with family members. Although choosing to elope doesn’t mean that you don’t love your close family and friends – a reason for many can be that the people who they would feel obligated to include for their traditional wedding would make the day miserable, all about them, and just tarnish the beauty that a wedding day should be.
    By having an elopement (and not telling them until afterwards even) you’re able to plan a day that’s filled with joy and have the experience of your dreams connecting with one another. If there are still people that you love and cannot picture your day without, you’re absolutely able to include them and have them join you on your experience. Having others present is still an elopement day as I think what an elopement day is far more centered around the intention behind it all. If you want tips on including guests, visit my blog post all about how to include loved ones on your elopement day!

How do we even start planning our elopement?

Don’t even sweat it! It’s only natural that once a couple decides to elope that their next question is how to make it happen. Reach out to me and I would absolutely love to start helping you two plan your elopement experience! You don’t have to have all of the details of where and when decided on before reaching out. As a traveling elopement photographer, throughout the year I get to photograph weddings from my home-base in Colorado to Glacier National Park and Yosemite National Park. I love exploring new places too and have an ever-growing list of places I have researched that would be epic spots for couples to adventure on their elopement day.

Additional elopement resources:

Colorado Elopement Resources:

5 Tips to Help You Elope in Colorado

How to Elope at Garden of the Gods in Colorado Springs

Glacier National Park, Montana Elopement Resources:

7 Steps to Plan Your Glacier National Park Elopement

Where to Elope in Glacier National Park

Best Hikes for Your Adventurous Glacier National Park Elopement

Other Elopement Resources:

How to Elope in Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming

How to Include Loved Ones in Your Elopement Day