What is an Elopement? How is it Different From a Wedding?

So, what exactly is an elopement, and how is it different from a wedding? In the “old days”, elopements were actually done in secret without parental approval. In modern times, there’s no longer a social stigma surrounding it and it’s actually become a hugely popular way to get married, even often preferred over weddings! Simply put, an elopement is an intimate marriage ceremony involving only a few people. The focus is primarily on the couple and not shared with the guests. I love elopements as couples are bold with their vision and plan out a day that is truly unique and special to their relationship as they step out on this great adventure of marriage.

A couple standing under an umbrella in front of a rock face during an elopement.

Reasons To Elope

  1. Let’s face it, weddings are expensive! According to the most recent study by The Knot, the average wedding pre-Covid was roughly $34,000. It’s also important to note that vendors booked from The Knot generally charge lower rates than elsewhere, so the actual average cost is potentially much higher. Elopements are much cheaper considering there aren’t exorbitant costs for things like catering, alcohol, and a live band or DJ. This leaves money for the most important things that you actually get to take with you after the elopement, like photography and videography.
  2. For many couples, the intimacy and non-traditional experience of eloping resonates more with them than a big ceremony with a ton of people. This is my favorite reason to elope as I focus on telling the story of two people during this amazing chapter of their lives, not creating an event video.
  3. Weddings create a lot of environmental waste, so an elopement is ideal for the eco-conscious couple.
  4. A traditional wedding takes a lot of planning and coordination. This can cause undue stress on what should be a joyous occasion. Just think about it, all the vendors, creating timelines, set up and break down of decor, and being transported from one location to the next. An elopement allows you to have a more relaxed day and to just enjoy the experience.
  5. Elopements are good options for couples who want a ceremony without any legal aspect. This is simply called a commitment ceremony. It’s a wedding ceremony between two people that isn’t legally binding.

Elopement Locations

Elopement locations are often more adventurous and off the beaten path than traditional weddings. Chapels, churches, and event halls give way to nature. Here are a few epic places, but there are endless options:

  • By June Lake in CA with a view of the mountains behind you
  • In the ruins of a castle – Scotland anyone?!
  • Overlooking Monument Valley in Arizona
  • On a mountain top in Colorado after a hike to your dream view
  • In a cabin in the North Carolina woods
  • Among the rocks in Joshua Tree
  • At Smith Rock State Park in Oregon
  • On a ranch in Montana or Wyoming

Bride and Groom hugging by a lake during an elopement wedding

So, what is an elopement? An intimate, non-traditional, unique and special to you, heck-of-a-good-time adventure to kick off your marriage together!

~Prescott, Our Westward Hearts